Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Garden Duet

I always showcase my newest releases on my facebook pages, but I like to give you "the background story" here as well.

Garden Duet is the 3rd release in what has become known as the "Penny Pillow" series.

It all started last fall with Twice Blessed. I had been carrying that white swirly pumpkin around in my head like...forever! (said in my best Valley Girl voice). I was so pleased when the design turned out exactly like my vision & then...shops called and said - "what's next"?   oy!

Winter Solstice evolved easily as we were embarking on another cold NW Iowa winter. I also happen to love little saltbox houses (I don't know why I don't design more with houses...I used to draw them all the time as a girl).

Designs all start out in different ways. With Garden Duet, I struggled with the inspirational words. I had just about settled on Harmony & Prosperity but found I couldn't make "Prosperity" fit in the allotted space...sigh. As I auditioned new words, a good friend said "oh I love Harmony & Prosperity, it's one of my personal mottoes. If you live in Harmony, you will have Prosperity!"

Well, that was that...I was going to make Prosperity fit into the space any way I could! (I think it worked.)
Here is the whole line-up of Penny Pillows!

A closer peek at Garden Duet. Each chart in the series includes the woolfelt pennies to make the border. I have designed each one of these on 32ct Hand-Dyed Fabrics by Stephanie. I think she interpreted my color needs perfectly for these pieces.
What's next?...a summer penny pillow of course!
Enjoy the stitch!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

About Last Weekend!

I had a fun little excursion last week! Lots of pictures to share...

My ultimate destination was Davison, MI and Camp Stitchalot - hosted by Deb of Stitches 'n Things. (I usually take pens...wonder if she's missing that coffee mug??)
I designed Sampler Set - kind of like a Twin Set - but for your stitching. This was the class I taught. 

We got this fun fob in our goodie bag. (I would show you the little chocolate bars that were included but...umm...I can't find those right now.)

I had a little pre-trip excursion: I stayed with my Uncle in IL after the 1st day's drive. We had dinner with friends - 1 of whom was a stitcher. When she found out I was the designer behind the "year in chalk" (that's you??) - we planned a quick visit to Country Cupboard in Orland Park the next morning. A very sweet shop.
On to Michigan...

and more stitching...
a very rare camera shot indeed...a shopowner actually stitching! If we are really quiet, we can observe her in her natural she is working on Postcards from the Heart (series by designing friend, Summer House Stitche Workes)...
Deb took very good care of me...freshly delivered each morning.
This was one impressive group of stitchers! The results of the morning class! I designed the teaching piece for it's finishing technique - they did have pre-work!
No naps in the afternoon class either!!
Thanks to the stitchers...they were so welcoming - this group made my sides hurt - a night of laughter does the same thing as stomach crunches!! (what I will be telling my trainer this Friday)

First timers to retreat - they are hooked!!

Late night stitching...

More smiles & laughs...
...and shopping! Deb sets up a shop at the hotel with Trunk Shows (including mine!) but there is plenty left at the shop...

...yeah, I sorta' got stuck in this room for awhile.

A limited edition kit I made for campers - all the finishing extras were included!
On Sunday, I traveled south from Davison to have dinner in Ann Arbor with these two great ladies: Stephanie of Hand Dyed Fabrics by Stephanie (nothing like face-to-face time with a dyer!) and Aury of Aury TM, fun (dessert) & of course, coffee! 
A very special shout out to Izzy, Stephanie's 5-yr old daughter! I will think of her every time I see Olaf!! 
Monday morning found me on the road to home and lots of snow & ice across the highways of MI & IL. Let's just say I was never so happy to see the IA border!
I am so fortunate that my job allows me to meet such wonderful people all over the country. Home for a few weeks and then it's on to the next teaching gig - I hope they're working on the class homework!!
Enjoy the stitch!

Friday, March 13, 2015

[square.ology] - It all began with...

I bet you thought I was going to say "a square"!

It actually started much differently than that... & here's the rest of the story!

