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Crewel Summer

July 5

I forgot just how soothing hand stitching can be.

I bought the pattern a few weeks ago before Fatty and I went to New York and immediately transferred it to a fat quarter of aqua quilting cotton. (I didn't mention that, did I? New York? It was a quick and fun trip - one of our favorite places to go.) I took the pattern into Purl Soho and the super patient and kind gals there helped me narrow down the choices when it came to the Appleton crewel wool. There are so many beautiful colors!

I started the letter "a" in the terminal in LaGuardia while waiting for our flight. The "b" came the following day. And so on. I've been carrying my hoop, wool and pattern in a gallon sized ziploc bag, toting it to the pool, piano practice, tennis lessons and more, just hoping to get a few stitches in as every free moment arises. I've mastered the stem stitch, the satin stitch and the lazy daisy. My french knots are getting better. My chain stitch isn't too shabby and I really like the long short stitch that I had never done before. Every letter brings something new and keeps me interested, still stitching along.

I had forgotten how my mind rests when my hands are at work. Seems silly, doesn't it? That I could forget such a fundamental thing? I did, though. In all the hub bub of summer, of running kids here and there, packing and unpacking for trips, staying up late and getting up early to beat the heat, I shoved my creative time to the side. And I've missed it. And really, I need that creative time. I'm a better mother, wife, friend, geez even a better housekeeper, when I take the time to make things. So I'm moving sewing up higher on the priority list. It's now right up there with a good night's sleep and exercise each day. I'm going to keep stitching all the way through "z", reveling in the deliberate and quiet way that needle and thread quiet my mind and energize it at the same time.

Do you enjoy hand stitching, too? What other creative pursuits give you peace of mind?



it's beautifull.


It's going to be a great sampler!

jennie sandford

i totally agree. for me, embroidery is the most relaxing thing. my mind is consumed but also freed by it. also repetitive cutting out, like felt circles for a garland. oh, and batik is amazing too. something very soothing about melted wax.


Yes, hand stitching seems to be my thing these days. I have both (another) alamama stitch skirt and a little embridery piece in progress. It travels in my bag everywhere. I should look for a sampler. I'd love to familiarize myself with more stitches.

Kristina Strain

Yes, it's exactly this way for me, too. Hand-stitching is the best thing. Which reminds me, gee, I haven't done any in a long time... I wrote about the wonder of it on my blog here: http://sweetfernhandmade.blogspot.com/2009/08/back-in-groove.html

Indiana Lori

I've been finishing a wall-hanging quilt, carrying it with me to kids' events as well. I've never been a big hand-stitcher, but I found a cross stitch at Sarah Jane's studio that absolutely must make. Maybe next year's carpool line? Love the sampler!


I absolutely agree - some would think I'm totally nuts but knitting intricate lace has been so calming for my frazzled mind lately. The utter focus on the pattern and what my hands are doing pushes everything else out (if only temporarily). Your sampler is looking lovely!

the real organic

love, love, love


awww, new york, new york my kinda of town. envy. good luck with the alphabet, good plan. we'll see. :>)


I used to embroider, but gave it up several years ago. It seemed that there was never enough time, and the works were out of fashion. Now I am refreshed. The kids are a bit older and I am more able to find moments. I think I should purchase Alicia's pattern. You are spot on with handwork settling the mind and spirit. I find knitting to be my current panacea. Beautiful work btw

heather smith jones

Your piece is beautiful Erin. I like the variety of stitches. And I too am so much better when I am making work, otherwise I am grumpy and unfulfilled. Drawing is my hand work.


Your piece looks great ... I ordered the kit and am waiting for it to arrive. I love hand work. It brings me such peace.


I never THOUGHT I'd love hand-stitching, but I'm very surprised to find that I do. And it is a great takealong craft. I wish I would have had an embroidery or hand quilting project set up for my recovery time last week!

will you frame this project? looks amazing, erin!

Sarah Jackson

so lovely! I really love hand stitching - you're so right about how it occupies your brain. I think I need to get one of these going for the park sitting time this summer. That A is killing me. I bet it would look cute on a pillow for a girl around here.

Erin | house on hill road

oh, lace. that is something i wish i could wrap my brain around! good for you!

Erin | house on hill road

of course drawing is your hand work. :)

Erin | house on hill road

the silk-screened pattern looks amazing! i hope you enjoy stitching it as much as i am.

Erin | house on hill road

hi kirsten! yes, i plan on framing it for jane's room. and i hope you are feeling better every day. xo.


i love seeing your progress, it looks beautiful so far. my kit arrived last week and i'm taking it to the beach this weekend - i usually sew but it's so nice to have a portable craft to take along, and embroidery is so relaxing once you get in a groove. i'm excited to get started.
p.s. i used your twirly skirt tutorial and loved it! thanks!

Account Deleted

I'm with you on the hand sewing. I also find painting with watercolors very relaxing.

