Book Giveaway: Embroidery Companion by Alicia Paulsoncomments (65) August 10th, 2010
You may have already heard of Alicia Paulson from her fantastic blog, Posie Gets Cozy. There she blogs about her daily life and crafting from Portland, Oregon. Now, she's back with her second book out today, Embroidery Companion: Classic Designs for Modern Living (Potter Craft, 2010). This amazing book showcases her whimsical style and fantastic color sense in a beautiful way, and teaches you how to embroider like a pro at the same time.
Get to know a little bit about Alicia with our interview below, and leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of her book by 11:59 August 11, 2010. We will choose 3 commenters at random to each win a copy of Embroidery Companion.
And check back here tomorrow for a project by Alicia from the book!
What made you first start your blog?
I started writing my blog at a period in my life when I was really overextended and wasn’t enjoying my business, or even crafting for pleasure, very much. I owned a boutique at the time and was starting to realize that I didn’t actually want to own a boutique. I didn’t think that I could afford to take the time to do something that I considered so indulgent, like write about myself. But doing so had an immediate and positive effect on my life. It helped me slow down, and made me almost instantly appreciate things about my daily activities that I definitely wasn’t noticing before. I’ll have been doing it five years this October, and I’m still inspired to keep writing it because I know that there are little things to be recognized and honored in every day.
I also call the blog kind of a daily love letter to my husband, who reads every post. I think I’m telling him the story of our life together, and it’s a life that, after my accident, we almost didn’t have. So, more than anything else, I think I write for him.
Where did you learn to sew?
I learned at home, from my mom. I don’t really remember anything specific – it just seemed like something we all “did.” I was really into clothes when I was a kid (and in high school and college) and we didn’t have a lot of money, so I made a lot of dresses for myself. My mom was a very experienced and fearless home sewer, so she helped me figure out anything I couldn’t understand from the directions. We were big DIYers in our family, so had tons of creative books and did all sorts of fun things.
What made you want to do a book focused on embroidery?
In March of 1998, I was in a bad pedestrian-auto accident (I was the pedestrian). I spent a year in bed, having and recovering from several surgeries, and embroidered my way through that difficult time. A few years ago, I wrote an article about that time in my life for Hallmark magazine, and received hundreds of letters and emails from people who told me how handcrafting had helped them, too, through injuries, illnesses, and other rough periods. I hadn’t done much embroidery in very recent years (more machine sewing and crochet), but reading all of those letters made me pick up the embroidery needle again and remember why I love it so much. When my editor called to ask me if I had any ideas for a new book, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
What are your favorite things to embroider?
Standard pillowcases! No question. I love good sheets, and I love to sleep, and I love making my bed. And I love that I am guaranteed to use them every day.
Describe your ideal creative space?
Well, coincidentally, I am working on that right now. My craft studio is 15 x 18 feet, with big doors that open to the back yard, and giant windows. It also has skylights (which I don’t actually like, because bees like to hang out up there and terrify me, and also the skylights actually cast a weird, almost fluorescent light into that room). But it is very bright in there, and almost like being outside. I just repainted it a very saturated grayish-blue, and we got a lot of brand new furniture: a desk, a table, a huge bunch of shelves, and a kitchen island for standing and cutting fabric. This is the first time in my life I have ever had the opportunity to pick out a bunch of new furniture all at the same time, and really design the space the way I want it to be. In the past, it was all hand-me-downs and thrifted stuff, with everything kind of jerry-rigged – which was fine for a long time, but all of the furniture had seen much better days, and second-hand stuff is not always super-practical, because you’re sort of just taking what you can get – it’s almost a miracle if it winds up being exactly what you really need. The new room has so much storage – crafting seems to require so much space sometimes! – and lots of doors to close on less-than-pretty things. We also ripped out the carpet (which came with the house, and which is awful for sewing) and installed “wood” flooring. It makes me want to tap-dance with joy.
I’ve been showing the redecorating of that room on the blog, and one of my readers said, “But Alicia, we know you do most of your work on the couch!” And I busted out laughing at that, because it is so true. The couch-y workspace has cable TV, big windows that open within arm’s reach, and snuggly pets sitting on top of me while I try to “work.” It’s my second office.
Where did you find inspiration for the projects in your book?
Embroidery Companion showcases is a collection of designs influenced and inspired by so many of my favorite things: folksy motifs, natural wildflowers, vintage monograms, early American samplers, the modernism of Scandinavian design, even my own modern housewares. This is just all the stuff I truly love, expressed in needle and thread.
I really wanted to do projects that were fresh and fun but still very classic, because that’s what I love. I had been collecting out-of-print embroidery books, collections of folk-art designs, and vintage clip art for many years, and I had always been so fascinated by how so many really old motifs and designs actually looked quite fresh and modern. I wanted to find a way to unearth some of these old templates, breathe new life into them again, and make them accessible to a contemporary audience. And then the process of reinterpreting certain designs would inspire me to create something completely original. So, as the projects were coming together there was definitely a symbiotic relationship between the old and the new for me, and that became sort of an organizing principal for the collection.
Do you have any advice for aspiring crafters out there?
Be brave! You can do anything! You don’t have to make a ton of time, have a lot of talent or experience, or spend a lot of money to learn how to do dozens of types of crafts. I’ve learned almost everything I know how to do, including photography, from books – there’s a book out there for everything! Dabble until you find something that really appeals to you, and then give yourself permission to make time to do it. You might be amazed at the many different types of benefits (including health benefits), opportunities, and relationships crafting brings into your life. I know I have been.