Anna Torma

•July 16, 2009 • 1 Comment

Influenced by the primitive qualities of outsider art and children’s art, Anna Torma creates large-scale hand embroideries. I just stumbled across her work as I’m doing research for my thesis. Browsing through her website, she seems to have quite a bend towards story-telling in the work and draws from life with titles like: Playground I – VI, Memoirs, and Storytelling. With a lot of images on her website, take a quick break and have a look! It’s Friday, take your time and browse!

Dragons, 2004, 71 x 87 cm

Playground I, 2002, 84 x 84 cm

Playground II, 2002, 84 x 84 cm

You are Here?

•June 12, 2009 • 1 Comment

As mentioned in the previous posting, I (Karin) am having my thesis show in a couple weeks!! The journey towards my thesis began almost 4 years ago, in September 2005, when I packed everything that could fit into my car and drove to Savannah. It is hard to believe that I am now just a couple weeks away. The cards are at the printers, the work is (almost) done, the gallery is booked and I’m excited!!

Show Card, front and back:


Postcard_Back copy

If you are in Savannah, the show opening will be June 26 from 6:00 pm- 9:00 pm at TruSpace Gallery, 2423 De Soto Ave. I would love to see you there!!

Big News & Updates

•June 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Okay, we are so sorry we haven’t posted in a while. Here is all the news:

Karin has booked her thesis show -hooray. June 26, 2009 at TrueSpace Gallery in DeSoto Row.

Karin has also accepted a position as a fibers professor teaching at a university in Korea. She has just returned from her interview and has about 7 weeks to wrap up her thesis and her life in Savannah before this exciting new adventure begins. Go, Karin, go!

Rubi must go abroad for a few months to earn money for embroidery supplies.

But here is the good news. Stitch Spectacular will live on, now we will be coming at you from two global perspectives. You may not see much of us over the summer, but WE PROMISE to come back at you after labor day (without white shoes).

Fashizzle My Stitchzzle

•May 16, 2009 • 1 Comment

FYI- Joann’s, my favorite place to wait in line to be helped by people who have no idea what they are doing, is having a sale on DMC embroidery floss this weekend: 29¢ a skein.

The sale continues until Monday night. Stock up, y’all.

My bad, the sale is from May 22-25, which is Memorial Day weekend, which I only learned is not this weekend–after I picked out about 40 skeins.

Long live the ding dongs!

Ya I want the Cheezy Poufs!

•May 11, 2009 • 2 Comments

New! Samples!

sampler sample

No, really, this is a sample of a sampler. I am guessing it represents about 40 hours of my time, blissfully spent listening to chic indie rock outside, smelling jasmine on my back deck.  This is hard work, on 25 count linen it means every square inch represents 1,250 actual stitches. By this math, the above sample is 3,024 stitches. When I drink water, it spurts out my fingertips like I am a sprinkler.

The actual piece will be larger and take forever to complete. It is from this photo, which I took at a big membership store two years ago and have been trying to make art from since. I think it is hilarious. My goal is to complete the piece (I am guessing it will take a few months) without a cheeseball passing my lips. The color is quite seductive.

Timing being everything, this article by Rob Walker appeared in yesterday’s New York Times magazine. I usually read it online on sundays, but I was so focused on finishing my sample I didn’t get to read it until today. It’s like a dairy fairy sprinkled cheesedust and made the whole world a bit more naturally cheese flavored (with artificial flavors).

Alabama Chanin

•May 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

One great thing about being in school: guest artists! Last week SCAD welcomed Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin to give a lecture, present her work and visit with students. It is always inspiring to hear someone speak with passion and truly believe in the work they do!

With a focus on slow design and sustainability, all garments are hand stitched and constructed by individual stitchers in rural Alabama. The fabrics are lovely and the garments are absolutely stunning!!

Her website has loads of images for inspiration!! If you’re dying for something in print you can  get your hands on a book: Alabama Stitch Book. And if you MUST have one of these garments by cannot afford the price, check out their website for instructions and fabric!

Wash and Go?

•April 29, 2009 • 3 Comments

Fellow stitchers, an important question: Do you wash your work?

To be honest, I am terrified of washing mine. My younger sister created a cross-stitched lobster in art class in high school. When she washed it to block it the color ran. Mr. Lobster has been hanging in the kitchen for over fifteen years in a haze of red, underscoring my belief that water will ruin my precious projects. In full disclosure, I am no laundry queen, as my husband’s wardrobe of slightly pink t-shirts proves.

I am only a few stitches away from finishing a piece, worked in black thread on white linen, and will be ready to frame. I would love to get the crispness back in the fabric, but can’t bear to see my efforts float away like clouds of errant dye in a water bath. It might be nice to get the curry paste stain out, as well (bad Rubi!).

I read this post by Joetta Maue, with pictures (above) of her wet needlework drying and thought “Brave” is a fitting title.

So, please weigh in, do you wash your pieces? Have you had a bad experience with dye running? What products do you use?

