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Girl Crush ;)

Genevieve says I have a "girl crush" on her.  I guess she's right!  When you hear about her giveaway, you will too!!
So, you know about my Adorn Atelier, right?  Yoola Falk is teaching her unique wire crochet technique, 4 beautiful classes.  She is extremely accomplished, a designer who has a great eye for simple exquisite design.  ANYWAY... she is giving away a spot in her class! $170 worth of giveaway.  I talked to her before this generous giveaway and want to bring it to you.  make sure to see her here and here.

Q: Your work is beautiful and executed with such precession. When did you start crocheting and was crochet your first hand-crafting love

Thank you :) what a way to start an interview...

My grandma taught me how to crochet when I was little, maybe five ? I can't recall exactly, and all through my childhood and youth I experimented in many techniques, so it was only natural that I decided to study design as a profession.
Q: What aspect of your work do you enjoy most?

I enjoy most the exploring, thinking of new ideas and trying things that don't need planning, I'm very much a design in motion kind of person.


Q: What aspect of your work do you enjoy the least?

Trying to figure out how I did something that I was sure I would remember when I do again but didn't.... and also the whole pricing thing, keeping track of costs etc., yuckkkkkk!

I wish I lived in the Middle Ages and had a patron to cover my expenses in return for my work :)

Q: How long have you been crocheting and designing?

I've been creating ever since I can remember myself .... but you won't believe this fact .... I'm not a big crocheter, I hardly even know the names of the various stitches.

Q: Are you one to sketch, plan, design in advance or do you just grab your material and begin creating?

Since my day job is all about planning, my wire work is all about experimenting. 

Q: Where do you create? Do you have your own workspace? Is it at home or in a studio?

I used to do my whole Yoola thing at home, in a small corner in between the kitchen and the living room, but lately I moved it to my design studio, which is just 10 minutes by bike from home. We hate traffic.

Q: Are you a neat or messy creator and once you begin a piece, are you always one to complete it? (i.e. do you have a box full of unfinished designs?)

Are you serious? You want everyone to know this now ? sigh.... OK, I'll tell. I'm horribly messy, tons of unfinished work to inspire me, but every now and then I do put things in order and then it is so enjoyable to find things I totally forgot I had once started.

Q: If you couldn’t crochet, what would you choose to do? Do you see yourself seriously experimenting with other art or types of craft in the future?

I LOVE metalsmithing, I could totally see myself doing that, if I was 20 again I would probably learn this instead of industrial design. I also LOVE working with porcelain molds. I took a 3 day class a couple of years ago in Lausanne, and ever since its on my to do again list.

Q: When asked what you do professionally, what do you say?

LOL....ouch... well I'm still first of all an Industrial designer, but I'm also a wire knitter (if that's a profession at all )....

Q: What inspired you to teach?

I had many people write to me, telling me how much they liked my work, and would I explain how to make it themselves. At the beginning I thought, you are kidding right? How do I explain? But then I started publishing PDF, photo based, tutorials,  followed by VIDEO tutorials, followed by KITS and now I'm here :)  It turned out to be a big success.   People send me photos of what they made by following my instructions. I got addicted :)

Q: What is it that you enjoy most about teaching?

The feed-backs, and hearing both my online students and my offline ones telling me its been a long time since they enjoyed something that much :).   Since I felt the very same way when I started with the wire work, I understand how they feel.

It may sound silly, but in a way I feel that I help spread happiness.

Q: If you were giving advice to someone trying out crochet for the first time, what would you tell him or her was the most difficult aspect of knitting? What might this newbie do to overcome this difficulty and not give up?

I always tell my students, talk to the needles or the hooks, talk to the wire, don't force anything, relax and let your hands "play". i also have this crazy method with closed eyes... but thats for another time.

And a few from the famous line of Bernard Pivot questions… I LOVE THIS :)

Q: What is your favorite word?


Q: What is your least favorite word?


Q: What is your favorite noise?


Q: What is your least favorite noise?



Contemporary Tartan and Special Gift!

