RIP The Hoop & Needle, Long Live Stitch Hussy!

On the last day of May, we officially shut down The Hoop & Needle. It was a bittersweet day. I had so much love and acceptance and creative forces from Northside and it's been great getting everyone excited about hand stitching. But at the end of the day, I was only one person. I was spread too thin to do everything as well as it deserved. And then add on the continuous problems of being a tenant to an aging building that needs more care than it was getting. I just couldn't move the business yet again and let's face it, I was a bit burnt out.

That being said, we are NOT gone. We are still a strong supporter of the arts and crafts scene in Cincinnati. We expect to be back at our local craft fair stops for the Christmas season. And we are carefully redefining what we want our brand to be in the future.

Before Hoop and Needle, we were just Purple Hippo Stitches. Because 3 years before, I was Purple Hippo Jewelry and in 5th grade, I was Purple Hippo Friendship bracelets or pins or perler beads or God even knows what. It was ALWAYS the name and it never required thought and I love it but it never reflected the constant growth or change. By the way, I freaking LOVE hippos.

Hoop and Needle was the name of a brick and mortar retail store. May we all mourn it's death. But I'd like to announce the birth/name change of Purple Hippo Stitches into Stitch Hussy. It feels right and natural. My Grandma first taught me how to sew on a machine. My Aunt first taught me cross-stitch. I never quite loved the machine and fell in love with cross-stitch though I always hated the subject matter. But by the time I was 15, I also wanted some edginess. Call me an insecure teenager but I wanted to be like oh so unique and also dark and maybe goth but not that goth. And I found this amazing mostly black dress that fit me perfectly but was on the clearance rack for $20. The back straps (2000ish, everything was strappy) were torn and destroyed from this $80+ dress. So we took it to my Grandma. She was happy to fix the straps with whatever was on hand. But during the fitting, she realized that my super non-slutty high chested dress was actually, mostly backless. (Yes, I think I was a prude. What the other girls wore? OMG, this was a whole year or two before prom dresscodes were SERIOUS) And that's when I got called a hussy.

Yes, she fixed it and made me look awesome. But I couldn't help laughing over this antiquated word I'd never actually heard out loud. I was a HUSSY! Turns out that, as the oldest grandchild, I simply opened the floodgates to hussydom. Later on, I'd get piercings, not all in my ear and tattoos. Sometimes my bangs hung IN MY FACE. And then, there was the hair dye. I wasn't AS guilty of the hairdye as "Little Hussy" was. Born 10 years and one day apart, my younger cousin is actually the one that went hardcore into purple and blue hair. That being said, we are the OG hussies of our family. And I AM THE OG HUSSY and I kinda love it.

So with that, I proudly bring you our new iteration. STITCH HUSSY. It's a name that matches me and my designs and whatever multitudes of side projects I dream of taking on. This is a name that required a bit more thought but will grow with me a bit better than the name 5 year old me decided on because purple is an awesome color and hippos are the best animals ever and I accidentally created a real business on Etsy over 10 years ago. (TBH hippos ARE the best animals and purple is ok but it just sent the wrong impression)

Anyways, you will see this site start to change around a bit! I still have backstock from my store for sale on here. There's some GOOD SHIT in there and I suggest you take a look. I'll be transferring over the Stitch Hussy logos though I'll keep the Hoop and Needle domain for a year or two. Just remember, stitchhussy.com works too!

Over the next year, I look forward to earnestly expanding our original handmade kits, collaborating with other artists and get this website built into a super well functioning tech organism!

That being said, for the next two months, this blog WILL be shifting subject matter drastically. From September to mid-October, this will be a spot to host my travel blog. Mr. Stitch Hussy will still be in Cincinnati teaching the youth of America and reigning over our tiny kingdom of adorable felines. I will be traveling to Spain the hike the Camino, a 500 mile-ish hike from the border of France to Santiago de Compostela. It's a modern-style pilgrimage of sorts walking the same route to Santiago as people did in the Medieval Ages.

I have never done anything like this. I'm not a very outdoorsy person. So you can expect lots of "suffering" followed with whining and regret. But also lots of wonderful pictures. And nerdy ramblings about how freaking awesome medieval art is. And how important it is to carry on a tradition from the Middle Ages and even before because, it just IS. Etc etc etc. So here lies the future dumping ground of travel photos and "deep thoughts" for which I apologize in advance.

SAL: Let's Go On An Adventure! by The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery

Last month, I decided to participate in my first SAL. That's fancy insider cross-stitcher speak for a stitch-along. It's also my first time stitching up a design from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. The Frosted Pumpkin is definitely a new exciting force in the cross-stitch world. Their designs are cutesy but not TOO much so (as I'm not very into cutesy, personally) and heavily influenced by the Japanese kawaii style. Surprise! Kawaii is Japanese for CUTE!

