15 April, 2014


Here, the latest off my hoop:

This is the project that I'd started before and taken with me to Italy, but not really worked on at all when I was there. I finished it up last week and am quite happy with the way it turned out; I absolutely love the colors....

The motif of moths is a recurring one for me. One of my first tattoos was of a moth, and then, years later when I started stitching, one of my very first original cross-stitch projects was the silhouette of a moth. (See it here, way back in November of 2007!)

Those photo copies are some of the ones I made when I was researching moths for my tattoo design (that, um, would have been somewhere around 1997.... yikes). I can't find the one that I ultimately used as the basis for the tattoo... I spent about a week at the Boston Public Library poring over old entomology books; it was kind of delightful.

Another perennial source of inspiration is this collage by Max Ernst:

I've had a postcard of the image since those Boston days and it's been part of my inspiration board off and on since then. The image here was taken from the Stadel museum and you can find more info about the collage here.

I've added the "Moth Study" piece to my Esty shop -- link here is you absolutely love it and need it in your life. Also, I'm working on a pattern/kit version, though it'll be a little different, as the fabric color I used here is now discontinued.... Keep an eye on the Etsy shop in the next week or two for that.

04 April, 2014

Vacation, all I ever wanted...


I've just returned from a much-needed little vay-cay... a week in Italy, with a home-base in Florence.
It was wonderful - of course; how could it not be?
Travel is something that I've long considered to be an integral part of what makes me who I am. When I was in my twenties, I had occasion to travel kind of a lot, and I think those experiences, at that time in my life, colored the way I see the world, and, to that extent, myself.
Since making chez-sucre-chez my full-time job, travel hasn't been quite as easy....
But about a month ago, in the midst of my usual end-of-winter blues, I decided that I very much needed a get-away. So, in a rather spur-of-the-moment mood, I booked it. I did it quick, before I could talk myself out of it.
And I'm glad I did.
Originally, I was going to go alone. And then, the day after booking, I invited my mama - and I'm glad I did that, too. It made it a different kind of trip than I'd originally planned, but I am so glad to have had the opportunity to share that with her and to show her a city that I love in a country that I love.

We stayed in a fantastic little hotel which I highly recommend to anyone visiting Florence; Loggiato di Serviti, in Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, just north of the Duomo. All of the staff at the hotel were friendly and accommodating, our room was wonderfully charming, and the location couldn't be beat. Unfortunately, one of the buildings in our square (piazza) was under construction, so the view wasn't quite as picture perfect as it normally would be, but everything else was all I/we could ask for.

I'd seen most of the major sights; the Uffizi, David at the Accademia, the Duomo and its famous baptistry doors by Ghiberti, Pitti Palace and the Ponte Vecchio. If I'd done this trip alone, I probably wouldn't have gone to them all again, but this being Mom's first time, she wanted to see those things and I wanted her to -- so we saw it ALL. We must have walked every street in the city. That's one of the things I like about Florence, and why I chose that city for this trip. It's a small city - you can walk from one end to the other easily in just an hour or so (stopping for an espresso or gelato along the way, of course), but there is *so* much to see. The history of those buildings and those streets just blows me away. Painted frescoes everywhere - architectural ornamentation and sculpture that's been there for well over 500 years; it's breathtaking.

In most of the museums you aren't supposed to take photos anymore. I'm pretty sure I took lots of photos in them the last time I was there (actual film photos! Remember those?!) but there were signs everywhere saying "no foto" this time (no photo, period - not just no flash photos).... Not like that stopped everyone. I saw lots of cell cameras out and more than a few digital photos being snapped. I'm such a goody-goody though that I couldn't bring myself to take a photo if I'd seen a sign asking me not to. I was over-the-moon inspired and in love with all of the paintings featuring beautiful golden halos. I especially love the pre and early Renaissance ones. When I was in college, I took every art history class I could. If my school had had an art history minor, I would have easily had the credits to do so, but, alas, it didnt - so I just did what I consider an unofficial minor in art history. Anyways, my Renaissance Art classes were some of my favourites and the first time I went to Italy and saw of that art in person, I was floored. The Sienese painters and their use of gold and ornamentation --- seeing their works made me weak in the knees! This time was no different. Although I love the Botticellis and the Titians and the Carravagios and the Filippo Lippis - it's the works by those lesser-known guys that I really love. All that gold! And those bright blues and deep reds. The halos, the decorative detail of textiles. Oh, it makes me swoon. So, we saw lots of that stuff, and this is the only photo I got:

Ha! It's a terrible photo because I wasn't supposed to be taking one but I wanted to capture those halos SO BADLY that I tried taking a sneaky cell-phone photo, but I felt so guilty doing it that this is the best I could do. And then I ran away. Boo.

