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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Do You Craft? Annie West

I have a new book out this month - YAY! The Savakis Merger features a hero and heroine who reached out and grabbed me immediately. I was thinking about Callie and what makes her so interesting and was surprised to discover that for me one of her appealing traits was the fact that beneath the high-gloss glamour and designer gowns she's a woman who loves to work with her hands.

Callie has a dream she's kept to herself for years - to open her own business - not to make a million dollars, but for the satisfaction of succeeding on her own merits. Connected to that is her love of sewing - not high fashion clothes, but applique and emroidery.

Maybe because I grew up with a mum who could sew clothes, crochet, knit and embroider as well paint china, plus whip up jams, soups and pickles in between running a household, but I have enormous respect for people who make things. I love seeing the gorgeous, useful things other people make and I know first hand the joy that comes from creating something yourself. There's something pleasing and at the same time soothing about working away at something that takes a while to complete but is something you made yourself!

OK, I admit it freely, I'm not terribly crafty. I can't sew a dress to save myself and I've forgotten my mum's patient lessons on knitting. I'd love to be able to paint or make things in wood. The most 'crafty' thing I've done in recent years is try my hand at making Christmas cards with the kids which was lots of fun but they didn't exactly have a professional finish. I have however, done a bit of decorative sewing along the way, and have pasted a couple of pics here to show it. When I was a teen a neighbour introduced me to tapestry. Here's one of the results. Imagine my surprise when I went to the British Museum and found the original stone wall carving from Babylon that this was based on!

Later I took to cross stitch and here's some detail of a medieval design I've had half finished for far too long. I keep trying to find time to get back to it, but I find what used to be my free time has been eaten away by my writing.

Looking at these pics makes me realise how much I'd like to get back into doing something crafty, even just a little bit and very occasionally. Somehow it's easier to unwind after a long day if I'm counting stitches or checking colours or watching a design appear before my eyes. I'm sure doing craft of some sort must be good for the blood pressure too!

And then there are all those crafts I've never had time to try. The ones I see at fairs and fetes and wish I had the energy to embark on.

How about you? Do you have favourite crafts? Do you do patchwork or ceramics? Do you paint or do you leave your creating to the garden? If you're not 'handy' is there a craft you admire, or maybe one you've tried and decided isn't for you?

Annie's book THE SAVAKIS MERGER, is on sale now from Harlequin and in stores this month. It features a sexy, dangerous hero and a heroine who fights enormous odds to stay true to herself. To read more about the book and enjoy an excerpt, check out Annie's website. Annie's also running a big end of year contest there with plenty of books on offer.

34 comments:

Nas Dean said...

Hi Annie,

Your craft looks amazing. And The Savakis Merger has a very hot, gorgeous hero and a strong heroine who despite all the wealth on offer prefers to start her own business with her own handiwork. And she is succesful at it, which is very inspiring!

As for me, I sew a little, crochet, can do basic knitting. But now that the eyesight is failing I prefer to read only!


Congrats on the release of The Savakis Merger!

Annie West said...

Hi Nas,

It's great to hear from you.

Ooh, I'm so glad you found Damon in 'The Savakis Merger' hot and gorgeous. Me too! As for Callie working on her life's dream - I found the idea inspiring - fighting against the odds to establish something for herself. I love reading about people who have to work hard to succeed - it's very satisfying when they do.

It sounds like you're a crafty woman. I used to do crochet too but then devoted myself to embroidery. Oh, I know what you mean about failing eyesight! Too long in front of the computer is taking its toll, but I have got a magnifying lamp I want to try out...when I find time. That's the problem.

Thanks for the kind words on my sewing efforts. They look good from a distance (G)!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Annie, your tapestries are superb--clever you. They're the kind of works that become family heirlooms!
I long to do beautiful embroidery, and even did a short course on it, as I consider it one of the womanly arts that we share with our ancestors. However day job+writing+family life means there has been no time for any other creative pursuits.
However I do enjoy cooking and indulge my creativity in the kitchen, particularly when it comes to baking. I also enjoy gardening.
Good luck with the launch of THE SAVAKIS MERGER, I'm looking forward to another of your passionate, romantic stories!

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Congratulations on the release of The Savakis Merger, Annie! Callie sounds like a heroine I'd like to meet.

I love your handiwork! Working on cross-stitch design seems like a lovely way to wind down after a hard day. I used to sew my own clothes - I made some passable outfits, but these days I like to save my hands for writing. :)

Sharon Archer said...

