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The Slow Stitching Movement

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

SlowStitchMove1In a fast-paced world where everyone and everything seems to be moving at the speed of light, slowing down the pace is a good idea. It causes us to pause for a moment in time, take in the details, and truly savor what we’re doing or eating. Slowing things down increases our awareness of what we’re doing.

Over the years, grass-roots groups have been coming together to rediscover the cooking arts with the help of the slow foods movement, and now there’s a similar movement underway for stitchers and needle artists. It’s called the Slow Stitching Movement, and is the creation of international quilting celebrity Mark Lipinski and his uber-talented friends.

The tenets of the Slow Stitching Movement are simple, and encourage stitchers of all types and genres to:

  • Approach your creative art-making in a totally different way.
  • Recharge your passion for the needle fiber arts.
  • Engage the connection between your body, your quilts, and your legacy.
  • Expand your creativity, self-esteem and even your spiritual journey.
  • Tap your right brain, to train and develop your imagination.
  • Find the creative genius in you.
  • Implement your creative thought in today’s too-fast world.
  • Heal your life, emotions and boost your physical health.
  • Create groups and habits to support your creative vision.

Definitely words to live by and methodology to aspire to.

For me, the Slow Stitching Movement really hits home. I love it when I love myself in my stitching.  The hours can fly by in an instant.  I approach a project in small bites, creating each stitch as a separate work of art that when combined with the other stitches, creates a whole.  I am happy, satisfied, and relaxed.

keepcalmstudio-com-crown-support-your-stitching-and-start-a-slow-salon-2Another aspect of the movement is the creation of local Slow Stitching Salons, where groups of like-minded stitchers can come together to work on their projects, discuss what’s happening in the stitching world, and learn something new. The very first event was held recently in Pennsylvania. You can read about their fun day on the movement’s blog.

Why a Salon instead of a regular guild? Mark’s brilliant explanation is:

“A Slow Stitching Salon is a time for creative reflection as well as a time for thoughtful and helpful discussion. It is not a coffee klatch nor is it a place to learn technique or to finesse your work.

The purpose of a Slow Stitching Salon  is to spend time with creative people, like yourself, to share in a very intimate and inspired way,  your slow stitching process and  progress with like-minded souls.  It is around these Slow Stitching Salon tables, and in these Slow Stitching Salon rooms, where you will find the creative fellowship, disagreements, concepts, and understanding, that will not only clarify your place in slow stitching art world, but will open up yet another layer of creativity and inspiration within you as you share your own journey with those who will recognize themselves in your story, and vice versa.”

To read more about the Slow Stitching Movement, you can visit their web site. While there, be sure to poke around the site, because there are some beautiful and inspiring things to see over there, including a gallery of slow stitching projects.  You can also submit your own photos of a project you have created while taking your time and enjoying the creative process.

img_2866To start your own Slow Stitching Salon, visit the blog and gather up a group of stitching friends of all types. The beauty is that they can come from all types of needlework backgrounds including embroidery, quilting, knitting and crochet. Ask everyone to bring along their current slow stitching projects, their threads and supplies, and hang out together for some quality stitching time.

In this image, from the recent gathering at Liza’s place, you’ll see (left to right) our pal Allie Aller along with Chawne Kimber, Liza Prior Lucy, Mark Lipinski, and Meg Cox. Be sure to visit their blogs for more information on their stitching.

You’ll find an inspiring article on creating your own salon as your scroll through the Missed the Boat Monday posting, complete with more images from the gathering.

Thank you, Mark!



Kimika Hara

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Kimika2What do you get when you combine fabric,  fine art illustration and a bin full of embroidery floss? Amazing pieces of ART!

Japanese fiber artist Kimika Hara uses needle and thread to bring colorful illustrations to life with expert hand stitching on colorful illustrations that she has worked in acrylic paint directly on the fabric.

Kimika4Careful shading using multiple colors gives the characters in her designs depth while adding a touch of humor and whimsy. Kimika describes her work as happy and cute, and her work definitely brings a smile to my face.

Born in Kyoto and inspired by her culture and surroundings, Kimika adds texture to her designs by adding beads, sequins, pailettes, buttons and other found objects to each piece.

Kimika3Colorful fabrics are tacked to the illustrations with contrasting embroidery threads and freestyle hand stitching. Bits of lace add additional, interesting layers to her work creating a collage effect.

Two of my favorite pieces are the patchwork on the dog and chubby kitty shown above. The fabric scraps, happy floss colors and the expression on the animals’ faces are joyful and fun.

Kimika1Kimika’s work features animals and florals, as well as vegetables and fruit. Almost anything is fair game for the artist’s paintbrushes and needles.

