authority (embroidery no. 22)

embroidery from jeff vandermeer's authority

Earlier this year, I read Jeff VanderMeer’s creepy and haunting Annihilation, about an expedition into a terrifying and mysterious wilderness known as Area X. Authority (kindle here) continues the story, but from the perspective of Control, a government official recently transferred to clean up the mess at the Southern Reach after the expedition in Annihilation.

Control dives in, but he is never sure of what he sees or hears at the Southern Reach. Its shifting hallways and antagonistic employees don’t provide much help or comfort. But Control latches on to one idea that could help him grasp this puzzle: Terroir.

Terroir indicates a sense of place, and how that place can influence and produce a certain product. Typically a term that refers to the climate and region of certain vintages of wine, Control uses it to analyze Area X.

Why is Area X the way that it is? What, even, is it? Who made it that way, and how?

There aren’t many answers yet, but Authority peels back a few layers of the puzzle. What’s underneath is raw and scary, and there’s no sign of what can heal it.

The next book in this trilogy, Acceptance (kindle here) comes out Sept. 2 of this year.

embroidery from jeff vandermeer's authority

I am working on a project to sew some of my favorite quotes and images. You can see the other pieces of my embroidery project here:

(I picked this book out on my own and was not being paid to write about it. But if you buy through my links, I’ll receive a little bit of money for it.)

annihilation (embroidery no. 21)

embroidery from annihilation

I know we just had St. Patrick’s day, but in my house, it might as well be Halloween. Everything I watch or read lately has been super creepy, and Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (Kindle here) is near the top of the creepy list.

Annihilation is the diary of a woman, known only as the biologist, as she goes on a mission to explore Area X. Every member of the mission is required to make a record of their findings, and to keep it private so they don’t contaminate each other’s results.

Area X is a section of land that’s been blocked off by the government. Each team member on a mission brings a certain skill set: The biologist’s teammates are the psychologist, the surveyor, and the anthropologist. The linguist backed out at the last minute. No one uses their names, referring to each other only by their occupations.

I’m not totally sure which government is in charge, or what year it is, or where they are. Area X oozes weirdness almost immediately, when the biologist and her team happen upon a tower with a long, winding staircase. As they walk down the stairs, the biologist starts to see the writing on the wall–literally, and it’s made of plants.

embroidery from annihilation

This super creepy vine-and-moss scrawl inspired my embroidery. It begins “where lies the strangling fruit” and only gets weirder and more nonsensical as it spirals down into the darkness.

The biologist’s story is deeply unsettling. Between hallucinations, new forms of life, and plenty of death, she’s not sure what she’s exploring, dreaming, or seeing. And when plants learn how to write, and no one has a name, and you can’t trust what’s alive or dead, holding on to your humanity may be impossible.

Annihilation is the first of three books in the Southern Reach Trilogy. The next book comes out so soon! The publishers decided to do an expedited publication schedule–which I think is really cool–so you can pick up the second book, Authority (Kindle here), on May 6 or preorder it now. The third book, Acceptance (Kindle here), comes out on Sept. 2, and you can preorder it, too. Annihilation was a quick read at just less than 200 pages, so get to it! And watch for plants creeping in to your nightmares.

embroidery from annihilation

I am working on a project to sew some of my favorite quotes and images. You can see the other pieces of my embroidery project here:

(I picked this book out on my own and was not being paid to write about it. But if you buy through my links, I’ll receive a little bit of money for it.)

S. (embroidery no. 20)

embroidery of s. by doug dorst and j.j. abrams

Jen and Eric of S. have no problem writing in the margins–this is one of the only things I’m certain of after reading S., J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst’s mysterious book.

S. tells many stories, within the text, in the margins, and on the web. Jen, a senior undergrad, finds the book the Ship of Theseus after grad student Eric leaves it on a table. She takes a peek, likes what she reads, and writes a note to him in the front cover. When Eric writes back it kicks off love letters, research, mysteries, arson, threats, secret codes, and more. The book within a book structure is similar to House of Leaves (which I wasn’t crazy about) and reminiscent of The Princess Bride (which I am completely crazy about).

I was always a bit more interested in what was going on with Eric and Jen than what was going on in the text of the Ship of Theseus, but both the story and the marginalia are really fun to read.

embroidery of s. by doug dorst and j.j. abrams

And they were both fun to investigate. Jen and Eric are researching the author of the Ship of Theseus, a man called Straka. But no one knows who Straka really is, and he could be anything from an assassin, a 20-year-old man who committed suicide, a group of writers, a man who keeps reincarnating, or, I don’t know, even a monkey.

As Jen an Eric keep investigating, their secrets also spill into the margins. There are secrets on secrets on secrets, and it is so fun to snoop.

embroidery of s. by doug dorst and j.j. abrams

And since it’s J.J. Abrams, the mystery isn’t contained inside the book. There’s even websites that are all a part of the game–with hidden messages, no less. All you have to do is start researching like Jen and Eric did to find some.

House of Leaves felt like work to me, but S. felt like play. And like sneaking on someone’s love letters, but minus the guilt. I have a lot of theories (most of them having to do with the number 19), so did you guys read it?! Hit me up! And check out Word bookstore’s Q&A with the writer!