Red Colorway

Most people are quite familiar with the beautiful tartans of Scotland. Tartans begin as just two or three banded colors, but the alternating effect of the colors, combined with the variation of the band sizes creates the appearance of many more shades. So too, my "Contemporary Tartan" has been designed using different combination stitches and 10 silken skeins, which, up close, reveal a more complex canvas than one would expect.

This Design comes in three colorways:

Purple Colorway
Mauve Colorway

With each colorway emphasizing a different aspect of the work, Contemporary Tartan is as much an exploration of color theory as it is a counted stitcher's utopia! Speaking of Utopia....

If you love classic pairings like strawberry and chocolate or cheese and wine-- you will love our Thread and Bead Gift Offer available through this Friday! Buy any Adorn Color Palette  and receive a delightful sampler of color-coordinated beads and embellishments. It's a lovely way to take the guessing out of your color work, and get beautiful materials to create with.


Artisan Breads...

Winter is wrapping up, but there remains a chill in the air, so there is still time to bake fresh bread! As I attempt to up the nutritional status quo of my family,  I have taken to baking bread as often as I can, to replace the store bought stuff. You cannot imagine the amount of great flours that are out there: barley flour, rice flour, whole wheat, spelt flour, sprouted grains, garbanzo bean flour! Each adds something new, each affects the texture and sweetness of the final loaf.  Whole grain flours are an art unto themselves, they take three, sometimes four risings, and while that may seem like an extravagance of time,  it's actually quite easy do since 90% of the time the bread is just sitting in a bowl rising!

I have started to experiment with embellishment on my bread tops. For those of you in the Dolci class you may notice this loaf has a homage to the dreaded weave stitch...

This one sports a floral motif!

I was inspired by the work of a Thai artist whose work is a bit heavy for this blog, but I have since found many delightful examples of work that boggle the mind! 

And the examples go on and on. There is even a tradition using a recipe of salted bread dough to make exquisitely decorative breads that will never ever be eaten! The next bread to conquer will be a true sourdough from scratch -- but as the weather seems to be improving every day, I might have to wait until next winter!



The Oscars are over, what a bore!  I am so upset with them, it is my yearly evening of pjs, ice cream and who's dress do I like the most, and it was such a let down.  Oh well, a quick peek at some fashions and off to bed.  We'll talk more tomorrow!


Renegade Fibers

As many of you will be headed to Philly this August, I thought I would start to post about the interesting things that go on here; things that you won't necessarily  find in a tourist guide, or on a tour. Philly is a diverse city, every neighborhood has it's own feel and personality. Where I live in Northern Liberties, it's the arts! Philadelphia statistically rivals Paris for the amount of public art we have on display, though you aren't going to find here what you find there! So let's start off with the most surprising trend I've seen around town -- Yarnbombing.

Also referred to as "Urban Knitting" this is something that has been popping up all over the world, from Philly to Paris, to Milan and back again. If you don't believe me, just google "yarnbomb" in images and see what you will find! It is the kinder, gentler form of graffiti, one in which a knitter uses yarn as the tag medium instead of spray paint. When the yarn gets drab and dirty someone just snip snips, and everything is back to the way it was. In Philly this has taken off like crazy, giving the neighborhood a colorful, happy, cartoonish feel. It never ceases to brighten and amaze me. Just like graffiti, you wake up one morning and POOF! Your parking meter has a cozy.

The majority of the work pictured here can be attributed to a woman whose tag name is "IshKnits". I cannot imagine where she finds the time to knit all of this, let alone shimmy up lamposts!

The lace embellished fence you see below was part of Lace exhibit held at The Design Center at Philadelphia University in 2010. I have seen a great deal of work like this around town, but haven't had a camera with me when I see them. Often times, the lace is actually an artful way to "repair" a hole in a fence.

So remember to keep an eye out for stray yarn when you are visiting Philly. If you follow the strand you just might find yourself a work of art!


Miraculous Miniatures

The Art of Bonsai is an exercise meditation. The long view. When you see a beautifully shaped bonsai tree, on it's little island of miniature perfection, one rarely thinks about what it took to make that tiny tree look so good. What it takes is years! Bonsai trees, from beginning seedling, to the final realized shape, can take 5-15 years to complete. The trees are more of a pet than a plant, and there is much taming, and guiding it along the way. The ideal is that, proportionally speaking, the realized tree will be identical to a full grown tree, but miniature in scale.

