My Favorite Stitch Books

Now that you’ve seen my [much more organized] stash, I suppose I should share with you my collection of needlework books.

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My stack of needlework books is where I turn for inspiration, new projects, patterns, new techniques, and reminders for those stitches I haven’t used in a while. There is almost always one beside me when I’m stitching that I turn to for reference. These are essentially the books that taught me to stitch.

The books on the bottom consist of a variety of thrift store finds and vintage pass-downs from my mom, most of which are charts for cross-stitch.

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Then we move into the “wishful thinking” section. A tatting book I purchased so that I might be able to continue the tradition of my great-grandmother and tat snowflakes as gifts for all my friends and family. I’ve opened it maybe 3 times, gotten frustrated then tucked it away vowing to try again later. Maybe one day.

All of the books stacked on top of the tatting and vintage finds are used on a weekly, if not daily basis.

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Little Stitches is by far one of my favorite books, Aneela Hoey’s designs are so cheerful and her use of stitches is so textural. She even provides step by step instructions for each of her iron-on designs that are ridiculously easy to follow. I highly recommend this book for beginning stitchers who want a bit of a twist on traditional embroidery.

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Stitch: Step by Step is my bible for stitches. It covers all types of needlework in a wonderfully illustrated and full-color book. If you want a book that is all about different stitches this is the book for you.

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Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection has adorable embroidery designs that are a slight twist on the traditional patterns your grandmother used to stitch. The book comes with a DVD of all the designs so that you can create your own designs for your projects, which I love.

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New Crewel: The Motif Collection is the book that sparked my love of yarn and linen embroidery. The designs by Katherine Shaughnessy are modern, colorful and easily replicable. The projects all have unique stitches and amazing textures which always seem to pique my interest.

No matter how big or small your collection of stitch books is, it should be one that you can continually turn to for inspiration and education.

What are your favorite stitch books?

My Stash

They say a messy desk is a sign of genius.

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If that’s true, I guess I’m a genius!

Honestly, my messy nook was making it impossible to find stuff from my stash. Fabric was hidden under books and various bags I’ve taken with projects to my bi-weekly stitching circle were becoming tangled messes of thread.

In short, the mess was driving me bonkers, but I had a plan that I had been crafting for the past month or so and finally had time to implement.

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All it involved was a trip to IKEA for a super cute cart I saw about 6 months ago, but my local one never had in stock. I knew it would fit perfectly in the corner and serve nicely as a place for me to keep my stash organized and tidy.

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I also spent $1.99 on an additional thread organizer and $2 on extra bobbins so I could turn this:

{picture a pile of skeins of thread that had never been organized and rolling around in bags for weeks that I one *thought* I took a picture of}

Into this:

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Seriously, my heart is never happy than when my thread is perfectly arranged by shades – and I’m as far away from OCD as a person can be, except with my thread.

So now that I have room to see what I have, I can’t wait to start working on new projects, finishing old ones, and generally becoming more inspired to create and stitch.

Have you organized your stash lately?

PS: The chair was an awesome thrift store find here in Austin that I refinished. Here’s the before and after post on Meggie’s Life, my other blog full of fun life stories.

oh, stitch Interviews Linda Myers

When I made the decision to start oh, stitch one of my main goals was for it to be a place where  modern and fresh American needlework and fiber arts could be featured and admired. A place where I could share all of my favorite etsy shops with other stitchers so we could oooh and ahhh over the artists behind them and their work.

This is the first of those features written exclusively for oh, stitch. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming feature or have a needle artist you admire, please let me know on the contact page.

Q: Tell me a little about yourself.

A: Hi,  I’m Linda Myers.  I live in Austin, TX, transplanted 7 years ago from Northern California.  Most of my life was in California, but I’ve also lived in Colorado, New York and Connecticut.

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I’m an Austin transplant as well, by way of Arkansas a little over one year ago. What is your needlework story?

I got started in embroidery in my late teens – I did some crewel work, but then focused more on needlepoint.  I dropped needlework when I began knitting a few years later, but started up again 5 years ago when I discovered the fabulous Sublime Stitching patterns.

Sublime Stitching is the best, I adore all their patterns. How do you stay motivated? Have you ever had a piece that you just didn’t want to finish?

I’m inspired by fabrics and color and am surrounded by both from having my etsy shop and working part time at an amazing quilting fabrics store in Dripping Springs.  That all helps keep me motivated to finish my needlework projects, because I tie in the needlework to fabrics I’m working with.  I tend to not finish a piece if I just can’t get the colors working.  I might end up taking out stitches and trying again, or just moving on to a new project.  I don’t let it stress me.

Inspiration from fabric

Inspiration from fabric

What piece/design are you most proud of?

I love my dandelion design.  I created it after looking out my home office window one morning and seeing some in the yard (my yard was in dire need of mowing).  I remembered the turkey work stitch from something I’d made as a teen and thought it would make the perfect fluffy dandelion.

I love your dandelion design, too! The turkey work looks great on it! What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I tend to be a perfectionist and get frustrated with less than perfect stitching – the best advice I’ve received was to just let some of that go and have fun with it.

I found it so easy to be overly critical of my stitches when I started, too. Now I find the imperfections to be part of the charm of needlework. Personally, my favorite stitch is the chain stitch. What’s your favorite?

I love the backstitch for outlining and french knots for fill.  The backstitch is such a clean and simple stitch and look, and all the texture from french knots just makes me happy.

How long did it take you to “master” french knots?

French knots and I got on from the very beginning.  I think one of the tricks is how you hold onto the thread while pulling the needle/thread to the back of the work.  I was always able to keep a good tension and form a pretty knot.