Michelle Kendall

i bought the kit and it arrived last week! i completely relate to the creating equals balance. i cannot wait to start this project! knitting is definitely my creative outlet...and even cross stitching. but i really want to get into framing. wish me luck with my miter! ;)


So beautiful, Erin, and your post title cracked me up. I am just coming around to hand-stitching after making my daughter's quilt and now I do find it relaxing rather than just irritating and slow, but I still haven't done much embroidery. It's on my "new skills to tackle someday" list. :)


Amen sistah! So far I don't have the patience for embroidery work or anything more complicated than garter stitch in knitting. My mind is most at rest when I'm fiddling with paper, beads and/or fibers, doing my book projects or layered collage. I'm so totally taking your lead and putting more creating back in my life with the "sleep more, eat better" rules. = )


love the sampler, erin!
i just started doing some needlework too after way too many years.
knitting is my first love, but in the good ol' summertime i need a bit of break from the wool.
i just started learning sashkio and picked up the cutest starter kit (4 coasters) from the cutie-pie angela at sake puppets (etsy shop and blog by same name). it is so much fun!


Maybe my problem this summer is not enough hand crafting. I feel like I can't get into a good rhythm. Now, where did I put my AC dress panels?

Can't wait to see your finished sampler. I should have gotten that kit!

Erin | house on hill road

I love take along projects, too! And I'm glad you found the twirly skirt tutorial helpful.

Erin | house on hill road

I knew someone would get the reference. ;)


i literally JUST looked at this same pattern and thought...na...cause I'd have to order all of the crewel wool online...and i wouldn't be able to see it. maybe now i'll jump in ;)


This is beautiful! I recently found that English Paper Piecing gives me a little peace of mind. :)


oh, i love it! i too slow down with embroidery, and knitting. they are my always on the go projects. i love giving someone a gift that has been part of my daily living (karate, park day, trips, etc.) i am really into watching the women's world cup and have been practicing my knitting without looking! :)


looks great so far. i especially like the daisy in the "a". i haven't done any hand stitching lately, but not i'm inspired.


Yes, I totally agree with you about hand stitching. Actually, its a great reminder for me to actually get a project out and do some. I have Alicia's ornament kits that still need to be completed.

Crocheting does this for me as well, to answer your question!


I just taught myself how to crochet, in the last few days - but once i get the hang of it, i will be purchasing this pattern and getting right onto hand-stitching! I love cross-stitch, but did two large pieces last year so had taken a break from any needle work - but you have inspired me to pick up the hoop again!

Erin | house on hill road

I have the ornament kits to finish, too. thank you for the reminder!


My cross-stitching bug always seems to flare up in the summer. I love popping my project in a ziploc (as well), grabbing and going! Love this crewel project!

Mary Ann

I have the kit sitting on my sewing table, hoping to get started over the weekend. Erin do you have a flickr group? I made my granddaughter a twirly skirt a bit back...she loved it and I loved making it. and I did a knock off of one of your adorable baby quilts too and I love to show you. I have them both in my flickr group and of course I credited you as my source and inspiration.

Erin | house on hill road

Thanks for asking, Mary Ann. My flickr group is here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/1523205@N24/pool/with/5825734326/
I can't wait to see what you made!


I just got the kit last week and have been having such a lovely time with it. Isn't that Appleton wool just divine?


this is inspiring me to give it a try! i love it. i have recently (


I have gotten back into stitching too. I did alot of stitching while my daughter and I sat in NICU with her daughter. Very relaxing and calming....


oh, pretty alphabet!


Love, Love this sampler! I tried to order the kit and it was sold out - will definitely get the pdf pattern - can't wait! I have recently re-discovered needlepoint (projects that were put away unfinished, of course)and love it. I have a project bag that I bring to baseball, soccer, in the car, etc. and pick it up whenever I can. So much easier than knitting/crocheting as I can pick it right up again and it stays interesting! Your sampler is beautiful and I can't wait to see it finished.


I love the way you locate the letters along your itinerary, Erin.

I've been thinking so much lately about the specificity of handwork -- of how what I make binds me in new and lovely ways to the place/time that I made it. "This was the Philadelphia sweater, and that one, the Seattle cardi..."

Can't wait to see it finished. (And I can't imagine actually walking in to Purl Soho. Holy cow.)

Erin | house on hill road

Oh, if you ever get the chance, go to Purl. It's one of my very favorite places!


there are few things i love more than samplers. this is adorable erin! can't wait to see the whole alphabet.


I love this sampler and I love that you put yours on aqua! It looks beautiful so far! I'm thinking about buying the PDF since the kits are sold out now but I haven't done so good with transfering, I really want to stitch up this sampler though!

M is for Maga

I used to do a lot of crewel. The colors you've chosen are gorgeous. I knit a lot now...can't wait to see your finished project.

Mama Urchin

I stitched the A on the beach, started the B too. I can't wait to do more.

Account Deleted

Erin I absolutely love this pattern, and I love the way you are stitching it. I am still working the Alicia pattern I started a couple of months ago. I stitch for a few minutes, and am immediately relaxed


Gorgeous pattern! That would be great for forcing me to learn some new stitches ...

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