Embroidery! I take commissions now

Irises in stem and seed stitch
Irises in stem and seed stitch

I was recently commissioned to make an embroidered wall hanging – the mission, once I chose to accept it, was “a smallish wall-hanging embroidered with suffragette theme/colours/design and the words “We Were There” (a song by Sandra Kerr, for whom this embroidery was to be a gift)”. So, after further thought, and discussion with the commissioner (customer?), it ended up like this:

Ready for hanging
Ready for hanging

It is approximately 35cm high, and I’m putting it here in the hope that somebody will see and and say “Hey, *I* would like a customised embroidery too!” – and if that is so, please do get in touch!  I will always send sketches first, and won’t start any work until you’re are 100% happy with the design.

And because it’s a great one, here’s the song that inspired it:

**CLEARANCE SALE**

Hey everybody, I’m having a sale

I’ve been attempting to tidy up, and come to the conclusion that it’s time to just have a big old clear out. So, head on over to my Etsy shop, and you’ll find lots of wonderful, handmade goodness at knock-down, everything-must-go prices. How can you resist Dr Dashing? DrDashing

How can you get through Christmas without this calming, wizardly advice? Dumbledore stitching

YOU CAN’T. Buy handmade this Christmas – for someone else, or just for you 🙂

It’s for charidee, folks!

You like art? You like dogs? You like free music events? Yes, to any of these? Well get thisself down to The Riverside, Sheffield, this Saturday afternoon (5th October), for the launch of “Don’t Judge a Dog by its Collar”.  This amazing dog-themed art exhibition features works from artists across the country, who have donated their art to be displayed and then auctioned in aid of Rain Rescue, a local charity that rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes unwanted dogs – often pulled from the city pound just before their time runs out and they have to be destroyed.

Exhibition Poster
[Click on the image to see a larger version]
I submitted a stitching for this brilliant cause, inspired by my lovely Luna (who doesn’t have two brain cells to rub together, is the most accident prone hound I have ever met, and is a nightmare around cats. But I love her dearly.).

I am not a number
I am not a number

You will be able to view the artworks in person (at The Riverside), online (I’ll post the link here once it’s up) and/or in a shiny printed catalogue.  The exhibition will run for two weeks. There are some incredible, beautiful, funny, covetable pieces of art, so make sure you get a look, and maybe even buy one. All proceeds go to Rain Rescue, and as a small, local charity, they value every penny.

Craftivists, assemble!

Are you crafty? Would you like to try turning your hand to some craftivism? Have you done so before? If you answered yes, or no, or maybe, to any of those questions, then WE NEED YOU! It really doesn’t matter if you can or can’t sew, or if you shun the activist limelight (suggested reading: Why craftivism is good for introverts) – read on, and then get in touch about joining in, or even popping along to a local stitch-in.

Image: Craftivist Collective
Image: Craftivist Collective

This summer the Craftivist Collective is teaming up with War On Want to add their crafty shoulders to the “Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops” campaign. I’m joining in too, and together we’re asking people to take up craftivism to help change the world for garment workers across the globe – stitching in support of the stitchers, as it were. How? By stitching mini protest banners, and hanging them where people will see them. Mini whuh? How? Well OK, I’ll let Sarah (founder of Craftivist Collective) explain how:

“Our small, provocative Mini Protest Banners can help us reflect on this issue of sweatshops and what we can do as an individual (consumer, voter etc) to keep the spotlight on this ugly side of fashion we CAN change. Also by hanging your banner in public you can engage others in fighting for a world without sweatshops & supporting War on Want‘s www.lovefashionhatesweatshops.org campaign in a provocative but thoughtful way without people feeling threatened or preached at.”

I’ve been reading around the sticky subject of sweatshops, and where our clothes are made, and stuff like that, and did you know the legal minimum wage for garment workers in Bangladesh is just 11p per item? And that’s only in the places that respect the minimum wage laws, and the organisations who keep an eye on this stuff say that’s still only about half of what people need to live on.

I won’t go into the issues here, but if you want to find out more, there are plenty of articles out there about the nasty realities of sweatshops. About the poor safety (remember the recent factory collapse, in which over a thousand people died preventable deaths?), the sexual harassment, child exploitation, physical abuse, and of course the complete pittance of a wage. Hunt some out.

I’m not exactly a fashionista, but I do like good clothes. Well made, fabulous clothes, that make me walk tall and say ‘yeah, I look awesome today.’ But the idea that fellow human beings were treated like expendable commodities to make those clothes, well, that I don’t like. I can’t think of anyone who would, really. But what do we do to change it? We can’t wander about butt-naked all the time (well I can’t, not in Yorkshire – brrr), we need clothes!

No, these things won’t change by themselves. And we won’t change them by feeling cross about them. Not by reading a Guardian article and leaving a sad face in the comments thread, not by discussing it on Facebook (a place recently described by folk singer Gavin Davenport as “the new opiate of the masses”), and not, you may be surprised to hear, by boycotting sweat-shop produced clothing. As this 2009 article points out: “sweatshops are only a symptom of poverty, not a cause, and banning them closes off one route out of poverty”. We need to improve the factories, not close them.

Don’t be downhearted, here’s where you come in: we need as many people as possible to stitch a little protest banner (you can get a funky kit, or make your own), like this one:

Image: Craftivist Collective
Image: Craftivist Collective

Hang it somewhere it will be seen, take a photo, and send it to us. Your photo will be put with all the others from across the globe, and made into a giant collage to be displayed during London Fashion Week. A time where fashion lovers come together to display and admire creations designed by the Haves, and (most often) made by the Have-Nots. As Craftivist Collective founder Sarah Corbett says: “Wouldn’t it be brilliant if LFW 2014 was a show of only exploitation-free clothes? Let’s fight together for that reality one stitch at a time!”