You can see more of her amazing work on her web site. The site is in Japanese, but a scroll through her amazing posts will definitely inspire you.

Konnichiwa Kimika for such beautiful inspiration!


Shop Visit – Needlepoints, Ltd

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I’ve been on the road again… It happens every year around this time – sometimes it’s work-related, other times it’s just for fun. This time I was down in Southern California, and had enough free time to visit a few shops on my trip.

On a sunny Saturday morning I dropped in at Needlepoints, LTD in Garden Grove, located just a few blocks west from Beach Blvd and the I-22 Junction. I had an awesome visit with owner Diana Hardner and her daughter, and managed to find a few new goodies to bring home with me – but definitely wish I had room in my suitcase for a few more!

The shop is definitely a stitcher’s candy store – the selection of eye candy is amazing!

In addition for carrying a complete wall of DMC Needlework Threads (this image shows our pearl cotton), the shop carries a huge – make than gargantuan – selection of patterns for cross stitch, embroidery, needlepoint, counted thread and other needle arts.

Trust me – You can’t be in a rush to look through the patterns – it will take you a while because there’s so much to choose from. The wall of patterns shown here is chock-full of ideas and is just the beginning… wait until you see the binders. Oh my!

You’ll also find an impressive selection of fabrics and linens, plain and hand-painted needlepoint canvases, beads, buttons and charms, as well as stitching organizers, gadgets and frames – and don’t forget the necessities like scroll frames, needles and tools.

Needlepoints, Ltd also features a large, well-lit classroom area and offers classes from their own experienced instructors as well as top designers in a wide range of needlework types. Visit their classes page to see what’s going on before your visit.

Feel free to drop on by the shop the next time you’re in town as well. Bring your needlework and visit for a while… I’ll definitely be dropping by again on my next visit!


Needlework Shop Visit

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Greeting stitchers! I’ve been on the road again, and as usual I like to visit the LNS  in the area while traveling. A few weeks ago I found myself in cold, breezy and beautiful Ogden, Utah, where I had an opportunity to pop into The Needlepoint Joint.

This store actually takes up two store fronts on historic 25th Street, just down the street from the museums in the old Ogden Depot, and just a short drive to Promontory Point and other historic sites.  I couldn’t help but think of the snappy Hell on Wheels theme tune while walking from the train depot to the shop…

This beautiful retail shop carries quality supplies for all types of needlework, from cross stitch and needlepoint to lacemaking and yarn crafts.  They’ve been in business since 1973 and carry a huge array of threads, yarns, tools and needlework fabrics. They feature not only common items, but some unique and hard to find things.

Owner Judy Jones and her staff were welcoming and I had a great time visiting with them, admiring all the needlework goodies, and enjoying the shop. I’ll definitely be visiting again on my next trip to the area.

Here’s a photo of their wall of DMC Needlework Threads. They pretty much carry it all – and their selection of books and patterns is awesome!

Oh, and some of the more unusual items I found at the store were bobbin lace books and packages of quality wooden bobbins. These can be hard to find without special ordering them.

So, I’ve decided to learn bobbin lacemaking this year – wish me luck!


On Their Way to Paris!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The DMC Memories Contest winners are getting packed and ready for their trip to France, including a tour of the DMC Factory and a visit to Paris. I know there are many of us who would love to tuck ourselves in their suitcases and tag along on this awesome adventure!

Contest winners, Allison Aller and Louise Doney, are each bringing along a companion – and will probably have a stitching project tucked in their carry-on bag for the long flight to Paris. We hope they have a wonderful trip and can hardly wait to hear about their trip.

To help send them off, I’m posting their winning entries – in case you have not yet seen them – and will also be posting other entries we received for the contest over the next few weeks. There were so many interesting and wonderful Memories that it was certainly a difficult choice.

We have more contests coming up, including a chance to win a pack of DMC’s sixteen (16) NEW colors of Embroidery Floss. Details will be announced next week, so be sure to check back.

Meanwhile, enjoy the winning entries…

Allison Aller’s Entry:

I sit on the couch awkwardly holding a hoop taut with cloth, and carefully pull the needle through. I am five years old, and Granny Mary is teaching me the running stitch…

Across the years and through my soul that stitch ran on… once through a sampler as I grieved my way through 10th grade, soaking up my wild grief at losing my mom. I calmed myself by embroidering intricate counted diagrams after school, learning early on what a balm for the soul stitching is. Then those colored threads danced their way through my jeans as I decorated Hippie Dreams in college; they skipped along borders of baby bumpers, and formed playful designs on quilts for my kids. Clowns, choochoo trains in bold colors – all that stitching made me heal and smile.

