Backside of the Hoop with Kristen Shuler

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Backside of the Hoop is a monthly feature by Random Acts of Amy

Have you ever wondered what the backside of an embroidery artist’s hoop looks like? Or what their behind the scenes process looks like? Me, too! As an embroidery artist, I’m intrigued by how other artists finish their hoops, what their creative process is, and what their behind the scenes space looks like. I decided to put together this monthly feature to showcase the different embroidery, cross stitch, and other needle artists out there so we could all learn more about the backsides of their hoops!

Today I’m so excited to introduce to you Kristen Shuler of Hey Paul Studios! Kristen was one of the first embroiderers I started to follow on Instagram, and I’ve been so inspired by her work and embroidery-related activities. Through the magic of the Internet, she has helped me to stretch my embroidery skills. I cannot wait for the day that we get to meet in person. I just may show up for an Eat, Drink, Stitch event! (We live about 500 miles apart) Read below for my interview with Kristen.

Question 1

 

Tell us about yourself and your shop
I’m Kristen, owner and sole operator at Hey Paul Studios. I started my small business 4 years ago and have been running full steam ahead for the past two years. I specialize in making handmade embroidered art and jewelry. I have been experimenting with several new techniques in the past year and I am currently focused on stumpwork and other three dimensional stitches.

I also host the monthly Hey Paul Stitching Hour, an embroidery focused happy hour that gets the stitchers out of their studios and into local bars and restaurants for a night of socializing and stitching.

By day, I am a Medical Social Worker at a charitable health clinic. I work with women and children who are HIV+. Together we identify ways to overcome their barriers to medical care. Being a somewhat stressful career, I use embroidery as a way to debrief at the end of the work day.

Blog/Website: www.heypaulstudios.com 

Etsy: http://www.heypaulstudios.etsy.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/heypaulstudios

Instagram: http://instagram.com/heypaul

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/heypaul

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HeyPaulStudios


When did you start doing embroidery? Was there anyone who taught you, or are you self-taught?
I am a self-taught stitcher. Although I had dabbled in it a bit with appliques over the years, I really sat down and started studying the art about four years ago. I became addicted pretty quickly.

Question 2

 


Where is your favorite place to embroider? Tell us about it. Why is this your favorite place?
I love stitching in my studio with my pup in my lap. Actually I would prefer that he was not in my lap the whole time but that doesn’t seem to be an option.

Question 3

 


Show us your backside…of you hoop! Have you always finished off your pieces this way?
This is the backside of a turkey work piece that I am working on. I think it is unique because of the variegated thread. I normally finish my hoop art pieces off this way. If I am making a washable item, I finish it with an additional knot.

Question 4

 


What is your favorite part of the embroidery process? Your least favorite part?

I love the final stitch. I always announce the final stitch out loud, even if nobody (but the pup) is listening. I dislike the mounting of the fabric for non-hoop framing. It’s such a long process.

What are your top three favorite stitches?
Woven Picot, Satin Stitch, Turkey Work

Question 6


What is your favorite brand of floss? How do you organize your floss?
DMC. It is in a gigantic ball of craziness most of the time. Other times I get fancy and wrap it on clothes pins or file it away in my thread cabinet.

Question 7


Do you create your own patterns, or purchase patterns from other artists? If you purchase patterns, what are your favorite places to get them?
I create my own patterns.


What’s up next for you? Are you excited about a particular piece you’re creating? Will you be in an upcoming market or craft show?
I am excited to start offering more stitching classes in the next year. I have recently began preparing for three local holiday markets. I am still in the early stages of planning and need to get into gear!

Question 9


 Stay tuned for for more interviews to come. In November I interview Shawne Bennett of embroiderwee!


Are you interested in being interviewed for a future issue of Backside of the Hoop? Fill out the contact form below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Backside of the Hoop with Shelly Nguyen

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Backside of the Hoop is a monthly feature by Random Acts of Amy

Have you ever wondered what the backside of an embroidery artist’s hoop looks like? Or what their behind the scenes process looks like? Me, too! As an embroidery artist, I’m intrigued by how other artists finish their hoops, what their creative process is, and what their behind the scenes space looks like. I decided to put together this monthly feature to showcase the different embroidery, cross stitch, and other needle artists out there so we could all learn more about the backsides of their hoops!

Today I’m so excited to introduce to you Shelly Nguyen of Stik a Pin in It! As with so many of many crafty “internet friends”, I met Shelly on Instagram, and the  we became Facebook friends, and the rest is history. Read below for my interview with Shelly.

