Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Okay, time for some updates

I've been really, really lazy about taking WIP photos lately. So today I decided to take pics of all of them. Be prepared - this is photo intensive!

First up, Chatelaine's Alhambra Garden. I'm stitching this one on 35 ct linen using all silks - as everyone who knows me knows, I don't do cotton, especially DMC. Blech! I converted the DMC colours to Hand Dyed Fibers - it's easy, given that Vikki does all of the DMC colours, and they're relatively close to the originals. This is soooo much brighter and sparklier up close and personal, but it's so hard to capture the shimmer of silk in a photo. And another note - the beading DOES fit on 35 ct fabric. I had to fudge the centrepiece a tiny bit, but the rest of the beads sit perfectly. Would I recommend 35ct for heavily beaded pieces? That totally depends on how much you're willing to fudge and if the beads are scattered or clustered. Scattered beads are perfectly fine. Clustered beads you might have to fiddle with a little bit. I love this piece, but I find it tough to work on for more than a day or two at a time. The massive amount of colour changes and having to use two strands of thread all the time can drive me a bit bonkers. But it stitches up fairly quickly - what you see is about 3 weeks of stitching in total.

Next up, Romy's Austrian Spot Sampler. This one has become my take to work piece since I finished Kaleidoscope Flower. Most of what you see here has been stitched on my lunches, or before work - long story short, one car and my boyfriend and I often start at different times, so I get to work pretty early some days. This is stitched on 45 ct Graziano linen, 1x2 using a custom spool colour of HDF, Double Dusty Rose. Since Dusty Rose was discontinued, this equates pretty much to the lightest of the Ultra Maroons. I'm enjoying this one, but I'm just about ready to rotate my take to work piece for something new. I'm thinking one of the Flourish series from Sampler Cove (or as I call them, Di's Divas), or maybe Sampler Cove's Amtrack, given that I've got that one kitted up. Just for a change. The pink is lovely, but I don't often do well with monochromes - I get bored of the same colour day in, day out! For some strange reason, the photo keeps uploading rotated 90 degrees. It's the right orientation on my computer and yet it is wrong both here and in photobucket. Stupid computers. I'm too sick to care at this point. And now my bloody cursor has disappeared too!! Not having a good day.

Oooh my cursor came back! Okay, next is Ink Circles Blackstone Fantasy Garden. This one is fast becoming a UFO. I HAVE worked on it, but not for long - an hour or two here or there. I LOVE the colours, hate the thread. I'm using the Carrie's Creations threadpack in cotton. Ugh. It's nasty. I'm about ready to chuck it and re-order the same colours in silk and restart it. Plus, it's on 32 ct lugana and I'm using 2 strands. Again, ugh. I really love the design, and I really love Tracy's choice of colours. I even like it on the fabric I chose, which is Silkweaver's Parkland. So the question is, do I persevere, or restart? I'm almost halfway done, and I really loathe the thought of doing all of that all over again. If I restart, I'm afraid it will never actually get started. On the other hand, two hours every couple of months doesn't get much done either. For now, I'm persevering in hopes that someday I'll actually finish it. But I will never, never, never again use cotton thread for a new start!!! Thank goodness Carrie is doing silk now. And my cursor has disappeared again!! Grrr. Not having a good day.

Oooh there it is. Every time I insert a pic, it runs away and hides for a while. Anyway... another Ink Circles design is next, Cirques de Carreaux. Haven't picked this up in a while - not because I don't enjoy it, but because I couldn't find it. :oops: I located it recently when I cleared out and rearranged all my stash drawers! Now that it's found, I'll probably be working on it soon. I love the design and the colours are yummy. It's done in Gloriana silks, which aren't the greatest threads for over one, but they look nice. Yes, it's 1x1 on 28 count black (obviously) Jobelan. Ignore the cat hair - black fabric is horrible for showing it all!! I think the cats must have slept on this one at some point - when I have no idea, but it's well coated!!

Rosewood Manor's Great British Sampler is the next to get a turn. I worked on this one last week for a few days, until all the bloody backstitching got to me. It seems like every motif is full of quarter stitches and backstitched outlines. I started stitching samplers to escape from this lunacy!! It almost feels like a Dimensions project. I like Rosewood Manor's designs, and I just hope this isn't a common thing in all of them, as I have several that I either have already and haven't kitted up, or on my wishlist. I suppose I should pull them out to check. This project is stitched 1x2 on 40 ct Chantilly Cream by Lakeside Linens using the suggested colours converted to HDF.

Plodding on... this is Needlemania's Jardin d'Jour. I started this one to test out Vikki Clayton's 40 ct linen. I think I posted about it a while back, but this stuff is really lovely to stitch on. It's got a wonderful hand, is nice and thick and has really easy to see holes. If you've ever wanted to try a higher count but were afraid you wouldn't be able to see it, this is the perfect linen for you. Plus the price is great - for hand dyed colours it's still less than $50 a yard. Yes, a full yard. But I digress. It's stitched in HDF silk, the colours are two of Vikki's newer additions, BeMused (purple) and BePopped (pink).