I first stitched the lettering. The chart also included upper and bottom borders for the whole piece. But unless you really trust your counting skills (I don't!), I suggest leaving the borders until you've done more months.

 

As I love to travel, the "Let's Go on an Adventure" stitch along seemed perfect for me but I wasn't sure of the 1 year commitment. So I let 3 months go by to get a better sense of what I'd be stitching. That's right, you can still join. You'll just have to catch up a bit.  Here's how it works...

When you sign up, you get a pattern with ALL the details. What fabric to use, what floss. And remember, you won't be able to SEE the whole pattern so it's best to use their recommendations or take your own risk. For example, I chose a much lighter fabric than is recommended. And now my whites aren't showing up and may need some outlining in the future. Not a disaster...but be prepared!

  Here's snowy mountainous Switzerland. As you can see, the snow and the top of the mountain are blending in. I'll probably outline in a dark grey and maybe add some Kreinik metallic to the snowflakes. The linen I used is 32 count. It has a slight marbled stamped appearance on one side which I thought would make a nice cloud-like background.

Here's snowy mountainous Switzerland. As you can see, the snow and the top of the mountain are blending in. I'll probably outline in a dark grey and maybe add some Kreinik metallic to the snowflakes. The linen I used is 32 count. It has a slight marbled stamped appearance on one side which I thought would make a nice cloud-like background.

 

So I received a pattern that was the basic outline for the piece. Borders and the phrase "Let's go on an adventure." On the first of every month, an updated pattern is mailed out and you get to "visit" a new country. January - London, February - Paris, March - The Netherlands, April - Switzerland and I have yet to start on May's installment so I'll leave it a mystery for now. Each month is a perfect little project. Not too big and not too small!

 

We have a selection of Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery patterns available right in our store. However, Stitch Along projects are only available online directly from them. You pay a one time price and the pattern is automatically delivered to your email inbox every month! Feel free to join along with me by buying the pattern here.  Yes, It's now May but you can easily catch up! We carry all the DMC threads you need and also have a range of Aida and linen in many counts. I've done mine on linen but you can easily stick to 14 count Aida. You can also stitch along with others online by joining The Frosted Pumpkin Stitch-along Facebook group. Just request to join and share your progress. Many other stitchers are adding their own touches and modifications to the pattern so it's a great place to get some inspiration and make this project your own.

The Big Red Ship of LIfe: Update 1 of many

After hustling for a few years, designing my own patterns, stitching them, selling them and repeating, I took a step back last year. I started to stitch other people's designs for my OWN pleasure. And I had my own wonderful cross-stitch store to shop from. It's been so freaking wonderful.

2 long months work of work.

For 2 solid months, I've been working on the biggest damn piece of cross-stitch EVER (ok, not really but it feels like it). It consists of over 60,000. The 32 count piece (like 16 count Aida) of linen I'm using is 26 inches across by 30 inches in height. The pattern completely fills 16 dense pages, of which I have completed two and a half. The original design was to be done completely in one color but I changed that up a bit.

This pattern is made by Ink Circles. I am basically obsessed with her. Her designs vary from mandalas and wonderful geometric abstractions to work that looks extremely traditional until you look a little closer. The first piece I made of hers was "Get Kraken." Made to look like a found Dutch sampler from long ago, it tells the story (in Dutch, of course) of a Kraken taking down a ship. And once you pay attention, it's less traditional and more giant octopus pulling sailors beneath the waves! She also has one called the Little Alien Schoolgirl sampler. Based of the designs of traditional American schoolgirl samplers where learning motifs and alphabets are stitched, this one features an alien alphabet and motifs that must be a tradition for alien life.

Motifs and border on the left side.

This piece, unlike those mentioned above, is actually truly based on real history. The motifs and the symbol of the ship come from an amalgamation of Sumatran weavings that have survived. It will, eventually, be a big giant ship! Surprise! The bits of yellow are the masts. In the upper part, there are people and birds and all kinds of different wildlife. Land creatures and plants on the deck of the ship and beneath the ship, there's a wonderful row of strange sea creatures (but that's a long way off for me!).

Some pops of color and the beginning of the ship mast.

Interested in an Ink Circles design? We carry many of her patterns in the shop. And don't worry. You shouldn't be intimidated. She has patterns in ALL sizes and her style of patterns are endlessly adaptable. They can be worked on linen or Aida in any color. You can use DMC or fancy silks. You can (and are encouraged) to change up the colors. Many pieces, like this one, only use whole cross-stitches. No back- stitching, no quarter or half stitches.