I was asked to, once again, become a temporary JABC employee (that's Just Another Button Co. for short) to help out at the International Houston Quilt Market last fall. Even though I had been on the road with the Trail of Orts for over 2 weeks, I said sure! Was I really going to turn down the opportunity to be surrounded by colors, fabrics, ribbons, creative people, inspiration...all because I was dead tired? No way!

To Houston I flew!

After spending the day setting up the JABC booth (booth setup is a whole story unto itself!), Cecile of JABC & I were walking out of the convention center. We stopped as we walked by a booth that was still being setup. I was familiar with the quilt designer's charts as we sell a lot of them in the quilt shop I "work" at back home! They come with glossy photographs & simple instructions on a  postcard size chart. Pretty, colorful, priced well, and popular!

What I didn't realize as I was gushing about the designer's charts was that...the designer was standing right in front of us!

She said "well thank you very much!" & handed me a shrink wrapped pack of ALL of her little quilt patterns!! (swoon!)

Off to dinner we went.

Cecile was intrigued by the small chart/big impact aspect of the designer's style. I clearly remember her uttering the words "what if..."

Now, I am very familiar with the words "What if?"

"What if" (words that have, at times, frightened my husband as they usually precede sentences such as...we tear that wall down? or we re-paint the entire living room this weekend?)

"What if" - actually started me in the needlework industry over 18 years ago.

"What if" really started [square.ology].

We quickly got Rachel on board. Rachel is not only daughter of Cecile & Mom to Miss Button, but the creative director behind the wonderful happenings at JABC!

I wish I could accurately describe the journey we took from "What if" to last week's premiere of [square.ology] at Nashville Needlework Market.

- we changed it's name several times
- we changed the shape of the chart
- we changed the size of the chart
- We DID NOT change the goal - to collaborate with each of our skills - skills that compliment & overlap.

I have learned so much from these 2 ladies.

What has been the most fun has been the blurred lines of designer, embellisher & finisher. Given that we live in 2 different cities - we have all had to step in at times to complete the tasks to get the charts ready - from the 1st design & concept to the final project. The words "what if" are probably uttered during every conference call!

This was Rachel's dining room table after a visit I made to the St. Louis area last December. We worked hard during our precious face-to-face time - even though we were all coming down with some sort of bronchial "crud".
[square.ology] will be released in a series of 4 charts. The first series theme is Bloom. Each series will include a [bit] - a small chart for a fob, an ornament, or a seasonal decoration. (I remember when Cecile showed me this bee - I couldn't stop calling it the Big Bottom Bee)

The other 3 designs in each series will be charted in a cool way - you get the top right quarter of each chart. Stitch that section, then pivot your chart. Watch the design unfold on your linen or aida as you stitch each quarter!
Fun, quick designs. Perfect for take-along projects! The entire series will use the same color palette!

Even though we are all collaborating on the cross-stitch designs - what would these be without button embellishment? (incomplete I say!) [] are available for each design - JABC buttons, Hillcreek Designs buttons & die-cut wool shapes!
Here we are teaching a class to shopowners at the recent Nashville Needlework market. Rachel made these great teaching tools for us to demonstrate the "stitch & pivot" technique!
We decided early on that we would focus on the flat finish for the main finishing technique. We made an easy to follow tutorial that is posted on both of our websites!
The flat finish lends itself to so many possibilities! We plan to make photo galleries as we get more & more pictures!
What's next for [square.ology]? Well, we will have new releases every 2 months with theme after theme! I don't want to give anything away - but does anyone know the plural for octopus? is it octopuses or octopi?
The 4-sides of [square.ology]. Me, Rachel, Miss Button & Cecile. (hmmm...I was just thinking about this - Rachel is adding another Miss Button to the family line-up this spring...hope she wasn't planning to rename it [penta.ology] - it just doesn't flow as well!)
Many shops signed up for our automatic shipments of future releases - let us know if you need help finding a shop to order yours!
Thanks for listening to the [square.ology] story & never be afraid of the words "what if" because great things can happen!  
Enjoy the stitch!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mother Nature must Cross-stitch!

From what I understand, we were, mostly, all able to scoot in & out of Nashville last weekend - sandwiched in between ice storm and snow storm weekends! Thank goodness we were able to load up the vehicle - relying mostly on side view mirrors for the 13 hour drive.

