Archive for the ‘Ideas’ Category
Monday, November 19th, 2012
The Ari’s Garden tagline is “Growing great ideas,” a concept I love. This is clipart that illustrates that concept AND provides a hint of what’s coming later this week. A big hint.
We’ve had many requests for digital versions of our patterns, and not just from our international Nuts. I’m thrilled so many of you are on board the digital-pattern wagon. Oh yeah, that’s going to have to be shortened to “digi-paddy wagon”! I call dibs on that name! I wonder if it’s already being used?
Digital patterns offer some nice advantages.
- They can be stored on a hard disk or thumb drive. No more binders or boxes or…let’s be honest…individual patterns scattered under the bed, between books on the shelf, stuck in bags in the closet.
- Digi-paddy collections are easier to dust than print pattern collections.
- No abbreviated instructions because space is limited.
- Print only the pages you need. Save trees! If there’s not a pattern app already that allows us to highlight stitched parts of patterns, there soon will be. (If you’re developing said app and want input, please contact me.)
- When the dog snatches your pattern and runs away, or when the kids trample it in the backseat, or when you spill your chai on it, you can print out a clean copy.
- Digi-paddies don’t get bent or wrinkled or faded or torn.
- Digi-paddy pages are always in order.
- Digi-paddies cost
less nothing to ship.
- Indie shops don’t have to use precious space to stock gazillions of patterns. They can focus on fabulous fibers, luscious linens, and useful stitchy tools.
Of course, the very best part of going digital is that we get to say “digi-paddy.” And I get to say it now.
Coming soon—as in on an obvious day later this week—we will unveil our most-requested digi-paddy. I spent the weekend making the conversion. One more run through to proof, and I’ll put it in a pdf and upload it.
Can’t wait to share! And can’t wait to hear you all saying “digi-paddy”!
Friday, January 27th, 2012
What’s happening at Funk & Weber Designs?
We enjoyed our first foray into Ort Art by making paper. This batch was made from junk mail, a discarded hole-y cotton sock, and needlework orts—fiber cut-offs and scraps.
Ort Art: Paper made from junk mail, an old hole-y sock, and needlework orts.
I’ll share more about Paper Ort Art when we learn more.
Today, we made mozzarella cheese. Yum!
How does this relate to embroidery? Well, string cheese is a fiber, right?
Friday, January 20th, 2012
Needlework Nutshell Reader Question
One of a kind fibers – how to use them? How to know if you’ll have enough of the fiber to work into a project and not end up with a tad left over. Or what can you do with those tads left over?
I love reader questions! And I mean loooooove. I encourage you to send them anytime. You can use the contact form here or send them to mail AT funkandweber DOT com.
This came in a newsletter survey, so I can’t give credit to the asker, but hi, Nut, and thanks!
How to Use Specialty Fibers
I’m interpreting “one-of-a-kind” as “specialty.” There are limited-edition fiber colors—often six-strand cotton and silk—as well as fuzzy, furry, nubbly, metallic, glow-in-the-dark, wired, etc. fibers made out of all sorts of strange and interesting materials.
Limited-edition colors can be used like any other fiber of its kind, but you want to make sure you have enough to complete your project because getting more might be difficult. (See the section on figuring quantity.)
Other kinds of specialty fibers—the wild, weird, wooly, wired, and what-not ones—are generally used in small projects (buttons, broaches, earrings, bows) or as accents in larger projects.
What in the World? Pattern
For example, I used a Kreinik metallic in the turban shell in the center of the What in the World? pattern. It gives the shell that iridescent shimmer that real shells have. You can’t see it in the picture, but I love how this came out with the Kreinik fiber.
The Great Outdoors Pattern
I used other Kreinik metallics in the water flowing out of the canteen P and the fire W in The Great Outdoors pattern.
We used Kreinik glow-in-the-dark fiber for the lighted cabin windows, moon, and fireflies in the Twilight Treasures pattern.
