The last few weeks have been really busy with wrapping up the bathroom remodel. I've still got to make curtains (see the fabric I chose in my IG post) and find towels I like (sigh...), but it's really come together and I honestly think this is one of the greatest transformations in the house yet, and that's saying something! We were able to keep the original 100-year-old tub and we used historically-accurate arabesque and penny tile with gray grout. Very excited to finally have the bathroom back! I'll post more pics when I've got the curtains done and the artwork hung (we have a seascape that will go above the tub).
The bathroom project got me thinking about embroidered borders for curtains, so I'm beginning work on a design that will feature 3-4 borders that would be particulary good for curtains. I want to make this a really "beefy" pattern, so I want at least 3 borders, each of which will have a very different feel.
Finishing: I've gotten through most of the finishing I needed to do and that really creatively "unstuck" me! I got Astra hemmed and photographed (OK, it did take me 3 separate tries to get the light right!), the new Byzantine Band Sampler framed (see below; I liked it so much that I hung it up next to my cutting table). I sewed the new BitBag sample (using one of the borders from the Byzantine Band Sampler) and will do a how-to video sometime in the next month or so and release those along with the Byzantine Band Sampler. Then, the tour de force: I finished the Byzantine Beasts Quiet book! It looks so sweet and I'm really happy with it. I was on a sewing roll, so I even made my granddaughter two little summer dresses. I felt like a Finishing Rock Star!
I finally got some time this past week to design. I love owning a small business, but I found myself just kind of burned out on admin and all the "responsible
person"-type stuff and knew I needed a few long design days where I can go down the rabbit hole of folk embroidery (my family puts food in front of me so I remember to eat because I will literally design for 10-plus hours if allowed!). I started on Tuesday, got some more design work done last night (including the vintage piece shown below), and am planning on spending all day tomorrow on design. I've struggled with keeping all my design work organized in a "big picture" way, but I just found some inexpensive room dividers with fabric panels that I'm going to set up in the workshop as a Design Wall so I can see everything I've got in process.
As I'm designing, I'm finding myself drawn to larger designs right now--larger squares, more intricate designs, more outlining, etc. In the early days of Avlea, I did a lot of smaller kits just to get folk embroidery out there in the world, but I'm inspired now to go into the world of folk embroidery in a deeper way especially as it seems I'm not the only one who really enjoys these old, complex patterns. The vintage table square below completely captivated me--it's got these stylized roses/peonies in each corner and then this simple little border and the whole effect is so airy and graceful. I thought about changing up the palette to something more modern, but I really like the original color palette and will probably stick with it because it really works (3787 brown-grey, 355 terra cotta, 806 wedgwood blue, & 3347 fern green).
Appleton's update: I'm almost done with the Santorini Stars cushion cover in the Appleton's crewel wools and I'm completely charmed by this wool! It gives a very different effect than DMC floss and has greater loft, fill, and a softer yet saturated color feel. It's especially great for cushion covers as it gives them an almost velvet feel which is really cozy. My first order just arrived and I'm so excited! I should have them on the website in about a week or so as I'll be offering Appleton's in kits and as individual skeins for $2/each (each skein has 27m/29yds, single ply; in other words, you do not separate it like DMC). I did about lose my mind doing the math, though (euros to dollar, metres to yards, single strand compared to DMC 6-strand--So. Much. Math!)
Ukrainian embroidery: I just acquired a beautiful Ukrainian icon scarf (kind of like a table runner with an embroidered design at either end; these are draped over icons in Ukrainan homes). While the color palette is extremely 1970s (the orange is blinding!), the design is really gorgeous and I'll be making it into a large border (similar to Corinthian Bridal Shawl) that can be used as a cushion cover, double-ended table runner/icon scarf, or as a table runner with the design worked horizontally. I've had more folks asking about Ukrainian designs and I think this will be a gorgeous one.
H+H Show: Pamela and I spent this morning getting packed for the H+H Americas trade show in a few weeks to make sure I could fit everything in my suitcase. It was kinda hilarious--we'd add a few more samples, weigh the suitcase (46.8 lbs), add a few more props (49.4 lbs; yikes, we're almost at 50 and I have visions of the airport guy making me plop it on the ground and unload it right there at the United counter!) and then I realized I could actually ship a box to the hotel where I'm staying--big sigh of relief! For those of you who are wondering, the H+H Americas show is a huge "soft crafts industry" trade show and it normally happens in Cologne, Germany, but they decided to hold one here in the US this June in Chicago. It's a place for designers like me to show our stuff to shop owners looking to carry independent designers' work (think yarn shops, needlework shops, bookstores, etc.). While the best way to support Avlea is by buying direct at the website, I've also worked to grow Avlea's wholesale clients so that folks all around the US can see Avlea kits in person in their favorite yarn or fabric shop. The H+H show is a big deal for me because 1) it's expensive, 2) it's intimidating (all those fiber-y people seeing my stuff!), and 3) there's a fear of failure (what if no one likes my designs?!). Kinda like a high school prom. I'm nervous but also really excited about this big step forward for Avlea.
In the middle of all of this, I'll be taking a few days off next week to do the touch-up painting around the newly installed windows to weather-proof them before next fall. I always find myself refreshed from a totally different project like painting because I can mull over designs, design names, color palettes, and all that good stuff in the back of my mind while I work at something completely different than stitching. But as soon as that is done, I'm back to my hoop and itching to get at these new designs!