Imagine my astonishment when I came across the amazing work of artist Takanori Aiba.  He has incorporated the art of bonsai with his background in maze design. Yes maze design. Who even knew that was a career choice?

His work is exquisitely detailed and beyond inspiring!

I hope his work brings you a little inspiration too...


Is a picture worth 1000 words?

For anyone who received the 2012 ANG Seminar catalog this week and happened upon page 16, you might have found yourself wondering "What the heck is Orna Willis teaching?!?!?"I am not sure what happened with this layout, but as anyone knows who does graphics, and deals with printers, bad things can happen in the click of a button!

Since this photo is a little, er, cryptic, at best, I thought I would just take a moment to post some illuminating closeups of the class, and explain a little bit more about the project I will be teaching.

My City, My Skyline is a 3-day class that incorporates the idea of a shadowbox with needlepoint. While I normally prefer to work in the abstract, this year I thought I would honor my hometown of Philly, and celebrate it's historical, elegant skyline by a foray into the representational. Each section of the needlepoint skyline will be stitched using beautiful silk and metallic threads. Tiny combination stitches will be worked on Congress cloth. The last part of the class will be used to assemble all of the pieces, using Lucite blocks (You can see those in the ANG photo) of differing widths, Masonite board, and black and white skyline photos. The finished piece has the leveled, shadowed effect of a real city skyline!

Here, My City, My Skyline is used as a wall hanging, accentuating shadows and emphasizing the 3-d nature of the work.
The idea of giving needlepoint depths, height, and dimensionality, has always fascinated me and I am thrilled that My City, My Skyline will be included in the 40th year line up of the ANG seminar.

So if you hear anyone flipping through the catalog, wondering what on earth I'm up to, send them here, and I'll straighten it out!

(PS - OK, I'm going to muster up the courage and ask a favor... do you mind, please, forwarding this to anyone you know who might be going to Seminar this year?  I would really appreciate it!  xoxo O)


Signs of Spring (plus last minute - Lookie! Lookie!)

I set out this morning, buoyed by the 60 degree weather reports, in search of signs of spring. A little green? Anywhere? I looked and looked, and could not find a sprig nor bud. As I walked I began to notice a different kind of sign: outdoor seating! Yes, the days of a breezy coffee in the sun are surely just around the corner......

Umbrellas popped up like tulips at The Piazza

Windowboxes and seats waiting for the Lunch Hour at Darling's Diner

Seating at One Shot Cafe

As happy as I was to find these man-made signs of spring, I felt a little stymied by the lack of crocus and daffodil I sought. And then.... Esther! With her keen eye, and snooping nose.......

Aha! It's Green.
Hurray for Spring!

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Just got word that I'm interviewed on this delightful blog.  Thank you, Yoola, for a great group of questions to answer and which made me think!!


The Best Laid Plans....

I love the term "Cottage Industry".  While I live in a loft in the city, a far cry from a cottage, every time I think of the term,  I see myself in a small cottage in the middle of a wild flower garden, wearing an apron, making jam and humming.   Then I think about the "industry" part of the expression, and that's not me either.  No clunking of machines, spills of grease or end-of-shift whistle blowing around here.  In reality, there is nothing particularly cottage-y about what I do, and not much industry going on in my studio.

With my studio right in the middle of my home, the distractions are endless. There are days where it feels as though I may as well be pushing back the tide. Dogs, and phones, knocks at the door, the washer, the dryer, ergh! The only way to get anything done is to get organized. For the past year we have been married to "The Project Sheet".  Lining our office walls like a march of soldiers, we keep track of each and every project in the works, where it stands and where it's going. A class comes in, it's put on the board. A commission comes in, on the board. Dates and Notes, it keep us on time, and in the loop.

I looked at them today and realized that 2012 is shaping up to be a very busy year!


Presidential Needlework

Have a great President's Day!!