In these cases, the specialty fibers are used to represent something in particular: iridescence, the shimmer of water and fire, light. Fuzzy and furry fibers are often used to depict animal fur. They might be used to accent entire animals or just parts of animals (a lion’s mane). I can imagine a fuzzy fiber trimming a hood or coat. Rainbow Gallery has a white fuzzy fiber that’s actually called “Santa’s Beard.” Huh. Can you think of a good way to use that one?!
But specialty fibers don’t have to be used to depict realistic things; they can be used just as their cool selves in a doodle.
Long-time Nuts may remember these paperclip bookmarks. Specialty fibers are used here just as their cool selves and just for fun. Metallic and rayon ribbon, Fuzzy Stuff, metallic braids, overdyed pearl, and more.
I consider bookmarks and bracelets small projects, and these are great places to use cool fibers simply for their coolness.
Determining Quantities for Specialty Fibers
Our Nut friend asks how we know if we have enough fiber for a particular use without having a tad left over.
Ha! If you can figure this one out, I know a lot of embroidery kit-makers who will pay you for the answer.
The best you can hope for is an estimate that doesn’t leave you short. Having a tad left over is a good thing if only because it beats 50% of the alternatives.
I’ve made kits for over ten years. Unlike most stitchy folks I know, I actually enjoy making kits. But I’ve struggled—and continue to struggle—with determining fiber quantities. Everyone does.
The reason is that different people use different quantities for the same number of stitches. I stitch fairly tightly; someone who doesn’t pull stitches as tightly will need more fiber than I do. I tend to leave teeny-tiny tails for running under threads on the back. It’s a pain in the tookus, but it’s what I do. Others leave longer tails. And then there are mistakes. Many fibers that have been ripped out to correct a mistake cannot be re-used.
All of this means that different people require different quantities of fiber to stitch any given element. As a result, I do a number of things to decide how much fiber to allow for a certain element in a design.
- I keep track of how much fiber I use in my model. I cut lengths of fiber (usually 18 inches) and make a mark on a sheet of paper every time I load my needle. I find this incredibly difficult to do—it’s easy to forget to make a mark when I’m stitching, stitching, stitching away—so I cut several lengths and also note how many of those I’ve used to double check my marks. Frogging and changing my mind about a color doesn’t make keeping track any easier, I assure you.
- Over the years, I’ve come up with a formula that seems to work fairly well for figuring how much fiber is required for cross stitches using six-strand floss. I can tweak it for specialty fibers and other kinds of stitches, but I have less confidence in those results. Still, I always do the math to see how it compares with my own usage.
My super-secret, incredibly helpful formula is as follows:
1.2 x Number of Stitches / 200 = yards needed for 2 strands of floss.
1.8 x Number of Stitches / 200 = yards needed for 3 strands of floss.
Remember, that’s for cross stitches using 6-strand floss. Other kinds of stitches will use different quantities. I add a little extra for cross stitches in specialty fibers because metallic ends fray; I work with shorter lengths; I tend to stitch more loosely with ribbons; etc.
- When measuring fiber for kits, I am always generous in my measurement: eighteen inches becomes nineteen.
What To Do With Fiber Leftovers
The words “What do you do with…” are like chocolate, B vitamins, Christmas Eve, and a good night’s sleep rolled into one. They egg me on as much as “Betcha can’t…” and “On your mark, get set….” And they warm the cockles of my heart like soft puppy noses and standing on mountain tops overlooking wide open spaces.
Those words are poetry and music.
This unidentified stitching Nut is not the only one who wants to know what to do with leftover fiber bits. Harriet has also posed the question; although, she specifically asks about those itty-bitty tail cut-offs, those things many of us call “orts” and collect in collapsible origami boxes, hollow acrylic balls, and bags.
Aside: Originally, orts referred to food bits left over from a meal.
I gladly embrace those words as a challenge, and I will make it my business to explore what I’m calling Ort Art. (Yep, I just like saying that—like a seal.) My hope is to come up with enough ideas to warrant an e-book, but you’re looking for an answer now, so here are a couple of thoughts that I hope will tide you over.