With all of the treasures inside the museums, there is just as much on the streets and in the many many churches and palaces. Besides the paintings of halos, I was going crazy for all of the beautiful frescoes and decorative ceilings. The amount of detail and the age of these works of art (though many have been restored at some point through the years) in this city is just overwhelming.

These are all ceilings:

And then there's the Duomo, of course. It is to Florence what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, though not quite as high. No matter how many times I've seen it, my heart always does a little pitter-pat whenever I see it peeking through buildings of a side-street, or from a hill-top vista point.

Both of these were taken from up in the bell-tower:

We took a couple of day-trips; one to Fiesole, and one to Settignano. Both were lovely - much (much) smaller than Florence, and quiet, with little winding streets and amazing views of the city below.

We got to Fiesole late in the day and, after climbing up a craaaazy steep walk, looked out over Florence and watched the sunset with a handful of locals and tourists. It was pretty hazy, but still - that view is not too shabby.

It's hard to see through the haze, but that's the Duomo in the far distance just a little right of center in the left-hand pic - and, in true Italian style, a couple making out in the bottom left. :)

We had a beautiful day in Settignano - enjoying a picnic lunch at a quiet park, surrounded by olive trees, and walking the walled tiny back-streets.

The food, obviously, was amazing. That cheese in the photo above? Oh my goodness - the mozarella (di bufala) was so good I almost cried. Also making me almost cry is that we barely put a dent in it - and, that we got it the day before our last, couldn't take it with us. I wish you were there to share it with us! Most of the rest of the food got eaten up quick before we thought to take a photo. We walked so much that by the time we stopped for food, we were pretty crazy hungry! Gnocchi, fresh pasta with cacio e pepe,
ravioli with truffle sauce, stracciatella cheese and artichoke crostini, percorino toscano, wine, wine and wine, cafe lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, gelatos, more gelatos and then some organic gelatos, cantucci, pizza, cornetto.... we ate it all, and it was good.

And now it's time to get back to work! I brought a new piece with me, but even with the 8 hour plane rides, I only put in about 60 stitches. Ha! It was a vacation, indeed, but now I'm back and it's time to make stuff happen. xo to you all!

15 January, 2014

inside look

This is what it looks like when I'm working on new patterns:

Creating design elements, and then adding, subtracting, and dragging them around to come up with the layouts I had in mind. I usually create new files for each new design, but as you can see here, I did most of my recent kit designs on the same palette.
What you can't see is what I cropped out -- the work on this palette that is to the right, just out of view.... I've got this idea that I just can't shake, but it's taking me a while to make it happen just as I imagine it... It's not a new kit, I don't think, but definitely a new project. I'm really excited about it... Hoping to make it happen in the next few weeks. !!!

06 January, 2014

Begin the Begin

Hello friends! Happy 2014!
It's been nearly a month since my last post. Yikes! Sorry about that... the holidays were a wonderful mad busy crazy few weeks. I sent so many of my diy kits into the world, stitched up some really wonderful custom orders, spent good quality time with my family and friends, and now I'm digging out and getting re-organized. In true January spirit, I'm giving myself this week to get my studio back into shape and do some de-cluttering of my home and mind.
I'll be back here at the end of this week with some photos and a proper post.
Thank you all so much for your support in making 2013 pretty darn great. 2014 is looking like it's going to be quite interesting... big things to come!
I do have *one* new thing to share with you right now; I've added a new kit to the shop!

The colors were inspired by my grandmother's dishes, and the design by Liberty prints and fancy perfume. I love me a tiny floral print, design, or motif!
The aida cloth for this one is a discontinued color, so there are only a limited number of these kits available. Direct link to the listing is here.
Happy new year, friends! xo.

09 December, 2013

Some New Things

Oh boy, the weather yesterday was a little unexpected, no? It was here in southeastern Pennsylvania. It made the Art Star Holiday Market at Winterfest a bit of a challenge; apparently, we vendors all got an early enough start to be able to get there just fine, but by the time the event opened, it seems that most other folks were snowed in or had just decided to enjoy the snow day at home. So, we didn't get so much business, but we made the best of it! My little shop set-up was in a shipping container shared with Blackheart Letterpress and As the Crow Flies & Co, which was fortunate, because they were all really fine folk and we spent the day sipping hot boozy drinks, sharing conversation, and laughing good-humoredly at the foot upon foot of snow that fell and the absolute lack of shoppers. And then it took me three hours to drive home, when it's usually forty-five minutes. That was a little miserable. I almost missed Homeland!
Aaaanyways, the market is going on several more weekends this month, and I'll be there this coming Saturday, so if you want to check it out, plan on coming then! Hopefully, the weather will be better...