Annie, both your tapestry and you cross-stitch look fabulous and both very challenging pieces!

I'm a bit of a craft dabbler now, the odd bit of embroidery, sewing, knitting... I never did get the hang of crotchet! I used to be a very productive knitter but then I discovered knit fabrics and the joys of whipping up a top in an afternoon compared to knitting for a month for something the same size!

What a treat that there's a New Annie West on the shelf - must be DownUnder next month? I'll keep my eyes peeled!
:)
Sharon

Michelle Douglas said...

Annie, I loved the Savakis Merger! Very intense and full of wonderful scenes. I, uh, especially enjoyed the opening. :-)

Your medieval cross stitch piece is really beautiful. I'm not terribly crafty (ie, I'm terrible at it), but you do have me wanting to drag out my old latch hook rug and finishing it.

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, congratulations on the release of the Savakis Merger. It's a FABULOUS story, one of your sexiest. Hope it flies off the shelves!

Oh, craft. Nuh. Not me. Can't even cut wrapping paper straight. Used to be the butt of so many jokes in primary school when they tried to teach us to sew (the boys did woodwork - suspect it's not quite as cut and dried as that now, no pun intended, well, maybe a small one). I'm all thumbs when it comes to anything like that. I do know what you mean about finding an activity away from writing that completely occupies your mind. Recently I've taken up the piano again - my next Tote Bags post is actually about that so we must have been thinking along similar lines! Definitely lovely to deal with something that isn't word-based!

Pat Cochran said...

Mother, my grandmother, and my aunts all were excellent seamstresses so I could not help but follow in their footsteps! I made my own wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses for my youngest sisters. I also sewed mom/daughter outfits for DD1 and myself. All my sisters and several of the nieces also sew, embroider, and two of the nieces have turned crafts into very nice businesses. Only two of us attempted painting, sister successfully and me, not so well!! LOL

Pat C.

Annie West said...

Kandy, that link through generations of women who sew is interesting, isn't it? My mum has tablecloths and other pieces made by great aunts and others and though they're used, they seem very precious. I love that inter-generational link.

I've seen pictures on some of your blogs of your cooking - yum! The kitchen is one of the best places to be creative, I think. And the garden. With spring here now I'm thinking longingly of a successful vege garden. Wonder if it will work out?

Annie West said...

PS, Kandy, I love the cover of 'Castaway Bride' you have as your Avatar!

Annie West said...

Vanessa - wow, sewing your own clothes is so impressive. If I had to do that I'd never leave the house. Totally understand your need to save your hands for writing. Do you ever get the urge to get out the sewing machine?

Annie West said...

Sharon, that's kind of you, but actually in both cases they're easier than you look. How could you resist a craft where that's the case! Love the idea of whipping up a garment in an afternoon. Just wish I was that handy. As for knitting, there are some brilliant wools around these days (I see them even though I don't use them) and that must be so tempting.

Annie West said...

Hi Michelle, I'm so glad you enjoyed 'The Savakis Merger'. Music to my ears! Thank you for sharing.

I've never tried a latch hook rug. I'm wondering if it's difficult. No, no - I've got pieces unfinished I should get to before I try something new...and a new book to work on. There's always something, isn't there?

Annie West said...

Hi Anna, thank you for the lovely comments on Savakis! I hope readers in north America enjoy it too.

I know exactly how painful sewing classes could be. I remember unpicking the hem of a skirt in class again and again because it had to be 'invisible'. I wonder if that's what put me off sewing clothes. Woodwork seemed so alluring!

Ah, now that's interesting about your piano playing. I think it IS good to work at something completely different from word-based activities. Now I've convinced myself I should be trying my hand at some craft work again - just not quite sure when!

Annie West said...

Hi Pat,

I'm so very impressed! Obviously you're a very talented woman. Fancy sewing a wedding gown! I'm particularly interested to see that the interest in and talent for working with your hands runs through the family. How terrific that your nieces have turned that into a business! Working with something you love doing is one of the best things in the world. Thanks so much for sharing.

Keziah Hill said...

I used to knit but seem to have got out of the habit. My mother and my sister are/were both great seamstresses as was my grandmother. Passed me by completely. I have trouble repairing a hem. But gardening is another matter especially at this time of year when my spring garden is looking so wonderful. Good luck with the book Annie!

