Home Decor Interview: Vonna Pfeiffer from “Twisted Stitcher”

If Twisted Sister represented evil, rebellion, and hedonism, then the Twisted Stitcher, Vonna Pfeiffer, is the complete opposite.

You could not possibly meet a nicer, friendlier, more loving woman than Vonna. As a 15-year-old, she taught herself how to stitch, and it has become her life’s work ever since. She shares her work and life for all to see on her wonderful blog, “Twisted Stitcher.”

We’re always on the lookout for unique ways to decorate your home, and as you’ll soon read, having a stitched finish hanging on the wall is one of the easiest ways to get your house guests talking. Wow them with stitching, and they’ll really melt because, after all, it’s something you can do yourself.

Vonna is here to tell us more about herself and her favorite hobby: stitching. Let’s sit back, grab a needle, and learn about a skill that is easy, yet oh so enjoyable. To the questions!

twisted-stitcher-81. Hi Vonna, thank you for sharing your time with us today. Please take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers and tell them all about your blog, “Twisted Stitcher.” I love that blog name!

First I’d like to thank you for inviting me to participate in this interview and may I extend a warm welcome and hello to your readers as well!

My name is Vonna Pfeiffer, I reside in the rolling hills of southern Indiana in the city of Bloomington. Bloomington is a small city with big city appeal as it is the home of the Hurryin’ Hoosiers of Indiana University and part of the “limestone belt” in Indiana. I have lived my entire life in the state of Indiana –growing up in the small German Catholic Community of Haubstadt, Indiana.

twisted-stitcher-10I am proud to the core of being a Hoosier – I even have the accent to prove it – and I believe that Indiana has the most wonderfully embracing and friendly inhabitants of the 50 states!

I am a wife to Keith and a mother of four young children – Katie (11), Ian and Jacob (twins, 9) and Ellie (3). I am first and foremost a mother and wife, however I do work outside the home on weekends as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist specializing in Microbiology. I also began a “Finishing Service” for those stitchers that like to stitch, but don’t like to finish their completed projects.

My blog came about by my being introduced to them from an online friend. She told me that there was a whole community of “bloggers” who stitched. She gave me an address of a blog and from there I hopped, skipped and jumped from blog to blog. After reading other people’s blogs for a few days, I was hooked and like so many things in my life, I decided right then and there to jump in – both feet first!

As I was setting up my blog, one of the first things that it asks for is the name of your blog. WHOA! I thought…a name….hmmm….as I sit stumped in my desk chair, I thought about what I wanted my blog to “be.” Primarily I wanted my blog and it’s title to reflect me and my personality. I’m a child of the 80’s, I try to live life to the fullest, but am not without my “quirks.”

So as I was thinking up cute and clever names, Twisted Sister (the band) changed to Twisted Stitcher popped up immediately. That was me The Twisted Stitcher – it fit, so it stayed. The “Twisted Stitcher” was born and I’ve not looked back since! It will be three years this summer that I started blogging and I have enjoyed each and every minute of it!

twisted-stitcher-112. Please tell us a bit more about your Twisted Stitcher’s Finishing Service? Did that come before or after your blog, and how have you enjoyed having this little side business?

The Twisted Stitcher’s Finishing Service was born one year ago this past spring. It came about after I had finished something for Diane Williams of Little House Needleworks. Diane told me I had talent and that many people in the needlework industry says that there are a lot of stitchers to stitch, but don’t like to finish. Diane advised me that I should open a “finishing business” and provide a “service” to those that don’t have the time, inclination or talent to finish items that they stitch.

I thought that this was a crazy idea to be honest, but after more discussions with Diane, I decided I’d give it a go. I created my Finishing Service blog in March 2008 and announced it on my own The Twisted Stitcher blog and I’ve been busy ever since.

I honestly enjoy finishing. I like the idea of helping other people and I believe that my service is just that – a “help” to other people. I try to price my finishing services to make them affordable, yet reimburse myself for my time. I don’t expect I’ll get rich financially over the endeavor, but the self satisfaction I get is my primary reward. I am rich as a king however, in the friendships I have formed by finishing their pieces for them.

It’s been a rewarding venture for me! I’m glad that Diane pulled my leg and got me running! There are other finishers in blog land too, and if you look at all of us as a whole we all do good work, just in a different way. We all have our “signature” finishing style. I think that makes it fun and unique for everyone.

3. Congratulations on your kids’ recent completions of their school years. Do your children ever participate in your stitching activities, and if so, do you have anything planned for them this summer?