Next up is my Frankensteined version of Dinky Dyes Irish Blessing. I made it taller and added in the flourishes from the top and bottom to both sides. I also changed the words, as I'm stitching it as a tribute to my cousin, Rachel, who passed away in January. I'm using three different Gloriana purples in it - Purple Night Sky, Purkle Fred and Ultra Violet. I don't know why I can never get the colours in this to photgraph right - they're much, much more vibrant than this. When I finish the stitching, I want to insert a photograph of my cousin in the middle of the design - IF I can figure out how to do it. This is another that doesn't get worked on a whole lot. In my wisdom, I decided to stitch it on 45 ct linen (Sassy's Crescent Cream) which after dying is more like a 48-50 ct, because I wanted to save on framing costs later on. Why was that such a stupid move? Well this design is full of fractional stitches and backstitching. I'll admit, the finished product looks fantastic, the knotwork is nice and smooth and rounded, but OMG what a PITA on high count fabric.

My next project is my token Drawn Thread design - I always have to have one of these on the go at any given time. They're my sheer joy pieces. Why? I love, love, love specialty stitches, and these are FULL of them. This one is Toccata Four, and I'm nearing a finish on it. I'll be putting it back on the frame today I think, unless I change my mind before then. I only took it off to take pics. It's stitched on 34 ct Cafe Au Lait linen from Legacy Linen. I love this stuff, it's my go to linen when I have a project that needs something in a lower count. It's not much smaller than 32 ct, but it's sooooo much nicer than Belfast linen. Very few, if any slubs, and very, very even. I know the Legacy and Graziano linens are much more expensive than Zwiegart, but it's sooooooo worth it in the end. They're just so much higher quality. If you compare Zwiegart to the horrid Wichelt linens, Zwiegart seems great. If you compare the Zwiegart to Graziano or Legacy, it's crap in comparison. And there I go off on a tangent again. lol This piece is stitched in a bunch of different fibers - Soie D'Alger for the greens, Gloriana for the blues, Silk n' Colors for the burgundies, and HDF for the creams. Just a note to anyone who is or is thinking about stitching these. I am following the thread usage recommendations to the letter, and there is no way that one skein of each will be enough. I'm on skein #2 of the light green and each of the creams, and skein #3 for the dark green. The blues and burgundies I'll only use on skein of, but they're 12 stranded, 6 yards, so basically 2 full skeins of the recommended. And I'll have used most of each of those by the time I finish. The only one you'll get away with one of is the spool of Soie 100/3 - it's hardly used. To be safe, I'd recommend grabbing 3 skeins each of the greens and creams, and 2 skeins of each of the blues and burgundies.

And my token Sampler Cove design - though I usually have multiple SC's on the go, but I finished two not so long ago. Well okay that's not exactly true. I do have about 1/3 of the Rhapsody in Red Ribbon Sampler finished, however, that one has made it's way into the UFO pile, for two reasons. My first colour choices were Black Iris Bloom and Dried Roses (both HDF) but when I decided to start it, I changed my mind and went with Rum Cherry instead of Black Iris Bloom, simply because I had spools of it already. While the Rum Cherry is lovely, I soooo want to stitch it in my originally planned colours. And the second reason - I started it over 1 on 32 ct Jobelan. It's lovely and delicate, but I'm really not enjoying it. I really prefer over two on high count or over one on 28 ct. It just feels very crowded. I don't mind if it's a small amount of a design, but I just can't face another 2/3 of the sampler this way. So I've decided to bit the bullet, order the spools of Black Iris Bloom and restart it. Man, I'm just rambling like mad today, aren't I? THIS is Tuscan Rose. It is stitched 1x2 on 40 ct Hayfields from Sassy, but this is dyed on Graziano's 40ct linen. The fibers are HDF silks in the recommended colours. This one is fun to stitch. It's wide enough to get a nice flow for each band, but narrow enough that each band stitches up very quickly. And the colours are just lovely.

And finally (bet you thought it would never end, huh?) this is Tuscany Hearts by Needlemania. It's stitched on 40 ct Hayfields as well, and also uses HDF silks - in pretty much the same colours as Sampler Cove's Tuscan Rose. That works well, because I can frame them the same way as matching pieces. lol This one stitches very quickly - what you see is stitched in about 2 sittings.

