Posted by on October 21, 2011  Children's writing, Needlework
Oct 212011

NaNoWriMo 2011 Participant iconIt’s official! Harriet and I are in. We have both accepted the challenge to compose a 50,000-word novel in the thirty days of November. (Harriet will wisely stick with the Norwegian language for this.) But that’s not all, oh no no no. We’re also going to stitch a bookmark or two or three during writing breaks, and we’re going to record it all here. Woot! (The addition of the bookmark-stitching plan diverted my initial plan to post about this event over on the Funk & Weber World blog.)

Now, sometimes I say I’m in, but I don’t really mean it. Like last year. I knew I didn’t have time, but I said I’d give it a shot, and I did so only half-heartedly. I set myself up for failure and succeeded in failing. (Way to go, me!) I didn’t even download a 2010 NaNo badge for the sidebar. The 2011 badge replaced a 2009 badge.

This year, I’m all in. I’ve told Mike I plan to participate. Last night, I made Salmon Nuggets for dinner and froze a second batch for a November meal. I’m going to make and freeze chili. I put lasagna noodles on the shopping list for next Thursday and will make two pans over the weekend. Do you know how many meals we get out of two pans of lasagna? I’m sewing holiday gifts this weekend. All this in preparation for NaNo.

As for what I will write, well, I have no idea, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’ve never been so prepared as I am now, what with one meal in the freezer.

So, who else out there wants to give NaNo a go-go this year? What—are you afraid? Everybody’s doing it. Chicken, bwak-bawk-bawk!

All right, if you don’t want to write, will you stitch a bookmark? Harriet and I will accept any efforts to stitch bookmarks as acts of solidarity and support, and, believe me, we can use all the support we can get.

We will also gratefully accept casseroles and cookies if you care to deliver them to Alaska and Norway.

Who’s in?

Stitch N’ Pitch℠

 Posted by on April 27, 2011  Needlework
Apr 272011

Stitch N' Pitch logoIt’s baseball time, and TNNA’s Stitch N’ Pitch℠ program is under way. Stitch N’ Pitch℠ marries baseball and needlearts for The Perfect Double Play.

Events are scheduled for major and minor league games across the country. Think: a big stitch-in at a baseball game. Check the schedule to see if there’s an event near you. You can purchase tickets through links on the Stitch N’ Pitch℠ site, or maybe a local shop or stitching group is selling tickets. Then pack up a portable needlework project and go out and enjoy the game with family, friends, and other stitchers.

Cross stitch bookmark pattern: Play Ball! by Funk & Weber DesignsNow, if there’s not an event planned in your area, you can host your own minor league event! They provide a pamphlet with tips and suggestions for hosting. We don’t have a minor league team in Alaska, but we do have the Alaska Baseball League. I wonder if Stitch N’ Pitch℠ would add an Alaskan event to their roster if I get my act together and organize one? I suspect they will.

Funk & Weber Designs and Needle and Thread: Stitching for Literacy now offer two baseball bookmark patterns, wonderfully portable and perfect for stitching in the stands. Play Ball! was just released during The Needlework Show. It uses a Charles Craft Bright Ideas bookmark form and DMC 6-strand embroidery floss.

The pattern offers ideas for personalizing your bookmark, such as using your team colors instead of the red and blue in the model, and swapping out the right-hand glove for a left-hand one, if your recipient is a leftie.

Baseball bookmark cross stitch pattern, Going, Going, Gone! by Funk & Weber DesignsWe’ve also just made the Going, Going, Gone! cross stitch bookmark design available as a downloadable pattern as well as a kit. It uses a Tokens & Trifles Trinkets Star stitching card, DMC, and Kreinik fibers.

If you’re giving your baseball bookmark to a young reader, why not present it in a book? We’ve assembled a list of fiction and nonfiction baseball titles for a wide range of ages here on the Stitching for Literacy site.

Happy stitching summer! Let’s all stitch in public—and at baseball games.

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Collectors’ Bookmarks

 Posted by on April 16, 2011  Needlework
Apr 162011

Stitching for Literacy, Don's bookmark, "Sweet Rest in Heaven"Don, our bookmark-collecting friend, shares another hand-embroidered bookmark with us today. You can see much of his collection on his donmervin flickr pages.

When I began the Needle and Thread: Stitching for Literacy program, I looked into the history of embroidered bookmarks and discovered they had a heyday in the mid-1800s in Victorian England. They were called “bookmarkers,” and it was trendy to stitch them on perforated paper or “punch paper” with holes punched by a mechanical press. Patterns were printed in popular ladies magazines of the time, like Godey’s Ladies Magazine and Peterson’s magazine.

Don has a number of antique perforated paper bookmarks in his collection. I find it amazing to think how old they are. In the one we see today, the pattern is printed on the paper, and the embroiderer stitched over the pattern. If you look closely, you can see the printed blue lines: the border around the edge and some lines peeking out from some of the letters.

