Diane's blog


Woo-Hoo! Today kicks off something I've been looking forward to for a long time: the 12 Hexies (or Less) Blog Hop.

The whole idea behind this thing is: I love English paper piecing (obviously). I think just about anyone who tries it loves it, too. The whole problem with EPP is that it's an endurance sport. So lots of us start noodling with hexies, and then come face to face with the reality of stitching up thousands of them to make a quilt, and we put those hexies in a drawer somewhere and feel guilty that we'll never get around to finishing them.

…So I thought, wouldn't it be fun to invite some talented bloggers to come up with projects you can make with no more than a dozen hexies? That way, finishing is practically guaranteed, and there's no guilt!

Tutorial: EPP Holiday Hexie Ornament

Here are the awesome EPP-ers (some longtime, some new) who are joining me in this adventure:

The linky below will automagically display everyone's new links each day of the hop, so check back!


Happy Friday! I just wanted to share a few more things I've been making in prep for the CreativeLIVE t-shirt quilting class. Man, these quilts are so much fun to do.


This first one's for my class producer, Justin. He sent me a bunch of shirts representing his favorite causes, coffee roasters, bike races, and breweries. Plus one tie-dye shirt, which is my new favorite thing. I used every square inch of that baby I could.

What's really cool is that, although Justin and I haven't worked together very long, and mostly via email. through the process of making this quilt for him, I feel like I got to know him a little better. Those are the shirts of a dude I can really hang with.


This one uses shirts from Antonio and Sophia, a brother and sister my Mom has "adopted" along with their parents. This quilt was a fun challenge because the shirts were so diverse. Getting them all to hang together in one quilt took a lot of re-arranging, staring at, ruminating, re-arranging, muttering under my breath, and re-arranging. But I'm happy with how it came together in the end!

Pushkin also got his own t-shirt quilt, which he took advantage of immediately. I used up all the leftover scraps I had in his colorway. :-)

If you'd like a reminder of when this free class broadcasts, you can RSVP right over here.

And actually, they're taking applications to be in the studio audience! It's free and all you need to bring is your t-shirts. And then we can hang out in the green room together. Just fill out this form to get a shot at the live internet big-time.



So, I think about needlepoint a lot, because I think about plastic canvas a lot. Sadly, there don't seem to be very many current needlepoint books on the market that work with my design sensibilities, so I maintain a stash of carefully-guarded old books.

Today, I thought I'd share some of my very favorites. (Excepting my all-time fave, Rosey Grier's Needlepoint for Men, which I reviewed a while back.) There are still used copies of all these titles out there, and I've included some links, but don't forget to also search eBay and Etsy. Keep your eyes open at your local thrift store, and you just might score copies for next to nothing.


The Complete Guide to Creative Needlepoint,
Jo Bucher 1973

This is just an excellent go-to reference I find myself turning to time and again. When I want to learn a new stitch, I pick this one up first, and usually it's the only one I need.


There isn't a lot to show you of the interior – it's black and white inside with a few inset color pages (as craft books often were in the 70's). You'll find very detailed diagrams of 200 different needlepoint stitches, and a lot of information on working with traditional needlepoint canvases.


In the back, a series of projects using needlepointed canvas. My favorites being these neckties, collar, and cuffs, which… wouldn't they have weighed a lot? Still, you can use the project instructions to turn needlepoint into things like coasters, small item cases, pillows, lamp bases, and more.



Better Homes & Gardens Needlepoint, 1978

This book is part of a craft series - slim volumes of projects in various techniques. I mostly keep it around because 70s-era BHG is a wondrous fount of craft-crazy, and I get endless inspiration looking at the pictures.




In Needlepoint, there are 35 projects and a few pages about handling traditional canvas. The photography is pure BHG, and as always, many of the project ideas are really surprising (in a slightly not-sane way). They were true modernists, those 70's BHG designers.


Also, there's a plastic canvas project. So, you know, 50 extra points.



The New World of Needlepoint,
Lisbeth Perrone 1972

What I love about this book is that it's more about repeating pattern designs than individual stitches. They're beautifully presented in groups, stitched in saturated colors. And then each design is presented in diagram form



Being someone who approaches needlepoint with a hacker's mindset, I do find these stitch diagrams a little challenging to follow, especially for complex patterns. But I've always been able to figure them out by simply noodling them out on some scrap canvas.


