27 March, 2013

desert wind inspiration

Happy Spring!
I've just returned from a ten-day vacation in sunny California, and although I wish the weather here at home were a bit warmer, I'm feeling quite rested, inspired, and ready to jump back into work.

First up is a brand new kit.

I definitely did a little happy dance when I finished the pattern and took a step away to get a good look. I really like it.

I'm calling this one Calico Flower -- as to me, the sweet print stitched up in these muted colors reminds me of a printed cotton dress, faded with sunshine and dusty from prairie or desert winds.

Part of that inspiration came from this swatch of fabric, which I found on the sidewalk near my little home when I was living in Los Angeles, and have had tacked to my inspiration board ever since.

I felt a little weird about picking up and holding onto a fabric scrap that I essentially found on the street, but the color and print and perfect worn (stepped on), beat up look just struck me as pure perfection. I'd love to know the story of where that little swatch came from and if someone misses it.

Another part of the inspiration came from my drives across the desert regions of this great country and my trip this past weekend to Joshua Tree, California. The colors I'm using for the kit are a little more saturated, but see what I mean?

I used to think that deserts were dull and lifeless, but since being first introduced to Joshua Tree and Death Valley, and then driving across the Southwest - Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, I am absolutely awed and enamoured with the flora and the hues of that region.

The above photo was taken on my recent trip. Here are a few from past trips. (I thought I'd posted these but in going back to link to them, realize I never got around to it.)

Death Valley in April of 2011 - filled with flowers, but they're so subtle that you only notice when you're close up upon them:

(Those are my friends Charles and Hana in the top left photo - they are the ones who introduced me to these magical places.)

On the east-to-west trip of my first cross-country trip, I was fascinated by the sky. (And I did blog about that, you can see it here.) On the west-to-east trip, it was the color of the land and the sky that held my attention. I took scores of photos and had the idea/intention to paint the walls of our next home hues taken from those photos. Turns out the landlords of the place we're in weren't too keen on that -- so that idea is tucked away for the next place.

Here's a little bit of what I mean:

There are the red rocks of Sedona, AZ:

(Okay, I may have had the "vivid color" setting on my camera engaged in that shot on the left. And this isn't one of the colors I was thinking for my walls -- but it sure is striking.)

There's the color I called "Arizona Yellow" and absolutely swooned over for miles and miles and miles of the drive:

I have A LOT of photos of that yellow... I think the second one is New Mexico, though, not Arizona.

And then there's the Painted Desert; probably one of the most breath-taking scenes I've gazed upon, in terms of natural color. The photos do not do it justice.

Here I am totally geeking out because I'd been interested in this place ever since 10,000 Maniacs sang about it - and that was a long time ago.

Anyways, back to the trip last week. Here are a few of the other highlights --
I only took a few other photos inside the park:

Having seen the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at the LACMA just a few days before this, I couldn't help but think that the dried decaying Joshua Tree trunk in the bottom right of the left pic resembled a bone in the landscape from the jumping-apes scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

And a couple of detail shots:

The texture on this little cactus cluster is fantastic - reminds me of those cactus soft-scultures that I remember seeing a while back at Anthropologie (do you know of the artist's work that I'm talking about? If you do, please let me know his/her name in the comments!). Also loving the color of that moss/lichen - especially against my red dress.

Who doesn't wear a fancy red dress in the desert? Or a pretty striped yellow one when blending in seems like a better idea?

A few shots from the place where we stayed. It was great; I highly recommend it if you're looking for lots of outdoor space and clean comfortable lodgings. (Some of the decor is a little weird, but hey, it's the desert - things are weird out there.)

And that's it for the photos I snapped! Other than that, I got in everything I wanted out of a little LA escape - quality time with some of my oldest and very dearest friends and super fun hang-outs with the greater circle of amazing peeps, delicious eats and/or drinks from places I loved when I lived there (Trails Cafe, Umami Burger - which, I hear, is coming to Philly soon, and Leo's Taco Truck) and good times at some new spots (Sage, Mohawk Bend), an architectural tour through Palm Springs and a *wonderful* evening cocktail and snack at The Parker (Lunch at the Ace Hotel was slightly less pleasant than it should have been due to terrible service -- Antonio, I'm talking about you.), a trip to the LACMA (as mentioned above), finally seeing the west-side shop Tortoise (after hearing glowing reviews from friends and folks at Martha Stewart Living), meandering around the hip CAMP shopping complex in Costa Mesa, seeing friends' kids and new babies (one so new he/she is still just a baby bump), and taking in all of the beautiful blooming flowers and plants that spring in Los Angeles has to offer. I wish it were closer....