Why the hell did I open a needlecraft store? (In which I accidentally write a manifesto)

I opened my store one and a half years ago. I remember reading a report on the cross-stitch industry. The statistics were that the average customer was 55 and aging. The consensus was easy: Anyone in their right mind and under the age of 50 should not open a needlecraft store. If someone dies and you inherit a store, good luck.

But WHY? There's so much potential in cross-stitch and embroidery. Sure, there are different aesthetics. Primatives and reproduction samplers will always be a mainstay in the tradition. But it's only 1/100th of the possibilities!

So here I am, claiming to be a "Modern" store for needlecraft and making it up as I go. I don't have a model to follow (that I am aware of, oh please if you have a store like this BE FRIENDS WITH ME!!!).

My main complaint with the industry is it's steadfast tradition and it's unwillingness to adapt. It's not just that the themes of the products often seem outdated. The projects are often daunting, composed of expensive specialty products and requiring specialty tools...yet there seems no easy way in. I may have cross-stitched since the age of 10, but I often feel like an outsider in this industry. Not only do I not know the lingo, the tools, the variety of fibers...but the information isn't being taught and openly shared. When the information isn't shared, the population ages. When skills are not passed down, a tradition dies. When new offerings are still completely stuck in the same old tradition with no room for error, nothing evolves. When no risks or mistakes are made, nothing innovative is produced.

You can't learn a new skill without easy to manage smaller projects. You can't love a new skill without finding projects that are a joy to complete and a joy to gift or display. You can't build confidence without a community of your peers to share ideas to build upon and to swap techniques.

So you've never stitched before? Let me tell you the industry's dirty little secret. It's NOT hard. Anyone can do it. You do not have to consider yourself a creative or crafty person. Mathematical and anal types will love the repetitive nature of cross-stitch. Indecisive? Scattered? Don't want to be tied down by what is "right" or "wrong"? Embroidery is where you will shine. Stick to the basics or learn literally hundreds of crazy specialty stitches. Either way, stitching is calming and relaxing.

Your first piece looks sloppy? Of course it does. But you made it. And it was your first piece and you just learned something totally freaking new. Practice makes perfect. Time makes perfect. Until then, you work with what you've got. Or as I usually advise "Just stick that shit in a frame, cover the back and impress everyone."

Hand stitching is not outdated. It never will be, because the basic skills are timeless. The enjoyment level is also timeless. It's stress relieving. It's meditative. It's just mindless enough (but not too much), that it can be enjoyed with Netflix binging and a beer. Many of the hardcore "rules" and the adherence to certain traditions are outdated. We are no longer upperclass women being assigned this craft as an appropriate medium to relieve boredom but not too overly stimulating to lead us down the path of whoredom. It's a craft for men and women. All ages. All ethnicities etc etc etc. You can create a piece for $3 or you can spend $1000 perfecting an heirloom to be passed down with only the finest threads. You can take yarn and graffiti public fences or you can professionally frame a piece to adorn your family room.

Basically, a lot of people come into my store. They may be beginners. They are often a bit nervous. But the way they try to break the ice is by asking for rules. Sometimes, I struggle with the definition of a "modern" needlecraft store. But maybe this is what will set me apart. I can't give you those rules. I don't have them. I can offer you tips and advice. I can give you generally accepted guidelines and a starting point. I can't give you rules. Rules are destroying the industry. Rules make everything less fun. If your hobby isn't fun or enjoyable or relaxing, it's not a hobby. Make your own rules and your own guidelines. I don't need to like your finished product. You do!

It's an art that's been around forever (in many different traditions spanning the globe). But we are finally reaching a point where it's not completely defined by class, family lineage, trade, gender, economic status, expectations of subject matter and appropriateness for the medium and on and on and on. You can set your own rules or do away with them completely. I'm not there to stop you. I'm there to encourage you. And to troubleshoot with you. And to create awesomeness!

This post was supposed to be about new fun things I discovered at the Nashville cross-stitch trade show. Clearly, IT'S NOT. So that post is forthcoming.

What is that about Leap Day?

Supposedly, today is the day to do something you wouldn't normally do. So let's try this out and see if I update this more than once every 4 years!

Who is The Purple Hippo? It's Sarah Fisher, the owner of The Hoop & Needle, but I started out under my brand name of Purple Hippo Stitches.

I'll use this area to show you awesome products (all of which are available in store and maybe online). I'll also share my current projects and maybe some cat pictures if you are lucky.

Now that we have this pesky awkward "I'm starting a blog!" post out of the way...let's move on, shall we?