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!

Friday, October 31, 2014

I Made it through October!

Well, technically, it's only 10am, so the day is still young.

What I'm really referring to is the massive amount of miles I have put in on the road & the air! Between retail shows, retreats, The Trail of Orts Tour & Houston Quilt Market, I am one out-of-gas puppy! (Good thing I'm heading to the beach next week for some R&R!)

1st things 1st: New Releases!

I've got 2 shipping to shops right now. You can always see my shops that receive charts automatically on my website. Many other shops order as well so please email me if you need the name of a store near you & I will gladly refer!

Holiday Bells - a counted canvas design

2 colors - 4 shades - so easy to customize - a larger ornament size finish (I framed mine) - I had one stitcher tell me she was going to stitch it 4x & rotate so all of the red was in the middle! (Brilliant - a  "why didn't I think of that" moment!)

Winter Solstice - 2nd in the penny pillow series
This wasn't even supposed to be a series - but when several shopowners listen! Once again, woolfelt pennies are included. This just makes me want to curl up under a quilt to stitch! (1st in the series is Twice Blessed)

On to the Trail of Orts Tour wrap-up!
 I teamed up with Tracy Horner of Ink Circles to drive from St. Charles, MO (Celebrations of Needlework weekend) & travel to Myrtle Beach (Stitching at the Beach retreat). We cooked up a plan to visit 5 shops along the way & have a live trunk show at each one.
My car has a lot of room & my Trail of Orts partner & I got very good at filling it up!

1st stop was Stitches, Etc. - Gail has a lovely shop located in the heart of historic downtown St. Charles!

Quite a few stitchers who attended the Celebrations weekend stopped by for more time to visit with us. Cathy Roginela from Inspired Needle & Cathe Ray of Needle in a Haystack came by to wish us well also! (It was Cathe's birthday!) Gail was the 1st shop to say "I'm in!" as we were planning the trail.
We left St. Charles behind that Sunday & drove north to Stitches from the Heart. Shopowner Susie opened up on a Sunday evening for us & had quite a crowd come to welcome us.
Susie's shop is packed - I mean packed with all sorts of charts, kits, fibers, canvases - everywhere we looked there was a new treasure trove of color & texture! 
Look at the cookies! Yum. We did partake of the fruit as well (just to be healthy!) An awesome group showed up on that rainy Sunday evening!

Monday morning we traveled south to Nashville and a stop at the Stitchin' Post. Pat had us set up in her front room where we each took some time to talk about ourselves and answer lots of questions. We held most of the live trunk shows over lunch hour - so we had lots of pop in visitors!

Here's Tracy explaining one of her pieces (I thought I knew a lot about Tracy - but there's nothing like spending nearly 2 weeks with someone on the road to make you realize how much you don't know!)

While I was giving my presentation, I kept looking at a gal in the crowd - turns out, she used to live in my hometown & was a customer of mine when I had my shop! Small world!

We hit the road to Pigeon Forge that afternoon after we had lunch at the Jamaican restaurant that Pat suggested - it was delish!
Tuesday found us at Dixie Darlin, It is located in the tourist section of Pigeon Forge, but it has such a homey atmosphere inside - you just want to sit down & kick your shoes off!
This is what greeted us when we walked in the door! Very cool - our tour frosting!

Here we are with shopowner Cindy - you may also know her at the designer behind Foxwood Crossings & all of those wonderful little sleds! Cindy has a lot of pride in her hometown - you could tell as she showed us all around the historic area.

Wednesday morning we arrived at Stitch & Frame shop in Rock Hill, SC. The ladies greeted us in the parking lot, ready to empty our car! We were met with all sorts of southern hospitality - including a group of ladies that drove from Savannah just to meet us! I have to say that by this time, I was so overwhelmed with everyone's kindness.
They had created the perfect little spots to showcase our trunk shows.

Lots of stitchers, lots of hugs, lots of new friends!

We left Rock Hill with full tummies & a gift bag of homemade goodness!
At this point it was on to Myrtle Beach with a quick stop to steal...borrow...harvest some cotton, fresh from the field.
Made it to the beach!

I would like to thank each of the 5 shops for opening your doors to us & making us feel so welcome.
 This all started as a late night conversation of "hey, what if...". Along the way we made friendships & memories... ran for coffee in the rain, scavenged late night dinner at Kroger, talked to the GPS lady as if she were the 3rd person in the car... and discovered that needlework is a pretty strong bond. 
Enjoy the stitch!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Finish It Friday - the 5 pointed star

I made some updates to the website today ( Most notably I made some changes to the "now appearing" page. Of course I am excited about my upcoming travels to Celebrations, PALS Stitching at the Beach retreat & the Trail of Orts Tour, but I've got some fun happenings already lined up for 2015!

