I recently joined a mentoring group with other small craft business owners and I'm excited about the prospect of sharing the challenges and joys of being a small business owner with other women SBOs. For the next few weeks, we're focusing on social media marketing and we each shared our strategies for navigating this challenging area of running a small business. As SBOs, we wear all the hats and managing our social media can feel like a never-ending game of "Whack-a-Mole": as soon as you figure out hashtags, then reels become a thing, just as you begin to figure out reels, then IG Live becomes a thing, and so on! One of my new mentee friends (I just love using the word "mentee" because it makes me think of Mentos candy and y'all know how I feel about candy!) shared that she starts her week with a blog post where she can chat about her work at length and then she uses an abbreviated version in her weekly email and social posts. So, bear with me my dear Avlea friends as I try this new method!
This past week we began fulfilling orders for the new designs Golden Celandine and Ukrainian Tulips and it felt terrific to have those gorgeous designs finally make their debut! I stitched Golden Celandine and loved its fabulous geometric feel--this was only my second or third project on the new Greek Vanilla 30ct linen and I have to say I'm a definite fan! Katie Sorensen stitched Ukrainian Tulips several months ago so I've been sitting on that one for awhile and I've been anxious to release it.
Pamela (my workshop assistant) spent a day making up some custom bookmark kits for Alderwood Studio, a quilting subscription box small business and we're already looking forward to the new Avlea friends we'll make through the Alderwood bookmark (see right). These were inspired by the bookmark kits we did for the YarnYAY! subscription boxes this past summer and they're a great little intro to cross stitch.
And, right when we were in the middle of making the Alderwood kits, another well-known embroidery shop (who for the time being must remain nameless) approached me about developing a custom kit for them inspired by Appalachian weaving traditions. Having never seen Appalachian weaving, I quickly went down a Pinterest rabbit hole--um, yes please to creating some cross stitch inspired by these amazing designs! Check 'em out on Pinterest.
I've been scheduling regular design time every week for the last couple of months, a task that is all too easy to let fall by the wayside in the midst of fulfilling orders, doing social media posts, taking photos, and all the other things. But, I find designing to incredibly restorative that I've made the commitment to myself to get regular sessions in. And, I'm discovering that those regular sessions are really refining my design abilities. I've got a new square design in the works, Mirabella Border, and I'll share in the next FlossTube the original layout and how I changed and fine-tuned it after several design sessions. I love how creativity works like this--you work on something, think you have it figured out, set it aside for a few days to attend to--you know, life--and then you come back and you see it anew. I'm finding weekly design sessions are helping me to see all my design through these fresh eyes and I feel it's going to be a game-changer for my work over the coming year.
But, alas, there just aren't enough hours in the day to stitch all of these designs, so I'm trying to get better at Letting. Things. Go. To the Pomegranate Collection, that is! Here are the three new ones:
Naxos Star & Leaf is inspired by the distinctive designs from the island of Naxos, part of the Cyclades islands. You can easily spot these designs among folk embroidery because of their predominantly red colorway and their typical geometric, half-drop motif repeat. Traditionally, they are worked with darning stitches, not cross stitches, but as I learned in a recent lesson with my Greek embroidery teacher, the darning stitches are quite a bit more complex than cross stitches because they follow a over 1-thread, over 3-threads, over 5-threads, over 7 threads pattern. I haven't yet figured out how I'm going to chart those kind of stitches, so I'm waiting until I go to Greece and see more Naxos work up close.
Grecian Cross is a design that I've seen stitched in various ways over the years in Greece--one of my friends showed it to me as a tiny table mat stitched on 40ct canvas with only one motif, I've seen it reproduced in vintage Greek needlework booklets, and I've seen other versions that have it as a large table runner. If you look closely, you'll see three separate motifs that come from several historical eras--the central cross is very Byzantine, the little palmette on either side of the cross is Classical in feel, the scroll work is straight up Venetian, and then the motif at the end of each scroll is Byzantine in flavor. So, loads of history here! It's also really traditional because of the use of a light and dark floss with the dark floss outlining the light floss to throw it into high relief.
Selene is an allover design that comes from the embroidery on the sleeve of an 18th century Greek folk costume chemise. I was mesmerized by it's geometry and heavy use of black, but then when I designed the chart, I realized it was a huge amount of stitching (not that that's a bad thing, but you know, we do all have lives!). So, I wondered what the reverse image would look like and it's just as striking, but a whole lot less stitching! And, because this year's Pantone color of the year is Viva Magenta, I used the 815 garnet in the reverse version (it's the accent color in the black version). But, you could really choose whatever color you like for this amazing design that feels very modern.
Tuesday morning, Pamela and I got to give Ukrainian refugees embroidery kits, which was so wonderful! I'm working with Salem for Refugees to plan a monthly Embroidery Gathering in which refugees can come and stitch. Check out my IG post on the amazing embroidered dress one of the women shared with us--truly stunning!
In my stitching, I finished the new Georgian Rose hoop and cushion kit samples and I was able to get photos on Friday, for which I was incredibly grateful given our Pacific NW weather which is not very photo-friendly! I'll edit those photos next week and Kristen will get the photo cards designed and then we should be ready to release them in early February. I also did another quick little basket cloth design that only took a few days and should be releasing next month, too. I wanted to have a project that was the next step for newer stitchers or when you want to whip up a quick gift, so I'm curious to see how everyone likes these small border square cloths.
I've just started the Pomona's Grove table runner on 30ct Vanilla linen. It's inspired by an 18th-century bed curtain border and I'll be adding it to the pieces I'll eventually give my grand-daughter Myriam. And, because Myriam is going to have a new brother or sister this summer, next up will be a really special border design inspired by Byzantine illuminated manuscripts for the new baby's heirloom collection.
This next week I'll be out of the workshop a few days as my daughter and her family are here, a visit we've all been looking forward to. Myriam (age 2-1/2) knows that my kitchen cupboards have pullouts where I keep snacks, and as soon as she arrived, she walked over to the cupboard, looked pointedly at me, and said in a very serious tone, "Me need cookie." How could I refuse that?
So, I'm off to give out cookies to needy toddlers. I hope you all have a wonderful week!