Friday, April 24, 2015

Stitch Together: Learning from Older Generations

Stitch Together - &Stitches

In my efforts to improve and expand my embroidery and fiber art skills, I have found myself looking to previous generations to learn from their experience. These are stitchers who have been working with fiber arts for decades and have so much to share. However, it can be difficult to connect with these older fiber arts aficionados since they don't show up very often among my peer group or internet connections.

I have found a few great ways to find some of these older ladies and gents, though, through groups and events that you can likely find in your own areas.

The first place to look is your local fiber festivals. If you've never been to a fiber festival, you're in for a treat. These events generally take place in the summer and are a place to connect with pretty much every level of the fiber arts community. You'll find vendors of all sorts of fibery goods, livestock farmers with every fiber animal you could imagine (goats, rabbits, alpacas, sheep, and more!), and fiber arts groups looking for new members. It is through these fiber arts groups that I have been able to find quite a few extremely skilled and experienced stitchers from the previous generation.

Another resource is the state or county fair. This is a place where you'll find many of the same groups as the fiber festival, but with much more. The benefit here is that there is something at a state fair for everyone, so you can take along not-so-fiber-obsessed friends and family. For instance, while I gabbed away with the Portland Lace Society, my beekeeping boyfriend had a long chat with the Portland Beekeepers Club, so we each found something that interested us.

The last place I have looked for experienced stitches is the Society for Creative Anachronism. For the uninitiated, the SCA is an international club of Medieval historical reenactors with local guilds for virtually any artisanal craft you can imagine, including, of course, lots of fiber arts. This group spans many generations, so you're bound to find many experienced and dedicated stitchers in your local branch (and learn a new craft or two while you're at it).

I'd also like to share a couple of groups I have found for any of our Oregon-based readers. These organizations are full of wonderful people who have been very generous with their depth of knowledge.

Damascus Fiber Arts School: This is a resource for classes in all sorts of interesting fiber arts, many of which I hadn't even heard of before meeting this group.

Portland Lace Society: This group isn't specific to embroidery, but these ladies really know their stuff in a whole range of fiber arts, including lots of stitching.

I hope this inspires you to get out and meet some of the experienced older generations of stitchers in your community!

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Random Freaky Flower Inspiration from Books and Movies

When the team decided on 'Freaky Flowers' as theme for our swap, I immediately thought of Audrey II. Audrey II is the singing and uhm...rather hungry flesh eating plant from the 1986 movie Little Shop of Horrors.

Photo by Donnie Nunley via Flickr  (CC)
This real 'Audrey II' looks pretty amazing too!

Photo by Brendan Riley via Flickr (CC)
The Day of The Triffids, about another not too friendly plant species, inspired many film and television makers (I particularly remember the 1981 tv series) but I kind of like this odd looking Triffid colony on an old Penguin book cover.

The Talking Flowers in Alice in Wonderland are definitely freaky and there's lots of room for interpretation on how to depict them.

More gentle, kid (and grown-up) friendly plant varieties can be found in Dr. Seuss' Lorax. Both the book and the movie feature a super fluffy tree called the Truffula. You can see some in the background of the movie trailer. The flower on the photo below could have been an inspiration for the Lorax' Truffula Trees. It has the same firm-yet-fluffy qualities!

Photo by Stefan Klopp via Flickr (CC)
And the animation movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs II  has nothing but freaky plants, fruit and veg so there's plenty of inspiration to be found there!

Hope you enjoyed this personal selection of Weird flowers and plants from movies and books. If you know of other book or movie related Freaky Flowers, share it with us in the comments!

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Found on Flickr: Native New Zealand Flowers



Not freaky, but wonderful inspiration for our upcoming swap anyway, are these wonderful embroideries by Liz Smith, aka The Stitchsmith. These are Kowhai and Pohutukawa flowers, such wonderfully bright and exotic-looking plants native to New Zealand. I love this detail:


Aren't they happy?! Find out more about these designs at The Stitchsmith website.

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Last Call: Freaky Flowers Swap

Freaky Flowers Swap with &Stitches
This is the final call to take part in the Freaky Flowers swap. We will close for sign-ups at 3pm UK time. That's in just under 3 hours. So if you want to take part in the swap, best be quick! :-)

Here is all the info about the swap plus the link to sign up.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Stitch Together: Finding a Stitching Group

Stitch Together - &Stitches

Finding a group of like-minded stitchy people can be an amazing thing, and there are quite a few ways that I have gone about finding stitching groups in my area. Here's a few pointers to help you get in touch with local crafters!

The library
The first stitching group I found was through a nearby library. They hosted a fiber group every other Thursday evening. The majority of people knitted or crocheted, but there were a few other cross-stitchers there. My local library also has a monthly knitting group that I have been meaning to go to with stitching in hand.

Check out your library's calendar, you might be surprised to find a craft night.

Local needlework or quilting shops
If you have a local needlework shop, check and see if they offer any open stitching times. You could also check out quilting stores; my local quilt shop has a UFO Night twice a month where people go and work on any manner of unfinished projects. Obviously the majority of people are there to work on quilting, but I've found several people embroidering there. Don't be afraid to check out other craft nights even if they aren't specifically cross stitching or embroidery. So many crafters dabble in multiple crafts, you never know what kind of conversation you'll strike up if you bring your stitching along.
Check out and you might find a craft group in the area. If not then maybe you should take the lead and start one!

You can search by category and there is a Hobbies & Crafts option. Unfortunately, there is only one knitting group in my area, but you might have better luck depending on where you live.

If you aren't able to find any groups, why not create your own? Most libraries have meeting rooms that can be used for free, and if your needlework shop doesn't offer a stitching time they might be open to the suggestion and be willing to start one up.

If you start a group it would be great to make a page or start a Facebook group so you can have a place to send people for information. Coffee shops and book stores usually have comfy chairs and room for a few people to get together for some crafting, and both Michaels and Joann Fabrics have classroom spaces that groups can use for free.  Remember, if you are a crafter looking for a group, there's a good chance there are others out there who are too!

Do you have any suggestions for other ways to find a stitching group? Or have you successfully started your own? Share your tips in the comments!