I know some people put their orts out for birds to use in their nests. I don’t do this. I’m a little concerned about the chemicals used in fiber dyeing and the different unnatural fibers being harmful in some way. I prefer to err on the side of caution and let the birds fend for themselves.
I’ve played with Garbage Ornaments, using decoupage to adhere orts to cardboard cookie-cutter shapes and Styrofoam balls.
I like to use longer lengths—those tads left over—for bookmark tails.
Gather fiber odds and ends.
Ever so slightly braid them together.
Pull a couple so they’re a bit longer than others.
Tie them between two bits of embroidery.
Voila! You’ve got yourself a book thong or a bookmark with a dangling charm.
There. Will that hold you until I can play with some more ideas? Stay tuned for more on Ort Art along with answers to other questions and the usual Funk & Weber who-knows-what else.
In the meantime, how do you use specialty fibers, and what do you do with your leftover fiber and orts? We really want to know. You can leave your answers in the Comments or send them to me at mail AT funkandweber DOT com.
Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
In my perpetual quest to explore new avenues in embroidery—techniques, uses, events, groups, business—I’ve thrown my hat in with the Mr. X Stitch team for the Embroidered Digital Commons project, initiated by Ele Carpenter, as part of the Open Source Embroidery project.
What does this mean? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. Ele has drawn a parallel between embroidery and computing. She’s making connections between two seemingly unconnected things, which is one thing that attracted me to the project.
Here’s what I have come to understand: Embroidery is made of hundreds and thousands of tiny stitches; software is made of hundreds and thousands of tiny pieces of code. Embroidery patterns and finished products are shared amongst friends, through social needlework circles and the Web. Software code and finished products are shared amongst friends and through the Web.
The arguments about Open Source vs Free Software can be applied to embroidery: How do we apply free and openly available products within our culture and capitalist economy? I’ve been wondering this for years. I don’t have the answer.
To open and facilitate discussion of this, the Embroidered Digital Commons project seeks to embroider terms and their definitions from the Concise Lexicon of/for the Digital Commons (Sarai, 2003) written by the Raqs Media Collective. Twenty-six terms (A-Z) and their definitions, stitched by hundreds of different people, will be photographed and compiled into a video.
All kinds of groups are getting together to stitch a term. For instance, in London, on May 22, 29, and June 5, anyone interested is invited to Cafe Crema to stitch the term “Ensemble” and its definition while discussing the idea behind it.
I contemplated getting a Stitching for Literacy group together to stitch a term, but instead did something I almost never do: practiced restraint. You’ve seen how quiet this blog has been, right? There’s a reason for that!
I call this my dance floor fractal. We have a software program that makes fractals. When we bought it, we thought we might make cross stitch patterns from them. Someone else does that, so we don't need to. It's awfully fun to play with, though.
Instead, I’ve joined the Mr. X Stitch team to stitch the term “Fractal.” Oh yeah, that was another strong selling point—I love fractals! I will be stitching “and dispersal within.” That’s it! That’s my task in this extensive project.
I know quite a few folks in the embroidery world, but I don’t personally know Mr. X Stitch. That, too, was a selling point. It’s a new embroidery group, and I’m making new connections. Cool, eh? The guy has dubbed himself the “manbroiderer.” Anyone who makes up original, clever, effectively descriptive words is a winner in my book.
I need to have my three words stitched by the end of July. My goal is the end of June because my July is packed to the gills already. In the spirit of Open Source and Embroidered Digital Commons, I plan to share the experience here.
There are other terms to be stitched. If this project interests you, or if you think Stitching for Literacy should do this and you’re willing to help, say the word. You know how easily my arm twists.
Isn’t this fun? What new embroidery things are you trying—or thinking of trying?
Friday, April 29th, 2011
Most of our snow is gone. ‘Tis the season of mud. And—sigh—garbage. Yesterday, I picked up a Diet Cherry Coke can that had been plowed into the snow berm at the bottom of our driveway. No one here drinks Diet Cherry Coke.
Today, I picked up this:
Trash to treasure: A nest of wire bits lost in winter, plowed into a berm, and recovered from brush along our driveway.