This is a great book to have on hand for when you've come up with a great plastic canvas form and need some pretty stitchery to fill up the panels. Also, that font!! Another 50 extra points for that.



Needleplay, Erica Wilson 1975

This last one isn't technically a needlepoint book – it's a companion volume to iconic designer Erica Wilson's TV series, Erica. It's a meandering combination of crewel, needlepoint, and embroidery.



The real joy of this book is the visual inspiration it offers. Erica Wilson's projects are modern and exuberant, and many of them look as fresh as if they were designed yesterday. She takes inspiration from all over the world, and she covers all kinds of things in stitchery.


Also, there are projects for plastic canvas, which she refers to as "Space Age Canvas." So… let's say 1,000 extra points for that.


(Incidentally, did you know that you can watch some clips from Erica over on YouTube?)


Turn around

Image by David Melchor Diaz, via Flickr

So, 2014 has been a year of big changes for me, but I realized recently that I haven't talked much about that here. I haven't been blogging a whole lot in general – a by-product of working like crazy behind the scenes, and having a lot of projects going that I'm not allowed to talk about yet.

Anyway. As I ended last year, I felt like my life was completely up in the air, but with one immutable fact: I had reached the end of my interest in talking about crafty businesses and online marketing. I was done with my online classes, done putting out ebooks on these subjects, done blogging about it, just done, done, done.


I enjoyed my five years doing these things, and many times it was very rewarding work. But to be honest, it's not a line of work I chose out of any true passion. I just fell into it during the publishing crises of 2008, when my freelance craft clients fell like dominoes and I needed to reinvent – and quickly. I simply looked around, asked "What needs do my readers have?" and realized there was a demand for information about blogging and related topics.

I'm proud of myself for managing in a tough economy, but eventually I had to come to terms with the fact that these subjects were never my core interest. I can write about them, and teach them, and it's rewarding when my skills can help others, but they don't exactly fire up my soul.

Burned Out

Image by Joriel Jimenez, via Flickr

…Which, of course, led me into a place of burnout, over and over again, during the past five years. It's never easy to sustain the kind of constant, wholehearted work required to make a viable business. And it's especially hard to do if you're not really operating from a place of joyful enthusiasm.

So I knew that in 2014, I needed to get back to my crafty roots – as in, designing, making, writing, teaching, and living craft again.


I had a craft book in progress at the start of the year (I may have mentioned that at some point – Heh!), and as soon as that was turned in, I started sending out pitches to craft magazines. I signed up to teach locally, and online with CreativeLIVE. I put out another book proposal (which, sadly, didn't find a home). I started designing patterns (which, sadly, are taking much longer to see the light of day than I'd like). And I just keep putting things out there.

So far, this has been a true rollercoaster of a year – a great big financial hiccup while I get new business streams going, but honestly… in terms of work, this has been the most satisfying year I've had in a long time. It's unnerving at times, but I know without doubt that if I just keep showing up and striving to do the best work I can, everything will eventually fall into place.

{45/365} life happens

Image by Kelsi Barr, via Flickr

I once said in a guest post that I'm something of a poster-child for mind-changing. And I'm 100% okay with that. This blog, as you may have noticed, has been in a state of mind-changing since the start of the year, too.

All my archives will remain intact, but going forward, CraftyPod will once again be a creative blog, with projects and resources and inspirations. I'll write a lot about my two current grand obsessions of EPP and PC, but I'm an omni-crafter at heart, so this will always be an eclectic space.

New Project: Hexie Time

I may blog about some behind-the-scenes bits of my business from time to time, but the kind of "best practices" stuff I used to write about, I honestly don't know if I'll ever have the stomach for again. For now, I'd much rather experience my business myself than write about how it's done.

I'm feeling refreshed, and so excited for the future of this blog, and my work. …And now you're up to date! Thanks for listening. I really appreciate you stopping by here.


Currants - they're so dang cute! #orencofarmersmarket

I just have a couple recent cool-things to share today – alongside this photo of adorable currants from the farmer's market. (Incidentally, if you've been a follower of my little annual summer produce photography project, I'm still doing it, but it's all on Instagram now. Although I am keeping up the traditional Flickr set as well.)