Two summers ago, Katie (my oldest) decided that she wanted to stitch. I was so excited! I had visions of us sitting together stitching for years to come. I gathered all the supplies – aida, floss, size 24 needles, hoop and a pattern. We sat down and began the lesson. Katie picked it up immediately and stitched beautifully for a young learner.

twisted-stitcher-7My vision was becoming reality! That summer she stitched and completed three projects! I was ecstatic! I had created a stitching buddy right here in my own home.

However at the end of her third project, she came to me with her head down and red faced and I asked her what was wrong? She told me that she knew I really wanted her to be a stitcher, but that she just didn’t like it. I laughed and told her not to worry, you don’t have to like everything Mommy does, and we left it at that. I have a feeling though that sometime in future years, Katie may stitch again.

My boys, they have no interest in stitching or anything craft related other than making their own created comic books.

Ellie, she’s not much of a stitcher either – yet. But she’s young and she has seen me stitching her entire life – there may be hope for her! Ellie does help me in the finishing department though. She’s my constant companion each day sitting on my finishing table handing me buttons, scissors, ribbons and glue when I need them.

So no activities of the stitching variety planned for this summer, but with four children there is constant activity!

4. Our site is about home decor, which we feel stitching falls under because they can be used as decorative items. In addition to stitching, do you have a general interest in home decor and decorating your home? If so, what are your favorite things to do?

twisted-stitcher-6I enjoy all things that would fall under “Primitive Country.” My passion outside of stitching – is to create a home that is cozy, comfortable and a retreat for my family. I’m not much of a world traveler or vacationer, rather I feel that within the walls of my home I am on vacation every day.

My greatest pride beside my family is my home. I am constantly seeking something or making something that would enhance the decor of my home.

Two recent things that I have done for my home is: I taught myself to make wool penny rugs and I rescued an old cast off pie safe that was painted a horrid shade of country blue. I stripped and refurbished the pie safe and now both things – penny rugs and the pie safe – reside in my home and are lovely additions to our decor.

I am constantly looking for little things that can be transformed into big impact for our home. Decorating my home is one of my most loved pastimes and one of the big reasons I stitch to begin with!

5. What part, if any, do your heavy religious beliefs play in the kinds of designs you like to stitch?

twisted-stitcher-9Our being Catholic and raising our children in the faith plays a role in every part of our lives, including my stitching. If one looks at samplers in general, especially antique school girl samplers – many of them include bible verses or religious sayings.

I like samplers that incorporate bible verses or religious sayings in them. I think it enhances the piece. That isn’t to say that I ONLY stitch things with bible verses or religious sayings in them – because that would not be true.

I like all things old fashioned as mentioned above and I like my stitching projects to have that sort of “old fashioned” feel. I love samplers and am considering even “naming” our home “Das Sampler Haus” to reflect our German heritage and my love of stitching. I think it would be very special to have a plaque on the wall in our entry way that announced our home as “Das Sampler Haus.” To reflect my love of samplers and since my family has to live with them too…we are The Sampler House! I also am working on creating an “Adam and Eve” sampler wall in our home.

My religious beliefs doesn’t necessarily guide my choice of stitching, but it most certainly is reflected in many of my finished projects.

6. Stitching is definitely a skill, and it’s something that can be done leisurely around the house while watching TV or hanging out with friends. For people reading this who would like to take up stitching as a hobby, how do you recommend they best go about learning the skills? We did notice several tutorials on your blog.

twisted-stitcher-5I would suggest that any interested parties – if they have a stitching shop in their neighborhood or close by them – that they stop in. The shop keepers that work at these local needlework shops would love to help them learn the techniques.

Do they have a relative, friend or neighbor that stitches? Stitchers are the most giving, sharing people on the planet. They’d love to share their hobby interest with someone wishing to learn. I bet if one thinks they don’t know a stitcher – they are wrong.

Many stitchers are embarrassed that they stitch because they think people may think they are “old fashioned” – they frankly are closet stitchers. Ask around – you’ll find one, I’m sure. If all of these avenues seem closed to you, I would suggest going to a local craft store finding a small kit and take it home. There will be directions on the inside of the kit telling the proper way to cross the X and how to go about stitching.

And let’s not forget about the internet! A simple search in your favorite search engine of “Cross Stitch” or “Cross Stitch Techniques” will get you to a page that tells all about how the job is done. My best advice is: if you have the desire – try it! But one word of caution: Start slow – baby steps – and work your way up. Starting a project that is 11 inches by 18 inches with 1000 colors would not be conducive to learning. Slow steady progress and a progression in size of the project is the steps to success. Stitching is a fabulous hobby – try it!

7. We’re guessing that you like to do a lot of holiday themed finishes. If so, what is your favorite holiday to stitch for? Your witch boot for Halloween is particularly adorable!

That witch’s boot is one of my favorite finishes too!

twisted-stitcher-2Honestly I decorate my home “seasonally” – Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall and Christmas are my main decorating “themes.”