There are at least 3 more that will be added to this (not including my own models, though I'm not stitching any right now). Rosewood Manor's Quaker Diamonds is getting started as soon as it arrives, though I've decided to stitch it in Dinky Dyes silks, and of course on 40ct. The Valdani might be pretty, but it's cotton. As mentioned, I'll be restarting Rhapsody in Red as soon as I get around to ordering the threads. AND I really want to start Chatelaine's Romantic Rose Garden. However that one is posing a problem. I have the chart. I have the fabric. The overdyed silks and beads are on their way to me and should be here this week. However, instead of converting the DMC to HDF as I usually do, I decided that I hadn't used Eterna silks in a while and I really wanted to. So I ordered the Eternas instead. On October 21, paid for on October 21. Still not shipped. I've emailed 3 times and gotten no response. If this keeps up any longer I'm going to paypal for a refund. This is ridiculous. If there's a delay, I can live with that, but being ignored is something you just don't do if you want my business.

And now I think I need a nap.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And finally, a day of rest...

It has been a very busy few months! I've got a couple of days off now, first time I've had two in a row off in a while. I've been stitching up a storm of late on a few things.

I finished a present for Vikki Clayton - I designed a sign for her shop, to put up near the counter. :) It's done on her linen, in her threads (of course).

I worked on Rachel's piece for a little while, but I can't work on that for long stretches - all the fractional stitches give me a headache - quarter stitches on 45 ct (which after dying and washing is more like 48 ct) is NOT fun. So I only work on it a little at a time.

Currently I'm working on a Chatelaine piece, Alhambra Garden. I don't quite understand why everyone says these take so long - I'm flying through it. Sure, by the time I'm done it will have been about a year since I started, but in total I've only worked on it for about 2 weeks and I've got it about 1/3 done. It's mostly DMC, which as most of you probably know, I don't use. I'm using Hand Dyed Fibers for it and I love how it's turning out! Vikki's DMC matches are pretty good - not exact, usually a bit lighter/brighter overall, but much better than most DMC conversions you find out there.

I've been playing with colours for Rosewood Manor's Quaker Diamonds as well. Again, because I don't use cotton, I won't be using the called for Valdani colours. Plus, I don't often use 28 ct unless I'm stitching over 1, so the heavy Valdani threads would be useless to me anyway. I know they do regular floss, but it's dyed on DMC. I've been thinking it might be a good time to try Carrie's silks out and just pick my own colours for this. Heck, I haven't even ordered the chart yet! I will be eventually, but money is a bit tight for at least another year around here, so I'll wait for the next sale at Wasatch to pick up a bunch of things all at once! There are a couple of new Ink Circles that I'm drooling over as well.

I am going to kit up Chatelaine's Rose Garden Mandala this week - I did a conversion from the DMC, this time to Eterna Silks. I haven't used them in a while but I really do like them, so I thought I'd have a play with them for this piece. I was sooooo happy when Cindy put up a kit at ECS. I couldn't stomach buying the one from TGOS, especially since it's $30 more just for a few skeins of DMC. Cindy also gives the no fabric option, so it works out perfectly since I have yards and yards of fabric here.

And of course I'm working away on the computer trying to come up with a few new designs. I just haven't been feeling very inspired lately. Maybe it's this nasty cold I've been suffering with for weeks, or just plain being tired. I'm doing pretty good though, I managed to make it through 8 shifts in 9 days - probably why today I feel like I'm dying. I think I need a vacation from work to get the creative juices flowing. I sit here looking at my sketches of what I want, but when I try to translate them to computer it just doesn't jibe. Jon keeps telling me not to get frustrated - designing is supposed to be fun for me. He gets angry when I start getting all business-like and treating it like a job. He made me swear that I would only design as long as I was having fun with it and that he didn't want designing to destroy my love of the hobby. So I'm being patient. I know the creative bug will bite again, and I'll whip out several new designs in a heartbeat. It's frustrating when you can see the design in your head but it just won't come together on the screen!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Celtic Leaves

Well, it's finished. Celtic Leaves will be released for the Online Needlework Show, which begins on October 7th. :)

The model is stitched on 40ct Lakeside Linen Magnolia - I like my tiny little stitches - but any count of linen will work, you don't need to use 40 ct. I used 5 colours of Gloriana silk floss and 3 colours of Crescent Colours Belle Soie.

I had a lot of fun with this model - pictures just don't do these rich, beautiful colours justice.

And as usual, I'm just about to run off to work, but I thought I'd drop a quick note here before I do!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

An update on Celtic Leaves

Well, after a slight mishap with getting my fabric (first piece got lost, darn P.O!) which set me back a few weeks, I am back on track. The stitching is about 2/3 done! So as long as I don't have any major disasters, I'm well on my way to an October release. I really want to release at the Online Needlework Show, in support of Cindy, the wonderful lady who runs it, as she is also the retail side of European Cross Stitch, my distributor. What better way to introduce a new design, right?

I'm soooo happy with the way this one is turning out. After 10 days of stitching, I actually get depressed when I have to go to work or to bed and can't stitch on it. lol The colours are glorious, a huge thanks to Anne from Gloriana and Sharon from Crescent Colours for these amazing fall colours. They really are to die for.