Of course, I will be at the Nashville Needlework Show in late February, but March & April I get to do what I love...go to retreats, meet stitchers & teach!

March 2015, I will be in residence at Camp Stitch-a-lot hosted by Deb of Stitches 'n Things. I've got a fun project in the works for that - pre-stitching will head out Decemberish (yes, that's a real month).

April, I head a little more south to Wichita where I will spend the time with Debbie & the crew from Heart's Desire for her Camp. More classes there & I get to (hopefully) reunite with some stitchers that I haven't seen in years - former customers of mine that have moved south.

Please contact the shops or check out their websites for sign-ups & registrations. I will post more info with links later. I think I need a new suitcase??
Just thought I would share a quick pic of my ornament from this year's Just Cross Stitch Ornament magazine. Snowflake House pairs with Garland House that was in the Preview issue & Wreath House that was released at market. Stitch alone or as the Home for the Holidays neighborhood (border included with Wreath House).
Now for the finishing. I had several emails about the 5-pointed star in Indigo Star. Directions are included, but we are a visual sort - so here are some pics that hopefully will help.

Stitch your 5 little panels - you are given 8 to choose from in the pattern.

Once stitched, iron on a piece of lightweight fusible interfacing to the back side. You will notice that my corners are not fused. I find it helps to decrease the bulk in the corners and that is outside the 1/4" sewing line. Anything that "matters" will be fused.
You will trace the pattern onto the back of the sewing (pattern is included in the chart). 1/4" seam allowance is included. The flat tip points to the outside of the star, so take that into account when you are laying out which of the pattern panels you stitch & how you place them in your layout.

Here's the part that freaks everyone out! Using a ruler & rotary cutter, cut along the lines of the pattern you traced. You got that are cutting through your stitching! 
Take a deep will be OK.

Lay the panels out in the order you would like them to finish - flat points to the outside. Take 2 panels, right sides together, and sew 1/4" starting from the outside edge & ending 1/4" before you get to the other edge. This will help as you work you way around the 5 points. Press the seam open & the add on the next until you have completed the star.
I sewed mine pillow fashion with Weeks Dye Works wool on the back. Leave a small opening, clip corners (both inside & out), turn, fill with ground walnuts shells (lizard litter) and close up. I used a vintage button in the middle.
I hope this helps add a visual to the written words in the pattern. It takes a little patience, but you get something really cool in the end.
I am creating a way for you to access my Finish it Friday posts easily for later reference. I am trying not to put them out as pdf's - it is just too easy to copy & claim. Imitation is a form of flattery, but sometimes it is just a plain rip-off. (long story for another day...). I like to de-mystify finishing for you - it just takes a little patience and practice.
I hope you have a great weekend. The weathermen are calling for a hard freeze here tonight & this time, I think it will happen. I look forward to some stitching, some working (packing to leave for Celebrations) & best of all - celebrating my oldest "baby" turning 21! Wow - when did that happen?
Enjoy the stitch!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bye Bye September...

October isn't going to stick around long either at this rate!

Our house has once again turned into a factory of charts, kits, boxes, trunk shows, new releases, and finishing jobs! The dog is already nervous because she knows what those stacks of boxes means!

Next Wednesday I leave on a fun journey! All the hard work of these past few months since market will be literally rolled out over the southeast portion of the country! More about that in a minute, first, a fun Halloween pic - I recruited my hubby to help me decorate for fall in early September, it was then or never and today with the rainy, dreary day, I turned the lights on my Halloween tree and I'm enjoying the atmosphere!

Back to business! I am heading to St. Charles, MO to participate in the Celebrations of Needlework show. It kicks off a week from Thursday. I'm looking forward to meeting lots of stitchers and sharing my newest designs. I'm bringing a basket for the Breast Cancer Awareness auction and 4 different trunk shows: (Designs by Lisa fobs, Hands Dyed Linens by Stephanie, sewmuch2luv bags by Karen, and hand dyed trims From the Cauldron/Dames of the Needle by Elizabeth)
 Once Celebrations is complete, I head towards the PALS Stitching Retreat in Myrtle Beach. This won't be a simple Point A to Point B drive. Tracy Horner from Ink Circles & I have cooked up a fun journey.
What do you get when you ask an engineer to figure out the best driving route between 2 cities encompassing the most number of needlework shops?? You get the Trail of Orts Tour - coming to a city (hopefully) near you! See the poster below! If you can't make the tour - follow us on FB & Twitter with #trailofortstour.
This will be my 2nd year at the PALS retreat. I'm looking forward to catching up with stitchers I met last year that I keep in touch with on FB and meeting a whole bunch of new attendees.
In preparation, I was updating my Square register (the little credit card thingy) - last year when I was at PALS, I had 7 designs in my catalog. I now have over 27 (plus a whole lot more if you count the magazine designs!) The "number-crunching" part of me is really excited about that. Once again, I will be bringing some extra goodies to tempt stitchers (can you say PALS Retreat design?). 
It will be a 2 day drive home, and a quick laundry turn-around and I'm off once again. This time I am Houston bound where I get to be an honorary buttoneer with the wonderful ladies of Just Another Button Co. at Houston Quilt Market. I went last year and it was a terrific experience from set-up to tear-down and all in between. I got so much design inspiration when I was there - that's where I first saw that wonderful fabric I purchased for the Gather Friends Close series! Who knows what I will see this year!
Gotta' run & assemble more kits! I hope to have a Finish it Friday post this week - I've had several questions about the finishing of the 5-pointed star pincushion so I thought I would do a tutorial.
Catch ya' next month (haha!)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The end of the Celebration!

