When I began doing the weekly blog last week, I was a bit concerned I wouldn't have enough to share in a blog, but here we are and I have even more to share this week! A new free chart, a lecture I gave this morning on the mental health benefits of stitching, the January FlossTube, work-in-progress Pomona's Grove table runner, and the new Georgian Rose hoop and cushion kits. So, let's dive in!
This morning I uploaded a new FlossTube that is chock-full of embroidery fabulousness! I started with the new Georgian Rose hoop kit and cushion kit (shown here) which should be on the website in a week or two. I was thrilled to get some fabulous natural light last week for the photos and now I just need to edit them for the cover image. This beautiful design is inspired by Georgian-era decorative architectural art, so it's great for all you Downton Abbey and Jane Austen fans (am I a huge fan of both? why, yes I am! currently on my third time round the Downton Abbey series and Persuasion is my favorite book ever). You'll notice that this is probably my only kit that doesn't have either gold or coral in and I'm enjoying this more subdued palette. I got a lot of satin stitch practice on these and I love the way the satin stitches emphasize the curve of the tendrils.
And, there's a new FREE chart! I've taken the small outer border from Golden Celandine and added it to the Free Charts collection (click on photo). This would be a sweet little border for a small project or worked as confronted bands on a simple cushion cover. You could play around with the colors and make it multi-colored or keep it monchromatic but use a different color like red or blue.
And, this might sound weird, but I think it would look great as a small border for curtains or valances.
This morning, I got to give a Zoom lecture to the staff at Help Heal Veterans, an organization that uses crafting as a therapy tool for veterans (if you've received an Avlea package, you'll be familiar with the Help Heal Vets donation wish list and shipping label). These folks specialize in using crafting as a powerful therapeutic tool and I was asked to give them a presentation on the benefits of stitching. As many of us stitchers already know, there are so many benefits to stitching, but I focused on three main points:
Stitching/crafting uses across-the-body motions, meaning it engages both your right and left sides and therefore your right and left brain. These kind of motions help heal trauma in the brain by moving it from the limbic system to the pre-frontal cortex, where it can be put in a narrative timeline. What exactly does this mean? (please keep in mind I am not an expert and this is a very general explanation): The limbic system is "timeless", which means that traumas that hang out there feel like they're in the present and always with you. The pre-frontal cortex (the "boss" of your brain), on the other hand, is all about putting things into timelines (past, present, future), so once a trauma is processed there, it can be organized as something in the "past" which means it can become something you can move beyond. Cross-the-body motions help trauma move from the limbic system to the pre-frontal cortext (this is the same concept of EMDR and other bi-modial therapies). Want to know more? I highly recommend "The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel Van der Kolk and "Knit for Health and Wellness" by Betsan Corkhill.
Stitching/crafting is great as a type of meditative practice for those of us who cannot sit still. For many, many folks (myself very much included!), meditation that requires a lot of sitting still just makes us feel too antsy. Enter: Crafting! All the benefits of meditation with none of that pesky sitting still. You can move your arms and hands in graceful, repeating motions that provide all the benefits of meditation such as lowered heart rate, slower breathing, etc. Personally, I can sit still and meditate for all of about two minutes, but I can easily stitch for hours at a time.
Stitching/crafting is great for self-esteem and self-agency. That "I made it!" feeling you get when you finished a project? Well, that is super-duper for creating an identity in which you can be a person who makes things, a person who makes beauty, a person who is creative, etc. This benefit is UNIQUE TO CRAFTING! You can do all sorts of other therapies and those are all really great, too, but none of them result in an actual, physical thing you can hold in your hands. This has been shown to be particularly valuable for folks struggling with PTSD: for example, soldiers can experience PTSD because they have destroyed things, yet crafting allows them a space in which they can begin to build a new identity as someone who makes things. Very powerful stuff!
Whew! Well, now that we've gone into that fascinating topic, let's get back to some embroidery...
In very exciting Avlea news, seven of my designs have been picked up by Herrschners, the online and catalog crafting company. Their buyer met me at the HH Americas show last June and we chatted, but I seriously didn't think anything would come of it. Until we were making up dozens of kits a few weeks ago for their first order! As a relatively new designer, it is simply thrilling to get this kind of exposure of my designs.
Given the popularity of my table runner designs (like Arcadian Peony shown above), I've got quite a few more coming up, including the Pomona's Grove design I'm currently stitching. Inspired by an 18th cent Greek islands bed valance, this stylized border features branching "trees", horses, birds, and large urns (which can symbolize plenty). I'm naming it after the Greek goddess Pomona, as she's associated with orchards and growing things.
I'm working it on 30ct Vanilla linen and it's going to be the next piece in my granddaughters "prika" (chest of embroideries given to her when she reaches adulthood). She's really into animals right now and I thought this would be a great way to remember this time in her life.
As I'm stitching this gorgeous design, I've been thinking about how grateful I am that all my kids are creative in one way or another--my oldest daughter runs a custom baptismal robe business, my middle daughter is an amazing embroiderer and swing dancer (check out her Narnia embroideries on my IG stories ), and my youngest daughter is an avid artist and Minecrafter (I'm figuring Minecraft is a great training ground for either architecture or embroidery design). My lecture this morning reminded me just how important creativity is for bringing healing, hope, and joy into our lives and I'm grateful my kids have this tool as they navigate theirs.
So, if you've been needing a nudge to get crafting, here it is! I feel honored to have had a front-row seat watching the power of making in so many lives. To say it is redemptive and transformative is not hyperbole--it is the just the plain and simple truth of making.