Once we got it unloaded, there was the huge task of setting up - taking an otherwise normal looking hotel room and transporting it into a salesroom. I've got some photos to share & information about new releases and series. I will share those over the next few weeks as we unwind from the activities & prepare for the quick turnaround of "what's next'!

a year in chalk...have you heard of it?? Jan & Feb released in January & we came loaded with March & April! I actually showed all 12 - I didn't allow pictures of the future releases so your shopowner can tease you & say they've seen them all! (yes, you can zoom in & try to guess!)
[square.ology] - a collaboration with the fantastic ladies of JABC! The first series [bloom] was available at market with the next 2 series on display. [ahoy] and [whimsy]
Always hard to get a good market room picture- but here you see my market exclusive "Oh Bee Hive" just as you walk in the door.
My front table included some of my best sellers but you can spy "Stitch Every Day" in there as well. Funny - we sold a lot of At The Beach! Do you think it's because of the wonderful winter we've had?
We spent Thursday night pulling autos & pre-orders! By Sunday afternoon all the pink bags were gone!!
The hotel was very busy with other events going on. I was sad to learn this was not a giveaway for the Needlework Market. I would have gladly shipped everything back in order to drive this home!!
We had shops sign our door throughout the weekend - the only part I didn't think through...having shopowners get down on the floor to sign the bottom of the banner. A few brave ones did.
I have always loved getting the "walking away" shot of my boys through the years. No posing, no forced smile (aww mom). Tennis season has begun for our youngest. We love traveling to his meets.
It has not only been a learning process for him, but me as well. I didn't play sports much in school so this was new to me...practices, playing, learning, strategizing. While he has logged hours on court, I have logged hours on the bench (thank goodness for those comfy folding chairs we take everywhere).
Sophomore year and he is, once again, playing in the #1 position on his team. Each year I am impressed with how he continues to improve & how he uses his tennis skills on & off the court. (Insert all of the proud mom thoughts I could verbalize here - thoughts I'm sure could be shared by many parents!)
More to come about all that's new...
Enjoy the stitch,


Friday, February 6, 2015

Happy Anniversary My Dear

Today, February 6th, is our 27th wedding anniversary. For the past few years, I have dedicated a small, heartfelt design to the love of my life and this year is no different.
I could go on & on about the many joys we have shared over the years: joys that include highs & lows, good times and trials. I'm just going to hold these thoughts to myself this year and let them bring peace to my heart.
Please feel free to print the PDF. Although it is listed on the chart, I used 30ct Bitter Betty Brew R&R, GAST Endive & WDW Madison Rose. From the Cauldron rick rack was used for embellishment.
The heart is charted for cross-stitch, but if you would like a woolfelt heart to include on your design, please send a SASE to :
Hands On Design
2400 Apache Dr., Sioux City, IA 51104 & I will send you one.
I will send until they are all gone. One per SASE please.
Please see prior Year's February 6th posting for previous designs.
Enjoy the Stitch,


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Want to come to my Board Meeting?

I started this blog several years ago as a way to create a diary or history of what happens not only with my design company as it grows, but my family as they grow and move about their lives. My boys are (almost) 20 and 21 now & really there are times when I forget little things...time really does fly!

Our youngest had the opportunity to travel to Japan this month as part of his J-term -a one month intensive course of study before his 2nd semester of his sophomore year. (Yes, I said sophomore year!) He enjoyed himself immensely as he got to experience the culture & lifestyle of Japan. I'm pretty sure a return trip is in his plans somewhere.

He brought us several lovely gifts - even items from his host family. I'm enjoying my new mug and the many different flavors of Kit Kat bars - orange, green tea, wasabi to name a few.
I was excited to see how the experience affected him. We live in a small town and this was really his first experience with very large cities and travel without us. He hasn't stopped smiling about it - except for maybe the jetlag.