The November issue of Cross Stitch & Needlework magazine is out and with it comes the final two pieces of my Year of Celebrations series.

I have said before that my actual participation - designing & stitching - has been done for awhile, but I have enjoyed the pictures & emails that I have been receiving from stitchers. It is still the coolest thing for me to see that someone has stitched one of my designs!

Here are the DMC conversions for October & November! (pics first - I don't have my magazine yet, so I snapped these before I shipped them off to the publisher).

October: 3823, 553, 922, 317, 310, 703, b5200, 415
November: 310, 435, 898, 729, 3865, 987, 3808
Cross Stitch & Needlework magazine has been wonderful to work with on this project. I won't be going away from the magazine as the next issue starts right up again with my contribution to this year's "motifs" column.
Some quick updates will be coming soon to announce the whirlwind of activity & travels that will be starting soon! It all kicks off in a few weeks with Celebration of Needlework in St. Charles, MO - October 9-11. Keep in touch for upcoming information - the elves are busily working behind the scenes arranging things!
Here's another one of my Fall releases: Blissfully Unaware
I had these hands charted forever, just waiting for the perfect companion! It was so funny to watch shopowner reactions at market as they carefully read it & then it dawned on them what it was saying!! Priceless. Stitched on 32ct Hocus Pocus linen from Hand Dyed Fabrics by Stephanie!

Gotta' end it here as we are taking off today to cheer my youngest on at the IIAC Men's Individual Conference play. He is number 1 again on this year's tennis team & we always enjoy watching him & his teammates play. I will be bagging little buttons on the car ride over...can't waste any time!
Enjoy the stitch,

Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy Labor Day!

So many kids around the country head back to school tomorrow, but here in the Midwest, in homage to harvest season, our local kids have been back for several weeks now. The big yellow busses have been dieseling their way through the neighborhood and when the wind blows the right way, I hear the horn section of the marching band at early morning practice (retired band mom here). Leaves are even starting to turn.

I know it has to come and I know what the Farmer's Almanac is saying about this coming winter, but this Fall is even more bittersweet as our Pastor for nearly 17 years is moving on to his next call. All 4 of us have gotten to know him over the years as my husband served on Council, we have both taught Sunday School & Confirmation, & the kids studied through confirmation classes.

In 2011, I read his letter in our monthly newsletter & was so taken with something he wrote, that I wrote it down. I even e-mailed it to myself so that I would not lose it! Long story short, with his permission, I used his words to create the Everyday Sampler. (New Release at this past St. Charles market)

The large sampler created itself one Saturday morning. I had been hemming & hawing about how to start it, and as my husband left for work, I sat down at the computer to put on the screen what I had drawn in my notepad. Amazingly, by the time he came home, I had the basic framework & details started to fly.

The idea for the smaller banner sampler was purely selfish. I knew I wanted to stitch the sampler, but time would not permit...same sentiment, same rich colors.
Here is Pastor Al with my youngest on his confirmation. Yes, I'm being one of "those" mom's putting this pic out there. Our family wishes him well as he moves on to the next chapter of his life & call.
A quick side note: I had the funniest thing happen not too long ago on FB. I reconnected with a friend I had worked with over 23 years ago. It was a PT job for me at our LNS until I could find my "real" job. After I left, we saw each other once or twice. Now, many states away, we have once again become "friends" and are realizing how both of us have continued very much in the industry in which we first met. Funny how this is my "real" job now.
It's a little early for #TBT but I came across this photo on FB - days back in the college years! 
This was during my freshman year & my future husband is in that picture somewhere!
Enjoy your Labor Day & thanks to all of those that Labor today.
Enjoy the Stitch!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Home Again, Home Again...