Jasmine Haynes said...

The needlework looks great, Annie! I do needlepoint, and I've got three Cluney's completed, one of them is quite large, 3 ft by 5 ft, and it took me two years to complete. Good luck on the book!

Annie West said...

Keziah, I think having a freat seamstress in the family is daunting. I think that means you either take to it yourself or run a mile in the other direction (like me). Love the sound of your spring garden! I've come home recently to an overgrown jungle. I promised myself I'd do some weeding but it's just started raining (perfect for pulling out weeds but I'd prefer to stay dry). Enjoy that garden of yours - they're such wonderful places - very soothing and refreshing.

Annie West said...

Hi Janine,

Wow, you've done three of them? I'm so impressed. I have a large medieval style tapestry partially done - another project to finish one day. Actually, one of the highlights of a visit to Paris for me was seeing those famous Cluny tapestries, including The Lady and the Unicorn, on display. Just magnificent! Definitely well worth a visit if ever you're in Paris...

Melanie Milburne said...

Hi Annie,
I used to be a craft nut but now I am too busy with other things such as writing. I admire people who do incredibly fine needlework. I'm too impatient!

Annie West said...

Hi Melanie,

How interesting. I didn't know you used to be involved in crafts. Must say though I'm glad you spend your time writing, but then there's always the down time...

Kaelee said...

Hi Annie ~ I'm another used to be craft person. I used to knit, crochet, embroider and cross stitch. I cannot sew a straight line with a sewing machine though. I still love to garden and I'm the prep person when my husband cooks. I love your tapestries.

I'm putting your latest on my to be bought list. It sounds like it will be another great book.

Annie West said...

Hi Kaelee, it sounds like you're multi-talented! I'm impressed. It's a shame that so many of us seem to find less and less time for these pastimes that please us. I wonder why?

Smiling that you're impressed with my efforts. Smiling even more that you're going to give Savakis a try. I hope you enjoy it was much as I did!

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Annie, I *sometimes* get that urge to dust off the sewing machine, but then I think of all the mess I'll make! My cats like to get involved too, and that can be disastrous!

Annie West said...

Vanessa, I'm laughing at the idea of your cats helping you sew. I'd love to see that! Who knows, maybe one day you'll get back into it again. Nice to have the option.

Cheryl Leigh said...

Hi Annie,

What beautiful tapestries! I hope you get to finish the medieval one some day.

I used to do tapestries and cross stitch, oil painting and decoupage, but like you, writing took over and now there's no time. I tried my hand at sewing, mostly costumes for my kids when they were little. I'm a bit amazed at my efforts because now I'm only capable of sewing on buttons!

Congrats on the release of THE SAVAKIS MERGER!

Annie West said...

Hi Cheryl,

I'm glad you like my sewing. I'll definitely finish the medieval cross stitch one day. It's almost done. But I've some other projects that are going to haunt me for years I suspect.

Ooh, I'd love to natter with you about tapestries and cross stitch. Maybe sometime if I'm down your way. I'm impressed with you tackling oil painting too. Goodness, that does take talent!

Thanks for the good wishes for Savakis!

The Brunette Librarian said...

Your crafting is awesome! I love to crochet...I'm not super talented, but I can make a mean scarf or hat. :) REALLY fun and it always creates something different.

rachie2004 AT yah00 *d8t* c-m

Annie West said...

Hi Brunette Librarian,

Thanks for the kind words on my sewing. I'm feeling quite chuffed by the praise! Isn't crochet fun? I used to do some years ago but very, very simple stuff. Love the idea of making a hat I'd made myself. Useful and pretty. Love it!

Na said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Na said...

I'm pretty crafty when it comes to scrapbooking and origami. They're fun even if I'm not the best at it. I like seeing getting creative and learning new things.

marybelle said...

I knit , sew, embroider & crochet. I'm no expert. More the I'll give it a go kind of person. It's fun & very relaxing. I always have a project on the go.

Annie West said...

Hi Na,

It's fun learning new things, isn't it? I'm impressed with your origami. I haven't seen it done in years but the results always astound me. I love the results of scrapbooking. I've never tried it but could see that it would be addictive.

Annie West said...

Hi Marybelle,

Isn't it great to have a project on the go? I love being able to pick up something when I feel the urge and not have to start from scratch. It sounds like you've got lots of options to keep you busy.