January was also the month of the car... :( When everyone drives an older vehicle, you hold your breath & hope the duct tape sticks. We took my son's car in while he was away...yikes. Our oldest car developed a cracked block...double yikes. I have the luxury of having a winter car (we live in IA at the top of a hill) and a summer car (better on mpg). It was like auto Jenga, but we traded one in, sold one, fixed another, and bought a new one! Heavy sigh.
At the beginning I asked if you would like to come to our board meeting. Our dining room has been turned into a mini board painting, sanding, & staining sweatshop. (We were blessed with a few warm days so the sanding & staining moved to the garage.)
Just a small stack of finishing boards for "a year in chalk".
These racks are leftover from the shop - imagine them filled with yarn! We almost threw them out in the last "let's get the garage organized" binge. Hubby assembled these one Sunday afternoon - he's the best.
This was his grand plan. I'd say it worked pretty well to allow the finishing boards for the chalkboard series to dry. The dining room...aren't you supposed to eat there?
As you can see, it's never really a dull moment here...seriously, I could use a dull moment every once in awhile.
Market prep continues & I shall have more updates from the board meeting soon!
Enjoy the Stitch,


Friday, December 19, 2014

Sorry November...

...I missed you! Not that I didn't have anything to blog about - let's get real, I could post everyday if there were actually more than 24 hours available in a 24 hour time period.

If you follow me on Facebook - you know it's been a little crazy!

- Finally got the last of the finishing for customers to the posty! I already have quite a line-up to start in 2015! Travels & the design side of Hands On keep me hopping. I still plan on doing finishing work, so if you are patient, I am willing!

- My folks came in for Thanksgiving - a first for them to travel west for that holiday. A good time was had by all! Grandpa helped decorate the outside of the house & Grandma helped us get a head start on holiday baking!

- Design Deadlines!!!!! A magazine here, a calendar there, new series, class pieces, and collaborations. That is not a complaint, because the alternative sure would be!

- Finally got some decorations all around! I have got GOBS of decorations - I could probably use 6 full size trees and still need more! I change it up every year and for 2014, I decided to pull out some of the older decorations that I hadn't used in awhile. Such memories are attached to them all.

A special place for Christmas cards in the front hallway. Why yes, that is the box I designed for Just Cross Stitch - perfect for holding our incoming cards! I stitched the little "crackers" many years ago and that is the one & only Dutch Treat design I ever completed!

I made this nativity with my kids YEARS ago when I attended MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). There is usually a star on the stable, but the cats keep knocking it down behind the shelf. Apparently it is too bright for them, :)

The boys get a new Santa ornament each year. I made the main tree all stitched ornaments, so the hall tree has the Santas. We only put out the lightweight & non-breakable Santa's. As predicted, this tree has fallen over several times already. (cue the cats again)

I love my mantle. The one thing that doesn't change is the little white lights in the garland. It's so pretty in the evening. I went with red sparkly ornaments tucked in between Santa & his sleigh.

I stitched stockings for the boys when I was pregnant with each one of them. I look back at my finishing every year & shudder. I've learned a few things over the years!

This year I am participating in iStitches Advent SAL. It has been so much fun. Every morning I wake up to an email with the day's block. I'm further along than this picture, but I'm still a few days behind. You really should check it out!

And here is my biggest news! Taa Daa! A Year in Chalk! I was inspired by the chalkboard type of art that is everywhere these days. I have always loved the look. The actual chalkboard in the picture hangs in my laundry room. We write notes on it. (I had to erase some that were 2 years old from the last High School graduation to get it into the picture!)
12 separate charts to celebrate each month. I stitched on 30ct WDW Gunmetal. (Picture the Plus, Shadow & Hand Dyed Fabrics by Stephanie, Silver Mist (request it dark) are good aida substitutes.)
I feel like a proud Mom to bring this series to you. Each month is different but all use GAST Chalk and one other hand-dyed. (GAST Tropical Ocean for January) I am offering the boards for finishing as well. Many shops are starting automatic programs for this one. I will be getting that list onto my website next week!
Shipping starts in January.

I hope you enjoy stitching the whole series. It was so much fun to design for you!
A very Merry Christmas to you and all of the Blessings of the Season for your family!