Highlights from our trip to Columbus:
- I lost my phone and then found it again at a grocery store
- I came home wanting to listen to Country Music –after only 4 days
- This one time at The World of Beer, after he had 4 beers, John told me that he wanted to switch to Apple Products… yeah, no
- I asked for my money back on a disgusting Sbarro piece of chicken. John thinks this is a huge step for me.
- Because he’s so cute, John got me the best swag of the whole trade show: a book of knitting patterns for adorable barnyard animals. http://www.randomhouse.com/book/219338/knitted-farm-animals-by-sarah-keen
- Visited a place called Easton that was a lot fancier than the Easton that I’m used to.
- Went through 5 tunnels on the way out and on the way back
- Spent $30.20 on tolls (unbelieveable)
On a more serious note:
I made a TON of connections with shop owners, distributors, other designers, thread companies, and awesome people in the business. I feel like I have a lot of potential opportunities for things to build the business, and I’m inspired by all the hard work that goes into the needle-arts industry. Of course, I have a SO MUCH work to do myself now. And I have confirmed what I always knew, but didn’t want to grasp: I need to be releasing new designs constantly. It’s an intimidating prospect, but one that I know I can handle.
People seemed excited to see a new face on the floor, which is great. There were very few cross-stitch people there, which I guess is a bit disappointing for me, but it also means that I didn’t get lost in the crowd. Because there weren’t that many designers there, there weren’t that many retail owners there either, but the few that stopped by had nice things to say, and I’m happy to have met them. I think I work better in small crowds, at least at first anyway. I get easily overwhelmed, and having only a few people/things/opportunities to keep track of helps me to stay on top of it mentally, and I also feel like I have a manageable work load.
This was an AWESOME way to go to my first tradeshow, so I am ever thankful to the CTE Group of TNNA and Debbie Rowley of Debbee’s Design’s for sponsoring me on this adventure. I learned a lot from the experience, and feel a bit more comfortable with making a financial commitment on my own to coming to another show down the road. I hear they are all different, but at least I got my feet wet, and it’s not so scary anymore.
Happy Earthday, Everyone. In addition to planning out my garden, continuing to compost and recycle, and generally celebrating out beautiful planet, I'm happy to share with you an adorable little pattern of the globe that I designed earlier this year.
It is a VERY quick stitch, and super cute. Just use two blues, two greens, and a white that blend nicely.Download Pattern PDF
I've been working like crazy over the last month to get a few new patterns out to celebrate the Christmas Season. There are three new Holiday related designs, and they each are special in their own way. First is Silent Night. As some of you know, I'm a classically trained musician, so music is a big part of my life. I've been trying to find ways of incorporating my first love into my designs, and I happy to say that I think it worked out nicely in this one.
Celebrate the simple joy of Christmas with the tranquility of "Silent Night'
I first had an idea to make an Christmas Ornament of a moose, but after a little research I fell in love with the idea of a majestic reindeer. Moose are cute, of course, but reindeer a a bit more seasonal, and this guy knows how to celebrate! You may wonder how he became adorned with a wreath, considering his impressive rack. I'll leave it up to your imagination to figure it out!
I couldn't wait to decorate a Christmas tree, but it's too soon to cut one down! So I put together a special little ornament while patiently waiting for the real deal. This little tree uses some fun starburst stitches, and stitches that give the effect of branches. It'll sparkle on my real tree this season and for years to come.
All patterns are available in my on-line shop
or through your local needlework shop. What Christmas projects are you working on this year?
I’m going to try with all of my might to write a blog post every day in November! I really should anyway, because I have a lot of things going on, and this might actually help to keep me on track.
When I’m done writing this, I’m probably going to go work on a design for an ornament, I have a few in mind for this year, but I need to get moving if they are going to be out in time. For now I’ll leave you with a picture of a piece that I did in high school – with credit to my mom for finishing it for me! All of the backstitch on the basket and rags drove me crazy, so after a few months of laying around 95% finished my mom couldn’t stand it anymore. It then took another few years until it got framed, but isn’t that the case for most projects *wink wink*
More to come tomorrow!
I’m excited to announce that my newest piece has been released. The Starburst Flag of Cananda! I’m actually a little late on this blog post, since it came out last Friday, but better late than never. This one was the most challenging of my Flag pieces, but it was well worth it. All my Canadian Friends, enjoy this new piece on Thanksgiving! I’ll be celebrating with a day of uninterrupted stitching next Monday! I have the day off of work, and I’m SO excited.
Here is Cana
I have set out to make this skirt:
I found the picture on pinterest, realized that it doesn’t link to anything, fell in love anyway, and now have to make said skirt because I don’t know where to buy it.
What have I gotten myself into?
So far it actually hasn’t been too difficult – time consuming, yes – more complicated than it should be, yes – but not out of my skill level – yet!
I decided that I would find a pattern that would get me close to what I was looking for. I chose this one (and it was on sale for a dollar!)Butterick 5613
I had to actually make the fabric. I didn’t want to waste time scouring the stores and internet for something I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist. Making the fabric was easy enough. I had to follow the old adage: measure twice, cut once, and be very meticulous out my measuring. When you are making a fabric from scratch you have to make it as perfect as possible, so that in the long run the pattern will match on all of your seams. So far so good! I’ll get to that, though.
