Blog Hopping!

I interrupt this irregularly scheduled blog silence (while I work on my new blog design – I’ve not gone anywhere, promise, and I’m almost done!) to take part in a blog hop, as invited by my dear friend Carina. So a wave and a howdy to any newcomers who hopped here from Carina’s blog – and today I’ll answer a few questions about what I do, as all the hopped blogs have done before me, and send you hopping along to someone new at the end of my post. So let’s go:

What am I working on?

ALL THE THINGS. Seriously, I am trying very hard (and succeeding, somewhat) to stick to a small number of projects to focus on at a time. But even so, there’s still any number of embroideries, knitting projects and little bits of sewing floating around in various stages of completion!

Vasilisa Crewel Embroidery In Progress

But besides planning and starting new embroidery patterns for the shop, which is always happening, and a project or two that’s just for relaxation, there is usually one big thing I’m focused on at any given time. Right now, it’s our embroidered illustration of Vasilisa, which I’ve blogged about before.

Vasilisa embroidery in progress

I haven’t been able to get my greedy stitchy fingers on this as much as I’d like lately, but this is not a finish-in-a-week project. (I’m not generally that big a fan of finish-in-a-week projects anyway, to be honest, I like my embroidery to be a bit juicier!) I’ll be working on this embroidery, and then a second embroidery that will make this an illustrative set, for a looooong time. Sometimes I sit down and really move forward on it, sometimes it has to take a backseat to other work. I hope to show you all some new progress soon though!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’ll answer this one on behalf of Little Dorrit & Co., because that’s what I think of when I think of ‘my work’. So far, the stuff I do on my own is mostly dabbling and trying and seeing what’s what – in fact, the whole point of my Year of Samplers project.

Pippi Longstocking Pattern

So from Little Dorrit & Co’s perspective, I think the main difference is that we think of ourselves as an illustrating team, who happen to use embroidery as our medium. Our design focus is on illustrating a story, making sure the best details are included.

Lizzie & Darcy

Our Lizzie & Mr. Darcy Pride and Prejudice-themed pattern is by far our most popular, and I honestly think it works so well because of the tiniest detail: Lizzie’s facial expression. Close enough to touch, but looking away from each other, these two are clearly the always-at-odds romantic leads from Jane Austen’s classic. But Lizzie’s worried expression really makes the whole thing, if I say so myself. It’s just so Elizabeth Bennett! The details make our designs successful as story illustrations, and we get such pleasure out of getting them right!

How does your writing/creating process work?

As Little Dorrit & Co., Mom and I have a very semi-structured work pattern. When it comes time to work on a new design, Mom and I both read our subject book, then meet for a brainstorming session. Together we will come up with a general design plan and determine what exact details from our source should be included. Then Mom will go away for a while, work some kind of wizarding art magic and come back with a beautiful design plan. (Although Vasilisa is not a pattern in development, we’ve still worked the same basic way. You can see a bit of Mom’s original Vasilisa drawing below, littered with our notes on thread colors and stitch placement.)

Today I'm watching Noir and working on our Vassilisa crewel embroidery. Cozy!

Then I will take her sketch and turn it into a pattern with Adobe Illustrator, until recently, but now Inkscape. I love dem tools. The design will be tweaked and stretched and prodded until it’s juuuuust right, then stitched up. I do most of the embroidery, because it’s the part I love and, I like to think, excel at – and the part I want to always continue to improve. The design may be adjusted slightly as I stitch, if something doesn’t work right, and I try to pick stitches that make good use of the design elements and keep the customer interested in what they’re working on. Basically, I want the finished pattern to make a fellow embroiderers’ stitchy fingers twitch!

Why do I write/create what I do?

This answer, as a general needleworker (not specific to embroidery patterns or any one project) is so simple: because I don’t like doing anything else half as much. Sometimes people comment that I’ve done so many projects over the years, or that I have tips for nearly every needlecraft, and I have to remind them that I barely do anything else. My friends all have other hobbies, things they love and split their crafting time with – I don’t have that. I stitch and sew and knit – or write about them, or plan for them – with every possible waking hour, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Always Stitching!

Ok, I do love movies, and hunting for the perfect vintage pin dish and learning about music from the 1930s – among loads of other other things that interest me. But if I do give those things some attention, I’m probably knitting at the same time. I think about thread (or yarn) and fabric, and what I can do with them, with at least 80% of my brain at all times. I don’t really know why anyone does what they do, except that perhaps everyone has something that just seems to make sense to them, above anything else. I see a ball of yarn, a skein of thread or a fat quarter and it’s almost as if my mind becomes clear and focused. I just get it, you know?

Eels Lyrics Embroidery - WIP

Not to say it’s some sort of natural skill! I made a lot of really crappy crap before I started making anything nice, and my unspoken goal of every day is to learn more about the needlecrafts I love. I work my ass off at it and over many years, it’s started to pay off. I’m only now starting to make things that are as good as I want them to be – but I doubt I’ll ever stop trying to make them better!

* * * * *

Thank you so much to the lovely Carina for her kind introduction to me last week, I hope you’ll go check out her blog if you’ve never been there before, she makes such wonderful, colorful and happy things!

So many people have already been included in this hop that I only have one person to carry on the blog torch from here: the ridiculously talented Cate Anevski, the creative brains behind Bee’s Knees Industries (which is just so fun to say, don’t you think?!). I took a slightly embarrassed leap asking Cate to blog hop with me, because we’d never officially met, but I think her illustration and embroidery designs are simply wonderful! I’ve been a silent fan of hers for a long while, so I’m very happy to pass you over to her!

Take it away, Cate!

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