Tell us about yourself and your shop
Hello There!  I have never been great with introductions so let me just give you the basics… My name is Shelly Nguyen, for those of you who haven’t heard that last name spoken out loud it sounds just like win ;) About a year and a half ago I was lucky enough to marry a man (John) that is every bit as creative as me and has became my partner in marriage as well as business.  I have 17 year old daughter Alyx, and a 19 year old step-daughter Livi…and I’m loving having older kids while we are still (fairly) young! About a year ago I got serious about this crafting stuff and started turning my hobby into a small business.  Between my husband and we design and make embroidery pieces, birthday fact posters, and sewing accessories such as Mason Jar Sewing Kits, Needle Minders, Pincushion rings and more!

Stik a Pin in It

Shelly-Nguyen

Blog/Website: stikapininit.com

Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/StikAPinInIt

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/StikAPinInIt

Instagram: http://instagram.com/shellylynnguyen

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lynnboutique/

Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/StikAPinInIt


When did you start doing embroidery?

My mom started me with cross stitching at an early age when she first became partners in running a small stitching shop.  I remember going to her work after school and her teaching me how to split the thread, and how to thread a needle, and how to start your thread without using a knot.  After that I was pretty hooked on cross stitch and continued off and on throughout the years, picking it up and putting it down depending on what else was going on in my life.  I always disliked that most of the patterns were so outdated, or geared for a much older and traditional crowd so I never really did much more than the occasional little hoop.  Then a couple of years ago I discovered some cross stitch patterns on Etsy that were fun and contemporary and that flame was lit again and I was excited to jump back in.  At this point I had never embroidered and thought that was just what little old ladies did on tea towels and pillows…and then again, Etsy showed me a whole new side of things.  When I saw the freedom that embroidery allowed me that cross stitch never did I started to take interest.  The possibilities seemed endless and I wanted to give it a try.  So I bought a book and got going!

Backside of the Hoop interview at Random Acts of Amy with Shelly Mruyen of Stik a Pin in It


Was there anyone who taught you, or are you self-taught?

Having a background in cross stitching helped but I am someone who follows instructions.  With embroidery I couldn’t seem to pinpoint exactly what kind of fabric people used, or if there were certain stitches for specific designs, and not having set rules drove me nuts at first.  Then I realized that was part of the freedom that embroidery brought to the table…you can embroidery on whatever fabric you want, heck I started embroidery on canvas and wood lately. And stitches?  The choices are endless and a bit overwhelming, but a lot of fun to explore with.  I’m still learning stitches by watching videos on youtube or reading books and sometimes when I feel adventurous I just play around with the needle and thread and see what happens.  

I love you by Shelly


Do you still have the first piece you created?
I had bought a book and just picked a pattern out that I liked and got started…I still haven’t finished my first piece, I got distracted by creating my own and I keep meaning to come back to it and just can’t seem to find the time!

Shellys-First-Embroidery

 


 Where is your favorite place to embroider? Tell us about it. Why is this your favorite place?

One of the many things that I love about stitching is that you can do it just about anywhere.  I almost always grab up a project to work on if I know I’m going to be stuck waiting there, and it’s so easy to move it from one room to another in the house depending on what’s going on. I recently set up a little stitching area in my studio that I can keep everything I need for my current project at arms length, and it’s organized and lovely…and I hardly ever use it. 9 times out of 10 I just grab my little folding sewing tote and plop down in front of the tv and get to work!

Shelly's Stitching Place


Show us your backside…of you hoop!

Backside of Hoop 2

Backside of Hoop 1

Have you always finished off your pieces this way?
My mom, as well as just about every other stitcher in the universe always say your back should look as good as your front.  I say “that’s nice, now hand me the felt/fabric so I can cover this hot mess up!”  I promise I know how to start and finish my thread without knotting, and sometimes I even do it!  And then other times I have already knotted it and pulled it through.  I am horrible lazy when it comes to keeping my backside of the hoop tidy. I do try not to stretch my thread all over the back going from one section to another. I have got way better at cutting off and restarting so the back at least look a bit tidier.

What are the advantages in how you finish your pieces?
With my backs of my hoops being so messy I always use a backing, felt for the most part, to cover the backs up.  This hides the chaos going on back there and doesn’t allow the sun to filter through and show the floss from the front side as well.  Maybe one day I’ll clean up my process but for now I’m having too much fun to worry about all that;)

What is your favorite part of the embroidery process? Your least favorite part?
The repetitive motion of stitching is what keeps bringing me back for more.  I love doing the same motion over and over and seeing them line up neatly as they start to take on shape.  Honestly the entire process of embroidery is relaxing and helps me unwind.