I am working on a project to sew some of my favorite quotes and images. You can see the other pieces of my embroidery project here:

beyonce (embroidery nos. 18-19)

beyonce embroidery

Going to the Beyonce concert this year with my friend Laura was one of the best things that ever happened to me–no lie. We love Bey (but who doesn’t?), and it was so fun to see her sing. So as a gift for Laura before she moved into her new apartment, I stitched some Beyonce lyrics for her to put on her walls.

beyonce embroidery

The best part of making these was that “Crazy in Love” and “Love on Top” were stuck in my head the whole time. I love having handmade things in my home, but I love even more sharing them with friends.

beyonce embroidery

I am working on a project to sew some of my favorite quotes and images. You can see the other pieces of my embroidery project here:

goldie the gargoyle (embroidery no. 17)

goldie the gargoyle embroidery

It kills me when adorable things show up in comic books. Here I am, reading about a nightmare/King of Dreams/contract killers/reimagined biblical characters and WHAM, something cute drops in the frame.

I’ve been reading through The Sandman–the first issue is just a little younger than I am–and though it took me 25 years to catch on, I’m finally getting up to speed and loving every minute. Along with Death, one of the most fun characters I’ve ever met, I’ve also enjoyed spending time with Dream and his other siblings. And mixed in with the twisting, dark, interesting story lines are hilarious moments of fun. Like a super cute gargoyle called Goldie (aka Irving).

goldie the gargoyle embroidery close up

I’ve been thinking of a way to incorporate Sandman into my project of embroidering books and quotes that I enjoy, and Goldie is a perfect representation of what I love about this series: unexpected fun.

You can’t see dark without the light, or cruelty without kindness, and this epic storyline that takes us in and out of worlds and dreams is all the stronger by including some (adorable) levity.

As you can see on my to-read list, I’m just through volume 7, so if anything terrible happens to Goldie in volumes 8-10, don’t tell me.

embroidery and the sandman vol. 8

I am working on a project to sew some of my favorite quotes and images from books. You can see the other pieces of my embroidery project here:

yarn cross-stitch pillow

cross stitch pillow on rae's days

I have really enjoyed sewing pillow cases for the pillows on my couch. I like picking out the fabric, and I like that they are personal to me. Plus, sewing smallish pillow cases is a generally quick project with a large payoff. This particular pillow project, though, I’ve been sitting on since I saw this photo on Apartment Therapy’s instagram.

apartment therapy instagram inspiration

I love these designs. And I love that they use cross stitching, which I’ve been exploring lately with my embroidery. But this cross stitching is on a large, fun scale. It took me a while to figure out how I could do something similar on my own, but over the weekend I finally got it together.

cross stitch pillow tutorial grid

I started by using some felt I had on hand. It was important to me to use felt because you don’t need to finish the edges for felt, so any holes you create in the felt won’t fray. I knew I wanted it for a 12×12 inch pillow, so I cut my fabric 13×13 inches to allow for a half-inch seam allowance. once  had my square, I used a fabric pencil to draw half-inch grid lines. And then I started hole punching.

hole punches

Figuring out how to create (mostly) evenly spaced holes, and how to cut out many, many tiny circles was the biggest challenge. But would you believe my little hand held hole punch cut through felt? It did. To cut each hole, I folded the fabric along each grid line so that my hole punch could reach the marks where the lines crossed. And then I got to punching. This part took a while, but I think it’s definitely worth it. Once I had my hole-punched canvas, I started stitching, using some extra yarn I had on hand and a large yarn needle that I normally use to sew in the dangling ends of my knitting.

cross stitch pillow

I decided on “hi.” It’s welcoming, casual, and fun. (And also very easy to map out for cross stitching.) After that, I measured and cut fabric for the back of the black felt and the back of the pillow. Once I sewed it all together–leaving a hole to stick your pillow in–I was done!

hi cross stitch pillow

I am really excited to see what else I could do with this idea. There’s unlimited colors and words or patterns I could play with, and it’s just too cute.

cross stitch pillow on couch

izabel from saga (embroidery no. 16)

saga embroidery

I feel like I come late to the game to a lot of things. I just discovered Sandman–only 15 years after the first one came out. I am furiously trying to catch up on the Good Wife, which just started season 5. Last year I got really into Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and the first one came out five years before I was born. I guess I can’t help being late for that one.

But I am into the comic books series Saga. And Saga is coming out right now. (To be fair, I did only read it after the first two volumes were complete.) Issue 15 came out on Oct. 30, and that issue is the inspiration for this embroidery of Izabel.

izabel from Saga

I like so many of the characters in Saga. Alana is a badass. The Will and Lying Cat really love each other. And Izabel is so nice and fun. Izabel may be dead, but she’s still a great babysitter to Alana and Marko’s daughter Hazel. She seems like a spunky teenager who cares for the family she is now working with. I really like Izabel’s fresh voice and positive attitude. Marko’s mom, on the other hand, may never warm up to her.

Saga has kept me on my toes and in love with the characters and stories. The next one comes out Nov. 27. I’ve been reading on my iPad, but if you can, swing by your local comic books store to check out Saga and see what else looks good!

izabel from saga issue 15

I am working on a project to sew some of my favorite quotes and images from books. You can see the other pieces of my embroidery project here: