Welcome to What Are You Working On? where we talk about (and often display) our handiwork, whether yarn and fabric crafts, woodwork, metalwork, art, or anything else “crafty”.
Above is the latest embroidery I’ve finished. It was a project from the 2021 National Embroidery Conference in Chicago. It used a variety of stitches I had never tried before, particularly the center trellis stitch.
About 5 years ago I decided to “up my game” in embroidery. I could do a decent embroidery, but I wanted to improve my knowledge and skill. I’ve learned a lot in the last five years and I thought in this diary, I’d share some of the ways I’m learned.
1. Local craft stores, particularly focused in your craft of interest. For quilting that easier these days, a lot of quilt shops have classes. However, that isn’t the only craft stores that may have classes. For a while I drove an hour each way to a quilt shop that once a month had embroidery lessons. I learned a lot there. The local craft lumber/wood shop has classes. I’ve tempted to take their class on doing a lathe turned bowl, but I don’t think my wrists would manage that. Sometimes you have to look a bit and also rely on word of mouth. I didn’t know about this shop offering embroidery classes until someone told me.
2. UTubes videos. This seems obvious and it is. Hunt around and there are how-to videos on everything. For quilting, I like Pat Sloan and Missouri Star Quilts best. There are plenty more, but I like to leave some time for crafts. For embroidery I like Mary Corbet (she is the best) and Sarah Homfrey. I am Patreons for both of these women. It is very cheap to become a patreon, as little as $3 a month. But for both of these women you don’t have to become a Patreon. All the information and wonderful videos are out there for free. Also on the Internet, you can also find written information on how to do many crafts, but I am a more visual person.
3. Conferences and Seminars. OK, these can be expensive, I know, so I focus on those that I feel can really teach me something new. I’m taking an embroidery seminar in Cedar Rapids IA in June. It’s a local seminar so not as expensive as some, but still lodging costs and some food in addition to the cost of the seminar. I felt it was worth the cost when I looked at the classes. I’m taking two classes. One is fairly easy and not worth the trip, but the second class is something else. I looked at it and thought there is no way I can do that. I want to stretch my abilities though, so I’m going to see what I can learn from that second class.
4. Books and Magazines. Again this is obvious, but remember all books and magazines are not equal. I have a fairly large library of embroidery and quilting books and magazines. A few are excellent, some aren’t that good, most are just decent. When I look at books and magazines, I want something that doesn’t just have patterns are nice pictures, but describes the techniques involved. It’s great if you can get a book in advance and review it, but that rarely happens. One of my favorite embroidery books a friend got me from a library culling. It’s an author I’ve never heard of, but the book is very good.
5. Craft consortiums? I’m not sure how to describe these, examples are Craftsy and Domestika. They charge an annual fee. They cover a great many handcrafts, like quilting, dyeing, painting, sewing, etc. You can check them out and see if they cover crafts that interest you before joining.
6. National Organizations. I belong to EGA (Embroiders Guide of America), and AQS, (American Quilting Society). On their websites frequently you can find tutorials and projects, they also produce magazines that have interesting coverage and patterns.
I did the embroidery below as an individual online class with EGA. This isn’t blocked or framed yet. I don’t have a picture of it framed on my brother’s wall. There were a couple of sections of Brazilian stitches that I have never done (see orange and purple flowers.) And I love the bunny.
7. Reenactment Organizations. I belong to the Society for Creative Anachronism. It focuses on about 600 AD to 1600 AD. Most everyone in the organization is more than willing to help someone with a project. There are also WWII and Colonial Reenactors and Civil War reenactors, etc. If your craft encompasses some of these time periods (like cross stitch samplers or period costumes) then these are places you might go to find some help that might improve your knowledge.
8. TV shows. PBS has a variety of craft shows on woodworking, cooking (a lot of different cuisines), knitting, and quilting. There used to be a show, Martha’s Sewing Room, that ended each episode with a section on embroidery. It is long gone and one of my saddest aspects when lightening hit the house and fried our TV and video recorder is that I lost all those episodes I had carefully saved.
9. Online classes. These are different from the class compiling in Craftsy etc. These are online/virtual classes. In embroidery, San Francisco School of Needlework and Design, (SFSNAD) and the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) both offer online/ virtual individual classes. Some teachers also offer individual classes. The ribbon embroidery below was done via a 2 day virtual class using Zoom. The teacher was Deborah Mitek.
Katherine Duigiud offers virtual classes on a regular basis. I’ve finished on of hers and am working on another.
Any other suggestions for enhancing our crafts?
And as always: What Are You Working On?