What are your top three favorite stitches?
1. Backward Chain Stitch, looks great and takes a corner like a champ!, 2. Backstitch, nothing fancy about this stitch but I love how crisp and clean it keeps your lines:), 3. Cross Stitch, even with embroidery I enjoy bringing my first stitching love into play!

What is your favorite brand of floss? How do you organize your floss?
My all time favorite floss is Cosmo floss.  The colors and the textures is just AMAZING!  The price however is on the high end and it’s hard to find…but that doesn’t stop me from tracking it down from time to time! The for most pieces I work on I break out the DMC or Sullivans thread, and lately I have been playing around with the variegated from Artiste and DMC.  I have also started using the floss from Sublime stitching and I love getting the coordinated color packs they offer.


Do you create your own patterns, or purchase patterns from other artists? If you purchase patterns, what are your favorite places to get them?
I have purchased patterns from other artist, but those are always for personal use and depends on what I’m using it for…and honestly I have very little time for personal projects! All of the patterns that wind up in my shop or I sell at craft shows are designed by myself and my husband John.

Shelly's transfer method


What’s up next for you? Are you excited about a particular piece you’re creating? Will you be in an upcoming market or craft show?

I have so much on my plate for the upcoming months!  I am doing a big four day Holiday show  November 13th -16 in Leawood KS http://www.chickevents.com/events-calendar/holiday-event/

And I may have a few others I might be a part of.  I am also trying to expand my products and I’m really loving embroidering on materials other than fabric!  Lately I have made a few pieces with canvas and recently even experimented with wood.  I love pushing the limits and embellishing things with floss! You can see more of Shelly’s work here on Flickr.

Embroidery on Paper

Embroidery on Wood


 In October I interview Kristen Shuler of Hey Paul Studios! And, just like last year, Kristen and I are teaming up to create a super fun Hastystitch Embroidery Challenge, a fun embroidery challenge Kristen creates monthly.


Are you interested in being interviewed for a future issue of Backside of the Hopp? Fill out the contact form below. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Don’t Tell Anybody, but… {30 Days of Lists}

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…the babysitter’s dead! Okay, that’s a movie reference to a cheesy movie from 1991.

…if you have your toilet paper on the holder upside down, I change it.

…I have conversations with my pets.

…I’m not quite as “with it” and put together as most people think I am.

…I forget things. A lot.

…I can eat a whole bag of Oreos in a matter of days.

…if I cannot think of a word for something, I make one up.

…I struggle with maintaining my small business.

Meal Planning for this Week {30 Days of Lists}

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When my son was younger, we had “theme” nights for dinner. Mac and Cheese (and Hotdog) Monday. Taco Tuesday. Baked Potato and Salad Wednesday. Spaghetti Saturday. You get the picture. We probably should, but Todd and I do not plan out our meals in advance. We eat what we’re in the mood for on any particular day. It gets more difficult because I’m a vegetarian, and Todd is not. Below is a list of my dream week of meal planning, prepared expertly for me by my own personal chef.

Monday: I would like some kind of delicious Italian meal made with homemade pasta that’s perfectly cooked al dente. It would have all fresh ingredients, and a perfect blend of spices and cheese.

Tuesday: Tonight I would love a delicious Medeterrainian meal. Maybe freshly baked pita with hummous and falafel.

Wednesday: A perfectly made and flavored vegan dish (like one of the delicious meals at Pig Minds) would totally hit the spot!

Thursday: Tonight an experrly prepared Mexican meal would hit the spot. Fresh ingerdients, delicious flavors, and a frozen strawberry margarita would make my taste buds sing.

Friday: As a precursor to the weekend, tonight I would like to go to Abreo in Rockford, IL for their small plates. I would get the Mushroom Bread Pudding (a taste I often crave), an apple salad, and bleu cheese creme caramel. Afterwards, we’d go next door to Social for dessert.

Do you plan out your meals for the week? What is your favorite meal to cook and/or eat?

Podcasts I Love {30 Days of Lists}

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S14 List Header 21Yesterday my dad was looking around on his iPhone and asked what a podcast was. I’ve been into podcasts for about a year (although they’ve been around much longer), and I described it as a recorded radio show based on a topic. Here are the podcasts that I love to listen to. My favorite app for listening to podcasts is Stitcher, and I use my iPad hooked up to an iHome.

