October 6, 2011

Interview with Cath's Pennies

We've stumbled upon a new-to-us wool pattern designer that we've fallen in love with.  We think you will too. 

Cath from Cath's Pennies Designs was kind enough to participate in an interview to share with you a little bit of the behind the scenes details of her pattern company.  She has a fabulous blog with amazing tutorial to help you recreate her pattern designs.  Check out her interview then head on over to our site to snag some of her patterns.  We've got a special offer on her Stuffed Turkey pattern this week too.

Stuffed Turkey Pattern Regular Price:  $9.00
Deal of the Week Price:  $7.20
(Price Valid October 21st-27th, 2011)

Tell us a little bit about you . . .

I don't really think I'm crazy, but both my daughters and my husband affectionately (I think) call me the crazy wool lady. I have wool pretty much all around the house with my main collection/stash taking over our spare bedroom. Jimmy, my husband and I have been married forever .. well, actually for 36 years. I have two daughters and one son-in-law and one almost 5 year old grandson.

I started designing and selling finished wool candle mats, penny rugs and pincushions about 12 years ago. Two years ago and after getting many requests for the patterns, I started selling patterns of my wool designs. I now have 32 pattern designs with many more to come! I love wool...it's an addiction that I'll never give up!

How did you get started working with wool?

I used to quilt, in fact, I took quilting classes at my local quilt shop and discovered that I loved hand-stitching, especially appliqued hand-stitching. At some point, I was searching the internet to get some craft ideas and came across something odd called a "penny rug". I loved the history and the look of those circle on circle wool designs. I decided to try it with some felt that I had laying around. That was the beginning of the addiction.

Regular acrylic felt just didn't give the look that I wanted so I went to my local thrift store, bought some 100% wool skirts, cut them up, washed and felted them and created my first penny rug.

I sold that first penny rug on Ebay for some crazy amount which completely astonished me. That response on Ebay is probably what really fed my addiction. I could actually easily make $$ by selling something that I loved to do!

What do you like best about working with wool for your projects?

Wool is so forgiving! If a mistake is made and threads have to be removed, with a little fluffing, the wool looks like new again with no needle marks from the previous threads.

Felted wool is so soft and light that it's like stitching through butter, and since it doesn't unravel, the edges don't have to be turned under before stitching.

Any great tips you'd like to share about working with wool?

After doing embroidery stitching on wool, like for instance, the center embroidered ring on a candle mat, the wool tends to pucker and looks stretched. To get it to lay flat again, just flip it to the backside and hit it with a steam iron. That's another example of how it's forgiving! The steams shrinks the wool right back to size and it will lay perfectly flat.

Also, if your wool seems a bit too bright, tone it down with coffee or tea. Simply simmer it in watered down coffee or tea for about 20-30 minutes. Rinse well and throw it in the dryer. You've overdyed it to a more subdued primitive color!

(She has a fabulous post on coffee-dyeing wool here)

We're often asked for suggestions/project recommendations for begining crafters. Which of your patterns would be a good starting point for those that might want to give wool a try?

Good question! I get quite a few questions from beginners about this. I always keep the beginner in mind when I'm creating a new pattern. Not only is there a picture on the front of the pattern to refer to, my patterns all have the design drawn on a layout sheet which shows exactly where each and every pattern piece should be placed. I have online pictured step-by-step tutorials to go along with some of my patterns too. Those tutorials are immenesly helpful for beginners. I created the pattern "Just Pumpkins" especially for the beginner stitcher. The pattern is just simple basic pumpkins stitched onto a background. It's simple blanket stitches along with some backstitching on wool.

Several other patterns are super easy for anyone who is familiar with the basic embroidery stitches. I always recommend "Let It Snow", which has the online pictured tutorial to go with it.

"Snow Faces" and "Oh Snowy Night" are two others that are quick and easy. "Scarecrow Jack in the Pumpkin Patch" looks detailed and complicated but it has an online tutorial which shows exactly how to make it. Besides all of that, I'm always available to help if questions or problems come up. I tell my customers that I'm just an email away!

Black Eyed Susans

Where are your favorite sources for design inspiration?

Gosh, I really don't have one particular website or place that I use for inspiration. I always have ideas in my head for designs. I get inspiring ideas everywhere I go. The chick shapes that I used for "It's Spring, Chicks!" came from background painting that was shown in a movie. I don't know what the painting was but the shape reminded me of a cute primitive chick! Another example.... I was sitting in church a few weeks ago and spotted a bundle of wheat which inspired me with a (future) fall design.

My fellow bloggers are immensely helpful with providing me inspirations. Their blogs show me that I'm not the only one obsessed with crafts and sewing and wool!

Anything else you'd like to share about you and your patterns?

I only use 100% wool in my designs but just about all of my pattern designs would look just as nice with wool felt. 100% wool is expensive and rather difficult to find in some areas so woolfelt is an excellent substitute which will give beautiful results.

(Side Note:  Cath has one of the best explanations of the difference between wool felt and felted wool that I've found.  Check out her blog post on the subject here)

I'm often asked to recommend the best place to buy wool. Go visit a quilt shop in your area! Support those small businesses and keep them in business.

Even if they don't carry wool, they will help you find the materials you need. They'll help you with any questions you might have and they will really appreciate your business!

I would not be doing what I'm doing today with my patterns if it were not for my local quilt shop that so long ago taught me how to make quilts.

Festive Snowmen

Thanks so much for all the fabulous info, Cath!  We've all learned a lot.