But then my threads sought the deeper, undiscovered patterns of the artist. I followed them through the years of solo work in my studio, exploring beauty, pushing boundaries, practicing the discipline of my needle: I’m a musician enthralled with my instrument. The colored melodies run through my fingers, singing with my stitching!

I’mll always thrill to holding new DMC threads in my hands, certain that their running stitchies will lead me peacefully through troubles, gratefully into circles of love, and beyond, into the music of the shperes.

And now… my niece Qwen sits beside me, awkwardly holding a hoop taut with cloth, pulling the threaded needle through. She is five years old… (© DMC – All Rights Reserved)

Louise Doney’s Entry:

Our parent’s 50th wedding anniversary was two years away, but Daddy was already reminding us seven children of the big celebration there was going to be. I realized we needed to do something special and soon came up with the idea of constructing a “Memory Quilt” with counted cross stitch squares depicting their life together. Most of the women in the family could stitch so the idea was generally accepted. Many planning sessions followed to decide which family highlights would be included. The storyline started with a poem to our parents and included the church they were married in, the home we were raised in, the family tree, events such as picnics, Christmas, Pinochle cards , and travel experiences . All in all twenty 10×10 squares of Aida stitched with DMC floss were included, with the last square depicting a woman stitching and the names of us women and our relationship to our parents . At the “Big Party” we unveiled a hand quilted queen size quilt which of course was a huge surprise to our parents and more than half the room was in tears. The quilt was featured in the local newspaper and has won people’s choice awards in needlework shows.

My parents are gone now and I am the lucky keeper of this treasure and I know that the colors of the DMC used will stay bright for future generations to enjoy, along with other projects I continue to stitch with my #1 thread choice DMC!
(© DMC – All Rights Reserved)

Happy Stitching everyone, and join me in wishing Allison and Louise a bon voyage!


Meet Designer Richard Saja

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New York based designer Richard Saja is known for his work using very untraditional embroidery on traditional toile fabrics, incorprating fanciful embellishments, bright colors and hand embroidery to transform the subject matter of the fabric into something unique and unexpected.

I recently had an opportunity to correspond with Richard and to see his work while visiting the Commander’s Palace restaurant in New Orleans, where one of his embroideried decorates the foyer. It was one of my must-see destinations while visiting the area, and well worth a ride from the French Quarter into the Garden District on the St. Charles Streetcar to see this amazing work.

Embroidered details in Richard’s embroideries includes wild hair, fire and flames, clown noses, antennae, clothing on both people and animals, and other unpredictable add-ons.

The Life-Along-the-Mississippi print was developed especiallly for the Commander’s Palace and was fairly straightforward. Richard had fun subverting what was there, planting elements of surprise in this work including embroidered plantings, embellished clothing, and wild hairstyles.

But not all embellishments are met with the same delight or enthusiasm by clients. Interestingly, he remembers embroidering a table full of men and women raising their glasses in a toast. He gave them clown hair and noses and found the scene to be very sweet and touching. The client did not think so and was instructed to remove the clown noses, but not the hair! This  still bugs him to this day.

When asking Richard about his work and when he learned to embroider, he replied, “My interest for embroidery sprang from the necessity of keeping up with production for a line of cushions I was selling under the name Marisaal – I was in my mid 30’s at that point. I had met an amazing embroiderer on the subway by overhearing her conversation here in NYC and she was the only one who embroidered the toile for me back then. The line was very successful upon introduction and I was forced to help out with the embroidery in order to keep up our production. Soon, I found the perfect outlet for both my creativity and overall fastidiousness: Embroidery! Having no natural talent for painting or drawing, I found that a needle and floss allowed me to accomplish very similar results and that I actually did have some innate talent for it.”

He loves the pictoral quality of toile and the idea of embellishing this fabric came to him while waking from sleep. The original concept was to embroider Maori face tattoos onto 19th century figures but he soon found that there are very few toile prints out there large enough to accomplish this effectively. The artist adjusted the concept slightly to include any modification to the original pattern and the Toile ‘n Tats line was born.

When asked how he selects the elements to be embroidered he states, “I simply sit down with a blank canvas and go where the embroidery takes me. Very rarely do I have a clear destination in mind. Embroidery for me, like for many other things, is more about the voyage than the destination”

Just for fun, I asked Richard about his favorite DMC Embroidery thread, to which he responded, “DMC ‘s glow-in-the-dark floss became my instant favorite the moment it was introduced a few years ago. I frequently use in in pieces combined with other embroidery floss colors, so that when the lights go out there’s a built-in element of surprise.”

Richard likes to spend at least 4 hours per day stitching his amazing works in his studio. You can find more of Richard’s work on his Historically Inaccurate blog site, and glow-in-the-dark floss is part of the DMC Light Effects line of threads.


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