All of The Above

•April 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment


This weekend stop by blankspace to see some amazing work by SCAD graduate students in the fibers department.

Opening is Friday, May 1; 6:30 pm to 9 pm.

See you there!

Sampler: Blackwork

•April 25, 2009 • 1 Comment

Blackwork is a counted cross-stitch technique executed in black thread on a light background evenweave fabric. Please note, blackwork may not be done with black thread (it can be red, white, or any color). It also can be done on a non- evenweave fabric, and it doesn’t have to be light colored.

Motifs and designs are generally outlined in running stitch (also called Holbein stitch–see below) and filled in with different shading patterns. This is a very old technique, sometimes called “Spanish work,” because of it’s introduction into the English court by Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Spain’s Isabella and Ferdinand. Catherine was sent to England to marry Prince Arthur, who died and she subsequently married his brother Henry the VIII. Suffice to say huge drama ensued, the likes of which makes any Joan Collins’ character appear tame. Affairs were carried out,  bastard children conceived,state religions formed and wives divorced or beheaded. (Catherine gave birth to Mary, and Henry fell in love with her lady-in-waiting, Ann. Neither the Pope nor Catherine would grant Henry an anullment, so Henry formed his own church (the still existing Church of England), anulled his marriage to Catherine, married already pregnant Ann, who gave birth to Elizabeth; then Henry executed Ann so he might marry his next wife, Jane Seymour [not the one who “designs” butt shaped jewelry]).

Throughout all of this hullalabaloo in the early to mid 16th century, one of the favored forms of embroidery was blackwork. Technically difficult, blackwork can be made reversible for use on cuffs, but is not necessary. There exists no actual samples from this time, because the fabrics’ tendency to decompose was further hastened by the corrosive nature of the iron-based dye which gave the thread its distinct color.

We do, however, have record of the patterns preserved in the paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543). Holbein was the court painter to King Henry VIII.  His Jane Seymour portrait from 1537, the pattern is available here.


sleeve detail

sleeve detail

Elizabethan blackwork underwent a resurgence in popularity in the Victorian era. I am on a quest to find contemporary embroiderers who are employing this technique in new ways. I would love to find more.

Maria delValle of Argentina recently produced this piece.


Jocelyn at Pinsneedles in Auckland, New Zealand has this to offer.


Yarn Theory

•April 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

A new show is opening at the PS122 Gallery (150 First Avenue, New York, NY 10009)

One of our fellow Stitch Spectacular artists, Emily Barletta is part of this show and passed along the information. This might be a little heady and a lot of text for a Friday afternoon, but it was so interesting to me that I decided to re- post the entire press release.

From Martha Lewis, Exhibition Curator:

Yarn Theory highlights the vibrant and deep interrelationship between the sciences, mathematics, crocheting and knitting. From mathematicians looking for clear and visual ways to model their theorem to home-knitters and artists looking to create unique sculptural objects, the world of contemporary yarn work is rife with cross-pollination between the disciplines. The explosion in the popularity of knitting and crochet has yielded an interest in using the medium to go far beyond sweaters, socks, and wearables, moving into the worlds of geometry, biology, natural sciences, pushing the medium’s sculptural boundaries.

Highlighting the work of some of today’s most interesting practitioners, Yarn theory juxtaposes installations and art objects made with a scientific or mathematical basis as a starting point, and with mathematical models and items made explicitly to explain or clarify abstract concepts, which end up being compelling aesthetic forms unto themselves. Because of their incremental structure, the crafted shapes often mimic growth systems found in nature. Such correlations are being explored by today’s needle workers, many of whom are also scientists and mathematicians professionally.

This exhibit contradicts the popular notion- recently made famous by Larry Summers, when he was acting president of Harvard University *- that women are not as good at math and science as men are. Knitting and crocheting -traditionally seen as an appropriate occupation for women and girls- intrinsically requires much calculation to create the expansions and contractions necessary to model a garment from a piece of yarn.

Even in its most traditional or most intuitive, yarn work processes such as colored patterning, lace- making, sweaters, etc. all make ample use of ideas and problems which share common ground within the fields of math and science. Both knit and crochet offer a way to make flexible surfaces, increase and decrease evenly and cleanly, forms which can fold into themselves, become endless loops, or spiral out exponentially.

The internet has provided a unique forum for interacting that has upped the ante in the exploration of the possibilities inherent in transforming a strand of fiber into an object. The level of quality, dialog and experimentation being displayed on-line are exceptional. This exhibit seeks to draw on that richness and to bring some of this profound and exciting world into our own community. Included in Yarn Theory are artists, scientists and practicing mathematicians. The work exhibited here references the worlds of geology, geography, topological mathematics, fractals, geometry, animal behavior testing, probability, human and marine biology, and physics. Yarn Theory seeks to contradict the idea that math and science are boring, un-sensual, and not enjoyable. The exhibit focuses on the connection between the calculated and theoretical, and it’s visual, tangible and tactile incarnation: the knitted and crocheted sculptural object.