Here's a little peek for anyone who's curious:

What else is new? Well I've been plotting out colours for another new design which I'm planning for a February release - giving myself a bit more time with this one. I still have to finish charting it, but the idea is pretty solid in my mind now, so that should go quickly. I think I'm settled on colours - I'm pretty set on Gloriana again for this one, she has some really great delicate, light colours which are exactly what I'm looking for. The design is another Celtic, this time snowflakes. I've also been doing some colour selection for some smaller designs, geometric flower patterns, which I'll probably use Dinky Dyes for. Jo's got some really great flowery colours.

And I've been doing some stash diving, planning out some colour schemes for some personal stitching. I pulled out my eterna silk sample cards - I had forgotten just how pretty these are! There are some really great overdyed colours and a huge range of solids. I don't know that I'd ever design with these, I know a lot of people don't like working with filament silks, but I'm going to kit up a few projects with them to start soon. I personally love them. :) For the curious, filament silks are a bit tougher to work with - they tend to twist up a fair bit, and they stick to hands and fabrics, while at the same time being a bit slippery - needles can slide off when you dangle to untangle. But the effect is really astonishing - they're very shiny and the colours tend to be very, very rich. I'm thinking I might order some overdyes for a couple of Sampler Cove designs I'm kitting. Yes, I'm going to start some MORE Sampler Cove designs. I've got 5 finishes under my belt now, but these are addictive. I want to stitch them ALL! Eventually I will. When we finally build our house, I will have a Sampler Cove wall. :)

*Sigh* Well it's off to work now. But I have tomorrow and Tuesday off to model stitch - I figure I'll get at least another 25 - 30 hours in. :D I'm determined.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer is almost over...

On one hand, I'm sad to see it go. It hasn't been the greatest summer on record, it's either been cold and rainy, or extremely hot and humid, with very few really pleasant days. However, I've always loved summer, especially all the wonderful seasonal treats that come along with it. I'm a berry person, and I've definitely eaten enough blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and cherries (okay so not a berry) for another year!! I also love that I can stitch outside, which I frequently do on my lunches at work. This is always fun, because passers-by always want to know what you're doing, and I find that it's a wonderful way to get people interested!

On the other hand, I'll be very happy to see it go. I live in a small town that each year is invaded by tourists. Not that I mind tourists, it's our town's mainstay and the small businesses thrive. But the masses of traffic, hoards of people and unbelievably long waits for anything in town can get pretty annoying. Just think - 25,000 visitors to a town that is usually only 5000 and only has 3 stoplights, all crowded into the main street, and always looking for somewhere to park! That leaves us a little impatient, especially when you just want to pop into the post office!

The tourists also create another problem for my co-workers and I. Due to the increase in customers in the store, we all get a huge rise in hours. Now normally, I wouldn't complain, the extra money and overtime always come in handy and this year is no exception as we have the added bills of Jon's immigration to pay off. However, I still want to keep designing and stitching. It gets very difficult to do anything, when you're covering other staff holidays, sick days and the like - over the past two months, I've only had a handful of days off, and most days I'm at work from 6am to 6pm. To try and design anything at that point is pretty hopeless, I'm so tired that I can't even think. When I do get a day off, I usually spend it cleaning up the house - with long hours, I don't get a whole lot of cleaning done otherwise, and the teenager who should be free labour, doesn't help out a great deal being busy himself with friends all summer.

Despite all of this, I have managed to do a lot of sketching, and last week I had a couple of sick days and plugged away at the computer for about 40 hours to come up with a new design! I'm very excited about this one, I have a feeling it will fast become my favourite. It's loaded with lots and lots of different specialty stitches (though nothing taxing, I promise!), and will be stitched with Belle Soie and Gloriana Silks in shades of autumn. I'm waiting for a couple skeins of thread and my fabric, and then I'll be in a model stitching frenzy for a few weeks. I really want to try to get this done in time for the Fall Online Needlework Show, which leaves me with 5 weeks to stitch, diagram and write the chart. Thankfully, I should be getting back to a normal schedule at work over the next week or two, so if I stitch my heart out I might make it!! IF I have a moment to spare, I'll try to post some sneak peeks as I stitch. :)

And one last, before I have to go and get ready for work (short day today, only 10-6!). I've been dying to see some WIP pictures of my designs! And I'm planning a little contest as well, so stay tuned!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How do I choose colours for a design?

Believe it or not, this is probably the longest and most painstaking part of the design process for me. It's also incredibly fun.

When I create a new design, I generally have a good idea of what colours I want to have in it. However, with all of the different threads out there, purple, blue and green could end up being many different things!! Especially with my ever expanding collection of colour samples (which can never be large enough!).

