Jul 142016

Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs, by Jen Funk Weber, illustrated by Andrea GabrielI live in two worlds: an embroidery world and the kidlit world.

Over in Funk & Weber World (embroidery), I have an offer out to stitchers for a free cross stitch bookmark pattern when they do one of two things:

  1. Purchase Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs, then forward the receipt to me at mail {AT} funkandweber {DOT} com. In return, I’ll send you a pdf copy of the pattern.
  2. Post a photo on social media of you with Been There. You can take the picture at a bookstore or at the library or at a friend’s house or, or, or . . . . Alternatively, you can email your photo to me with permission to post it on social media myself. Email me at mail {AT} funkandweber {DOT} com with a link to the photo (and so I have your email) and—shazam!—I’ll reply with the pattern pdf.

I’d like to extend this offer to you, too.

Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs Cross-stitch Pattern

The pattern is a 2-page pdf download. You can open the pattern on a mobile device and stitch from there (I do this on my Kindle), or you can print the pattern. The part you need in order to stitch is on a single page and can be printed in black-and-white: I’m all for saving trees and ink!

Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs cross-stitch pattern

Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs cross-stitch pattern

The pattern contains three designs: silhouettes of a bear, moose, and wolf and their tracks.

These can be stitched on any counted thread fabric with any embroidery threads.

Further Details

Now, folks over at Funk & Weber World know how to stitch. They don’t need detailed instructions. You, however, may need further details and instructions. Let’s see what I can do for you . . .

Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs cross-stitch pattern, by Funk & Weber Designs

The moose cross-stitch bookmark pattern.

How to Stitch

If you’ve never cross stitched before—or it’s been ages and you think you need a refresher—here’s a short video on How to Cross Stitch.

Wondering how to read a cross-stitch pattern? I’ve got you covered.

These patterns use fractional stitches to create angles. Yep, I’ve got a tutorial on fractional stitches.

How to Make a Bookmark

You manage to stitch a pattern, but then what? How do you make it a bookmark? Oh, the options here are endless!

If you sew, sew the embroidery to a backing.

Use an adhesive (white glue, fabric glue, spray glue, iron-on adhesive, super-strong craft tape) to attach a backing. Be aware that some glues may discolor fabrics over time. If you care about this, stick with acid-free and adhesives designed specifically for fabrics.

One of my favorite ways to finish small counted-thread projects (cross stitch is a “counted thread” technique), is with the overcast backstitch. Why, yes, I’d be happy to show you how!

There are lots more ideas and tutorials over there on the Funk & Weber website. Grab a cuppa and click around. The How-to page is a good place to start.

If you’re ready to take embroidery, crafting, and bookmarks to a new, super-fun level, check out the Bookmarks 101: Simple, Smart, and Swanky Finishes e-book. Heads up: This one isn’t free. Well, looking is free. Go ahead and click.

Stop the Overwhelm!

Overwhelmed by all those tutorials and ideas? Skip ’em!

Needle. Thread. Fabric. Pattern. Go!

Truly, embroidery isn’t, as they say, rocket science. There are no embroidery police. Well, there are, but they wield only the power you give them. Great things come from winging it. If you’re unsure about how to proceed, grab a kid and let him/her lead the way. They know how.

Something Else Entirely

Do needle and thread give you the heebie-jeebies? All right, how ’bout this: Use a wide-mesh screen for a grid, and paint dots through the grid where the stitches would be.

Get the idea? How else might you use these patterns?


Thanks for checking out my book, Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs. I hope you have heaps of fun with the book, looking for animal signs on your hikes, and now with these cross stitch patterns.

I’d love to see pictures of your projects. You know where to send them, right?

Indie Bookstore Alternatives

Prefer to shop Indie? Great!
(Note: The book is available in both hardcover and soft. Also e-book and Spanish. Get the one you want.)

Fireside Books | Powell’s

Head’s up! Links to purchase the book are affiliate links. That means I might earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking through those links. The price you pay is the same.

Feb 102016

Andrea Gabriel, Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs Illustrator

Meet Andrea Gabriel.

Today is the official launch day of Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs. To celebrate, I’d like to introduce you to the book’s illustrator, Andrea Gabriel.

How did it come about that you were asked to illustrate this book? How did you connect with Arbordale?

Because I love science, I naturally loved Arbordale books (back when they were Sylvan Dell—they had a name change), and often sent them samples in hopes of being asked to illustrate one of their books. Little Gray’s Great Migration was my first book with them, followed by Wandering Woolly and now Been There.

What made you want to illustrate this book, and what was your favorite part?

My father was a wildlife biologist who spent a lot of time showing me animal signs in the woods. In fact, I spent one summer helping him track collared deer with radio collars. So I already had an interest in animal signs. I love drawing wildlife!

Was there anything particularly hard about the project?

Drawing people is not easy for me. I definitely am more comfortable drawing animals! Luckily my neighbor, Lulu, and her best friend, Mason, were willing to pose for me, which helped greatly.


Been There Cover Sketch, by Andrea Gabriel

Cover sketch, by Andrea Gabriel


If you had to illustrate this book all over again, and you weren’t allowed to paint, what would you do instead?

Hmmm . . . I always wanted to do a book with cut paper illustrations. So maybe I’d try that.


Otter and Bear, cut paper art, by Andrea Gabriel

Otter and Bear, cut paper art. ~ Andrea Gabriel


Of the animals in the book, which is your favorite and why?

I really liked the snowshoe hares. It is a challenge to paint white animals on a white background.

I love the hares, too!


Snowshoe hares eating willow bark, by Andrea Gabriel

How the snowshoe hare sign came to be. ~ Andrea Gabriel


Have you had any cool animal or animal-sign sightings? Tell us.

