Saturday, January 7, 2012

A New Hobby

I recently started a new hobby that some people have been asking about, and I figured it wouldn't be a bad thing to have a record of all of the things I've been making. So, here goes...

The backstory: In early fall, I realized I was bored. I was spending an inordinate amount of time watching TV, and I felt the need to do something a little more productive with my free time. Throughout grade school and college, I spent most of my extracurricular life as a musician, but my work schedule doesn't really allow me the chance to play my clarinet or sing in the same way that I used to. I always enjoy reading, but as an editor, I read all day for work and sometimes I just need to turn off my mind. I also went through phases of being a gym rat (which is difficult to do when you get home from work at 8 pm) and researching my ancestry (you can only get so far when everyone in your family has last names like Murphy and Petersen), but those activities ended up dying out, too. I kept my eyes peeled for something new to take on, but nothing really sparked my interest.

Now, a friend of mine from high school, Lindsay, started a blog a while back that details her adventures in sewing, knitting, and embroidery. I always admired her dedication to her hobbies and enjoyed reading about them, but I never figured I'd be able to do that sort of thing myself. For starters, I'm not what you would call "domestic." I only know how to cook a handful of basic meals, loathe doing laundry, and really only clean when people are coming over. I'm also an impatient person by nature, so the thought of making a quilt or knitting a scarf seemed way too daunting. Despite my efforts to remain open-minded, I found it hard not to associate these hobbies with old biddies and the Amish. Lindsay always seemed to make really cool, useful things, but I just figured that was more her own style shining through. I doubted I would have the ingenuity or skill set to create the same kinds of things myself.

Then one day, Lindsay posted pictures of some awesome-looking tea towels she had embroidered with a link to the pattern. I clicked through to Sublime Stitching and discovered a whole world of modern craftiness - embroidery patterns with themes such as flappers, pirates, and sexy librarians. I was in love. After some more searching, I found several other contemporary-minded stitchers who were making some pretty fabulous things  - Polka & Bloom, Comfort Stitching, and Badbird, to name a few. I had no idea that there were so many crafty people around who had a design sense similar to my own.

So, I decided to give embroidery the old college try. I actually learned some embroidery basics as a kid, thanks to a constructivism-oriented 4th-grade teacher and some patient lessons from my best friend's mom. My own mother taught me how to hand-sew when I was very young, so I had an arsenal of basic stitches to work with. However, it had been years since I actually did anything with this knowledge, so for all intents and purposes, I was starting over.

Embroidery seemed like a good choice for a hobby, though. The supplies were relatively inexpensive, so if it didn't pan out, at least I wouldn't have spent too much on it. (This would go on to change in subsequent months!) I made a trip to the craft store to buy some basics, and I ordered a few patterns from Sublime Stitching. I ended up getting impatient for the patterns to arrive (surprise!) and perused the web for some free patterns. I found these cute Halloween bunnies. I slid the printout under a tea towel I had purchased for this very endeavor, traced the pattern onto the towel with a pencil (I didn't have anything as fancy as a transfer pen at that point), and began stitching away. Two days later, I ended up with my very first embroidered tea towel:

I was hooked. I could embroider while watching TV, and I found that it really helped me unwind when I got home from work. It was also great to have a hobby that had tangible results. I could actually make things that would be both pretty and useful. I kept finding all of these patterns I wanted to stitch and ideas for new ones wouldn't stop swirling around in my head.

I picked up a couple of books, Embroidered Effects by Jenny Hart (the founder of Sublime Stitching) and Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection by Aimee Ray, to help me out with some embroidery basics, such as selecting embroidery-appropriate fabrics and practicing different kinds of stitches. (I really recommend both of those books for anyone looking to get started with embroidery! Jenny's book comes with a bunch of fun pattern transfers, and Aimee's comes with a disc of all of her patterns so you can arrange them and print them out on your own.) I was off to an awesome start, which would soon spiral out of control with an impulsive purchase of a sewing machine and a new-found obsession with fabric patterns. But I'll save that story for next time. :)

I'm not sure what this blog will turn into - how often I'll update it, what kinds of things will be on it, or even how long I'll stick with it. But there you have it. My first post. Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. Love the beautiful pillows you made for the boys! You definitely need to post pics of them on here! Good luck....