Blogs


Just raising my head for a moment to share three things you might enjoy…

First, this cute video the folks at CreativeLIVE made to promote my upcoming t-shirt quilting class. In it, I offer my five most beginner-friendly tips for embarking on quilt-making. If that craft has ever made you feel intimidated, watch this video, OK?


My 5 Favorite Books for Beginning Quilters


I also told the CreativeLIVE blog about my five favorite books for beginning quilters. You can learn more about those over here.

My class is coming right up, so I hope you'll consider RSVP-ing so they can remind you when the free broadcast happens.


I'm on the While She Naps Podcast


…And lastly, I was a guest on the While She Naps Podcast, hosted by Abby Glassenberg. Haley Pierson-Cox and I talked about what it's like to be a freelance crafter, and shared our current favorite cratfy things.

Enjoy! (And RSVP, please!)

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(I'm posting this to both my blog and my Mom's.)

Life is woven from both beauty and tragedy. Two weeks back, tragedy struck my family when Mom's husband of 25 years passed away suddenly from a heart attack. We both loved him dearly, as did so many people. He had one of those twinkling spirits that always made people brighten around him.

It's a terrible time, as you can imagine. I'm doing my best to take care of Mom as we pick through a daunting amount of details. It's sobering and scary, but at the same time, family and friends are coming to our aid in ways that are truly beautiful.

Neither of us knows when we'll be back to normal blogging, although blogging is solace for both of us and we'll be back as soon as we can. (Here on my blog, you'll see some posts related to my upcoming class in the near future.)

If you know and love my Mom and feel like doing something to help, I set up this donation page for her. Every little bit helps her hugely right now, and of course, your thoughts and prayers do, too.

We may not be that quick to moderate comments or respond to emails for a while, but we're thinking of our internet buddies fondly and reading your blogs for comfort. See you when we can.

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hexies


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!


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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.


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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.


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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.

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npbooks1


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.

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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.


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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.


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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.

AmazonAlibris

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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.

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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.

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

AmazonAlibris

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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


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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.


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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.

AmazonAlibris


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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.


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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.


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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.

AmazonAlibris

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

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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.


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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.


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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.

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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!

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