Stamped embroidery. This remains a way we stitch today!

Stitching for Literacy, Don's bookmark, "Sweet Rest in Heaven"

We can also still use perforated paper, although I’m not familiar with any stamped patterns on perf paper. Are you? I’m not sure if we have a wider variety of perf paper today or not. Wichelt Imports, Inc. offers an assortment of colors and patterns.

Stitching for Literacy, perforated paper for embroidery from Wichelt Imports, Inc.

And Gayle at Accents, Inc. offers perforated paper pre-cut for bookmarks along with a protective vinyl sleeve and a card for backing.

We even have fancy die-cut shapes. Tokens & Trifles sewing cards are reinterpretations of Victorian perforated paper products. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are available through Kreinik Manufacturing Co., Inc.

Stitching for Literacy, Tokens & Trifles sewing cards from Kreinik

We, Funk & Weber Designs, used the star card for the Going, Going, Gone! baseball bookmark pattern to celebrate the partnership between Needle and Thread: Stitching for Literacy and Stitch N’ Pitch, a program sponsored by The National NeedleArts Association.

Funk & Weber Designs: Going, Going, Gone! baseball bookmark pattern

The Going, Going, Gone! pattern was available only as a kit until last week. Now, the pattern is also available all by itself as a digital download.

Don points out a great article about the history of perforated paper needlework written by Diana Matthews and available on the Victoriana website. Check it out.

Do you stitch on perforated paper? I do, and I really like the paper look and feel. In a hundred years will another Diana Matthews write an article about the revival of perforated paper bookmarks in the early 2000s because of a program called Needle and Thread: Stitching for Literacy?

Edited for Shelly and others who want to figure out what Don’s bookmark says. It took me a while to get it. I’m putting the answer in white text under the image. When you’re ready to peek, highlight the space under the image to see the text.

Stitching for Literacy, Don's Sweet Rest bookmark

Sweet Rest in Heaven

Collectors’ Bookmarks

 Posted by on April 2, 2011  Needlework
Apr 022011

Stitching for Literacy, Don's hedebo bookmarkDon, our bookmark-collecting friend, shares another hand-embroidered bookmark with us today. You can see much of his collection on his donmervin flickr pages.

I’m going to take a stab at identifying how this bookmark was made, based solely on images I have from Don and my not-at-all-extensive embroidery knowledge.

For starters, I’m fairly certain the fabric is linen. The fiber is probably linen, too, or I suppose it could be cotton. White fiber on white fabric, or “Whitework,” encompasses many different techniques (reticello, schwalm, Hardanger, Hedebo, etc.) developed in many different places (Greece, Italy, Norway, Denmark, France, etc.).

Clearly, this is some form of cutwork: all the fibers in the circles have been removed, and the open areas are decorated with stitched fillings. Because the shapes are circles and because so much of the ground fabric remains, I’m going to call this Hedebo embroidery.

Hedebo was developed by Danish peasants in the middle of the 18th century. The name “Hedebo” is pronounced “HAY-the-bow” or “HAY-ta-bow” and means “Heather-born,” or people who live on the heath. As the Hedebo style developed, it was influenced by lacy reticello techniques.

Stitching for Literacy, filled circle in Don's hedebo bookmark

This circle is edged with what is commonly called a buttonhole stitch. We’re not going to get into the buttonhole/blanket stitch debate right now. The Hedebo buttonhole—and I can’t tell if this actually uses an Hedebo buttonhole—is closer to a knotted buttonhole than the blanket stitch buttonhole.

See how short those buttonhole edge stitches are? I’m going to guess the fabric in the center of the circle was snipped into wedges and folded back before being stitched in place with the buttonhole and subsequently trimmed.

That’s unlike Hardanger where we stitch the buttonhole first and then remove the internal fibers, cutting them flush with the edge stitches. I have never come to thoroughly trust the security of Hardanger edges despite repeated assurances from those who know way-yonder more than I do. What can I say? I’m a skeptic. I can get on board the folding back of hems, though.

Stitching for Literacy, a filled circle in Don's hedebo bookmark

Once the circles are open, they are filled again with lacy designs. With the working thread, we “throw” some base stitches across the open space and then wrap, weave, loop, and knot the fiber to make all sorts of interesting patterns.

Stitching for Literacy, hemstitched edge of Don's hedebo bookmark

The edge is hemstitched.

Anyone want to try duplicating this or making a similar one? I do! Have any of you done Hedebo embroidery or seen other samples of it?

Thanks, Don, for sharing this with us. If you remember where or how you got this, please let us know.

