I cannot count my day complete
'Til needle, thread and fabric meet.
~Author Unknown

Sharing a common thread with those who love the art of hand embroidery

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A welcome sign

I always have a habit of buying something I like, especially if it's on sale, and then storing it away,..... and then forgetting about it. Looking for my buttonhole attachment, I found this wall hanging in a drawer still in it's plastic wrap and label. I think it was around 12 years ago when I purchased it! The original price on it was $3.97 and I got it on clearance for $1.50. I do remember painting a couple of them and giving them to friends. Now I wish I had bought more,.....what a great thing for etsy, now that I know about the wonderful world of Internet.{:
With the potted plants and watering can, this would be perfect to paint and hang in my greenhouse. I wish there was a way to hang it on the door of the greenhouse. There are only panels and frame work. Any ideas as to how to hang it anywhere in there?
I especially love the little bees with their plastic wings! They are on wires that make them look like they are buzzing around.

The plastic winged dragon flies are so sweet. They too are on wires to give an appearance of flying. I wish I could have the assistance of Marjolein Bastin! She could make this come to life! I guess I will get my box of paints out and work on a couple of things at a time. I don't want to rush finishing it and make it look like paint was just thrown on it( that's usually what happens when I get in a hurry to paint something.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

busyness or bloggers block?

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Here I am posting without one picture of embroidery to show! I have plenty to stitch on, just nothing finished yet.{: This is a busy time of my life right now. Graduation for one child,my nest is almost empty}: (tears)and school finishing for another with him wanting to get a summer job. I guess it's from the anxiety of all of this and other detours of life.... I feel so run down! So I am going to spend this week, reading all of you blogger's wonderful posts, getting the house clean, the weeds cleared and maybe some stitching done. I hopefully will have something to show and to write about by then. But please drop a line or two and let me know what you are doing!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Would you like to see the first things I embroidered?

Going though my linen closet, I pulled out the very old stash of some of the things I first embroidered starting at the age of 10. With some of you starting embroidery, I thought you might like to see how extremely bad I was starting out. Of course, being young, I thought every thing I stitched was a masterpiece and often gave them away as presents to my family. I shudder to think what they must have thought. So do not blame me for your sore eyes after taking a look at these primitive and very stained pieces. I have them soaking now after I saw how bad they looked!
This I a dresser scarf that I stitched when I was 10. My mom and I were in Benjamen Franklin's store(do you remember those stores?) when we found a pile of the ready to embroider pieces. She let me pick the piece I liked, let me pick out the floss I wanted, and I could not wait to get home to stitch. I don't think she saw me all weekend except at the supper table. I stayed in my room, stitching away!
Here is the close up. I did not know how to do french knots, satin stitch, or how to make tiny stitches for the little tie on the dog's head. My mother would sit and show me over and over. She was so patient.

As the years went by, I got better and when I was a freshman in high school, I made a practice cloth of some of my favorite transfer designs. (can you tell I didn't have a boy friend at that time?)As you can see, the unfinished red dye on some. I am so glad they don't use red dye anymore! I never finished it,(was it the boy friend?) but it was a good thing to practice on. I spent many hours doing this. I think you can click on the picture for a better look, but beware!
One thing I have noticed is that I used more brilliant and bright colors when I was a young girl than I do now. I loved striking blues and deep reds.

I hope these stains come out! I almost did not post this piece!

I was blessed with a sweet and kind Home Economics teacher, Mrs. Ellis. She always encouraged us to get things ready for the upcoming fair each year. She would then take our things and enter them. Above is a tablecloth that I won a blue ribbon for. I used this cloth so much through the years, that the middle has holes and if you take a closer look, you can see the threads getting bare. I still love this design and am going to trace off the pattern so that I can make another. The center has a big ring with criss- cross lines going through it. I don't enter my things at the fair now, however.
And here is that bird pattern I had talked about in a recent post. This is one of Aunt Martha's wonderful transfer designs.
And now here we are at present date. This is a dresser scarf I made for a gift store in town. The lady loved my embroidery and had me make a dozen of these and several other items. They always sold and I was very busy. She would meet with me once a month to go over the next designs and what she would like in her store. I loved this. The store has been closed for a few years now and she has moved away. Notice my color change now that I am older?
Another kind of embroidery I love is cut work. This work is done on the end edges of the tea pot scarf in the recent photo. This is the kind of work I did for the designer in Boston and for a lady in Virginia. She had beautiful white dresses and trusted me to cut and embroider on them. The designer in Boston had silk garments and sent matching silk thread for me to work with. They also trusted me cutting the garments to stitch.

