Exciting News!

Hello friends! I have big news! I have new job! And it is a cool job for you all to know about! I’m working at the famous Attic Needlework! See all the exclamation marks?! I am very excited!

I decided to write a post of introduction as Jean planned to include my blog address in the shop newsletter to introduce me as a new staff member, and I hope I will be having many first time visitors to the blog. I will intersperse my stitching bio with some of my favorite projects for you to enjoy as you get to know me again, or for the first time. It’s a very long post so if you want to read it (and I don’t blame you if you just want to scroll the pictures!) grab your cup of tea or coffee and settle in for a long read!

GPA’s English Sampler Pillow…a favorite project. I loved the pre-finished pillow it’s stitched on.

I learned to cross stitch when I was about 7. My paternal grandmother taught me. This is my first project (unfinished because I got stuck on the backstitch and frustrated with my poor technique!) I still remember picking out the design in a magazine and going to the local craft shop to buy the supplies.

My Grandma was a great stitcher and made me many special things over the years. But she was an even better quilter! Someday I would like to make a quilt (or finish one! I’ve started 2!). My mom, who was always doing some kind of craft, also taught me needlework, mostly crewel using those colorful Sunset/Jiffy Stitchery kits. She herself does a bit of cross stitch and also needlepoint. I am still quite fond of the Chris Davenport crewel kits and have collected up a few for ornaments, like this one:

Anyway, over my girlhood, I worked on various needlework projects, trying stamped cross stitch and embroidery, small cross stitches on Aida, crochet…but these remained hobbies among other interests. Not so anymore! Now needlework is THE hobby! But I had a few more steps to get there first!

I only have this one picture of me stitching. I was in my 20s here, and Kiwi, my good old cat was starting her career as stitching companion. She’s been gone 2 years now and the ripe old age of 19.

I was always interested in museums, “old stuff,” and art. Those interests came from my mom and her mother, and the opportunities I had to live in Europe as a little girl and young adult. I was born in Heidelberg (my dad was in the army) and we did a second tour in Germany when I was in elementary school (in Frankfurt and Nuremberg).

I had a jewelry charm bracelet for my souvenir charms from all my travels but it was too bulky to wear. I just had to stitch this Raise the Roof design and get my charms displayed nicely. One of my favorite stitches!

In college, (I went to Valparaiso University and studied French, art, and theology), I spent a semester in Paris and used every spare moment to walk and visit museums, churches, and other historic buildings.

A stitch by Sisters and Best Friends for our 15th anniversary We celebrate 21 years this year.

I married my high school sweetheart right after graduating from college and one of his first jobs took us to Europe for another year where we lived in s’Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands and in Alicante, Spain. All those months were filled with more visual (and physical, who am I kidding!) feasts as I took advantage of my age to travel constantly on a youth rail pass!

I brought one project with me, Theresa Wentzler’s Peacock Tapestry, which I declared to be my “Life Project” as in, if I only ever stitched and finished one thing, this would be it. Woah boy was I wrong. You can see it is NOT finished (my method was not good for working such a complicated piece), but once I got over my fear of starting something new before the old project was finished, it definitely was a launching pad. It is stitched on evenweave, which I had never used before, and was an excellent introduction for eventually stitching on linen.

The first sampler I fell in love with, Heirloom Nativity from The Victoria Sampler. I think some 10 years elapsed from when I bought it until I had the courage to stitch it!

Upon returning to the US, we moved from Indiana to Arizona so I could pursue a Masters degree in Art History (my husband traveled for his work at the time and we could live anywhere.) Coinciding with my studies, I began working first as the curator of a small museum, and later as the education director of an art school. I had my first son and eventually something had to give! I stopped working full time, finished my degree while pregnant with my second, and ultimately became a full time mother to our now 5 children (who currently range from ages 14 down to 4, boy-girl-girl-boy-girl).

I never completed a scrapbook for any of them but I did manage 5 birth records for my 5 children! And all before they left home! Win!

So, like I said, I felt guilty starting something new while the peacock was left unfinished, so I did not really stitch or start too many new projects for a while. I made a few gifts for people and that was all, really, for quite a few years.

