Sunday, August 1, 2010

Got floss, needles -- I'm ready to write!

GayleAuthorPic  By Guest Blogger Amanda Lee

When my agent asked me if I’d be interested in writing a cozy mystery revolving around embroidery, I gave her an enthusiastic yes. To be honest, though, I hadn’t started (much less completed) a new project in years. In fact, I have one cross-stitch project I’ve been working on for at least three years, although I use the term “working on” loosely. “Studiously avoiding because it’s really complicated” might be the better phrase.

Still, if I was going to write about embroidery, I had to reacquaint myself to the types of needlework I’d once enjoyed (cross-stitch, needlepoint and candlewick), and I needed to learn about other types of needlework. I threw myself into the task by making a needlepoint angel to use as a Christmas tree topper. I tried redwork and blackwork embroidery, which I enjoyed very much (it’s so easy!), and I tried hardanger, which was hard. I’ve also learned to do ribbon embroidery (which is not as hard as it looks).

I’ve had a lot of fun learning how to use simple embroidery and cross-stitch to make greeting cards or ornaments. I’ve enjoyed learning to use embroidery to adorn tote bags, pillowcases and other items. And, especially in the case of the tree topper angel, it’s cool to think of using this tree topper in the years to come and having it possibly become a family heirloom.

Speaking of heirlooms, I found it fascinating to come across embroidery samplers done by little girls learning their letters and stitches or by women marking important occasions such as weddings and births. One such sampler by Mary Pinckney in 1742 is for sale in the amount of $43,000 by Stephen and Carol Huber. Being a writer, I naturally became intrigued by the creators of these samplers and wondered about their lives.

I’m really glad I got back into embroidery. I’m currently doing a redwork set of pillowcases, and I whip out the cross-stitch cloth and flosses every now and then to make a special greeting card. The work is relaxing and yet productive, and it makes people feel special to receive something you’ve crafted yourself.

GayleCover The Quick and the Thread will be released on Tuesday (Aug. 3rd.) For more information on Amanda Lee (and her work as Gayle Trent), check out her web site.

If you enjoy cross-stitching, check out for two of the patterns Marcy completes during the course of The Quick and The Thread.