And you have seen this picture before, this is the tablecloth I am working on to finish. I am getting excited as it is getting closer to getting done. But you can see the style of my embroidery has changed over the years. I started the traditional way and then found my own voice in how I wanted to express the stitches. That is what I would like to encourage each of you to do. When you find your own style, it just makes you feel so much better when you stitch. It is a piece of yourself!.....but as I always say..... enjoy the process! I feel that is what it is all about!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A great stitch resource

I was taught the basic stitches of embroidery by my mom when I was 10. As the years passed, I learned more stitches either from kits I had purchased or books. I am still learning each day!
One of the best stitch guides I like to refer to is this book, The Readers Digest Complete Book Of Embroidery. It is full of projects, stitch instruction, and information. The stitches are shown in detail, step by step.

There are beautiful projects and also more challenging skills information when one is ready to try something new. There are a great number of embroidery books with all the information one needs to get their hands busy. A lot of these can be found at your local library, as well as on-line. The best thing to do after you have found something you want to try, is practice. Keep stitching the stitch over and over until you feel comfortable stitching it and it looks the way you want.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Gideon and Gabriel

First of all, I want to thank you all for always dropping by and leaving a comment to say hi and you always have such nice things to say. You truly make my day! I am so excited that some of you already embroider and some of you are getting started! I am still working on that tablecloth, so I am digging into my stash to have something to show you until I get my job complete.
Can you believe, I have been working on this cross stitch rooster for 4 years?? I once had a very sweet and very old rooster who looked like this at the time I bought the kit. Sadly he went to sleep in a nest box and never woke up. Since then, I have a couple of other roosters name Gideon and Gabriel. I work on this rooster when I do not have a customer to sew for. The first year, I had napkins and a dresser scarf to monogram. The 2nd year, a couple of dresses. The 3rd year a baby quilt and now this year a tablecloth. Once in a while, in the wee hours of morning, I will do a square before I retire.
Here is Gideon. Just the sweetest old guy ever. He loves to be picked up and croons while I carry him around.
Here is Gabriel. He runs out to greet me every time I approach the chicken yard, hoping I have something good for him to eat. He also eats out of my hand and loves to be held. Actually, I babied the ducks and chickens when they were little, so they all like to be petted and made over. Well the weekend is upon me and I am going to be busy, busy.I can't wait to see what you all have been stitching on. So post pictures when you finish! Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Embroidery Floss....my palette

In my last post, some of you have asked me about the amount of embroidery floss I have on hand. I have a ton!{: For several reasons. I have been embroidering for 20 years for other people. From a clothing designer in Boston, customers in Georgia and Virginia, as well as local customers. Floss is my tool, just as a mechanic needs tools or a chef needs his knives and equipment. I also make sure I have more than one skein of the same color. I keep a list of the colors I have and how many. When I start getting down to one skein color only, I buy more to replenish it. Some also had mentioned wal-mart not handling floss anymore. The same has happened at the wal-mart I shop at. With other stores being 100 miles away, I have started ordering on line.

I don't want my threads to get tangled, so I keep them in large zip-lock bags, in which I have punched holes in the bag's side and place them in large notebooks. I have a couple of notebooks for new unused floss and I keep my used and cut skeins in a separate notebook.

I have a bag for each color group. Reds, greens, blues, pinks, ect. I have a list inside of each bag that tells me what color and color number are in that bag and how many skeins of that color I have.

I also have different types of floss for different types of work. The pearl cotton pictured above, I use for crewel work. I also have silk floss which I used a lot for the garments for the designer in Boston. I worked with them for 5 years, so I have quite a bit of that. To avoid confusion, I did not work in Boston. I would send my drawings and stitch samples to them, they would mark what they liked and send the garments to me. Some of my work has graced the "walkways" of New York. {:

I also have a color skein book on hand for a quick reference to color matching. It comes in handy when a customer is trying to decide on color. ....... Well, that's just about it. For all of you who are embroidering, I would just say, find the floss that you like to work with best. Does it go through the needle and material well without fraying? I prefer DMC floss. It is high quality. Most important..... Just enjoy yourself!

