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.
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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 http://www.gayletrent.com/books/embroidery-patterns/ for two of the patterns Marcy completes during the course of The Quick and The Thread.

19 comments:

Andrea C. said...

I don't know what any of those terms mean, but I am impressed! I have always wished I had the skill and patience to learn to do embroidery or knit or crochet! Looking foward to the new read Amanda! :)

Deb Baker said...

Love your hook and the cool cover.

Gayle said...

Thanks, Andrea! Trust me, though, if it wasn't easy, I wouldn't have the patience to do it either. :)

And, Deb, I love the cover, too! I told my editor I'd love to hug the artist for doing such wonderful work.

Janet Bolin said...

Hi, Amanda,

I look forward to reading your series.

I love embroidery, too, but I embroider a different way. Using my embroidery software, I draw designs, then my sewing machine does the stitching. Strangely, (!) my protagonist, Willow Vanderling, in Berkley Prime Crime's Threadville Mysteries has turned this hobby into a business. Willow sells sewing and embroidery machines, and teaches machine embroidery.

The first book in the series is Dire Threads, due out in June 2011. Isn't it fun when our primary research is also one of our favorite hobbies?

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks for stopping by our blog. I am a cross stitcher and 3 years to finish a project is, well, nothing. Do it all the time. :-)

Good luck with your new release!

Whalehugger said...

Finally had a chance to catch up on some of my favorite blogs and saw this one. I know the feeling about taking forever to work on a piece - I've got a birthday present for a friend that's a few years in the making (groan). Added your new book to the list, and it's just in time to join my birthday buy next week. Yay! Wishing you the best and looking forward to reading it!

~ Babs ~ said...

Amanda it was nice to read your piece. I love to cross stitch and crotchet. This boo will be right up my alley and look forward to it. I think the cover is great. Makes me want to pick it up right away.

Misa said...

I know what you're going through with reacquainting yourself with a craft. I used to sew a lot. Not so much anymore. But now I'm writing a dressmaker's mystery series. Gotta reacquaint myself with my sewing machine!

Marlyn said...

I was lucky enough to get a review copy from the publisher. See my review here: http://marlyn-stuff.blogspot.com/.

Helen Kiker said...

I look forward to reading your new series. I am reading the Monica Ferris series right now &nd am happy to add a new needlework series to my TBR list.

Congratulations on the embroidery series and thanks for the interesting interview.

Helen Kiker
hdkiker@comcast.net

Vickie said...

This will be a fun read. I used to cross-stitch after learning from a friend while stationed at Hurlburt Field FL. I kept it up for the longest time to keep me occupied and away from snacking. Then I had Lady K and she kept getting into the threads...and I sort of meandered away. Still have plenty of floss and needles and projects. My Grandma Violet taught me how to embroider when I was in grade school. Loved it, now to get back to that. But it might take time away from my laptop and blogging world....or reading....

Shel said...

This is on my "to-buy" list for Tuesday. I just started a counted piece, a wedding sampler. No idea if it will EVER be finished, but I started it!

Kaye George said...

Amazon told me this book is on its way! Looks good.

Gayle said...

Thanks so much, everyone, for the wonderful comments and for buying the book! I truly appreciate you. Janet, I love the idea of telling a machine to create me something gorgeous and still being able to say, "I made it myself" with no needle jabs or missed stitches.

And, Leann, thanks for the encouragement on the dusty cross-stitch project. You've given me hope that someday those horses will gallop out of the ocean!

I'd like to thank Marilyn for the review and Maggie Sefton simply for being in Nordic Needle. After seeing her books in the catalog, I gave them a call, sent a review copy, and they're going to carry The Quick and The Thread.

I truly appreciate being a guest on your blog today. You guys are terrific!

Annette said...

There is nothing I love more than to start a new series. Definitely looking forward to reading your book.

Heather said...

I knew there was a reason this was on my TBB list! I'm a long-time cross-stitcher, and have already whipped up a ton of ornaments for friends and famiyl for the coming holidays. I also do a couple larger projects every year. I'm not too keen on embroidery, but did like Hardanger - it is difficult, but the finished work looks so elegant!

Maggie Sefton said...

Thanks for posting, Amanda. I used to do a lot of embroidery in my early years starting in childhood. I guess my piece de resistence was embroidering the intricate pattern on the front of the European Christening gown I made for my first child. Oh, yeah. I used to do stuff like that. We did a lot of handwork in our family. I didn't get into knitting until a few years ago when I walked into Lambspun to do a magazine article----and fell down the rabbit hole.

I'll check out your series.

vtcjan at yahoo dot com said...

I'm primarily a knitter now, but also crochet and do Hardanger. I find Hardanger much easier than counted cross-stitch! I apparently can't count on a chart or the fabric, but I can count to five for a Kloster block! And I can design Hardanger, too.

Lindy said...

Looks like I'm going to have to get the book, get caught up in a mystery and learn about embroidery while I'm at it. I tried to do counted cross-stich, but I had to give up (and paid a friend to finish it because I wanted to give it as a wedding present). I've never heard of Hardanger, so maybe I can try it... and perhaps help the economy by paying a friend to finish it. I look forward to reading your book.