First, Abby has a new blog series called The Pattern That Changed My Life. I'm the guest this week, and I talk about a funny little craft book called Retro Revamp that helped me out of a bad chapter of my life and into the current one. You can read the whole story over there.

Modern Patchwork Summer 2014

…And I just got my copy of the summer issue of Modern Patchwork. I have two projects in here: this Off Center Tote, and this Butterfly Kindle Case. (And isn't that butterfly fabric from Ellen Luckett Baker spectacular?)

There are a ton of beautiful projects in the issue – quilts and pillows, table toppers and coasters – and a great profile of the Cotton + Steel team. Check it out!


Nursing my sore throat with some relaxing scrappy hexies.

So, over the past two years, I've been spending more and more time hand-sewing. Which, of course, involves hours of sitting in chairs, and ends up making me yearn for a little something to watch while I stitch.

It occurred to me (finally, two years later – good heavens my brain moves slowly sometimes) that it would be fun to share some of the things I've been watching with you from time to time. Not necessarily the TV shows, although there are plenty of those. (West Wing! OITNB! Call The Midwife!) No, instead I want to share the hidden gems I've uncovered in my internet-video ramblings.

So without further ado, here's the first batch. (If you read this via RSS or email, you may need to click over to the blog to see the videos. Sorry!)

Wish It Inc

Imagine an office comedy a la Office Space… but with fairy godmothers. Wish It Inc. is funny and sweet, with some pretty great dialogue. Worth a watch!

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love "Useless" Art, from Luke Syson, on TED

The first two minutes may feel a little slow, but stay with this one. Luke Syson was a curator of Reinaissance art, but then he changed jobs and ended up in charge of the ceramics collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art - frilly, lurid, seemingly-useless objects that assaulted his refined eye. Mr. Syson speaks beautifully on how he came to see these things differently, and what role purely-decorative, frivilous things can play in our lives.

Convos With My 2-Year-Old

This wicked-funny web series re-enacts actual conversations the director has had with his young daughter… but with a full-grown bearded man playing the daughter. If that sounds creepy, don't worry – it's not at all. It's hilarious.

I've embedded the Season 2 playlist here; there are two other seasons. If you don't want to watch them sequentially, you can visit the channel page on YouTube to pick and choose.

Spinning Plates

I loved this documentary about three very different restaurants. One is a rarified, Michelin three-star temple to food as art. One is a decades-old family-owned eatery that's also the center of a rural community. And one is a tiny fledgling cafe, struggling to survive. I won't spoil a thing by saying one more word - just watch it.

(I saw this on Netflix, but it's also available for rental via Amazon Instant Video and iTunes.)

Hope you enjoy these! I have lots more. :-)

Image by Kathryn Vercillo

Hi! This is Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupisence. Diane is generously letting me guest post here today to tell you a about a survey I’ve launched to examine how crochet is helping people. And she’s being even more generous than that by bringing the podcast we did together about this subject out of her subscriber archives so you can listen! (It'll be here for the next 30 days.)

About Me

You’ve actually met me here before, first in the podcast above, and also in this Image-Only Interview. I’m a San Francisco based crafter and writer. I blog about all things crochet at Crochet Concupiscence. My emphasis is on helping people improve their health and quality of life through intentional crafting.

Crochet Saved My Life

In 2012 I published a book, Crochet Saved My Life. I survived a debilitating bout of deep, dark, chronic depression in my late twenties. Crochet is one part of a comprehensive wellness plan, a very important part. The book shares my story as well as the stories of two dozen other amazing women who crocheted to heal. The craft has helped people heal from a variety of mental and physical health issues. I share a lot about that in my podcast interview.

Crochet Health Survey Logo

The New Survey

The new survey that I’m running is designed to get a more in-depth look at exactly how crochet is helping people. It looks at:

  • • What the most common symptoms are that people are reducing through crochet
  • • To what extent crochet is helping relieve those different symptoms
  • • How crochet compares to other similar crafts in terms of its benefits
  • • The other ways that people are benefitting from crochet (besides in regards to health issues)

I will be publishing the results of the study and using it to supplement my own writing to help others improve their lives through crochet. It is my hope that the results of this study will also be used to encourage an increase in crochet programs in settings like hospitals, schools, prisons, therapeutic group homes, etc.

You can help by participating in the survey! Additional info is available from this press release.