Well, “soon” is a relative term, yes? I think I’ve been avoiding it here because I’m scared to talk about the process of opening the Etsy shop. Perhaps that’s because I have little to no idea what I’m actually doing. However! I do have a secret weapon in the form of my sweet, red-bearded husband who actually knows things about photography and marketing and who patiently walks me through pretty much each and every step of this process. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I married the nicest boy on earth.

Last week we gathered up all the samples I’d embroidered and staged a little photoshoot. I had spent a lot of time on Etsy browsing the photography of various sellers, and also looking at what kinds of things they tend to feature on the home page. A lot of sellers have their products set against stark white backgrounds, which can be very effective when it comes to certain types of products — a bag or pottery, for example, but I felt that I needed to place my embroidery in some sort of context so that potential buyers could imagine it in their own homes.

omonogram

regen

jj

I mean, let’s be honest — these aren’t going to win any photography awards, but at least there’s a bit of framework there.

Then we took some closeups to highlight the details.

odetail

regen2

ruby

There is little-to-no editing done to these, as they needed to be a true representation of the pieces. Just a bit of cropping and the occasional lightening up to show the colours more accurately.

There are about 50 more pictures, but I’ll spare you having to look at them. Instead, take a look at this amazing cleaning schedule I made up! I got all twitchy last week about the state of our house and decided that we needed a very detailed and precise list of when to do which things in the house. If we adhere to this even 50% of the time, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

cleaning sched

And a few more snapshots of last week — embroidery, knitting, DOG DOG DOG DOG.

flossboss

knitmitts

lukafinn

lukafinn2

lukamat

lukapirate

Last night as I was lying in bed, drifting off and in a half-awake state, I just kept thinking, “I love the dog. I love the dog. I love the dog”, and then I fell asleep.

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Behold! The Posie alphabet sampler! It took all year, but I loved working on it. Of course, mine is not nearly as neatly pressed and framed as hers, and though I first attempted it with crewel yarn, I quickly reverted to my old standby, DMC embroidery floss. I will one day write a blog post about how much I love everything Alicia makes and even more than that, how her writing makes me pretty much bow down in awe.

I started this last January, and worked on it in a total of nine countries. I began work on it in Hong Kong, in the teensy-tiniest hostel room I’ve ever seen, with a miniscule bathroom that had clear glass walls, so that every time one of us needed to, ahem, use the facilities, we would make the other person promise to bury their faces in a book, facing the wall. I carried it with me through Japan, Vietnam, and the UK. I worked on it in the sweetest little apartment we rented in Montmartre, half a block down the street from the greengrocer in my beloved Amélie. I took it to Belgium, and then to Germany, where I had the roughest two weeks of the year in Berlin, so desperate to go home but terrified to bail on this trip we had planned for years. I was so miserable and homesick. I don’t know if I ever want to go back to Berlin because of that. I remember wanting so badly to do something reminded me of home, so I googled endlessly until I found a tiny fabric store near Alexanderplatz. They had a small selection of needlework notions and I was so happy I felt like crying. I bought some Aida 14-count fabric and a few skeins of floss and I felt like I had found some small piece of myself in that miniscule shop. I know this sounds so melodramatic and overexaggerated, but that’s the only way I can describe it.

I think this ‘G’ was my favourite letter to embroider, despite the fact that it’s all just french knots. I really like french knots, though I know that a lot of people find them finnicky. I like that I couldn’t figure out how to do them at all until my 85-year-old grandmother taught me, in our old house closer to town. She’d come for a visit after the wedding, and we spent a lot of time sitting on the couch embroidering together.

I finished the sampler a few days before Christmas, on the couch in our new house, with the fire blazing and Mark sitting next to me. I finished it so far away from where I started it, and I really love that it will always remind of this year where so much happened and in which I learned so much about myself. It took a year of travelling to realize that I’m truly happy staying in one place. So much changed this year that it felt very reassuring to have a project to work on that was constant. I’m probably assigning way too much sentiment to this, but that’s just how I roll.

Miscellaneous scenes from Christmas/New Years, including a visit from my newly-engaged best friend (Luka fell in love with her), lots of sewing and knitting, and our traditional hermit-like New Year’s Eve. This year we made momos and drank sparkling sake at midnight. Then I went straight to bed, because it is absolutely RIDICULOUS to be up that late. I only did it for Mark.

Yeah, I own a Hogwarts wax seal. Doesn’t everyone?

I’ll be back soon with real actual business-y updates. We hiked Mount Work on New Year’s Day, and poor puppers was just so exhausted when we got home that he forgot he was a 75-pound dog and morphed into a cat.

Should I be jealous?

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My favourite kind of weekend, one where we barely left the house. Other than a visit to the dog park with Luka, and a quick jaunt to the grocery store, we just hunkered down. I woke up on Saturday morning with the desire to cook all day long. This rarely happens, but I feel so hyperefficient when it does. I made cheddar shortbread, using this recipe, though I cut the cheese cut down on the cheese. Also, rather than rolling it out and cutting out rounds, I refrigerated it for a while and then scooped it into balls, which I flattened a bit. We had them for lunch with black bean and butternut squash soup. I ended up pureeing the soup with an immersion blender, as I don’t really like chunky soups, and it looked so ugly that I didn’t even bother trying to take a picture of it. It tasted delicious, though. There’s cocoa powder and cumin in there, and I threw in some smoked paprika. I love sweet and savory together. When we were on our road trip last year, I used to occasionally buy cantaloupes and tins of anchovies and alternate bites of each. After typing that out, I can see that it is the grossest thing imaginable, but somehow it brought me a bit of comfort when I was often very homesick.

Saturday night we poured beers and started making perogies. I use this filling, and I often contemplate just making it to eat straight. Mark rolled out the dough and I got to sit and watch him work, peppering him with “Would you rather” questions which he absolutely despises and I take total delight in. I have this theory that men hate theoretical questions, and though that is a broad-sweeping, completely unconfirmed statement, I have found it to be true amongst my friends.

ANYWAY. If there is a way to take beautiful pictures of perogies under yellow lighting after dark, I am not aware of it.

Lots of embroidery this weekend, both working on older projects (*cough* this sampler I’ve been working on literally ALL YEAR *cough*), and also designing and photographing some stuff for my forthcoming Etsy store. This whole process is really scary to me, and one of these days I will go into detail about the very constant back-and-forth that’s happening in my head all the time, but I’m surging forward. What I’m really learning is that it’s all about trial and error. That’s about the gist of it. I am constantly fretting over colour choices and borders and what stitches to use and fabric puckering and piece finishing. I love doing it but I have this frequent refrain in my head of “Are you making the right choice”? And how do I know, really? I can ask for input, and thank goodness I’m married to a graphic designer who can give me solid feedback, but I second guess myself every other minute or so. I don’t really know how to get past that besides just trying a myriad of things and seeing what works best every step of the way. Anyway. More on this to come, but at least I get to do fun stuff like cross-stitch men’s underpants.

Ahem. Here’s hoping for some better light in the next few days (maybe even an hour of sunshine! What an exciting thought!). I have 12 hours of choir rehearsal this week and hopefully a voice for our Sunday show. All that singing, I can’t wait.

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