I made each of my stripes 6 inches wide, giving the bottom white stripe an extra inch (7) for hemming and such. After seam allowances each stripe is about 5 inches.
Here is my final fabric piece:
I cut all of the pieces that I needed for the pattern (minus the pockets, because I had to go back to the store for more fabric before I could cut those) in one night. I ended up making a lot of adjustments to the pattern pieces, because the skirt that I would have ended up with would have been VERY full. I wanted something a little slimmer. It was easy because the pattern pieces are square. I just took a few inches off the sides.
Then today I started construction (after said trip to Joann, because I of course needed more fabric for the pockets).
I sewed the pockets on, sewed up one side, pleated the front where I wanted it pleated, and am ready to do the trickier stuff… Wish me luck!
This is where I am at with the project. It is coming together, but still needs to be gathered at the top before it will look like much of anything.
I feel like I am all over the place with my designs lately, and that I really need to find my focus. I guess that happens sometimes with the changing of the seasons! Either way I have been working furiously on two very different designs: a Canadian version of my signature starburst flags, and a peacock! The latter is somewhat of a commission and a “worlds colliding” moment for me. The theme of the Symphony Ball this year is peacocks, so I designed a dramatic piece to be auctioned in February. It seems like the ball is a long time from now, I needed to finish the piece because it is going to be a doozy to stitch. Lucky my colleague has offered to do the dirty work, which is fine by me because she is a super stitcher, and I have my hands full!
Canada is coming along, but the peacock put a damper in my model stitching schedule, and I sort of lost momentum. It is also a more difficult piece to design, because it has more “chunks” of space rather than the smaller, more delicate spaces required in both the British and American Flags. I thought that meant that I could design it differently and use less “filler.” Basically I wanted to cheat. Well, cheating backfired in a big way, so lesson learned! Never try to take the easy way! I ended up having to go back several times to re-design certain areas, and even now I’m not completely happy with where the design is. In any case my goal is to finish it THIS WEEK (or at least by the end of the weekend). I’m going to need my husband’s support on that, though (ahem), because it’s no walk in the park trying to wrangle a 1.5 year old while also trying to concentrate on stitching!
My final bit of news is that I am brainstorming my very first Christmas piece. This has been a bit of a struggle for me, because Christmas is SO huge in the cross-stitch world. There are MILLIONS of designs out there. The competition is huge and pieces are GORGEOUS. It is so hard to think of something that I want to do that hasn’t already been done. I did finally hone in on an idea, and hopefully I can run with it. I’m combining my two worlds (again) and planning to design a piece around a Christmas Carol. The idea is to make a yearly Carol as a series. I *think* I’ve decided on which carol, although I’m not willing to commit it in writing yet, as I may have a brilliant inspiration and totally change my mind. I need to get moving on it soon, because I need to stitch the model. I’m 4 months out and totally freaking out about it!
When things in my life get monotonous or stressful I used to get down and melancholy about everything, which clearly made things worse. While I still sometimes find myself complaining and upset about the little things, I have come up with a few ways to cope, so that the feelings never get overwhelming. One of them is to pray. I pray for guidance, I’m thankful for all the wonderful parts of my life (of which there are MANY), and I pray for the people and things that are causing me angst. And the other coping mechanism is to look for things in and around this beautiful universe that bring me joy!
In an effort to share the good things in life, I am starting a series on this blog, and on my Pinterest
page about the things that bring me, and hopefully YOU, joy! I am going to start today with a very simple one: my family, and more specifically our beginnings. In an on-line Mommy group, we like to occasionally share pictures of our brand new babies with each other. I LOVE when this happens, usually spontaneously, because it makes me so joyful. So today I am sharing with you the first moment of my baby’s life, as it is his beginning.
Before Preston was even a thought, though, a family was born. John and I got married in Aug 2009, and the beginning of our life together was one of the most joyful days of my life. Of course we had the moment when we met, the time we started dating, the friendship before that, and the day we got engaged, but those feel more like “things” than beginnings.
And of course we are blessed with supportive parents, grandparents, siblings, and aunts and uncles, who were all in our family from the beginning.
What are some of the joyful moments you have had with your family?
I've been stitching a TON in the past few months. Cherry Lane is starting to pop up in the stitching world, and I am thrilled about it! I'm currently working on a Canadian Flag, my American Flag and British Flag are on the market and doing well, and I have a lot of ideas for more designs. I need to stitch like crazy to get everything done!
It's not that I needed a break, I just had a weekend full of the other crafty fun things that happen in my life. My good friend and baker extraordinaire, Siobhan, needed to make 125 cupcakes and a cake for her friends wedding. I spend Thursday night at her house baking. We had 2 Kitchenaids going and managed to hammer out all of the baked goods in... I don't know... maybe 4 hours? The next day she made all of the icing, and then it was back to work on Saturday to assemble everything. I played assistant while she piped EVERYTHING. It all turned out great!