Which comes first, fabric or floss? It really depends. I've done both and had both work well for me.

When it comes to fabric, while I love my neutrals, I also find that sometimes there is just that perfect fabric colour that gives a piece that little bit extra. So this is usually decided by whether the design will be mainly solid or variegated colours. When I'm using a lot of variegated threads, I tend to go for a more neutral fabric, either solid or very close to solid, so it won't over power the colour changes in the threads. If I'm going with softer variegation or solid threads, the fabric can be a bit more bold without interfering with the design. Sometimes the fabric colour determines the floss colour, sometimes it's the other way around. And sometimes, a colour of thread or fabric will inspire me to create a design with it.

When choosing threads, usually there will be one or two focus colours in the piece. Areas of the design that I want to stand out. These are the colours I choose first. Though I definitely have favourite colours, I don't like re-using colours over and over in subsequent designs simply because of my experimental nature. I like to play and have fun with colour. First and foremost, the main colours have to be harmonious with one another. When you work with a lot of variegated threads, the easiest way to do this is to start with one colour that you really like for the design, then look for colours which contain some of the same components that this first one has. I'll use Celtic Wings as an example. The main butterflies had to be a colour that would grab attention, and be bright and bold for spring/summer. Blackberry was a lovely choice, for although my first instinct was to make the butterflies purple, blackberry also had a lovely blue and a pink in it which made it a wonderful colour to match others to. My second colour was the dragonflies. I chose Zaffre Cobalt because one of it's components was shared with Blackberry, and the two were really lovely together. When it came to the pink, I looked for a colour which shared the same pink as Blackberry, and I found it in Examplar Crushed Berry. These three have a wonderful feel together, and each had enough boldness to highlight the main design elements.

Next, I had to choose a green. I wanted subtle variegation in this colour, and I wanted it to be a bit lighter than the main elements for two reasons. One, anything darker would have competed to much with the centrepiece, and two, I wanted this to be a bright and springy design, and my main elements, while bright, were also pretty dramatic. Unfortunately at the time of creating this piece, Vikki didn't have anything in that shade of green. While she had some lovely greens, most were either too dark, too light or too brown. So I went to my trusty tag set, and pored over the greens. Vetch greens have always been one of my favourites, they're a great balance of yellow and blue, leaning towards neither end, and they're bright not neon bright. So it was decided and Vikki graciously invented a new green for me.

The other elements had to accent but not overpower. The red had to be a pretty true red for ladybugs, but I wanted a more blue-red so that the red and pink wouldn't clash. So I went with something a bit darker than my original plan, and though it wasn't quite a ladybug red, artistic license prevails. The yellow for the small butterflies I wanted to be a fairly true yellow, not orange, not brownish. The colours in the design are pretty "true" primary and secondary shades, so I wanted the same of the yellow. The black was pretty easy. :)

This is pretty much the same process I use for all of my designs. Once I get narrowed down to a few different palettes, I will test stitch each one on my chosen fabric, because sometimes stitching will show a colour a bit differently than it looks in skein form, especially when you're not using plain white fabric. This will tell me which is going to work best over all.

I state something on all of my designs, and I do think that it's worth mentioning here - the nature of these styles of design is such that they lend themselves to creativity - I always urge stitchers to pick colours that they will enjoy stitching them with. That might be my model colours or it might be something totally different!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What's the big deal about silks?

As anyone who has purchased one of my charts will notice, I stitch my models in silks. I do offer a conversion to cotton though, just so you know! As far as my personal stitching goes, 99% of that is in silks too.

So why silks?

I've been stitching for a long time. About 25 years with a few years of breaks in between. For the first 2o of those, I stitched in cotton, with the odd little bit of metallic here or there. Then I discovered silk. My first experience with silk was with AVAS, which, though not nearly as shiny or glossy as some, is a dream to stitch with. The difference between this and cotton was like night and day. This started me on a quest to try other silk threads and at this point in time, I can say I've tried about 40 different brands, types and weights. Some I love, some I like and some I wouldn't touch again. Even up to two years ago, I still had plans to stitch some larger projects in cotton, because of the cost difference, but those have been left by the wayside. Large HAEDs which I got halfway through before this obsession started have been forgotten, and will never be finished. They may be restarted though. ;)

So what's the big deal? They are incredibly soft and the feeling in your hands is wonderful. It's like petting a little kitten - addictive!! You just want to keep petting it because it feels so nice. They have a wonderful shine. This ranges between a high gloss look that some of the filament silks have, and a shimmery sheen that the spun silks have. And honestly, looking at a skein won't give you a proper idea of this - you have to stitch with it to really appreciate the gorgeous effect. Most silks glide through the fabric effortlessly - a good analogy I've heard used frequently - like a hot knife through butter. This is exactly what it's like. You don't get a scratchy friction of the thread on the fabric with most silks.

Does it really look and feel that different?

