embellishing shape and space

embellishing shapes and spaces

sometimes my embroidery is influenced by the shape of the hat in itself.

1.  this pixie bonnet from the book reaches from way under the chin to the sky at the point and therefore lends itself to embroidery that moves upward and diagonally across most of the hat.  the other side has just a butterfly or two to echo the ones on this side.

2.  this commission was for a wood-elfish hat with aspen leaves embroidered on it.  i like leaves still attached to the branches, so i followed the distinct decreases down the top of the hat to form the branch, integrating the decrease into my design.

3. when it comes to flat hats, i often think of them as landscapes.  they remind me of painting, a blank slate with the background colors already there.  it makes perfect sense in such a landscape for a tree to grow.

4.  often, when hat have earflaps, i can’t help but integrate them into the embellishments, or at least take them into consideration as part of the whole. this super hero helmet hat’s embroidery echoes the shape of the earflap up into the rest of the cap.

each new shape and space gives me new opportunities to experiment with places to put embellishments and each new place has the ability to inspire new embroidery.  i don’t think i would have been inspired to put a flock of butterflies on a flat hat, or a whole tree on a pointy hat.  like site specific dance, there is site specific embroidery ;)

embellishing creation

embellishing creation

1. SPRING – the new tulips pushing through the ground.  for this one i actually looked up photos on flickr, although i should have went and drew some tulips in someone’s front yard.

2. SUMMER – the colors in this hat were inspired by this one beautiful garden in vancouver that i passed every day along the bike route.  one day i stopped to talk to the woman tending it, and told her about the hat.

3. AUTUMN – i think that this hat ended up being autumn to the core, although i had no idea that was what it would be when i started knitting it.  i was limited in wool at the time and just stared working with some colors. then it languished until quite a while later when i found the right embroidery for it.  some green, some gold, some red, just turning and fiery.

4. WINTER – the magic that is snowflakes on a hat to keep the head warm during the snows.

i do a lot of walking as my primary source of exercise, and find that it allows me to notice much about what’s going on in the physical landscape.  even walking in the city provides the sensation of the wind on your face, new things growing or old things dying, cycles.  i find that embroidering creation helps me to further connect with the seasons, and i hope that the person wearing the knit gets to do the same through my art.  i think that sensing our surroundings in the busy hurriedness of life is a priceless gift, and focusing on little things that are happening in nature leaves me wondering, thankful, and awestruck.

and, as always, with some really deep metaphors from which to understand life and living.

embellished memories

today i am starting a series inspired by Mary’s question, “Where do you get your stitch ideas?”

all of my embroidery is easier to explain if you know that i’ve a background in poetry and painting/drawing.   images and metaphors have always meant a lot to me – and not just that, they make sense to me, they exist in my environment and they make my life richer.  it doesn’t matter to me whether the image is described or pictured, just that it’s there for my creative brain to work around, size it up, make meaning from.

i am inspired by my memories
1. i was raised on garden vegetables from the huge garden that made up a third of our backyard.

2. knapweed is an infectious weed that i remember from the alley behind my house when i was growing up.  frankly, i found the purple flowers interesting when i was a child, which strikes me as such a fun childish perspective on the matter.

3. ben and i biked everywhere when we lived in missoula and LOVED it.  small, flat cities ROCK. even on a really heavy old schwinn cruiser with metal baskets.

4. the huge black walnut tree in my backyard was cut down by my father, but because that tree reproduces through its roots, there’s a new one to take its place.

for me, these memories are not just in the past, they continue to be a part of my life and exist for me in the present as metaphors and as lessons i’ve learned about my life, my environment, and the world.  the resonance with my past fills them with depth and like a painting, i can find more meaning in my work and life when looked at closely.

sometimes my titles hold an extra little nugget, like ‘born again helmet hat’ (#4).  or the extra meaning might come from the colors used. the child’s hat with the beets embroidered on it has colors that contain much energy.  this hat started out as more educational, the food we eat gets energy from the sun and grows in the ground.  but for me, the hat being on a child’s head, also has the idea that humans too get energy from the sun and it helps them to grow and be healthy.  it speaks of the interconnection of our body and our ecosystem.

a successful hat for me will often have several layers of meaning.  for the people buying or wearing the hats, i believe that these layers of meaning are there whether perceived or not and that they provide a layer of prayer and/or playfulness to the hat.


Mary’s other question, “Which do you prefer to embellish with, embroidery thread or yarn?” has a much shorter answer.  have any of you used embroidery floss?  did you like it?

for knitting, i embroider with wool/yarn almost exclusively.  i keep all my little balls and scraps of wool for this purpose.  i control the thickness of the yarn by taking plies apart if i need to.  truth be told, i’ve never used regular embroidery floss on my knitting.  i have some, but i’ve just never thought about it!