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Ellen would be delighted to have a class with you or your group! You can check out her classes at www.ellenanneeddy.com. She also offers independent studio time in her studio in Indiana. Talk to Ellen about classes at 219-921-0885, or contact her scheduler Sarah at 616-485-5646 to set a date

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Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
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Friday, January 29, 2010

The Case for Kits-I have to follow the instructions?

I'm famous for my inability to follow a map, a set of video equipment instructions, or God help me, a cook book. I'm truly dyslexic, but that's really only a good excuse. The other factor is that I'm a pig on ice.  A pig on ice is a stubborn creature who may be in big trouble but is very unlikely to accept your help. It's just going to do what it does.

So, burdened as I am with those difficulties, I'm very unlikely to get a kit to make anything. It comes with instructions, and I'm more likely to line the cat pan with those rather than read them.
So, why did I say I'd make kits? Because my limits are not anyone else's and if it helps launch them, then let's do it.

Around 5 years ago, I began to see a difference in the quilters in my class. Quilters are to the main, brilliant, able and intellegent. They're a pleasure to teach. And Why NOT! They're women past the age of a great deal of personal vanity and silliness. And with vast experiences. 
But the new students are, though just as brilliant, and able, new to sewing. They measure their experience in months, not years. For some of them, you're looking at their first machine and they bought it 2 months ago.
Are they less able? Less worthy? Good God no!
But they do need a leg up.
I took my education in primary and specialized in first grade. I do not believe in the bell curve. In the same way I was unwilling to have one student who couldn't tie their shoes (think about this. If they can't tie it, who will have to?), I refuse to have a student who can't start where she is, and learn what she can. And to the main, I see them shoot past us older girls, because they don't know the limits that really don't count now. I'm honored when they come to my class and I stand back when  they get going. I know its going to happen like a rocket taking off, and I'd rather not get run down.

So when is a kit not a compromise?
When it's a point to jump off from. Often the hard point for someone starting is the whole design process.It's my favorite thing to teach. I've watched so many people go from their fear to their fervor. The passion that is unleashed as we start to play with our own images is a holy thing and a thing that makes us whole. But not every one can do that on command on a Saturday afternoon in a six hour class.
One of my favorite art facts is that Degas traced a particular pastel and colored it different ways, over and over and over on tracing paper. Someone was actually smart enough to preserve them. He'd taken one part (the color choices) of his creation and made an exercise of try dozens of different colors in different ways. Creative? Maybe not. Good learning, well, Brilliant! He limited the choices he was making to focus on learning new skill. And that, is what we can do with kits.

So in the same way, I've done 10 kits for Cotton Club that range from ladybugs, butterflies, pansies, roses, luna moths, fish, frogs, leaves and black eyed susans. There's a full color wheel of hand-dyed threads with others chosen to make your project simple. By taking some choices off the table, we can focus and really learn one thing well.

But, for the other pigs on ice, and I know you're out there.
Use it:

  • To build your stash
  • To try colors you don't often try
  • To work with different bobbin work styles
  • To stretch your color knowledge and your stitching skills.
And if you don't wander off the path and do something off the wall, I'll be highly disappointed.
You'll find these kits at
The Cotton Club
 You'll find a slide show of them on my blog at
Thread Magic Events


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From the Subversive Stitch

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Quiltposium, Fall2011

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Essential Embroidery Stitches: Free Hand and Machine Embroidery Designs and Techniques.

Essential Embroidery Stitches: Free Hand and Machine Embroidery Designs and Techniques.
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