Presidential Quilt By Loosetooth.com

Abraham Lincoln Needlepoint

Bill Clinton by Christa Maiwald

Hair embroidered portrait of Roosevelt by Professor Wei Jingxian (yes, hair!)
This artist actually completed 43 portraits of American Presidents, all embroidered in human hair.

Quilt by Retha Epps
The Work of Emily Gardia
Lincoln and Obama napkin set
Handtowels by downzipper.com



Please meet Jacqueline Gable...

Harry Potter
Jacqueline Gable is a talented gal.  She took Cross Stitch to a place of humor, imagination, color, delight.  I saw her work and immediately fell in love.  Often when you get a group of needleart enthusiasts together the conversation will inevitably go to: there need to be more young people taking up needles!  We need to get more young people involved!  Jacqueline is an example of how much we all gain from having a younger generation give their spin on an old craft.  She is one of the teachers offering classes in our Adorn Atelier online studio and I decided to be nosy and ask her a bunch of questions...

Q: Your work is beautiful and executed with such precision. When did you start cross-stitching and was cross-stitching your first hand-crafting love?
Thanks! I was five when I first starting cross-stitching, so yes, it's my first hand-crafting love. I moved away from it for quite a few years while I picked up other hobbies, but I always came back to it - this time for good!

Q: What aspect of your work do you enjoy most?
I love colour - there's nothing that makes me happier than as many colours of embroidery floss as possible - the more I can work in to a pattern the better. And I love how relaxing stitching is for me - I can sit in a totally silent room for hours and cross-stitch and not be bored at all.

Q: What aspect of your work do you enjoy the least?
Making mistakes and having to fix them (although I think that's true for any crafter). It makes me cringe to have to pick back rows of stitches I worked so hard to make perfect.

Q: Did you teach yourself how to cross-stitch or did you learn from a family member, or a teacher?
My Mom taught me - I think initially to teach me to sit still and concentrate on something, but also because she's a big-time crafter too. I probably pestered her to teach me - I was quite young when I learned how to cross-stitch, only five - but I remember everything about it - even what I was stitching - little beige mushrooms on plastic canvas with yarn and a thick needle.

Q: How long have you been cross-stitching and designing?
If you do the math I've been cross-stitching on-and-off for twenty-eight years! Eep! But I've only been designing for the last three. I was tired of never finding the sort of patterns which appealed to my own taste - most were too elaborate and time-consuming for me. Initially I started designing patterns just for myself to stitch - at the time I never would have imagined it would blossom into an entire business!
Star Wars

Q: Are you one to sketch, plan, design in advance or do you just grab your material and begin creating?
I'm definitely a sketcher and a planner. Usually I sketch out patterns with graph paper and pencil crayons, before charting them out in PCStitch - it's cross-stitch design computer software - which allows me to play with different colours of floss and cut-and-paste elements of my patterns to move them around. I always test-stitch designs though, and will often change little details as I go and then make the changes to the pattern.

Q: Where do you create? Do you have your own workspace? Is it at home or in a studio?
We do have a dedicated studio in our apartment, but honestly most of the time I'm just on the couch in the living room!

Q: Are you a neat or messy creator and once you begin a piece, are you always one to complete it? (i.e. do you have a box full of unfinished designs?)
I wish I were a neat creator!! No, I have to admit I'm fairly messy - I have unfinished projects pretty much everywhere! I'm sure it drives my husband (and business partner) crazy because he's rather neat with his work. I like being able to put things down when I need to and then be able to pick them up when I feel inspired again instead of forcing it.

Q: What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I love when people tell me they're going to learn to cross-stitch simply because they love my patterns so much - considering how much I love cross-stitch I find that a huge compliment. I only hope they learn to love it as much as I do!

Q: Do you work alone and if so, do you find that to be lonely?
Most of the time I do work by myself. My husband is my business partner but he has a day job and so I'm home alone most of the day and normally I don't mind it. It's nice to have him to bounce ideas off of when he does walk in the door at 6 pm though. And my mom and sisters are really crafty too, so even though we all live in different cities, I can always pick up the phone and give them a call. Plus my Facebook group is really active, so there's always someone there I can chat with.