I'm so confused as to what day it is! We drove home from St. Charles Needlework Market on Monday & it's already, where is this week going & could we skip Monday every week???

Before I get into Market "things" is my tribute to #TBT. I don't have many pics of myself as a kid (youngest of 3 here - they were tired), but I always love this one. I am about 3 here...I look terrified of that snowman!
Enough of the memories...on to market! I don't care how many times you have gone to market as either a vendor or a shopper (& I've done both!), it is always a good time. Now I don't get to do as much shopping as I did when I had my shop, but I managed to sneak out Sunday afternoon.
I am looking forward to having my winter cup-of-soup lunch in this mug. I have been wanting one of these & I finally snagged one! (I also have the t-shirts to match) 
I picked up some other goodies as well. Some will work their way into a future design & others are just for me!!

I had 6 New Releases for Market a large number of them went home with shopowners - yay!
 I want to introduce Indigo Star first. I had several influences during the design process. I had purchased a grouping of hand-dyed indigo quilting cottons and spent some time "playing" with them...that's how the 5-pointed star took shape. Next, I was shooting some pictures for a website...some new Polish Pottery pieces. I stopped taking the pictures to examine the beautiful see what happened here. (I have told you before, there is always a story behind every just happens that way!)
I was thrilled when a shopowner told me that she showed my design photo to a Polish Pottery dealer and they agreed that they could really see the influence!! Very cool.
Here is the cover shot & a few extra close-ups of the hand-painted/stenciled box.
There are step-by-step directions to make the cross-stitch 5-pointed star pincushion. The fun part is that it is really not that hard to construct! (I promise!) 

Close ups of the box - I started with a good old paper mache' box - several layers of paint, a stencil, then a lot of elbow grease with sandpaper! (better directions are in the chart!) 

There is a secret 3rd pattern included in the chart. You get the template for the 5-pointed star and directions to make these basic but adorable wool star pincushions. Stack them and adorn them with buttons, charms, all kinds of cool stuff. (I went for a simple twine look.)

Have a great weekend. I am getting to the end of my post market to-do list just in time to help move my baby back into his dorm room this weekend. It has been a different summer with just plain weird weather, lots of work & deadlines, but good having him home for a few months. He is excited to head back & how can I be anything else but happy for him!
Enjoy the stitch!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August Ramblings in a Pre-Market Haze

Early tomorrow morning, the car gets packed up as if I was filling a dorm the gills! But...I'm not heading to college...I'm heading to market.

Last Sunday night, I was sitting in the deck with DH and I said "you know, a week from now, it will all be over!". 6 months of work and all done! At first I was kind of sad, then I got happy, because it means I get back to the part that is most fun...designing. 

This year's market comes at an appropriate time...I unleash 6 of my designs on the "world" at the same time as I let my 2 masterpieces go into the world: one heading back for his final year of his Life Skills/Year 13 program and the other to his Sophomore year in college.

It is 2 years since I started Hands On Design and it has been a very satisfying journey so far. I have met some fantastic people, had some wonderful opportunities in this industry, and have loved challenging myself to push boundaries. Ok, we are not talking brain surgery here, but it does make me happy!

If you follow me on Instagram or facebook, you might have thought "what was with the #30days?". For 30 days, I took a picture of something in my life, a picture I took that day. The pictures are a memory of a thought, experience, or a joy that was in my life and something to focus on...the blessings in my life. Some days were more of a struggle than others, but it did kind of force me to look for the positive! Try it for yourself!

Time to pour another cup of coffee and tick off the final items on the "to-do" list. Find a copy of the newest Just Cross Stitch issue. "Give thanks for this day" is featured on page 12. The colors grab you, the finish is easy and fun, and the sentiment is spot on!

Enjoy the stitch!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Year of Celebrations

The Year is quickly coming to a close!

Hard to believe, but true - the 5th installment of the series is in the September 2014 issue. My involvement with the series has been much longer than a year, and I have to say, I was more than a little sad when I shipped off the last 2 designs. Since I did not frame or finish any of these, it has been exciting to see how the editors of Cross Stitch & Needlework magazine have chosen to frame each month.

I won't be sad for long...I have been asked to take over the "Motifs" column for 2015! What fun! This is a regular magazine feature that includes a theme & lots of small motifs to coordinate with the theme. I've already turned in January & have to get going on March! That is probably the hardest part about seasonal designing...not designing that season during the matching season!

Enough seasons: I am including the DMC substitutes for August & September.
August: this has been a summer for ants - the uninvited guest to every picnic!
721, 826, 3801, 987, blanc, 725, 310, 400, 166

September: Time to hit the books! 838, 720, 930, 3347, blanc, 349
I hope you have enjoyed this series - I had a blast designing it!
Enjoy the Stitch,