Ancora Imparo Needlepoint Framed

My Ancora Imparo needlepoint project is framed and hanging in its place, above the front door!ancora imparo needlepoint hanging

As some of my previous posts will tell you, this lovely monster at 22-to-the-inch was a labor of love. From her initial design in 2008 to the last stitch in December 2013, she was a beautiful challenge.
Ancora Imparo Framed In my last update, I had completed the needlepoint and the green backstitching and was ready to take her to the framers. Now that she is framed, I’m thinking that I would have framed her a little differently. I would have made the green mat thinner by half, and seen if there was a slightly thinner frame. The good news is that she’s gorgeous nonetheless, and she’s hanging proudly. Maybe someday in the future I’ll get her framing modified, but for now I’m very happy.Ancora Imparo Framed Detail

As you can see in the above photo, in general the framers did a good job of keeping the borders straight. No small feat when the margin of error is 0.05 inch (1 mm)!

Like any good Persian-themed project, I made some mistakes. Not on purpose, of course, but they are there. It’s somewhat easy to do when working with a counted (rather than painted) pattern. Usually I found them when it was too late – when I had moved on to a new color or was filling in the background. On a project in this small scale, these mistakes are tough to spot, so I didn’t feel the need to go back and correct them like I would on a project in a bigger scale. Besides, I think they give her a bit of charm

The last update on “AI” has more of the interesting history on her design and execution. She survived two trips across the Atlantic and countless miles of travel.

Imagination and creativity combined with persistence and patience reaps beautiful rewards. I’m immensely proud that I finished this beautiful Ancora Imparo needlepoint project.

ACrafty Interview with Pam Harris

Welcome to today’s ACrafty Interview with Pam Harris – multicrafter extrordinare!

Afternoon Tea and Craft on the PatioWhen did you start crafting? PH: I was about 6 years old and I learned to make little Zozobra’s by tying a Kleenex around a cotton ball and sticking on two little eyes. My Mom and I made them as part of a fund raising project for her club during Fiesta de Santa Fe. Most “craft skills” I learned were “useful” – sewing, embroidery, knitting; however, I do recall making little rolled paper beads with my Great Grandmother. I come from a long line of practical women so anything I made or learned to make (even when very young) had to have lasting value. I have pretty much carried that ethic forward throughout my crafty life.

What crafts have you tried and what is your current favorite? PH: You do know I am an incurable dabbler – right?

Knitted/felted snowman.  Pattern from Marie Mayhew Designs.Knitting, crochet, punched tin, polymer clay, beading, wire and beads, quilting, wheat weaving, shaved wood, wet felting, needle felting, weaving, embroidery, temari, soft toys, gourds, English paper piecing, sewing garments and household goods, spinning, decoupage, bread dough sculpture, macrame, paper, hand building and throwing pottery on a wheel….

Current favorite? Besides any craft having to do with Christmas and Winter Holidays you mean? Mostly working with fiber – any and all of the fiber crafts – what I find myself doing most of the time. I like combining techniques – so that several fiber crafts are included in a project

Celebrating St. Lucy Day - St. Lucy, Star Boy, Scandi-gnome and TomteWhat is the biggest project you’ve ever tackled? PH: It is a toss-up between Austrian shades for Diane’s bedroom when she was a girl, re-upholstering a sofa, and a 4 foot by 6 foot embroidery which took forever! I think I have gotten the need for big projects out of the way!!! Now I relish smaller projects and except for knitting and crochet, and I pretty much prefer to use my own designs.

 

First pair of socks!What project are you most proud of? PH: Learning to knit socks!!

Learning to knit socks was a looooong, fiercely fought battle between the part of me who wanted, like everything, to learn to knit socks and the side of me that is intimidated by anything that is not fairly easy to learn the first time. To give you a clue, just casting on required repeated views of “cast on videos!” Can you imagine what I went through learning short rows or picking up gussets? Many “near-tear moments” I’ll admit! (And a bonus – while knitting the first sock, I became an expert at unraveling my work!!!)