For my dear mom, the biggest thing I had completed at that point,

My stitching became more serious when my oldest started in elementary school. I had to wait in the school pick up line every day and had quite a lot of time in my hands. I began working on Mill Hill kits, discovered how productive I could be, and after stitching 20+ of those decided to move on to some more ambitious things!

A couple months’ stitching in the car. I love putting them on my tree every Christmas!

Around that same time I began blogging to chronicle my stitching and meet people who stitched, because I did not have a possibility for any other social dimension to my hobby.

A step up from Mill Hill…This is by Cherished Stitches and I think it’s called Autumn Garden.

Of course I also discovered that I was fortunate enough to be living near one of the best needlework shops in the country, The Attic, which, coincidentally enough, I actually drove by on my way to work every day when I worked at that art school! When I first stepped inside I was transported to a whole new world of needlework beyond the “big box” craft stores and have never looked back. I have been able to take two workshops through The Attic. The Lounging Hare taught by Sherri Jones:

Here is my box…I still need to make the tool holder insert. Will I ever make it? I hope so! But I like the box the best!

And “I Bathya” taught by Nicola Parkman of Hands Across the Sea.

This is how far I am on Bathya…I am doing it reversibly. It takes a lot of concentrated effort.

It is no small feat to pull yourself away from many small children for a weekend so I’m grateful to my family for facilitating that!

Overall my family is very supportive of my stitching and knows that it keeps me sane! I tell people, when your work is NEVER done..cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc…it can be very demoralizing. Furthermore, when your work is maintenance, it is not seen or noticed unless it is undone! The “maintenance” work of life has long been women’s lot. There are different ways to subvert the problems with this (lack of recognition, remuneration and life-satisfaction among them)… but I believe it is CRITICAL for people involved in such maintenance work to have a creative outlet that brings the satisfaction of completion regularly. It is important for someone to make something or do something and be able to stand back and say “I did that!” without the dreadful fear that it will be undone in half a day’s time. For my own well-being, then, I stitch nearly every evening and often catch some time during the day while I wait to pick up the kids from school, watch baseball games, or supervise swimming.

Snowflower Diaries’ Joyful World. The border is my current poolside project. I’ve only been working on this for 4 years ha ha. The chart is free! If you like it, you can get it here: Snowflower Diaries Joyful World

If you peruse my blog you will find an eclectic range of stitching! I am drawn to things that have delicacy, complexity, density, and prettiness.

I usually stitch using the sewing method, with my fabric held with a loose-ish tension in a hoop or Q-Snap. Duchess hoops are my favorite!

My antique duchess hoops! The Queen hoop with the metal bracket was my great grandmother’s!

I have gotten braver about converting projects to silk if I like, and changing colors and motifs to keep my favorite parts of a design. Below are my Strawberry Garden and Quaker Garden by Blackbird Designs converted to silks. For Strawberry Garden I stayed pretty true to the original colors, but for Quaker Garden, I used mostly Thread Gatherer silks from a limited edition set so mine looks very different from the original.

You’ll also see that I love rich colors. One of my favorites is Autumn Quakers by Rosewood Manor (which I also converted to silk):

I have to say it…it’s SOOO beautiful!

I LOVE specialty counted stitches, especially satin stitch, and beads. From that you can probably guess that some of my favorite contemporary designers are The Drawn Thread, The Victoria Sampler, Jeannette Douglas, Betsy Morgan, Indigo Rose, Just Nan, and Chatelaine.

Betsy Morgan’s Silk and Satin Reticule

I stitch a lot of Smalls (in fact I have hosted a Smalls SAL at this blog for several years now!) mainly because a lot of my stitching time os NOT at home and I find those most manageable and portable. Also, I enjoy the gratification of finishing things regularly!

One of several collections of Smalls you’ll find around my house…

I love creative finishing of Smalls and learning how to make stuff out of my stitching.

A “family picture” of my stitching. Everybody smile!

My favorite period in art history falls at the second half of the 19th century especially the Arts and Crafts and Aesthetic Movements, so I admire an aesthetic where the materials inform design. I think samplers of all kinds generally do this better than an image that has been brought to needlework from another medium so you won’t see too much illustrative or full coverage pieces here.