Super Mo: Embroidery Stash

 Posted by on April 1, 2011  Crafting, Needlework
Apr 012011

Hello S4L friends,

My mom has a group of stitching friends that she has lunch with once or twice a month. Well, a few of them have been cleaning out their stash and passing it on to me. I have received frames, a lot of fabric pieces (which will be great for bookmarks), patterns, etc.

Stitching for Literacy, Super Mo's inherited embroidery stash

Stitching for Literacy, Super Mo's inherited embroidery floss, beads, etc.

This case which opens on both sides is filled with all kinds of floss and beads. My head is spinning with ideas of what I can do with all of this. Also, in this case were three needlepoint squares. I finished them off and made them into bookmarks. Here is a picture to show you. Aren’t they cute?

Stitching for Literacy, Super Mo's orphaned needlepoint turned bookmarks

They have given me so much stash that I have to share the wealth. I have a box ready to be mailed to a stitching friend. She’ll love it. I don’t think Mom’s friends are done cleaning out yet. My mother has also informed me that she is almost ready to clean out her stash as well. What am I going to do with it all? Any suggestions?

Jen chimes in:

What a haul! That’s some good stash.

I love getting stash surprises because they always include things I wouldn’t buy on my own, which presents the opportunity to create things I wouldn’t normally create. New-to-me stash also has a way of making me look at my old stash differently, inspiring new ideas and combinations.

Inherited stash challenges us to find ways to use it. I can imagine those orphaned needlepoint squares looking up hopefully at Mo asking, “All right, what can you do with us?” And now they are oh-so-proud bookmarks ready to serve a reader. What a great lonely-orphan-gets-adopted story!

Harriet has a wonderful story about trading unused stash with friends: Once upon a time, she received in a stash swap something she herself had off-loaded years earlier. No one had used it. This time, however, it spawned a Brilliant Idea, and Harriet put it to use at last.

Do you have a fun stash story?

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Collectors’ Bookmarks

 Posted by on March 26, 2011  Needle and ThREAD, Needlework
Mar 262011

Stitching for Literacy, via Bibliobuffet, Lauren's mittens bookmarkI like the title “Collectors’ Bookmarks” oh-so-much better than last week’s “Old Bookmarks,” don’t you?

This week’s bookmark is kindly shared by Lauren Roberts, Editor-in-Chief of BiblioBuffet, an extensive website on Writing Worth Reading, Reading Worth Writing About®. I love that tag line. I recommend making a cup of tea before visiting that link because it’s easy and fun to spend some time there.

I love this bookmark! It’s a brilliant design idea: the pair of mittens connected by a string. Did any of you have your mittens connected by a string threaded through the sleeves of your winter coat? I think the purpose was to keep the wearer from losing them. I didn’t have mittens on a string, but I’ve always thought it a great idea, and the design translates beautifully and creatively into a thong bookmark.

Another thing I especially like is the easy, elegant finishing. I’ve peppered Lauren with questions to work out how it was done. The mittens are made of two layers of silk, wrong sides together. The layers are not adhered together. The flowers on the front are painted, and then the edges of the fabric are blanket stitched with a pearl fiber, possibly silk. The fabric edges are not turned under and hemmed; those are raw edges beneath the blanket stitch. I would guess that the cord that connects the two mittens is twisted cord.

Stitching for Literacy, via Bibliobuffet, Lauren's mittens bookmark, close

Here are some more details from Lauren:

The mittens are 1 1/4 inches across at the “wrist” end, and not quite two inches across at the widest point (including the thumb). They are 2 1/2 inches from top to bottom. The flower designs are painted on. The string connecting them (and that goes around the outside of each glove) appears to be and feels like silk too.

Stitching for Literacy, via Bibliobuffet, Lauren's mittens bookmark, backI believe it to be a nineteenth-century piece work. I had originally guessed that someone made these who was learning the yarn arts, but who really knows? They are simply beautiful. I bought this bookmark off eBay, where it was being marketed as a bookmark. I think I may have been the only bidder, but cannot be sure. If there were others, I certainly outbid them because I fell in love with them and was determined to pay whatever it took to win. I don’t remember what I did end up paying, but it was a very reasonable price. Obviously, they are one of a kind.

I think I like it so much because it is beautiful, because it is unique, and because it is a fabulous take on a “bookmark.” Who would think of a pair of mittens as a design for a bookmark? And the workmanship is exquisite. Someone with a lot of talent designed and made this, and I find that bookmarks of this kind are more interesting than mass-produced ones, even antique mass-produced ones. I’d never sell it!

Who else is inspired by this? Does it give you any ideas you care to share?

Now you know why I so enjoy the Bookmark Collectors’ Virtual Convention! Lauren is one of the organizers. The 2012 Convention is being planned now. I think those of us Stitching for Literacy should take pics of the bookmarks we’re stitching for the Bookmark Challenge to share at the 2012 Convention. Or maybe we should all stitch one-of-a-kind bookmarks for an embroidered-bookmark exhibit.