Image: Craftivist Collective
Image: Craftivist Collective

I’m stitching my mini-banner right now. I got a kit from the Craftivist Collective which has everything you need (even a needle! They think of everything), but you can make your own too. I would recommend the kit though, because you can start straight away, proceeds go to help fund projects like this one, AND YOU GET A BADGE. I mean, come on! Choose your message (all we ask is that you keep it factual, and polite – this is a creative, not an aggressive, campaign), and get stitching! Send your pictures and the location details to me via this site. This protest started in the UK, but you do not have to be in the UK to take part. This is a global issue!

AND AND AND! I will be running at least one drop-in craftivism session in Sheffield over the summer, where you can join in, drink tea, and discuss more about this campaign, and craftivism in general, so do let me know if you’d be interested in, well, dropping in. And/or you have a suggestion for a stitch-in venue (my original choice is closed for a summer refurb – typical!). Seriously folks, who’s in? Watch this space… 🙂

Exploring embroidery

Oh dear,long time no postee, my bad. But I have been doing lots of stitching!  I finished that tree, whaddya think?  I think it looks a bit bare, but I’m not sure what to add – any ideas? Oh, and what did I learn? I learned that next time, I’ll start in the middle and work outwards. D’oh! But hey, that’s the whole point of learning.

IMAG0795-1

I’ve also been expanding my embroidery education to try out different filling stitches. I can do outlines, but I’ve never really done any solid fillings other than satin stitch (perfection of which remains elusive). So, here’s where I got to:

Leaves - stitching and colour-blending
Leaves – stitching and colour-blending

Lots of fun. What are you learning? How’s it going?

I’d like a vintage Cthulhu cross-stitch sampler please!

Longer ago than I care to admit, I received a request for an HP Lovecraft inspired cross stitch sampler.  The commissioner has seen other Victorian-styled samplers I’d done – mainly this one:

Redwork sampler
(From Joss Whedon's 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer')

and sent me a request that ran thus: “The main things I’d like is for it to look old fashioned, to fit in a space 12” tall and for there to be an octopus/squid hidden in it somewhere. The text I’m wanting is “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”. You can totally do what ever you like from there if its more fun.”

Cool! I totally did whatever I liked, and after an embarrassingly long time, I came up with this:

Let sleeping Cthulhus lie

I confess I was a little concerned at what I was being asked to realise here, so double checked this wasn’t an incantation to summon the great octo-thingy himself. Was assured: You can’t summon Cthulhu, you have to wait for him to awaken when the stars are right. That translates as “In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.” Phew.

I did have a lot of fun.  I managed to include the Elder sign, and applied subtle use of variegated thread,  inspired by the story “The Colour Out of Space” (a colour which is unrecognisable as any one colour).

I also filled in space with a lovely peacock – both a traditional sampler motif, and a bird of which I know this person to be particularly fond.  And here he is, the great squid himself, hanging in there at the end of the alphabet 🙂

Mr Squid

I love doing work like this.  To give an idea, this took me about sixteen hours to stitch, and probably at least two hours to chart up.  If you want to see what other geeky stitchiness I’ve been getting up to recently, check out my Flickr photostream, and if you’d like to talk to me about commissioning your own piece of antique pop-culture, please get in touch!  Past commissions have included a Neil Stephenson quote sampler, and a Nintendo birth sampler.  I believe anything is possible; challenge me 🙂

PS: This sampler was also blogged by the recipient, here.

Pssst – want a cross stitch?

I’ve been stitching for a while now, just for fun, but recently people have been asking me if I do, or am willing to do, more custom stuff.  Well, you’ll be pleased to know, the answer is yes!

It’s easy enough to find a cute kitten or country cottage cross stitch, and if you look long and hard enough you may well stumble upon just the right ‘inspirational quote’ for that hard-to-buy-for relative.  But what if you want a present that’s just a bit unusual, for someone who likes… Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Super Mario, or antique typewriters?  Well, your troubles are over, because I *love*  what is affectionately known as “Geek Craft”.   I love it!

There are some stitchings already available in my Etsy shop, but if you’re after something more personalised, please get in touch.  I can do pictures

Ryu: always my favourite Streetfighter champion

 

or quotes

(From Firefly)

 

The thing I love most is

Read more…

Happy New Year!

Goodness, 2011 already (and still no jet-packs), how did that happen? I hope y’all had a great holiday season, and gave and received lots of handmade presents. I started to teach myself (well, with books, obviously) embroidery last year, and I must say I’m pretty pleased with my progress so far. You’ll find some of these in my Etsy shop:

Some cross-stitchery

and this is what my eldest sister got for Christmas (I can’t show you what my other sister got, because I haven’t even posted it yet. Very bad)

For the curious, there is more embroidery to be seen on my Flickr stream.

Anyhow, I am determined to make this a year of working. I attended some training in December which means I am now qualified to offer accreditation on the Arts Award scheme, to Bronze and Silver level. I’m quite excited by the possibilities this opens up, so I’ll let you know how I get on. I’ve also got my first workshop of the year this weekend – a birthday craft party for someone who came to my workshop at Festival at the Edge back in July! How cool is that!

Created at workshop for Dronfield Library

I’m going to be updating my workshop pages and publicity this week, so do check back, or get in touch, for more info. I’m CRB checked, fully insured, and sensible 🙂 so if you fancy a crafty birthday party, or a workshop for your library/community group/staff, you know what to do!