Wednesday, August 24, 2011

a rainbow of stitches

As I've mentioned before, after a period of seriously practical knitting and sewing, I'm feeling pulled toward more whimsical projects. I would like to make some things that are art for art's sake, just fun and skill-enhancing without necessarily being strictly "useful."

I started with some lace shawls, which are kind of a hybrid of useful and beautiful (mainly because even though I'm not likely to actually wear one, the possibility exists so I can justify the time spent). I'm still working on the latest one - 3 charts to go - but I can only work on it when I am undistracted for a length of time.

In the meantime I've gone to some hand stitching. I used to do tons of embroidery and cross stitch. I even had a friend who liked it too, and we could be found in the embroidery supply aisle of Michael's at age 14, picking out samplers and DMC floss.

When I saw this book on a blog back in the spring, it knocked me right over:

I usually take craft books out from the library, but the choices for embroidery and cross stitch are...well, let's just say "dated" at best. We're talking Better Homes and Gardens compilations from 1992. Not exactly inspiring for the modern crafter. Unless you're into teddy bear bibs. Which frankly I am not.

But A Rainbow of Stitches is fresh and fun. I highly recommend it! I linked to amazon, but I actually found mine on ebay and bought it from a Goodwill seller. It still had the Barnes & Noble gift receipt stuck inside! Someone got it for Christmas 2009 and, it appears, never even opened it. Now it's mine!

I dug through my bin of hand-me-down embroidery supplies and found a pack of DMC short-cuts, which are 6X6 inch squares of aida cloth. Mine were 14-count in white and off-white. Perfect for stitching up a little nugget and getting back in practice. I chose a tomato-red skein of floss and I was off to the races:

Don't ask me what I'll do with it, but oh, was it satisfying! Cross stitch is just so orderly and well-behaved. Anyone can do it, it's inexpensive, and the results are pretty much guaranteed to be good if you follow the chart. I found this little apple to be so, so relaxing to stitch.

There are many, many designs in this book that are built around colors and themes, with about an equal split between cross stitch and embroidery. It is NOT a project book, which I guess really upset some people who reviewed it online, but it does not claim to be a book of directions. It's just motifs and charts with photos of project ideas.

We are attending a tropical destination wedding this winter, and I'm thinking of making Daughter a dress for the rehearsal. Look at these adorable water/beach/nautical designs:


cross stitch:

more embroidery:

And I know this one is hard to see, because it's printed in a light tan, but I'm thinking of a pale linen sundress with some of these shells embroidered around the hem:

So many things to little time!


Karen said...

so many pretty ideas. I know that I learned to do embroidery stitches at some point but I don't remember any of them. Did you ever do those Aunt Martha's iron ons for tea towels??

Can't wait to see what else you do from this book.

renee ~ heirloom seasons said...

I may have to check out this embroidery book, it is one of my favorite kinds of handwork (along with so many (too many?) others...)
A linen seashell dress sounds wonderful!

kate said...

Karen, I have eyeballed those Aunt Martha designs many times but never tried one (maybe because I already have waaayyy too many designs in books). I usually trace my designs directly with a pencil.