Monday, May 12, 2008

I see french knots!

This weekend was filled with remembering the mothers and grandmothers in our family..... and for me, the time when I was a young new mother, rocking our babies to sleep. I really miss that time! I also love this time of year. Right between the cold winter winds and the harsh hot summer. Every thing is crisp and alive, and walks around the grounds are always so enjoyable.
Our holly bush has grown quite a bit in one year and the blossoms that it are now blooming look just like pearls among the red berries. What a pretty picture to embroider in french knots, don't you think? {:

The light and dark greens of the leaves really set off the white and red of the berries and blossoms. The birds have just about picked off all of the berries. What colors do you find inspiring? What do you find more inspirational....flowers? sunsets? the sky? ..... I can't wait to hear!

Friday, May 9, 2008

What I like most about blogging

When I first heard about blogging from a friend, I didn't think I would really enjoy it or have time for it. I really thought it was just an "open book diary " of sorts. Even though it is, in a way, it has been so much more for me. I have made some of the sweetest friends through this wonderful vice and I have never met one face to face!{: I love the blogging because for me ,I have found people who share a common thread for the same things I am interested in. I am in awe of the talented and creative people who reside here in blog land. With embroidery being my passion, I have always had a goal to somehow get others "on fire" about the art of embroidery. I am so thrilled when you comment on my blog telling me that you have started embroidering! I also love to hear of how others used to embroider. So thank you all for making this blogging experience a wonderful journey. I find a way to make time to blog and I pick a day to just take a break from the hustles of life and to read your wonderful posts, take a look at your wonderful creations, and even learn a thing or two! I am so glad to have found this wonderful outlet.

This is a set of leaves I designed for counted cross stitch. I love leaves and I love changing seasons. Above is a fall leaf(in orange) and a winter leaf. I tried to capture winter by making holes in the winter leaf.

Here is the spring and summer leaf. If you look closely at the summer leaf, you will see a lady bug hiding in the corner!
Here are all the leaves together in one sampler, separated by drawn thread work. On the picture frame I have the verse.... To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1.
I have had several friends, like Doris, who have asked if I am able to sell my pieces after I have put so much work into them. Yes. If I like a certain piece a lot, I will make one for myself. Usually, for a customer, it is a design I have drawn up to suit their taste so I am not that attached to it. Most of all I want to see my work adorn peoples tables, bedrooms and baths. So thank you all for taking time to read and to leave your sweet comments. Even if all I have to show is a plot of dirt and a few sprouts, you are always there with something sweet to say! Blessings to you all!{:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A word about designing cross stitch

I love counted cross stitch and have spent my earlier years buying every magazine that had the newest designs. However, I wanted a design that fitted my life.... and I started designing cross stitch. At that time, late 80's, we did not own a computer, so every thing I designed was hand drawn on graph paper and stitched. I then had so many design ideas, that I started submitting them to magazines and companies. The first sampler I ever designed, "A Precious Baby Sampler" was bought by a company. I was so excited! However, one condition was that they buy the rights to my design and also keep my stitched piece. For the small price of $200 , I signed over my work. I never ever saw the piece printed.( I need to stitch up the sampler now for myself) With the top magazines, I got so many compliments along with rejection letters. I also did not want to sell my rights to something I designed. So I basically quit sending my work out for approval and for a small wage, and started designing and selling privately. A few years later, we acquired a computer, and Sweetie bought me PC stitch. It is great and I love it. However, I still keep my graph paper, and colored pencils on hand. For me, there is nothing better than to sit in my favorite spot, drawing up my designs.It's the same with reading. I would much rather curl up somewhere with a good book, than to sit and read it online. {: Sometimes, I will take what I have drawn and change it over to PC stitch, but usually, I stitch straight from my hand drawn work.
This is a sampler I made of our home life in the 90's.
Don't you love the hearts coming out of the chimney? {: Now that we have moved to the country and live in our beautiful country home, I have drawn up the picture, but have not yet stitched the sampler. I am not sure if I want to cross stitch it or elaborately embroider it. Of course there will have to be chickens and ducks on this sampler.LOL. I have been working on a cross stitch rooster for the longest time. He is from a kit I purchased and is only half done. I will post him at a later date. Besides samplers, I love cross stitched hand towels and baby designs. But I have to say, my passion is hand embroidery. Do any of you cross stitch? What are your favorite kinds of designs?