Q: If you couldn’t cross-stitch, what would you choose to do? Do you see yourself seriously experimenting with other art or types of craft in the future?
Now that I design cross-stitch full time, I can't imagine doing anything else (and I hope I never have to!!!) but I also knit, crochet, embroider, and sew - so I guess if I couldn't cross-stitch I'd have to hope I could still do one of those things. I can't imagine not creating something every day. There are still plenty of other things I'd love to try - gardening and quilting especially and I've always thought I should write a book.
The Breakfast Club

Q: When asked what you do professionally, what do you say?
I say I'm a designer and I own an Etsy shop. Most non-crafty people need the details explained a bit better, but I'm always surprised at how many people know what cross-stitch is. I hear "Oh, my Mom does that a lot" to which I reply - "You should get her to teach you!"

Q: What inspired you to teach?
My love of the craft. It's so easy, but it's so satisfying. I mean, if I can learn how to cross-stitch as at five years old I think anybody can. It's a lot more approachable a craft than sewing or knitting, I find - and a lot less expensive. I think there are so many people who could benefit from learning to sit, create, and relax.

Q: If you were giving advice to someone trying out cross-stitching for the first time, what would you tell him or her was the most difficult aspect of cross-stitching? What might this newbie do to overcome this difficulty and not give up?
The most difficult aspect of cross-stitching is french knots! It took me a few years before I had the stitch down pat - but once you get the hang of it, it's ridiculously satisfying. And luckily there are lots of patterns which don't have that stitch in them. A newbie should definitely practice them on a scrap piece of fabric a few times before attempting them on the actual stitching - and if you mess it up, you can always rip it out and try it again!

Q: When you create a new piece, what sort of things inspire or guide your work?
We're so inspired by the movies, comics, and television shows that we grew up with and loved. In the beginning so much of our work was about the pop culture which we surround ourselves with every day. I really wanted to create patterns, which were quick to stitch, cute, a little nerdy, and above all else, easy! I always try to keep that in mind while I design.

Q: If you had to move to an island, and beyond the basic needs (food, clothing etc.), you could bring 3 things, what would they be?
My husband! No one makes me laugh as much as him and I'd probably go crazy without him.
A needle - I figure I can stitch on and with just about anything I find, but not without a needle (or two!).
Sunscreen - I sunburn easily and awfully!

And a few from the famous line of Bernard Pivot questions…
Jacqueline and her husband Christopher
Q: What is your favorite word?
Hope. My mantra is "above all things, hope"

Q: What is your least favorite word?
No. I don't like the idea that I can't do something and I hate when people tell me I can't. Or shouldn't.

Q: What is your favorite noise?
I adore the sound of a duck quacking. Isn't that weird? But I dare anyone to hear a duck's quack and not smile.

Q: What is your least favorite noise?
Squealing tires. Not only does it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, but you know it's never a good thing when you hear that.


Taking a much needed trip for the SOUL!

One week until the American Craft Councils Flagship Craft Show!  I will be taking a little break from the studio and going off to do what the author Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way refers to as "filling the well".  My two wonderful friends Natalie and Jennifer (who also happens to be an Adorn Atelier teacher--you can see her here) and I are headed down to Baltimore, Maryland where we will immerse ourselves in finely crafted new works by some of the top artisans around.

      Blue Moon Wall Piece

The first booth I am going to hustle to is Karin Noyes. Have you ever played with Polymer Clay? Prepackaged, brilliantly colored bakeable clay--it has all the earmarkings of a summer afternoon making beads with your daughter and her girlfriends. But Karin has taken this medium to a level of "oh!" that I must see in person. 

The other work that I am looking forward to is that of Michael Mode. A wood turner with a twist,  the methods he uses to achieve this work is fascinating. Painstaking. And flawless.


I can hardly wait! It's rare that I have the time to relax with the girls and not have to worry about the next tennis lesson, or pick up, or dog walk, or phone call! The only downside is leaving Nina and Esther for the weekend, but they will get ample amounts of Dad time, and that's good for both of them!


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