But yep -- so now I'm back. I'm going to be working my inspired little tail off to make all of these new ideas happen. I've got a lot in the works -- collaborations, new products, new kit ideas, new stitched pieces, new colors and textures and maybe even some new mediums. Even though it's still cold here in Eastern PA, my vacation gave me a great boost. Spring weather will be here soon. Thanks so much for sticking with me through the dark dull months of winter. Let's make things happen. Love to you, -kj

Oh, PS, another thing I did while I was in CA -- I set up a tumblr; friends convinced me it would be a good thing. I don't know much about it yet, but if you tumble, too, let's link up - I think that's what makes it more interesting, right? Find me here.

PPS -- Find the new kit listed in my shop here. Thanks!

18 March, 2013

marching on..

Friends! Again, it's been weeks since my last update, but this time, it's not because I haven't been doing work, or that I've lacked motivation -- this time, it's that I've been SO busy, and doing SO MANY projects that I'm super excited about, that I just haven't given myself the time to put down the stitches for taking photos and writing about all of the balls I've got in the air at the moment.
Here are some of the highlights...

January, February and the beginning of March were busy with a lot of custom orders. Of course, most of them I didn't photograph, usually because I finish and frame a piece at the end of a day and then it's dark and I have to wrap and pack the piece to go out in the mail the next morning.... But some did get

A collection of pieces for a nursery:

I'm sure they look much better in their new intended home; here I was just hanging them on nails that were already on the wall in my studio.

The clouds were lined with gold instead of silver, and all of the hoops were painted gold as well.

The little commissioned "dream" piece inspired me to stitch up another "dream" piece that I think would be darling for a nursery.

I'm holding onto that one for the spring/summer fairs...

I did a set of custom-stitched Smiths quotes:

And, something a little different; a Biggie Smalls quote:

Done with metallic champagne-colored floss -- I love that it has that bit of sparkle (though oh-my-goodness, that stuff is painful to work with; so much fraying and breaking of threads...)

I finally learned how to use a serger -- something I've been meaning to tackle for the last couple of years. My mama has one and she and I spent a couple of days together figuring it out, so now, I can finally (more easily) make my own hankies and pocket-squares, with neatly rolled/serged hems!

I made some for dudes:

And, using a bit of the vintage fabric from my great-aunt Mary's stash, I made some for the ladies:

I'm still not completely confident with the corners, so I'll be working on that next time I'm visiting with mama, and then, I'll make up a bunch for those spring/summer fairs.

Also in getting ready for that season, I've made up a bunch more cat pillows, including this one in that amazing super-special folk print vintage fabric that I've been hoarding.

I'm kind of excited about the market fair season this year. I've got a vision for a chez-sucre-chez "mercantile" as well as a new collection of stitched pieces and the diy kits.

Speaking of kits -- new designs are in the works!!! I have one almost all ready to go, but I'm just working out the colors and sourcing those materials. That'll be in the shop sometime next week.

I had an idea for one that didn't work out to be quite as cool as I expected.... I was envisioning a really simple piece with the idea of a bouquet of forget-me-nots scattered around the hoop.

I like the sweet simplicity of the design, but not enough to make it into a kit.....

But, if you like it, here's the pattern: (click on it to enlarge)

As with my other patterns, it was designed to be worked on 14 count aida. The hoop size is a little itty bitty 3" hoop, and I think painting or staining the hoop really helps to make it look more finished. I tried white paint and dark wood stain, but I'd bet that colors that match any of the stitching colors would be pretty, too. (Note: If you are going to paint or stain the hoop - let it dry FULLY before even attempting to finish/frame the piece. I've had a couple of very disappointing disasters come from stains left on my aida from not-yet-dry paint or stain. No fun.)

And, a note on the stitching -- since the little flowers are so small, I used 3 strands of floss (rather than 2, as I usually do) for the yellow centers and the flower petals, and then 2 strands for the leaves. I wanted the flowers to pop just a little more than the leaves. I don't remember what exact DMC colors I used, but I think you could vary this in a lot of ways that would look just as sweet; red flowers, flowers of different colors, or bright bright pinks or blues on a background of black....

If you do end up stitching the pattern, I'd love to see a photo!

Lastly, I finished up this piece:

It's from a vintage/antique pattern that I've been carrying around for over 5 years, meaning to complete. !!! It's one of the very very few pieces I've stitched directly from the pattern (the last one I can remember was here) and I think I love it so much that I've got more plans for this same pattern.... It just works out in the hoop so well!

I have several other pieces in the works - and sooo many ideas now. I'm really happy that Spring is in its way and with the lengthening days, so too does my inspiration continue to grow. Right now, however, I'm on a little vacation; spending a few days with good friends in sunny California. (!!!) My Etsy shop is closed right now, but I'll be opening it back up again a few days before I get back. And then, a few days after that, I expect to be stocking it with some brand new Spring goodies. Really, I have so many things in the works right now - I'm excited to share. Stay tuned!!