Yes. No question about it. Cotton feels like twine to me now, I just don't enjoy working with it. It's not fun. It's a chore. I've been spoiled and I freely admit it. I look at my pieces done in cotton and while they are very pretty, they just don't have the same effect. The depth of colour seems brighter and richer on silk, the light reflection is amazing, especially on specialty stitches! I've heard a lot of people say that once you stitch you can't tell the difference. There is a notable difference, I certainly can pick it out, and most people who stitch with silks on a regular basis will be able to see it as well. On plain cross stitch, it isn't obvious from a distance, but when you look a little bit closer, it is apparent. Cotton has a little bit of sheen from the mercerizing process, but washing, sunlight, wear and tear while stitching and simply overhandling thread will cause this sheen to wear away. Cotton just isn't a naturally shiny fiber. Silk is. You don't need to use chemical treatments on it to make it shimmer and shine, it just does that all by itself. And it will still be shiny 100 or 200 years from now. Why is that important? Well I'd like to hope that my projects, especially my models, will still hang in my families houses generations down the road!

Isn't it ridiculously expensive to work in silks all the time?

That depends on a lot of things. First, on the type of projects you're kitting up. If you are talking about a piece with hundreds of colours, then yes, it can get very expensive. However, on a piece that uses that many colours, there are several less expensive silks, like HDF and Eterna, that work wonderfully. These end up costing about double to triple what it would cost in DMC - but, for a project that will probably take years to stitch, that cost doesn't seem so bad to me. I'd rather spend the extra at the start than either not enjoy it and/or not finish it at all.

On a project that is monochrome or uses only a couple of colours, the cost difference isn't as drastic, especially if you're converting from hand dyed cottons to hand dyed silks. Just as an example, a project that uses 5 colours, 2 skeins each of Crescent Colours cottons will use 5 colours, 1 skein each of Crescent colours silk. The cost difference on average (as not all shops charge the same amount for these) is $12.50. That doesn't seem so bad does it? On a monochrome that uses 10 skeins of Weeks Dye Works the cost difference to use something like Gloriana would be less than $10.

A lot of people gripe about the cost of some of the huge projects, like Chatelaines that use several different brands of silks, beads and crystals. Some of these can range up to $400. Yes, that's expensive, and yes, it would be much cheaper to do in cotton. But for someone like me, if I kitted it up with cotton I would never work on it. And with a project like this, to me it loses the intricacies and subtle beauty of the variegated threads when you sub solid colours in for them. Plus, this is a project that is going to take hundreds of hours. I can live with a cost of less than $1 an hour to stitch something that beautiful.

One of the biggest myths I'd like to touch on is one I hear a lot, from a lot of stitchers in this area who have never tried silk, OR who have used ghastly rayon threads thinking that they were silk. This is the myth that silk is more difficult to stitch with than cotton.

Filament silk, which is notable because of it's incredibly high shine and extremely silky softness, is in most cases, more fussy than cotton. In most cases, it's not knotting or tangling that is the problem, but the fact that the silk catches on EVERYTHING. This isn't true of all brands, most of the really tough ones to use are flat, untwisted silks. I've used several types that aren't bad at all. Eterna's Mini Twist is fairly nice to use, and AVAS Soie D'Paris is just lovely to stitch with. Neither of these is harder to use than cotton. There are ways around the problems, hand creams, hand treatments like sugar/cream, anything that will smooth out rough spots on your hands helps. The effect these silks give though, is absolutely amazing - it's worth the little bit of aggravation, I swear it!! Sections of satin stitch done in these is incredible to look at, it really is.

However, most silks on the market, and most silks used by designers are spun silk. These do not have the problems that filaments do. You may still need to use a good hand cream (make sure it is needlework safe and fully absorbed before stitching!) because some brands can catch, but in my experience, it's not a huge problem. And believe me, I spend half my day at work with my hands in chemical sanitizers, degreasers and antibacterial solutions and my hands are a frightful mess, but I don't have a major issue with spun silks.

If anything, spun silks are easier to use than cotton. This is the reason I choose them over cotton. If they were more difficult, I'd enjoy my cotton projects more, now, wouldn't I? They don't tangle up as badly as cotton, they don't fray as badly as cotton. Some are better than others in how they behave, and as I said earlier, there are some brands I just refuse to use because they just don't measure up. Spuns silks, on the whole, will make for a wonderful stitching experience.

Another little side note - when I used to use cotton, everything was about finishing a project. I used to celebrate a finish much more, because it was a "PHEW, I'm glad that's done!". Now, I have more WIPs than I can count, and I don't care with most of them if I ever finish, I just enjoy working on them! It's the process of stitching that I love, and the finish is just a bonus.

And one last item I'd like to touch on, and a HUGE myth that I hear frequently. Silks aren't washable.

