embroidery

I feel like my creative energy is scattered all kinds of places lately.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I’m feeling inspired to try some new crafts and think outside the box. But it also means I don’t have much to show you in the form of finished objects or even a coherent plan. 

Surprisingly, though, I’ve been interested in embroidery! When I was a child, I learned some basic stitches and did a few cross-stitch projects. I recall a tea towel (or was it a set of two or three? I don’t remember) I made for a Christmas gift for my grandmother when I was about 9 or 10 years old; the motif was a set of blue bowls, and I used stem stitch and large cross-stitches on a printed transfer. I also cross-stitched an alphabet sampler that my mom sewed into a pillow for my dad, which he used for snoozing on the easy chair in the corner of the living room until that little pillow literally fell apart. I lost interest in embroidery somewhere along the way, for ordinary reasons I’m sure: I got older and other hobbies interested me more; it felt a little bit old-fashioned; I didn’t like the patterns, you get the picture.
 
OK, you have to admit that is kind of cute. But modern it ain't.
Why the sudden interest now? Well, the modern arts and crafts movement has made embroidery cool again! While there are still plenty of old school transfer patterns out there for exquisite floral motifs and round-faced girls doing the “Washing on Monday, Ironing on Tuesday” (or however that goes), are also designers offering fresh, bold ideas and designs that I’m more inclined to stitch. (Here are a few of them: Kristin NicholasCozyblueRebecca Rinquist)

For another thing, my own kids are getting to the age where they can handle doing activities that require more intricate fine motor skills, and I have found that whenever they have something to keep busy with during down time after school or on weekends, whether it be doodling or knitting or building with Legos, they pester me a lot less about being bored. And while I wouldn’t have necessarily guessed that embroidery and hand-stitching would be an activity they chose to encourage their creativity (re: keep them out of my hair), they love it.

Daniel was very proud of his dragonfly.
And remember the neck warmer Anya designed for Stuart?

Really, this all started when I ordered a couple of books by Kristin Nicholas: Crafting a Colorful Home and Kids Embroidery. I ordered them directly from her website (she signed them! And included picture postcards of her sheep in the order!!). I admit, the Colorful Home book I bought mostly for the eye candy. I am not inclined to stencil my walls or paint exterior doors or even start a mood board on my own, but I love paging through the book and daydreaming. Totally frivolous, I know. I think I'm about to cave and get Colorful Stitchery, too, because I checked it out from the library and I never want to give it back!

Image from kristinnicholas.com


The Kids Embroidery book, though? TOTAL HIT around here. It is awesome: full of detailed instructions and projects kids might actually want to make. My kids love looking through it and finding new stitches to try. Anya is still dabbling and tends to start things without necessarily finishing them. Daniel, though, has thrown himself into some of the projects, learning new stitches, and creating his own. We’ve been following Kirstin Nicholas on IG and sharing his projects with her, and he is tickled pink every time she “likes” a photo of his handiwork.

Just trying some stuff out.


What makes this book so good?
  • ·      The projects are adorable. Daniel has made the stuffed cat and dog, and is working on a second stuffed cat for a gift. (I won’t say for who.) With my help, Anya made a mouse of her own design  and gave it to my cousin Stephanie for her cats when we visited over Easter.
Allow me to introduce you to Professor Meow.


Cutest. Cat. Toy. Ever.

Softest puppy ever! And we even forgot to add his ears...

  • ·      The projects are also doable! My kids, at the ages of 7 and 9, need help preparing fabric and threading their needles but then they are set to go. Independence is a wonderful thing.
  • ·      The kids featured in the book are gender and ethnically diverse. In other words, this is an embroidery book that features plenty of boys, and plenty of non-white children. This is a BIG DEAL to me. Why should embroidery be just for girls? Why should the subject matter be restricted to flowers and butterflies? Daniel’s first project was a creeper (it's a Minecraft thing) stitched in black on bright green fabric, o
I am all about challenging gender roles (I can just hear my mom rolling her eyes right now, we talk about this a lot) and allowing children to engage in any creative or athletic activity they want to without feeling uncomfortable or ashamed. Finally, there is at least a conversation these days about girls in sports and girls being strong and smart and girls speaking up for themselves. While there is a long way to go in terms of true gender equality and empowerment, we’ve at least reached the point in our society where we can stand up for girls and champion girl power, even if we’re not exactly sure how. But what about boys? Those boys who find satisfaction creative endeavors, not just sports? Boys who like cooking or sewing or needlework? Boys, like my Daniel, who is a total math whiz and can outrun me and roll in the mud and then come home and extol the virtues of well-made pesto while experimenting with his embroidery stitches? Let’s not leave boys out of the conversation, is all I’m saying here. (*Stepping off the soapbox now).




Comments

Gina said…
Love this! From a woman who loves science and knitting and all things crafty and all things super hero, thought I'd share this post of wonderful kids clothing that are now androgynous but rather freeing. http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6925592

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