Monday, May 5, 2008

One more for future etsy?

I started embroidering last night. Just a small thing to put on the purse I want to have for my "someday etsy shop".
The weather has been overcast and cool for the past few days, so off I go to my front porch embroidery retreat. I could stay there all day on days like today.... stitching the hours away.

And I finished! I think you can click on the picture to see the detailed stitches. I used french knots to make the centers of the flowers. I think they are cute.... don't you?

And off I ran to the sewing machine to finish the purse I had in mind with the gingham and floral. I just had to put embroidery on it. I think it worked... what do you think? This is the front.

Here is the back. Doesn't the floral look pretty?

I lined it with the floral. It also has a pocket on the inside. Well.... I now have two things for etsy. LOL. The pair of embroidered pillowcases and now the purse. I am still working on the embroidered tablecloth for a friend, but if I work really hard on the weekends, I might could get one thing a weekend made for etsy. Of course, this all sounds great now, and then, well you know.... things get put on the back burner. One good thing is that I have hundreds of ideas!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What did I get done this weekend?

The weekend went by so quickly, I hope you all had a wonderful one! First of all, thank you all for the wonderful advice on the Azalea that Sweetie brought home. I do have a shade bed, however, I am still nervous about putting it out so quickly. I decided to plant it in a large container and placed it on the porch where I do a lot of my stitching. It is so cheery there and I can enjoy it. Also, because of the winter, I can move it to the greenhouse later one.I posted it on my country living post, Eggs In My Pocket, if you want to take a look. Although I did not find fabric I wanted for the apron patterns in my last post, I did work on some of the things I had mentioned in earlier posts. I had bought a stash of pretty fabric in early spring and all I have done with it is to make a set of pillowcase borders. I also found a pretty set of cafe curtains at a flea market that I thought, along with all of you, {: would make pretty aprons.
So here is one curtain I made into a bib apron. I used blue and white floral fabric to make continuous bias tape for the arm and neck edgings and for the apron ties.
The curtain was so pretty there wasn't much to do except cut a little for the arms and then bind it off. I enjoy wearing it so much. I still have one curtain left. Not sure what I will do with it.

With gingham and the same blue and white floral fabric, I am making a purse. Maybe for my one day etsy shop?Hope to be through with it soon. The gingham will be the outside with the floral as the lining and a little decorative touch on the front panel. I just love gingham's and florals together, don't you?

Just a quick note. I had read years ago that if you rinse out the starch in your fabric left over cuttings and leave them outside to dry, the birds will take the strips to make nests with. I have done this over the years and have seen the birds flying off with the strips. I haven't found a nest with these decorative touches yet, but what a treasure if I could. I rinse these out well, cut them into small strips and place them in or around the bird feeder. Can't you just imagine a baby bird tucked into gingham and floral? {:

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Apron inspiration

I have had these apron patterns for a while now, put away for later dreams. Reading all of you creative ladies posts about your aprons has made me dig these out. I am not sure how I am going to go about it, but I want to make them a little different than the way they are pictured, using my embroidery.
Are any of you familiar with the pattern company Advance? I have not done my research on it yet. I grew up with Simplicity and McCalls, however, the instructions on this pattern seem to be just as easy to understand.
I just love aprons that go over like a dress. I am going to try to find a lightweight fabric for spring aprons. It's hot enough when cooking. With the large pockets and neckline, I already have some wonderful ideas for embroidery. With the weekend upon us, I am off to town to do errands. One thing I really do not like to do. However, I am anxious as I am going to look for fabric to go with these aprons. Not sure when I will get them made....... but can't wait to get started! Have a wonderful weekend everyone!