I had no one i could turn to for help so I had to rely on the internet. It is a hugely valuable resource for learning to knit or crochet or sew or….. Coming from a time when such a resource did not exist, I totally appreciate how much the easy access to knowledge adds to the quality of and opportunities to learn in our lives.

So, while the socks I have knitted provide welcome and beautiful footwear, they are much more – a constant reminder of the role persistence and unwillingness to give up plays in the process of learning a new skill.

Using Mod Podge to mount fall leaves to small canvasesWhat is the silliest question you’ve received regarding your work? PH: I can’t actually think of a single silly question. I have been frustrated at times by crafters asking me why their project didn’t turn out only to subsequently find out that they did not follow instructions.

 

Filling up mini muffin cups with tiny hexiesWhat is the most common question you receive regarding your work? PH: How do I manage to do as much as I do!!! The answer is that I tend to be very organized and carefully plan my time so that I can accomplish the things I want to accomplish.

 

Fall Leaves, Mod Podge and Mason Jar = Beautiful CandleWhat is your most popular project? PH: Pretty much a three way split between coloring Easter Eggs with Kool-aid, using Mod Podge and food coloring to tint jars to use as lanterns or vases, and using Mod Podge to apply dried fall leaves to jars. While there are several others that drive large amounts of traffic to my blog, these three are by far responsible for the most traffic.

Dutch Canal Houses embroidery to celebrate St. Nicholas Day/SinterclasDo you sketch or plan most of your work before you begin, or do you generally work without a pattern? PH: I use a pattern when and where it is needed – like a quilt or embroidery, knitted piece or a soft toy – however, as often as possible, I like using my own ideas. Some crafts like painting gourds, punching tin, working with shaved wood or beads and wire and while weaving – I tend not to pre-plan but let my muse have her way with me!!

Saori freestyle weaving, Crochet Tooterphant and Winter Solstice Quilt BlockHas a craft or craft project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? PH: I tend to try new things I know nothing about so I often get into trouble – in lots of unexpected ways!!! But I always find a way to make it happen – learn what I need to learn.

 

 

Punched Tin Butterflies massing on my Seasonal TreeHow has crafting affected your character? PH: For me crafting – making – is as necessary as breathing. It is not something I have acquired – something added. It is who I am. It is a natural expression of my predisposition to create. It is how I function on a daily basis. And so, engaging in craft activity brings me joy, fulfillment, satisfaction.

Taking my craft to a blog has brought me in touch with a unique and inspirational group of new friends from all corners of the earth – women (and men) who are authentic, creative, and each brilliant in her/his own way. I am grateful for these connections beyond words. AND I am thrilled that the blog gives me the opportunity to support and share their talents.

Danish Woven Paper Heart BasketsCan you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? PH: Nothing in particular comes to mind. But my heart is made happy hearing from crafters who leave me comments or who write me e-mails and share how much a tutorial I have written has helped them understand the process behind a particular craft.

 

 

 

 

Guess i am going to learn lace knitting!What crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? PH: Weaving bags for Diane (daughter – Craftypod) and myself using all hand spun yarns; designing and creating a primstav (more info) using embroidery; learn simple carving so I can carve my own Christmas elves and Santas; knit a Finnish lace poncho from hand spun yarn; and continue testing cookie recipes for the “Winter Holiday Cookies from Around the World” project!
Sweet Pepperkaker addition to winter holiday baking!

 

Many, many thanks to Pam for taking the time from her busy schedule to participate in this interview series! Pam just celebrated her Five Year Blogging Anniversary (a huge accomplishment), and I know she’s got a lot of winter holiday crafty goodness coming up on her blog over the next six weeks. Just look at those cookies above and how elegantly they’re displayed – can you even imagine how beautiful her whole house must look for the holidays? It’s mindboggling!

You can follow Pam’s adventures on her blog Gingerbread Snowflakes, her Flickr photostream (and Flickr sets with picture guides to all her tutorials), and on Instagram (@gingerbreadsnowflakes).