Wow, you’re lucky! I struggled for a bit before I found my groove (and tension) – but now I love using them. What’s on your to-do list for 2013, needlework or otherwise?

I miss designing new patterns – I haven’t created one in close to 2 years and I’m going to focus on that for 2013.

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Thanks for taking time to talk to me, Linda! I can’t wait to see your new designs in 2013!

If you would like to see more of Linda’s work, please visit her etsy shop, lindylou2.

Needlework 101: Chain Stitches and French Knots

As promised, I’m back to show you 2 more of my favorite stitches.

I won’t leave you hanging, boo!

By now you’ve finished stitching the printed words of the free pattern we’re working from with the backstitch. I’m sure you’ve found your backstitch groove, too!

The next stitch we’ll cover is the chain stitch. It’s a great stitch to use for outlining or borders.

To start, we’ll thread our needle with all 6 strands of thread. In other words, we won’t be separating any strands like we previously have.  Then, tie a knot on the opposite end so that you have something to catch the fabric on your first stitch.

We’ll start at the end of the “tail” on the q.

First, bring your needle up through the back then immediately place it back into the same hole, creating a small loop.

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Next, hold the loop of the thread with your free hand bring your needle back up and to the inside of the loop you’re holding. The stitch should be about an 1/8 of an inch to the right of the last stitch you made, following the line of the q’s “tail.”

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Pull your needle and thread until the first stitch is complete.

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Next, bring your needle back down through the same hole it came on of and repeat the looping again.DSC_8697

Finally, bring your needle through to the front and inside the loop to create your second stitch.

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Pull to tighten your stitch and you’ll see that you’ve started to make a chain of stitches. Just keep following the line of your design with your chain stitches and eventually you’ll have something resembling this:

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Chain stitches are so pretty. I also love the texture they give to a piece.

Once you’ve finished your chain stitches, we need to dot the “i”!

I love a good french knot. They look complicated but they aren’t at all.

I used only 3 strands of thread for my knots and since it’s nearly impossible to photograph myself as I stitch my french knots, I’ll just point you to the BEST tutorial online for stitching french knots. Sublime Stitching seriously knows what she’s talking about!

I did a cluster of 3 knots for my piece, but you do what you like :)

In the end your piece should look something like this:

DSC_8810Just like that, you’ve stitched your first embroidery sampler AND learned three stitches in the process.

 

Needlework 101: Embroidery

Let’s move onto another type of needlework now that you’ve mastered cross-stitch - embroidery!

To begin, you’ll need a few supplies:

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  • Embroidery Hoop - I recommend a 5 inch diameter
  • Embroidery Thread - I recommend DMC brand (and if you follow my project, you’ll need 2 colors)
  • Embroidery Needle - I typically use size 5 for my projects
  • 8×8 inch square of fabric - Fabric scraps work great for this or you can buy a yard or two of a neutral fabric
  • Scissors
  • Water soluble fabric marker or transfer paper

Once again, you can find all of these supplies at your craft store!

For this project, I also threw together a little typography sampler for you to use if you’d like.

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You can download a black and white version, suitable for printing, here.

First, transfer the design onto your fabric. you can use several different methods, but I prefer to use carbon transfer paper. All you have to do is place your design on top of your fabric and start tracing over it with a pencil or pen. You may want to tape your fabric and design down for added security so nothing moves as you trace.

If you don’t have carbon transfer paper, have no fear! Another method I’ve used in the past is tracing the pattern onto my fabric using a water soluble marker. You’ll just need to find a window with good sunlight to tape your design to, then you’ll center and tape your fabric on top of the design and mark it with the marker.

Once you’ve transferred the design, you’ll stretch your fabric square onto your hoop, just like you did when prepping your canvas for cross-stitching.

It should look something like this when you’re finished:

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You’re getting good at stretching on a hoop aren’t you?

Let’s start stitching!

There are many types of embroidery stitches out there, but in this post we’re only going to use the backstitch. This was the very first stitch I learned and happens to be one of the more common stitches you’ll use.

To start, separate 4 strands from your thread and thread your needle. Tie a knot on the opposite end so that you have something to catch the fabric on your first stitch.

Let’s start with the first stitch. With embroidery, you don’t have to start in the center like you do in counted cross-stitch, so pick a spot on your design to start. I’m just going to start on the top left, like I was writing.

Bring your needle up through the back along the line of your design, your knot should catch in the back so you don’t pull your thread all the way through.

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Once your thread is in front, make a short stitch, about 1/8″ long, taking the needle down towards the back.

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You’ve made your first stitch!!

Next, bring your needle back through to the front of the fabric, but about 1/8″ in front of your previous stitch’s end.

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Finally, point your needle through the exact same point where the first stitch ended.

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See? Backstitch. Get it? Good!

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You’ll continue those steps until you’ve stitched the printed words on the sampler linked above. Don’t aim for perfectly measured stitches or you’ll make yourself crazy. The beauty of embroidery, and any needlework for that matter, is that it’s handmade – imperfections are part of its charm.

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It’s quite possible that at some point you’ll run out of thread as you’re stitching. Don’t panic. I’ve got an easy way to tuck in your thread and start anew!

Simply take the threaded needle and run in through your last few stitches, like so:

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Continue pulling it through until your thread has been “caught” in those stitches and trim the excess.

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Easy peasy!

Once you’ve stitched the printed words, you’ll want to rethread your needle with a different color and all 6 strands of thread. In other words, you won’t separate strands. Then, repeat the backstitch for the word “quite.”

If you’re feeling really spunky, come back tomorrow and learn 2 more stitches – the chain stitch and french knot – that you can alternatively use to stitch “quite.”

In hindsight, I probably should have chosen a different color thread to demonstrate with. Oh well, live and learn :)