Thursday, November 28, 2013

Not a Princess Either!

I am not a princess either.  As much as I love spangles and pretty things, I like making things and stuff that is complicated too (duh, the Plimoth Jacket was both).  If you watched the Goldie Blox video I posted a few days ago, the Rube-Goldberg device that was made in the video is called "the princess machine".  Note that it is mostly made out of toys.

Well, I found it doubly fun to watch because we have a relatively new tradition around our house for Thanksgiving - we have added building a 2' x 8' Rube Goldberg machine while we cook the turkey and watch football.  MIT has a celebration of Mr. Goldberg's cartoons that was started and hosted by an incredibly creative and inventive kinetic sculpture artist named Arthur Gannon (also the inventor of  Toobers & Zots).  We have gone two years in a row now and our bright T-shirts plus use of only construction toys for our engineering has won us two years in the Boston Globe.  This year the announcement used us - three generations - as the  promotion photo.  Funny!

If you want to watch last year's piece - we are second to last at 13:40 in the video of the chain reaction. In 2011 our link starts at 15:45.   We already have big plans for our entry this year.  It involves CATAPULTS.  If I get good video, I'll post it.

Maybe there is a engineering college around you that could sponsor something like this for kids.  That is what I like most about this event - 1500 people come to watch and the participants are mostly kids and their parents doing whatever last minute thing they can dream up.  It doesn't have to work perfectly, just get kids to associate engineering = FUN.

Now an idea for an even better event.  One for kids that uses princess toys to make a Rube Goldberg device like that in the video.  A real princess machine.  Now that would be a great statement.  Maybe the last day of a girls-only summer camp?


P.S. I am posting this as we are finishing out our design.  We have substituted flashing electroluminescent wires for catapults and are trying to get a robot arm to work.  Hope you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I had a great one - I was up and cooking for about three hours early in the morning.  My mother called me over to the pantry to 'find something' to instead find that my brother (the web master/animator of stitches) was in it!!  I was shocked and burst out crying.  This was the first holiday in almost five years that we have all been together.  He flew in by secret late last night and the other brother who had come to Boston for the holiday had picked him up.  They let him in and he had been asleep in my workroom hiding!  That was a great holiday surprise!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Paper Casket for you to Assemble and Color

I have a new Needlework Nibble out and it is FREE!  This is really fun - a 3" tall paper casket that you cut out and glue together.  They can be colored and embellished as well.  I might post a few of the great ones that people do - send me pictures!

There are assembly photos as well, but these are quick and fun to give away (or put on the Christmas tree).  Go ahead and pass them along to your guild, sampler group or others you think might like it.  I give permission to pass it along - just don't sell it.  Maybe you have a guild dinner or something coming up for the holiday's - this would make a great favor!



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

More than Just a Princess

I have been following this company, GoldieBlox, on and off over the last year because they were trying to launch a building toy that would inspire girls to be interested in STEM.  They had a very successful kickstarter campaign and now are one of four finalists trying this month to win a SUPER BOWL ad.  Do you want to help them??  Vote in the competition this month.  Thanks to Marjan who saw this video and just sent it to me.  For anyone who knows a creative kid (and all kids are creative... it just gets beaten out of them!) it is so hard to find good Christmas gifts.

The awful statistic that I heard at a conference a few years ago was that if a girl wasn't inspired to get involved in science, technology or engineering by the time she was 12, she had less than a 15% chance of having a career in any of those fields.  Since that is the dominant growth area of our economy, that is a horrible stat.  I don't have a little girl of my own to mentor, much to my dismay, but I do have a little spitfire on my lego team now.  We call her "Rambet" and she is adorable and can handle a robot and nerf gun as well as her own with 10 boys.  Love to adopt her!  In the Fall I mentor these robot groups and in the Spring, I help a group at MIT develop curriculum to teach electrical engineering to girls in summer camps.  So I am always keeping my eyes open to watch how others are presenting our 21st century skills to a new generation of kids.  (Somewhere in there I try to teach women to make embroidered caskets).

Watch these two videos and realize that engineering is just problem solving and doesn't have to mean 'dark blue and metal toys' to be fun.  Then think of the little girls in your life that deserve the Friends line of Lego, GoldieBlox, Makedo, or a real toolbelt of their own.  (I just bought a GoldieBlox set for my 5-year old goddaughter who thinks I am too cool - her Dad went to MIT with me.  She is the middle kid and the one I have pegged to follow in his footsteps).

I think that these commercials are just inspired and really hope to see one of them during the Super Bowl!  And honestly - you need to show them to a little girl you know - she will run out and get boxes and make something after getting all pumped up from the videos!

AKA the embroidering engineer -  who says you can't like pink and thread and yet be an engineer!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Give Away!!

I just received four extra copies of the latest SANQ magazine and they need new homes.  My new place may be bigger, but not big enough for duplicates!  So send me an email at with "SANQ" in the subject line by midnight on Friday, Nov. 22nd and these issues will go to some new home.  Be sure to put your snail mail address in the body of the email so I can send it right out to the winners!

I just may have a whole raft of giveaways to do in the next month, as I have been unpacking and organizing (in my non-existant spare time), I have found items that might need a great new home to go to.  So keep watching!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Embroidered Jacket in Miniature

There is a collection of miniature portraits, owned by the late Mrs T.S. Elliot, that is up for sale by Christies.  Among them are many rare and beautiful late Tudor and early Stuart portraits by Isaac Oliver and Nicholas Hilliard.  One shows a lovely lady wearing an embroidered jacket!  The number of portraits with jackets shown in them just keeps climbing!  It is almost surprising that more of the jackets didn't survive.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Oud Geld

There is a new exhibit in the Netherlands that looks like a really interesting one!  It is called 'Oud Geld - the old boys network in the golden age' and is being shown at the Fries Museum, in Leeuwarden.

The english description of the exhibit is:

The Golden Age is all the rage again! And not just in Holland, but in Friesland as well. In the 17th century, Friesland was the second wealthiest province in the Republic, after Holland. The exhibition Oud Geld (Old Money) reveals who called the shots in Friesland: the ‘Quote 500’ of the Golden Age. An old boys network of extremely prosperous merchants, administrators and nobles defined the culture and the economy. Apparently, notions such as ‘nouveaux riches’ and ‘must haves’ are timeless.Oud Geld shares stories about trendsetters like Stadtholder Willem Frederik van Nassau-Dietz, forefather of our current queen. Various 17th-century treasures in the museum’s collection are showcased, including thePoptaschat, iconic Frisian silver tableware; and portraits by the important Frisian painter Wybrand de Geest, which are displayed alongside their contemporary equivalents.

There are some fantastic portraits with lovely laces shown as well as this spectacular table cabinet which appears to feature both painted silk and embroidered silks.  It is currently on a newer stand to look like a chest on stand.

It will be on at the museum until the 30th of August 2015 so there is plenty of time to put this into any of your travel plans for the next year and a half.

While you are visiting the museum site, visit their related site dedicated to their collection of over 440 Freisan samplers.  I have two of my own that I love very much and I love seeing such a large number in one database to understand what was being taught in one area.   Hit the blue button on the right that says Alle Merklappen and you will get to the full database.  Each sampler shows the front and back in high resolution with a magnification function that can show the stitches.  This to me is the Mercedes of online research tools and they should be commended for how well the site was done!