Oh yes. Once, when hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and my hiking buddy was miles ahead, I saw prints of a mama and young cougar. That woke me up! I also love to see how all the squirrels chew down the pine cones before they are ripe, and sometimes the bears get to them before the squirrels can. I love to see snake tracks in the sand.

If you were to do a follow-up book with kids hiking in a different place, where would you have them go and/or what animals would you have them looking for?

I would love to see a book with kids hiking in the Sonoran desert. So much to see!

Name a picture book you wish you had illustrated.

Animalia. Yes, I definitely wish I had made that book.

I have that one on my bookshelf. Yep, that’s a good one!

If you could paint with only one color for the next three years, what would it be?

Burnt Sienna


Inspecting Hare Sign, by Andrea Gabriel

Inspecting hare sign. ~ Andrea Gabriel


You have to paint something but you can’t get any paint on your hands, and you can’t use a brush. What do you do?

I would use sponges.

Pretend your next picture book project is about a yummy dessert with a problem. What is the dessert, and what is its problem?

I guess it would have to be a chocolate mousse. Well . . . can you imagine how amazing it would be to catch a chocolate mousse? I imagine he has a problem with strangers who want to lick his fur.

If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you be?

I would like to be an ornithologist at Cornell.

You’re going to be locked inside a closed factory for a weekend. What kind of factory do you choose and why?

Hmmm. I think I would like to be in a factory where they make virtual reality games and equipment. I would like to play all weekend without anyone noticing how silly I look or how bad I am at games!


A piece of your art will be displayed anywhere in the world you choose. What piece of art will you show and where?

What would be fantastic is if Oprah Winfrey decided to buy one of my otter paintings for millions and millions of dollars donated to wildlife preservation, and then displayed it in her house.


Discovering Beaver Sign, by Andrea Gabriel

Discovering beaver sign. ~ Andrea Gabriel


The celebrity of your choice will read our book on the TV show of your choice—and we will both become rich, famous, beautiful, brilliant, and fit. Who is the celebrity and what is the show?

I would like Helen Mirren to read our book on Masterpiece!

Oooooo, I’d like that, too!

You know, I’m pretty sure both Oprah and Helen read this blog, so you’ll probably be getting phone calls soon.


Books by Andrea Gabriel

Note: Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post might provide me a modest commission through affiliate relationships.

Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs

Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs

Little Gray's Great Migration, illustrated by Andrea Gabriel

Little Gray’s Great Migration

Wandering Woolly, By Andrea Gabriel

Wandering Woolly

Where Would I Be in an Evergreen Tree?, illustrated by Andrea Gabriel

Where Would I Be in an Evergreen Tree?

Where Do I Sleep? A Pacific Northwest Lullaby, illustrated by Andrea Gabriel

Where Do I Sleep? A Pacific Northwest Lullaby

Animalia, by Graeme Base

Animalia, by Graeme Base (NOT by Andrea)


Feb 042016

Once Upon an Elephant, by Linda Stanek, illustrated by Shennen Bersani

Linda and Shennen’s book, not mine.

Listen. Do you hear it? That’s the sound of fingers no longer drumming.

Linda received the first batch of her new picture book, Once Upon an Elephant, about six months ago (or maybe it was two or three weeks ago). And then Linda’s co-creator, illustrator Shennen Bersani, received hers, as evidenced on Facebook, and my co-creator, illustrator Andrea Gabriel, received hers.

Me? Nada.

Every day, I walked to the mailbox, with pen in pocket, ready to sign the little slip of paper our rural carrier would leave notifying us that we had a package too big for the mailbox. I was sure the book box would be too big for even our super-sized mailbox. That’s an almost-two mile round trip . . . through the snow . . . sometimes through bitter wind, too . . . down and up our steep driveway.

Every day, there was no slip, no box.



Linda reported the first review of her book.


You know that scene where Charlie Brown opens his mailbox, hoping for a Christmas card but finding an empty, echo-y cavern? That was the scene here.


Until a few days ago.


Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs, by Jen Funk Weber, illustrated by Andrea Gabriel

Now, this one is mine. Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs, by Jen Funk Weber, illustrated by Andrea Gabriel


We were so used to the routine of finding an empty mailbox, we were caught off guard, gobsmacked by a giant box rather than a tiny sliver of paper. It juuuuuuust fit inside our jumbo mail receptacle. That our mail carrier knew it would fit is impressive.

Trouble was, we weren’t exactly prepared for a box, especially a heavy box too big for my backpack. Mike tried to cram the box in my pack, but no way was the zipper zipping, and the strap was too short to snug around the box and keep it in. Had I been expecting a box, I would have brought rope.

Oh, sure, we could have left the box there and returned with the truck, but where’s the fun in that? No, Mike carried the book box to the snow mound behind the mailboxes and used a key from his pocket to open it. He then rearranged the four sets of paper-wrapped books in my pack, along with the Arbordale catalogs and other sundry marketing materials.

Mike carried the empty cardboard box home. I carried 32 pounds of books and catalogs. Did I mention that the almost-mile trip home is uphill? And that our driveway is particularly steep?

Should I mention that it was also kinda fun? I felt as though I’d earned something.

Best of all: They’re here!


Snowshoe Hares in Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs

I’m especially fond of this illustration by Andrea Gabriel.


Buy the book
(Head’s up! It’s available in both hardcover and soft. Make sure you get the one you want.)

Fireside Books | Amazon | Powell’s

Please note: These are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I might earn a small commission. Fireside Books is my local Indie bookstore, located in Palmer, AK. They ship.