Would you like to be a part of the ACrafty interview series? Just contact me! You might also be interested in reading some more ACrafty Interviews with (Pam’s daughter) multi-crafter Diane from CraftyPodneedlepointer Haruhi Okubo of Cresus-Parpitatter and chainmailler Jeff Hamiltonpotter Nancy Germondbasketweaver Tina Puckettcross stitcher Meredith Cait, the two part interview with textile artist Arlee Barr, and Halloween costume maker Justin Newton.

ACrafty Interview with Arlee Barr – Part 1

Welcome to today’s ACrafty Interview with Arlee Barr, textile artist. Arlee’s responses are so thorough and engaging that the interview has been split into two parts!

Here’s Part 1 to start your fascinating look at her art and process: acrafty interview - arlee barr embroidery for vest from original pen and ink drawing

When did you start making art? AB: I’ve always considered myself an artist, whether it was my first realistic renderings of an airplane (the family having lived several years above a hanger when i was quite young!), drawings of plants and animals, writing poetry and critiques for a Canadian literary magazine when i was 16, moving onto pen and ink renderings of fantasy elements in my late teens and then in my 20’s, with a child added to the mix, translating my drawings into embroidery and making clothing for myself and my son that were way past the considered norm of the time. ( I could find that boy in *any* crowd 🙂 )

I come from a long matriarchal line of women who Did simply because they had to, and knowing that it was the way of their lives. I credit my mother first and foremost. She taught me to break the rules, to think as an individual and to re-invent the wheel, teaching me to sew by hand when i was five: i created a series of Barbie type dolls with all of their clothes sewn on, seams visible and impossible to take off unless i cut them! When i was seven, i had lessons on a sewing machine and by the time i was nine, was making all of my own clothes. When i was 13, my grade 8 home ec teacher was bothered by the fact that while everyone else was busy figuring out the intricacies of an apron or pyjama pants, i was already making more complicated gusseted and gored mid Eastern styled dresses.

My mother was widely read, immersed herself in museum and gallery visits, bringing home a new sensibility about world apparel and style, almost a hippie in her wanderings through those respectable findings. Because of her, i see things differently, and she encouraged me to experiment and explore what could be done with a needle and thread. It wasn’t until my teens though, that i realized that what i was doing could be art rather than craft. I was also lucky enough to be hanging around with a bunch of students who were taken under the wing of an incredibly talented art teacher would take us to Hamilton and Toronto to the galleries and art colleges, on his own dime.

acrafty interview - arlee barr street pretty

What mediums have you tried and what is your current favorite? AB: I painted, i wrote poetry (still do), i created mixed media collages and shrines, i dabbled in everything i could but nothing really held my interest unless i went back to a needle and thread, whether on a machine or by hand. In my 30’s i started selling my wearable art and with the encouragement of friends and a helpful counsellor, entered a 2 year Textile Arts programs at North Vancouver’s Capilano College (BC), 1993-95. (Now known as Capilano University and with the program cut and gone, sadly…) I joked for years after that all i learned was how to better my machine applique from that 2 year period, not knowing how much of the art history and design ethic actually sank in. I’m grateful that it did, finally seeping up from the depths to colour what i am and how i do things almost 20 years later.

acrafty interview - arlee barr tawdry rose 3

acrafty interview - arlee barr hand of the fatherWhat project are you most proud of? AB: All of my work is full of pride and satisfaction. It’s as simple as if it didn’t work and i don’t like it, it never gets shown, or even finished! If i had to choose a favourite piece, it would be like saying i loved one child more than another, but i have a special fondness and memories for “Beautiful Bones” (2009), “Hand of the Father” (2010), “Raggedy Black Heart” (2011) and and my most recent completed piece, “Mother’s Heart”. All of them relate to certain emotional issues i have dealt with: the ubiquitous feelings of mortality and the sense that we are all beautiful and the same under the skin, my father’s death, a friend’s very confused and sad life ending and a response to Mother Nature (and indirectly to my own mother).