Spring will incorporate Easter stitched things – bunnies, eggs, etc.

Summer decorating incorporates A LOT of US Flags and fourth of July type stitching.

Fall includes Halloween, Pumpkins, Scarecrows and Turkeys. Christmas is self explanatory and Winter pretty much is too.

I’m not a big fan of Valentines Day for some reason. I’m one of those type of people that I pretty much celebrate every day, so I really don’t have a favorite holiday. However if I were to choose, I’d say that the 4th of July (Summer decorating), Christmas and fall are my favorite decorating themes.

I really love the fall…the whole crisp, cool days with the smell of wood smoke filtering through the air. Big round orange pumpkins with crows calling in the distance. Frosty windblown evenings with colorful leaves swirling in the air….Autumn is one of my most favorite seasons, can you tell? When I choose my stitching projects – again I think of what I need to decorate my home.

Where would I place this project? How would I finish it? What would it look like? All of my stitching is devoted to decorating my home. My stitching enhances my home, makes it warm, cozy, welcoming and gives a person an instant feeling of well being. So really I don’t have a particular season or holiday that I would hold above the other seasons or holidays. I guess as the bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” So all seasons and holidays are celebrated in our home and it helps to remember that each and every day along our life road is special.

8. For those not considering taking up stitching as a hobby but are considering purchasing finishes for their homes, what has been the reaction from some of your house guests when they see your finishes around your home? Are they good conversation starters?

Oh my heavens….YES! I have stitching pieces throughout my home – on walls, in baskets, in bowls, on mantles, shelves, everywhere. People notice things that are handmade. I think it gives “importance” to the “something” that is handmade, for the maker sat and worked tirelessly on it. It shows that the creator of the piece has stamina, drive, will and tenacity.

twisted-stitcher-4I believe that most people in this day and age of disposable items have forgotten the importance of tenacity. The importance of saying you’re going to start something and actually finish it.

All of the pieces in my home are heirlooms. Heirlooms that my children will inherit and then shall pass on to their children – down through the ages, hopefully. I want future generations of my blood line to know my deep and abiding love of my family. I want them to know that I took the time to care, to give a thought during my time here on earth to the state of affairs of my home and its inhabitants.

That is usually how the conversation goes when someone notices that I stitch. That I’m making a treasure for the future. And honestly besides the thought of what I’m stitching and what it shall be, I think of that too…that this is something that shall be passed on for my children to remember me by. Think of antique quilts, how sought after they are. The tapestry of pieces of cloth stitched together to form a quilt tells a story of a woman that sat and did the craft.

My cross stitched pieces are the same. I have spent the same time, have put the same amount of love into my stitched piece as a quilter has put into her quilt. They each are homemade and show that the maker had love for her family whether it was meant to keep her loved ones warm on a cold night or if she meant them to have something pretty to gaze upon.

9. Vonna, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to us. For this last question, please explain to us what it was that first got you into stitching and why you are so passionate about it. People get inspired reading about other people’s hobbies, so please take us back to that point in time in your life when you really got interested in it.

twisted-stitcher-3Cross stitching is easy – honestly it is. If one can draw a “X” on a piece of paper and put together a puzzle – they can stitch. How I learned was: I taught myself. I was bored one summer while on vacation at my Father’s home and my Step-mother gave me two Dimension kits that she had gotten on a clearance sale.

I asked her what I was to do with them and she told me to read the instructions, if I had questions to ask her. I was 15 years old.

I opened the kit, read the instructions and got busy. They were small designs and I think I completed them in 4 days. I’ve been hooked ever since and I still have those first projects hanging on my wall.

One can cross stitch anywhere in any environment. I have stitching with me at all times – if I have a few minutes before I pick my kids up at school – I stitch. Before an appointment – I stitch. While I’m talking on the phone – I stitch. Watching television – I stitch. The best part of stitching is that it lowers blood pressure and stress. How about that?

It puts you in a meditative state – just the easy in and out of the needle through the fabric. As the saying goes “My day is not complete until thread and fabric meet”, that holds true for me! But do you know what is heaven on earth for me? It is combining my two hobbies reading and stitching into one joyful afternoon. I listen to books on CD and stitch at the same time….NOW THAT is heaven!

Thank you so much for allowing me to share my love of stitching and decorating my home with you and your readers! It has been so much fun!

How cool was that? Makes you wanna get started right now, doesn’t it?

Thanks so much to Vonna for giving us such a tremendous interview and opening up her life to all of us. Please take a moment to stop by Vonna’s blog (Twisted Stitcher) , and also her shop (Twisted Stitcher’s Finishing Service). Beat your friends to the punch and pick up a finish before they do!

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