Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: West Coast Love

It's here!  Megan Eckman's new e-book, West Coast Love, is now on sale.  This is a book of 20 patterns inspired by the West Coast.  You can make patterns inspired by everything from animals to landmarks to pop culture references.

Where young people go to retire
There won't be any printed books available, but e-books offer a host of advantages for the crafter.  Instead of thumbing through the whole book for the desired pattern, all you need to do is click on the name in the table of contents and there you are!

They wear clothes from the past, but use computers from the future!
The introduction includes a list of necessary supplies, a stitch guide, instructions for different transferring and finishing methods, and an explanation for how to print out patterns.  Each pattern comes comes in two different versions--one for direct tracing, and a mirror image for iron-on transfers.  Printing the pattern from your computer is especially helpful.  You don't have to fiddle with the enlargement settings on your photocopier, or deal with weird curves in the pattern from trying to flatten a book.  All of the introductory material is detailed enough for beginning stitchers to understand.  The same goes for the instructions on each pattern, which include thread color and stitch recommendations.  (My one critique is that the stitch guide has simple, computer-illustrated diagrams that take a side view.  When learning new stitches, I prefer detailed drawings or photographs to really understand how each step in the process should look.)

Eckman explains that she designs simple patterns with basic stitches so that beginners can start stitching projects sooner, and make projects just as beautiful as the ones made by more experienced embroiderers.  She sticks with backstitch, running stitch, and split stitch (with some satin stitch for filling in eyes.)  Each pattern has a limited palette of 2-4 colors.  The result is a pattern that is easy and quick to stitch, but it looks wonderfully evocative and detailed when finished.  The landmarks are identifiable, and birds look like they are going to fly off of the fabric.  With this book, beginners will have all the basics they need to make an impressive embroidered picture.  The patterns can also hold the interest of embroiderers with more experience.  Eckman promises that she "won't judge" if you use her patterns as a jumping-off point for more elaborate designs.

If you want a preview of the book or are looking for a project to stitch in one snowed-in weekend, click on the link below to get a FREE pattern of a Stellar's Jay.  (All of these awesome bird patterns are making me seriously consider taking up bird watching.)

Whether you are a beginner looking to branch out, a fan of natural beauty, or are keeping the dream of the '90's alive, West Coast Love is a great addition to your pattern library.

*Please note that I received a free copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Blurst of Times . . .

I completed Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery's yearly samplers for the last two years.  In 2013, it was woodland themed.  In 2014, it was all about fairy tales.  For 2015, the theme is portraits of famous characters from classic literature.

The colors combinations feel fresh and unusual for a cross-stitch project.  The fabric is grey, which looks very nice when combined with the delicate thread color palette.  The only drawback is that the grey makes it harder to stitch in low light.  I have to make the most of the daylight I have during the winter.

Another difference is that it is 32-count fabric.  Normally, I have worked on 28-count fabric.  The higher the number, the smaller the stitches.  I am working more closely to match the fabric with the correct size of needle, so I am using a size 26 tapestry needle.

The layout of the pattern will have 12 lacy frames stitched in pastel, hand-dyed threads from Weeks Dye Works.  The effect is quite lovely.  I feel like sipping hot lavender tea while I work.  The pattern came out in January, but I was slow to start because of my work on the Torah stitching and scrub jay  (as well as some other gifts.)  So far, I have half of the frames done.

 Two months have been released so far. Can you guess which books are represented?
  1. "Curiouser and curiouser!"
  2. "Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow."

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Stitching in Action

My projects from last time are now off to their final destinations.

Megan Eckman of Studio MME is using my scrub jay in a photo shoot for her new e-book.  She'll send it back to me this week.  I can't believe this little bird is flying to Washington state and back!  Stay tuned for more information about the e-book, and a special surprise for my readers.

The Torah Stitching is on its way to Toronto.  Before I shipped it, I took this video of what my verses sound like when chanted out loud.

The organizers of Torah Stitch by Stitch loved it.  They are going to put it on their website, as well as show it to potential donors as they continue to raise money for their exhibition.