acrafty interview - arlee barr beautiful bones

What is the silliest question you’ve received regarding your work? AB: I was working on a complex, cloth woven and hand and machine embroidered piece while waiting in a doctor’s office, and a woman asked me if there was a pattern for it. When i said no, she sniffed and walked away—i think there are people who believe patterns, kits and someone else telling you this MUST be the way to do it and that it’s the ONLY way, is a very sad approach to “creativity” and being either artist or craftsperson. I also get tired of someone scanning over a piece i’ve spent months on by hand, and then asking me if i could make placemats for them. Nope.

acrafty interview - arlee barr haystack

What is your most popular (or bestselling) project? AB: I’m very grateful to have discovered the wonders and mysteries of natural dyeing and ecoprinting. I rarely use any commercial fabrics now, unless they are bits of scrounged or thrift shopped articles. This means that anything i create now is really built from as close to scratch as one can get without actually weaving the cloth first! I “share the wealth” by selling one of a kind fabrics for other artists who incorporate it into their own work.acrafty interview - arlee barr original fabrics

Do you sketch most of your work before you begin, or do you work without a pattern or plan? AB: Yes and no! My sketchbooks are full of very rudimentary scribbles and notes. Words are more important to me as inspiration: bits of poetry, a strange turn of phrase, an overheard bit of conversation. I then audition my fabrics and the one that speaks most emotionally to me is the one i start with. I’d rather have the actual art made than make art of the notes themselves. I’ve seen wonderful sketchbooks from other artists, but for me personally they are a waste of time, a waste of resources, and leave me no energy or inclination for the actual art! I’d rather be making it than planning it. I do lightly audition certain bits in a loose way on some paper, but that’s not always the case or a comfortable way for me to develop what i want to say. The only “serious” sketchbook work i do, is to sometimes do a print out of the base fabric with a few ideas and then overdraw on it where i might use certain stitches or motifs. I keep all of these print outs in a workbook divided into either dates worked on or thematically. I can then look back for ideas for future work, or see how things are evolving, and building a library of personal iconography.

The most important tool i have in the documentation process is my notebook of thread ends with the company, colourway and number recorded: since i do a lot of projects at once, i need to be able to refer back to which threads i have used in each one.acrafty interview - arlee barr imperfect world

 

– End of Part 1

Many thanks to Arlee for her participation in this ACrafty Interview series! Part 2 of her interview will be posted next Thursday, October 17, so stay tuned for the rest of this glimpse into her work. Also thanks to fellow ACrafty Interview subject Betty Busby (original interview and followup) for suggesting that I approach Arlee for the series.

In the meantime, you can follow Arlee’s adventures on her blog, her FacebookFlickr, and her shop

Update: Link to Part 2

Please note that Arlee does not want any of the images that she provided above copied, Pinned, or used in any way without her permission. An excerpt from her Flickr profile: “Please do not add my photos to your Pinterest without asking me–this violates the copyright clause that say *I* have exclusive right to decide where my work is distributed–my photos are ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.”

Would you like to be a part of the ACrafty interview series? Just contact me! You might also be interested in reading some more ACrafty Interviews with multi-crafter Diane from CraftyPodneedlepointer Haruhi Okubo of Cresus-Parpitatter and chainmailler Jeff Hamiltonpotter Nancy Germond, basketweaver Tina Puckettquilter and pursemaker Linda Martin, and cross stitcher Meredith Cait.

Texas Cross Stitch Pattern – Farm Road Sign

This Texas cross stitch pattern and kit are now available in my Etsy shop!Texas Farm Road Sign Cross Stitch

tx70The pattern is based on a Texas Farm Road sign. The standard Texas highway sign (photo at right) is a bit plain so I thought these farm road signs would make a much more interesting cross stitch pattern.

 

 

Texas Road SignsThe Farm-to-Market and Ranch-to-Market road system was established in 1949 as a project to provide access to rural areas. You can read more about these roads on Wikipedia.