I also love to knit, but while I really enjoy it, I find it monotonous at times. That's why I love to knit teeny tiny things like baby booties! I can whip up a pair of booties in one night if I want to, and that is pure satisfaction. On Friday my good friend Destinee found out that she is going to have a little girl. So on Saturday I knit her a pair of booties to celebrate. She absolutely loved them, and I'm so happy for her.
On Thursday I baked. On Saturday I knitted. On Sunday I baked again! This time I made a blueberry bunt with some of the wild blueberries that we picked back in July. I have about 5 quarts of them, still, so there will be more baking in out future!
I used a simple, delicious, recipe from Martha Stewart
, and my cutie pie helped me out!
I'm gearing up to make a new video. It's been too long. I have to admit that I have been stalling, because I didn't think that we had the technology to make the type of video that I want to do next. In order to demonstrate different stitches on fabric we need a pretty specific lens for the camera, one that can get footage of tiny stitches while staying in focus. John (my super husband/camera guy) has experimented with a few different filters so as to save some money, but none of them have really achieved the type of shot that I am looking for. So, I decided to move on to Plan B. If you can't get a good, in focus shot of tiny fabric, why not make the fabric bigger? Genuis, you say? I thought so, too, until I started this project from hell:
Creating 4 Count Fabric from Scratch:
Part 1: I started with a very sturdy frame that I have had in my closet for years. In a former life I did custom framing, and this (actually gorgeous) frame was a mis-measure, so it couldn't be used for the project it was intended. I brought it home thinking I would eventually find the perfect piece of artwork to frame.
A trip the hardware store supplied me with nails and rope - the only other things i needed to make my project. I essentially turned my frame into a loom.
In order to make a 4 count fabric I needed to measure out my frame to put a nail in every quarter inch. I'll explain this in the video, but 4 count fabric means there would be 4 stitches/inch - so I need a thread every quartet inch. The nails are staggered on two different rows so as not to put too much strain on the wood of the frame, and to make the weaving a little easier.
Part 2: Once I had all of the nails in place, which, by the way, required a second trip to the hardware store to get another pack of nails, I set up the vertical strands of my fabric. This part didn't take long at all, because I just kept going back and forth. My efforts would prove to be ineffective, though, because my tension (tension is always my enemy) was way too tight.
Part 3: I began to weave the horizontal strands into the vertical strands. This took more time, but was ok at first. However, I quickly began to run into problems. First, the rope that i chose (1/8th inch diameter) was really too thick for the count of fabric. It was nearly impossible to pull it down far enough to fill 4 strands/inch. John even made me a special tool to help to set the thread in place, but even that was tough on my upper arms, fingers, and abs. Second, the tension in the vertical threads got tighter and tighter the further I went in the weaving. I could barely lift them to weave the strands under and I was only a quarter of the way through the project. Finally, I was VERY quickly running out of rope.
Part 4: I went to bed frustrated and woke up knowing that I would basically need to start over (alas, you may now shed a tear for my previous hours of hard labor). I took the whole thing apart (except for the nails) and re-strung the vertical threads with a tension that was much looser. I began again on the weaving of the horizontal strands, only to find that the going was just as tough, and I made it a 3rd of the way (instead of just a quarter) until the tension was again too taut. Ugh.
Part 5: The perfectionist in me was defeated, as was my spirit. John could tell that I was frustrated, too. The thing is, I REALLY needed this thing as a tool. I refused to, again, waste hours of hard work by starting over so I made a compromise. I cut every strand of the vertical threads and knotted-on several extra inches so that along the way I could vary my tension if I needed to. In the finished project you can see my knots on one side of the fabric. I'm calling it the selvage, and no one can stop me ;-). I also compromised by *gasp* not making it exactly 4 count fabric. I skipped a few nails here and then so as to save my poor fingers from ever-earlier arthritis. You can maybe see in the fabric where my spirit was crushed and I began compromising my perfection, but I think it adds to the charm of the whole thing. Again, no one can say I'm wrong ;-).
Part 6: My back hurts, I have matching black and blue marks on the front of my hips, my poor husband and son finally have me back in their lives, I'm probably only out about $40 (I haven't checked my 40million Home Depot receipts to add it all up yet), and I have a usable stitching tutorial video prop! I call that a success, despite some major set-backs.
If you are going to attempt a project like this (and don't let me discourage you, because I can see some major potential for this as an art/textile project) I would say start with your vertical strands on varying tension. This means knotting EVERY strand at the top and leaving some slack for later on. Do a much smaller test version to make sure that the diameter of the rope/thread you choose is appropriate for the count of fabric you are attempting. Choose a VERY sturdy frame; the tension on these things I liken to an old fashioned bed. It is VERY taut, and I'm sure is putting a lot of strain on the wooden frame.
For now I am going to use this thing as a teaching tool. Down the road I may take one my favorite cross stitch patterns and make a super-sized version to hang somewhere and admire. If you decide to make one, you could also latch-hook it or, I don't know, unframe it and use it as a pot holder? Seriously, the possibilities are endless!