Elise Gets Crafty is a podcast by Elise Blaha Cripe. New episodes go live each Wednesday, and she discusses her favorite topics (blogging, business, creativity, inspiration and motivation). I find Elise to be insightful and “real.” If you go to her website (click on Elise Gets Crafty at the start of this description), there are shownotes for each episode which will give you links and information that was discussed in the podcast. Funny sidenote, when I first started listening, I was very annoyed that she and her guests were talking so quickly! I chalked it up to nervousness. When I was at about podcast 10, I realized that I had a setting on my Stitcher app that sped everything up 1.5 times!

Stuff You Missed in History Class is a podcast by Tracy Wilson and Holly Frey. It covers, well, the stuff you probably missed in your high school history class! The show is very interesting to listen to, and helps to give me a more rounded history education. The website is chock full of all kinds of goodness, too.

Good Job, Brain! is a weekly podcast that’s part quiz show & part offbeat news. Karen, Colin, Dana, and Chris have great chemistry, and I love playing along with them to see if I can figure out the answers.

After the Jump is is a weekly podcast by Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge fame that goes live at 12:00 pm CST every Wednesday. Grace teaches us how to build our career as an artist. She features many interesting and successful guests.

What’s Your Story is a podcast by Meighan O’Toole. In her podcast, Meighan talks with all kinds of creatives and makers to talk about how they got where they are, smal business management, and social media.

People Who I Wish Had a Podcast

Me…I’ve been toying with the idea. I would first have to figure out how to run a podcast (the technical side). But I think it would be interesting to talk with the other not as famous people (like me) to have honest conversations about our businesses, artistic endeavors, and other topics.

Jess Van Den of Create & Thrive: Jess does courses online (and possibly in person in Australia, too), and I think it would be great to hear what she has to say about the creative business on a weekly basis.

Amy Schubert of Lemon & Raspberry: Amy is a super busy person! She is half of 30 Days of Lists, writes books, leads ecourses, and is a small business owner. She’s another person who I think has a lot of knowledge to impart, and I’d love to learn more via a podcast.

Do you have a favorite podcast? Leave the name and link in the comments, and I’ll check it out!

Book Review: The Outsmarting of Criminals: A Mystery Introducing Miss Felicity Primm

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the outsmarting of criminals

 

I saw, “The Outsmarting of Criminals: A Mystery Introducing Miss Felicity Primm”* in a list of must read books somewhere, and thought I’d give it a try. Given the cover, description, and the subtitle, “A Mystery Introducing Miss Felicity Prim”, I thought it would be set in the 1920s or 1930s. I figured out within the first few pages, however, that it was set in present day – you truly cannot judge a book by its cover! I did feel slightly duped at first, but I decided to solider on and keep reading. Boy am I glad I did! Miss Felicity Prim is the type of person I wish I knew, and I suppose I did get to know her a bit in the story. She’s quite old fashioned, is highly intelligent, and knows that absolute correct thing to say in every situation. Miss Prim, or, rather, the author, doesn’t give us all of the information we might want as a reader, but I found that I liked it this way; I felt more like an investigator. Miss Prim never comes right out and says how old she is, which, if I hadn’t paid attention to the clues I would have thought was in her 70s give her mannerisms, but is closer to late 50s (a very old soul late 50s).

After being mugged and injured in New York City, she decides she will become a “Criminal Outsmarter” in a little town in Connecticut. In her mind’s eyes, it will be a place where she will become a part of the fabric of the community. She will walk down the street and greet everyone by name, and they her. Her colleagues are not at all happy that Miss Prim will soon leave them, as she is an integral part of the operations of Dr. Poe’s office, where she has worked for somewhere around 40 years. The story takes an interesting twist when it comes to two of her work colleagues, but I’ll leave that to you to figure it out. Suffice it to say, I did figure out the mystery of the unknown sister fairly quickly.

A murder on Miss Prim’s first day in town, friendships quickly formed, enemies as quickly made, two love interests, and the mystery of an unknown sister make this a book that I could not put down. Because of the way it ended, which I will not spoil for you, but I will say that I did not particularly care for how it ended, I have a feeling this is not the first in a series for this character. That is a disappointing prospect as I felt myself wanting to be a better person the more I got to know Miss Primm. Since finishing the book, I’ve asked myself on a couple of occasions WWMPD? (What would Miss Primm do?) I recommend, “The Outsmarting of Criminals” to anyone who enjoys Agatha Christie, as well as modern day cozy mystery writers. I give it five out of five stars.

Goodreads

Are you on Goodreads? I am! Take a look at what I’m reading, want to read, or have read by clicking the Goodreads logo above, or clicking here.

 

* Click the book cover to be taken to Amazon to purchase the hardcover or Kindle version. This is an affiliate link, and I am reimbursed a small percentage of the sale if you buy it (after clicking on the link).