Toccata 1 from The Drawn Thread. This was so fun to do. Look at how the materials inform the design, with various weights of thread for the different stitches.

My appreciation of both antique-style and reproduction samplers has grown with every minute I spend at The Attic! My first “reproduction” was The Pink Sparrow Sampler by Brenda Gervais:

But you see I was not faithful…I replaced the dogs with cats! (I do love cats!)

Leaping Cat by La D Da

I also love birds and flowers, as you can see throughout this post, and fancy alphabets, the fancier the better.

Lazy Alphabet by La D Da and Alphabet Heart freebie from DMC

I only stitch houses if they call to me but I dislike having “people” or Adam and Eve in samplers, (never say never)!

These houses called to me. They are so cute!

I am curious about all forms of needlework. I have tried and enjoyed some interesting projects such as this goldwork fox by Becky Hogg and Amy Mitten’s spectacular Casket Keepsakes Butterfly. I have a silk shading project kitted, as well as several more complicated crewel projects.

I enjoyed those, but enjoy having them finished more than I loved stitching them! They were a lot of work because They were intense learning experiences! It would be my dream to study at the Royal School of Needlework. I feel like if I had more experience with the techniques I would really come enjoy gold work and silk shading and other surface embroidery too. But another kind of stitching I did love right away was ribbon embroidery. Here is a pin cushion I made from a kit by Lorna Bateman:

I LOVED doing this. I don’t know why I haven’t done more.

It all comes back to flowers, right? In addition to stitching and taking care of my family, I do enjoy gardening and cooking/baking and travel and once in a while I’ll share some of those hobbies on my blog. Well, if you’ve read this far you know enough about me to be my friend I guess! Feel free to ask to follow me on Instagram-My account is exclusively for stitching with a rare random, pretty photo. I’m also on Facebook exclusively for stitching, and you’ll find me around some of the stitching groups as Mary Thread. Thank you so much for visiting my blog!

7 thoughts on “Exciting News!

  1. Congratulations on your new job! Working in a shop dedicated to a craft you love is most rewarding. Following my retirement from a paralegal position in a large law firm, I worked in a wonderful yarn shop (it is as well regarded in the knitting world as the Attic in the needlework world) – it was so much more fulfilling!
    Your needlework is beautiful!

  2. Congratulations on the fabulous new job! I am sure you will find it as tempting as me working in a bookshop. And no, we are not allowed to sit around and read all day!
    It was absolutely fascinating to read your stitching life story. Two things really resonated with me, the part about a mother’s job being “maintenance”. When my first son was little I found it quite demoralising that no matter how much boring chores work I had done, it all had to be done again the next day and the next. The other was the feeling that “the materials inform design”. I’d not really thought of this before but it makes a lot of sense! I think it’s why I don’t like computer generated charts, although I do like a well-designed pictorial design like a Mirabilia.

  3. Oh, what a joyful post, Mary! I am SO excited for you in your new job at the legendary Attic! How wonderful for you and for your customers who will benefit from the experience and knowledge you can provide. I truly enjoyed learning more about your life and travels and seeing all of those gorgeous pieces. Love the way you’ve displayed your charms, too–what a great idea. Anyway, congratulations and if I’m ever lucky enough to make it to The Attic, I hope you’ll be there. ♥

  4. Your Lounging Hare looks gorgeous, right up my street. I read The Attic’s newsletter yesterday and saw your pic, you look right at home and happy. Hope you manage to bring some money home and are not tempted to spend it all in the shop, which is what I would be sure to do. Have fun.

  5. Oh Mary how exciting for you! And yes, I did read the entire post. 😉 🙂 SO MUCH GORGEOUS WORK YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED MY DEAR FRIEND!!
    Okay, now that you will be an Attic employee, I will mention to you, lucky you!! HA! They do not do newsletters regularly!! There! That is my complaint!

  6. I really have had a lovely time reading your post and enjoying all your beautiful needlework pics. I hope your new job is just what you are hoping it will be. I wish I lived nearby so thst I could visit The Attic. It sounds very inviting! Congratulations!

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