My first response, I think, was disappointment. I don’t like the careless handling of trash, and I really don’t like it on my driveway. But as I collected the many stray, uniform pieces that had separated from the nest, I realized what it was: pre-cut wire, roughly ten-inch lengths, probably from the power or phone company, and possibly galvanized to prevent rusting. Except for a few dry leaves trapped in the nest, the wire is pristine, no mud, no muck.
Then I started to see possibilities: twist ties for the garden and fences and—oh my!—the craft possibilities! If you’ve taken the Bookmarks 101 class, I’ll bet you can think of some good uses for it, too.
So this is trash I will treasure. The Coke can, on the other hand, will get recycled along with other cans I pick up on my walks to the mailbox.
Saturday, January 22nd, 2011
Harriet poses this question:
Do you have a finishing tecknique for bracelets that is more rock and roll and not with beads and sweet stuff? it is a customer question to me, and I am thinking hard on this one. 1) a push button: one part (male) on one end and the other (female) part on the other if I make the fabric long enough? 2) a “borrelås” a band with one sticky part and one soft part? Hm not easy. Can my teacher help, please?
Harriet already knows this, but for the rest of you, I love questions like this! They invite us to think creatively to expand an idea, solve a problem, make new connections. This is my favorite part of designing. So let’s dive in and solve this problem so Harriet can satisfy her customer.
Miscellaneous Funk & Weber bracelets
Harriet is referring to bracelets we make in our Embroider Me! Bracelet Basics & Beyond class, which is not yet listed here on the new site.
I think your proposed solutions are great. The “push button” you mention is called a “snap” here. I think your second idea is referring to what we call “Velcro.” That’s the name of a company that makes the product; the generic name is supposed to be “hook and loop” tape or closure, but the material is best known as Velcro. I think the Velcro might be a little bulky, though. We’ll have two layers of the embroidery plus the snap or Velcro.
The first idea to come to my mind is simply two braided tails coming off both ends, like friendship bracelets, that are then knotted together around the wrist. Friendship bracelets are typically worn all the time–through showers, mud baths, and everything else. Bracelets worn that way will eventually wear out, which is, of course, fine. Or, the bracelet can be knotted so that it’s big enough to slip on and off over the hand.
Instead of braided fibers, how about a leather cord?
Most, if not all, closures can be added to the end of the bracelet without the beads. If there is a “rock and roll” closure–and I won’t pretend to be an expert on identifying those–it might be applied to the end with just a jump ring. Equally important may be the kind of metal used in the closure. Shiny strikes me as sweet and feminine, but what about copper, dull brass, pewter, or stainless steel?
Glass bugle bead, metallic black, Miyuki #451
Or how about substituting metal tubes (think bugle beads) for the more dainty beads?
If pressed, I’d say toggle closures might be perceived as more “rock and roll” than, say, a lobster claw. I find them much easier to fasten, but slightly less secure.
Rope-like toggle, pewter; Diamond toggle, pewter; Plain toggle, pewter with gunmetal finish; Plain toggle, copper
They can be nicely plain or rope-like. And what about pairing a plain bar toggle piece with a washer from the hardware store? While you’re at the hardware store look around and see what else you might use in embroidery. I can think of several uses for O-rings.
Ball-and-hitch clasp, gunmetal finish; Magnetic clasp, black gunmetal plated
Other potentially “rock and roll” clasps might be a ball-and-hitch or magnetic. Ball-and-hitch are also easy to fasten. I’m a little leery of magnetic clasps because magnets and digital devices tend to not be friends. I have no idea how strongly magnetized the clasps are or if there’s any danger to digital devices or cds or dvds, but it’s not an experiment I’m eager to make, either.
When searching for alternative findings, a good keyword right now might be “steampunk.” You’ll find gunmetal, antique brass, bronze, pewter, and black alternatives to the mainstream silver and gold.
All right. What other ideas do you have for more “rock and roll,” less sweet and pretty bracelet finishing?
Some places to find jewelry findings online (I have no affiliation with any of these, except as a customer):