Most of my attention the past couple of weeks has been preparing for that market, and shipping out my orders just as quick as they come in, but here are some little things that have happened in between:

New colors of tea towels! You saw the orange back here in this post, and the violet I got in once last year and decided to restock it. The color is actually so much more pretty than I've been able to capture with my camera.
And now there's turquoise, too!

I've got some orders for monogram towels to stitch up today; I love sending these out into the world. They're truly one of my favourite things that I make and I stand behind them one-hundred percent. Using them in my own kitchen for years, I know they stand up wonderfully to use and abuse and I just think they make lovely gifts. Sorry, not trying to be a pushy sales woman, I sincerely do just love them!
But, um, if my sales pitch did get you thinking you'd like to give some for gifts this season, get those orders in! I'm super on-top-of-things this week, so current turn-around time is just two-four days, so there's plenty of time to have them delivered before Christmas! Direct link to listing here.

Other new little bits --
I have new retail packaging for my DIY x-stitch kits!

Orders from my shop and sales of my kits at craft fairs will still be in the little recycle-able plastic bags, but for retail shops, where shoppers are not seeing stitched samples of the kits, or even photos of them, I think they these new boxes and labels really make a difference. If you have any great shops in your area that sell hand-made goods and stuff like that, where you think my kits would be a good fit, would you be so kind as to email me the name and location of the shop? I'm working on getting them into more stores.

And, did you see my Doily kit in the gift guide of the December issue of Martha Stewart Living? Hooray hooray hooray! That is seriously my favourite publication so for me, to see one of my products on the printed pages of Living is kind of huge. I am sincerely grateful to the team over at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia for all of the kindness and support they've shown chez-sucre-chez.

Since the publication, I've gotten several orders and a few emails asking if the Doily kit would be a good size to use as an ornament. Why yes! It is! The Doily kit/piece uses the same size hoop/frame as my ornament kits - perfect for tree trimming. Inspired by those emails, I styled the Doily all dressed up as an ornament:

(I took the pic with the Instagram camera app on my phone, I guess that's where that blur came from? Or maybe my lens was smudged... that was probably it, actually.)

In the Christmas spirit, I've been replenishing my supply of strawberry sachets for use as stocking stuffers:

Making these, working with the lavender, is soooo relaxing.

Oh! And I made up more carrots, so that I could fulfill some orders I'd gotten for my little plushie farm fruits/veggies sets, and while I was at it, I made some with little rattles in them! It was actually something a customer at Renegade Brooklyn had suggested, so I tried it out -- putting a little jingle-bell in with the stuffing, and the result is so sweet.

The rattles in this batch are really subtle - I chose the tiniest jingle bells, not wanting them to be a noisy racket, but I think once the stuffing is all around them, the sound really gets muffled. Next time, I'll go with slightly larger bells.

Also new -- I scored some sweet heart-print fabric and made bowl covers from it. They're my new favourite.

Time for me to jump off the computer! I've got lots of stitching to do and many little projects that I want to get to while we've still got this beautiful white light. Happy Monday to you all! xo.

04 December, 2013

Art Star Holiday Market at Winterfest

This coming weekend, if you are in the Philadelphia area, you should come on out to the Art Star Holiday Market at Winterfest; I'll be there on Sunday.
The Holiday Market is going on every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from now (last weekend, actually) until New Years. There are vendors lined up for each day, some the same, some different. AND there is food and drink and ice skating! And a fire pit, with seats all around it, and an Xmas tree lot. Sounds cool, right?
I went last weekend to check it out and I can say, I was impressed. The space is really cool looking -- it looks NOTHING like the usual set-up/space of Penn's Landing.
This is a crummy shot I took with my phone last weekend, but you can get some idea of the space:

The shops will all be set up in those shipping containers, and behind them, underneath that big tent, is the food and drink, along with lots of picnic tables and even some cozy lap blankets. Fun, right? The food wasn't set up yet, so I can't vouch for that, but I can tell you that the menu looked really delicious. I had a Snap (Art in the Age) Spicy Chai cocktail and that was super good -- warmed the tummy and the spirits!

I'm very much looking forward to setting up shop in one of those shipping containers. It's different than any other set up I've done, and I think it'll be really cool. The biggest thing is that we need people to know that it's going on! Please, if you are a Philadelphia local, or you know Philadelphia locals, help spread the word! Of course you can go on any Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, but I hope you'll come while I'm there! I'll be there this Sunday (12/8) and next Saturday (12/14) Here is the website, which'll give you more info about what you'll find there and the vendor schedule for each day. And here is the facebook page, which I'm sure will be posting info about updates and vendor sneak peaks. Please tell your friends, family -- anyone who might be interested in popping by. And, if you do make it out there, please come by and say hello!