Silks ARE washable, no matter what anyone tells you. What I find really amusing about this, is that people will use hand dyed cottons without question, but will complain about a silk that runs. In my experience, hand dyed cottons are much worse for bleeding than any silk I've ever used!! And many cottons will actually lose colour - it's not just loose dye molecules that are being washed away, but that the dye isn't completely set. I've never had a silk fade like that when washed. Whether a silk will bleed when washed is entirely dependent on the dying process. Some are pretty darn good as far as being colourfast, others not so good. Bright or dark colours and reds tend to run on many different brands.

The easiest way to deal with bleeding is to keep your work clean, keep your hands clean, and not wash it. We all know that this isn't always possible though, so here are some things to keep in mind with ANY fibers you intend to wash.

Wash it before you start. You want to know if your work will be safe when you wash at the end? Rinse the fibers first to wash away any loose dye molecules. Do this until the water runs clear, and there isn't any colour transfer to a clean white towel or white paper towel. It's a bit time consuming, but it can save you a ton of heartache/headache. I don't do this, because I almost never wash my finished work, BUT, I always test a small amount of each colour before I stitch, so if disaster strikes, I know what I'm up against. Thankfully, most fibers I've used are pretty colourfast. AVAS isn't, most colours of that will bleed, but I've had pretty good results with HDF, Eterna, Waterlilies, Gloriana, Belle Soie, NPI. However, DO NOT expect that because I've had good results, that you will too, and make sure you test your fibers first. It IS worth the time.

As far as testing goes, to be completely sure I recommend testing even DMC or Anchor. I've had DMC run on me in the past, so it's not failsafe either.

One of the biggest draws to silk for me, is the vast number of different threads I get to experiment with. Some are dyed on the same silk base by different companies, but a lot of them are very different from one another. Different thicknesses, different shine, different feel. And oh the colours!!! Each different dyer has colours that no one else does, and this makes them soooo much fun. Cotton over dyed threads are pretty much all dyed on DMC or Anchor. So there really isn't any difference except the colours. Well since I don't particularly like DMC OR Anchor (though I find Anchor more bearable than DMC) I'm really not going to go out of my way playing with colours. When I do find a colour I like, I will do everything I can to find a silk alternative. I was SOOOO incredibly happy when Carrie of Carrie's Creations announced a line of silk, since I like her colours but I shied away from them because I didn't like the way they stitched.

Before you ask, no. I'm not rich. I'm definitely working class, and I don't have all that much money to spend on stitching. So what I do have I'd much rather spend on items that I love. I'd rather save up for 3 months to kit up a project that will cost a couple hundred dollars than spend $50 and never stitch it. If I resigned myself to using cotton, I'd probably give up stitching. Yes. I'm that spoiled. :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Celtic Garden - a conversion

I was asked recently to provide a conversion of Celtic Garden to NPI and Gloriana, and I thought I would share this with you stitchers, in case it was something others were interested in.

Exact conversions are rarely possible, since each dyer has their own unique styles and colours. What I tend to do is match a range, especially on a gradient style piece like this, rather than match colour by colour, so that the conversion colours remain harmonious with each other.

Luteousness - Gloriana Granny Smith Green is a good match. It's a bit lighter though. If you wanted to go darker, you could go with Olive Grove - it's a little bit brown, but it's got a good feel for the style.
Bitterblooms - NPI Brick Range is really good for these. You'll need 4 from light to dark - I'd probably go with 123, 124, 126, 128
Cervezas - I like NPI's Sunflower Gold range for these. 772, 773, 774 and 775.
Fish Peppers - Definitely NPI's Russet Red Range. For the central flower, you'll need six colours, I would use 204 through 209 for these. For the outer flowers, I'd use 204, 205, 207 and 209.
Terra Pottas - I'm going to suggest NPI's Pumpkin Range, in 862, 863, 865 and 866. There really isn't anything exact, and these are bit less brownish, but these will look great with the other colours.
Umbrage - Yellow Ochre 313 has a good feel for this one.

As I always state with any of my designs, my model colours are only a suggestion! I would love to see these stitched in a wide variety of colours of your own choosing.

New Design - Celtic Wings

Wow, it seems like ages since I've posted. I've been a very busy girl though!

Celtic Wings is finished. It will be officially released via European Crosstitch this week!

The model was stitched on Sassy's Frosted Cafe in 40 ct (although you could stitch this on ANY count of linen!! I just like the tiny x's) using Hand-Dyed Fibers silks. The design size is 267x267.

As always, though excited by the finish and release of a new design, I have a bit of an empty spot in my heart now that it's finished. It's almost like one of my children has grown up and is ready to leave the nest. Strange, but true. It will be a little while before I start a new model though, I have two pieces that I have to get done before I dive into another one! Both are a little time sensitive, so I want to focus on finishing them as quickly as possible so I can get back to some more model stitching. I have a wealth of ideas that are literally busting to get out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Online Needlework Show

I'm so excited! The show began today, and is the first time I've officially been displayed in a show. :)


My meager number of designs (2!) can be found under the listing for European Cross Stitch. :D

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I caved...