I can easily customize this pattern for any of your favorite Texas roads! Texas Monthly has this great article on scenic Texas drives.

[Photo: Texas Road Signs by motg via Flickr]
Curvy Road

 [Park Road 5 descends to the bottom of Palo Duro Canyon, Texas. Photo from 75Central via Flickr]

The Road Goes On Forever

[Somewhere in the Texas Panhandle near Canyon. Photo from 75Central via Flickr]

Texas Bluebonnet Highway, Texas Hill Country[Texas Bluebonnet Highway by RobGreebonPhotography via Flickr]

Show some Texas spirit and create a reminder of a favorite drive in the Lone Star State with this Texas cross stitch pattern and kit!

Five Posts I’m Proud of Creating – 2013

Once again following the lead of Diane and Tammy, I’m rounding up the “Five Posts I’m Proud of Creating in 2013” as part of their “Share the Link Love” mission.

I started blogging in February of this year, and what an adventure it has been! I honestly had no idea of exactly what I was getting into, and to be honest, I still don’t as blogging seems to be constantly evolving (just read Diane’s post on the topic). Creating posts takes more time than I originally thought, but I’m happy to be writing again after a gap of many years. I’m also trying to emphasize quality of posts over quantity of posts, and that seems to keep me motivated and to be working. With all that in mind, here’s five posts I’m proud of (in no particular order):

#1 FIRST POST!

Hitting “publish” the first time was a pretty interesting experience. It was nerve-wracking and thrilling while I was being hopeful and curious all at the same time. It was also the result of a failure (but a fail-forward type failure).
Computer keyboard and touch pad

(Insert sound effect here: “Yeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaggggghhhhh!”)

[Photo by darrenleno via Flickr]

The first AncoraCrafts.com was an e-commerce platform that I had spent a lot of time and money on setting up, customizing, and maintaining. And after an extended period of time, I never sold a damn thing on it. Not one. Hardly got any views. Obviously, I had to make a change.

Moving my listings to Etsy was the easy part, but changing the .com to a blog took a lot of work, mentally and digitally. Switching to a new web host and learning WordPress were two big hurdles. But the biggest challenge was in making the commitment to blogging – a decision I did not take lightly.

I’m very happy to say that ever since I hit “publish” on the first post in late February, although it’s a lot of work, I’m having a lot of fun with this blog!

#2 Followup on my ACrafty Interview with Betty Busby

acrafty interview - betty busby with her quilt disco urchinI published an interview with quilt artist Betty Busby in June. I have been in awe of her work since I first saw it and I was so curious about her process. In August she was gracious enough to give me, my husband, and our dog Scully a tour of her home and studio space in Albuquerque. It was a real honor and treat for all of us, and I’m really happy that I was brave and took the chance to ask her if she was available.

#3 Making a Better Blog

The Better IdeaMost of my very early posts on the blog are about my own projects and products, and that was fine. But in May, after doing a lot of reading about blogging, I had a kind of epiphany about the direction of my blog. I’m sure it will shift again someday, but this post sums up my current bloggy path.

[Photo: The Better Idea by (the brilliant) Peggy Dembicer via Flickr]

 

 

#4 Favorite Books – Crafty and Otherwise

As part of Rosalilium’s Blog Every Day in May project, I put more information about myself out on the internet than I ever thought I would. Of all the 31 topics that month, I really enjoyed creating this post about my favorite books.Bill the Cat for President

 [Bill the Cat for President from Bloom County. Photo by tjosephson2 via Flickr]

#5 My Hexie Madness Series

I had done a few other crafty roundups before, but the hexagon series really stands out. I dug deep, spending days on the internet to find examples of hexagon crafts in all types of disciplines. I ended up finding some really outstanding hexies in interesting places. I tried to find as many tutorials and patterns as possible, but where those didn’t exist, I did find some excellent sources of inspiration. Love the leather pouffe and these popsicle sticks – so fun! [Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4]

How about you? Share your “proud five” post over at CraftyPod!