...and started Tuscan Rose. It's coming along pretty quickly. I put the first few stitches in on Friday, did a bit on Saturday and got a lot done yesterday.

This is done on Sassy's 40ct Hay Fields using HDF floss in the suggested colours. It's not often I do a design as charted, I almost always choose my own colours, but this one is perfect as it is. No need to mess with perfection.

I also got some charting done yesterday on a few different things. Spring Fever is improving, probably because of the huge dumping of snow we got yesterday, which is still coming down. As soon as the sun is shining again though, I fear the stitching ADD will return. lol

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Okay, I wasn't going to show WIP pictures of this one, but I'm so excited I can't contain myself.


I don't have a lot done yet, and as of now, I'm out of thread, but more is on the way. :) The butterfly colour is much more variegated than I had originally planned, but the other colours have a very soft flow so I think it will be okay. AND I think it's just enough to draw the eye. Still lots more stitching to come on this one.

I have to work this afternoon, but then I have the weekend off. So after some serious house cleaning, I'm going to stitch. And stitch. And stitch. I'm thinking I need to start Tuscan Rose. :D

Saturday, March 28, 2009

And now back to our regularly scheduled program...


I got my fabrics (woohoo!) and did some floss tosses which ruled out a few colours. Then did some test stitching, and a couple colours emerged as favourites. So I've placed my final thread order, but while I wait, I can get some stitching done, at least until I run out of the colours I do have! Leave it to me, I tested 4 purples and 4 blues, and the ones I picked were the ones I don't have spools of on hand.

I've started toying with a few other designs as well in the meantime. AND I think I might just have to start Tuscan Rose, because I now have the fabric, floss and chart and I'm in love with it. Thanks Di, I really needed ANOTHER start.

Now I'm just holding off ordering a couple of Needle's Prayse Charts. I know I won't have time to even think about them by the time they get here, so maybe I'll hold off ordering them and get them to celebrate the finish of this one! :)

I gathered up all my DMC, Anchor and Coats threads and am trying to find a home for them. Hopefully nearby. I don't really want to put it on ebay, I'd rather sell/give it to someone I know. Locally if possible, as it would cost $100 to ship all of this. Seriously, there's that much.

And now I shall go stitch. :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

More than a little bit annoyed

Okay, this is totally off the topic of stitching, but I really need to get this off my chest.

I've lived in lots of places in my life. A couple of medium sized cities (around 100,000 people), one really huge city (millions of people) and now a small town (less than 5000 people). I really love it here, it's a wonderful little town, and when you walk through it, it feels like you've gone back in time a hundred years. It's situated next to a lake, I live on the cliff which overlooks the lake. We usually get a nice cool breeze in summer, so even days that are in the 40s are bearable. I've gotten to know most of my neighbours, and people about town in the shops, bakery, butcher, post office, and I love that. Most small towns you stick out like a sore thumb if you're new, here I never felt that. Probably because most of my family has lived here at one time or another, and everyone knew my grandfather and remembers me as a little girl. Even my DB, who came here less than 4 years ago from England was welcomed by the community. He wasn't looked upon as an oddity, everyone loved the fact that he was different and most loved listening to him speak. In other words, I've found somewhere to live that just fits me and where I fit.

That said, I may have to leave my little town. We got a proposal in the mail the other day, detailing a new project that is being built a couple of kilometres down the lake - a Nuclear Power Plant. I don't argue with the fact that Nuclear Power is cleaner and better for the environment, but I don't want one in my backyard. They say it will create 1000 jobs. Sure, but not for people from the community, you have to have an education in electricity and nuclear studies to hold a job there. They say that it is completely safe to live here still, about the same amount of radiation as a yearly x-ray. Yet they also warn that pregnant women and small children shouldn't live within 5 km of it. So what are all the families in this town, which is a mere 4 km from the proposed site, supposed to do? Anyone with a well will have to have water trucked in, forget using their own ground water. Anyone within 1 km of the plant will have to move. This includes my cousin, who bought her dream house about 10 years ago and has put thousands of dollars, and her own blood sweat and tears into renovating and restoring it. Who cares if they're offering her twice what it's worth, she doesn't want the money, she wants her house!

The county hasn't yet given approval for building to commence. I'll tell you this, not one person in this town supports it. However, they're being clever, they've gone as far as 20 km in all directions around the plant to gain support. Well people that far out don't care, they think it's just wonderful that they'll get discounts on their hydro bills and possibly a well paying job. So here's my proposal. Put it in one of these communties that is currently supporting it! We don't want it. They do! Let them have it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Downtime is nice, but...

I'm really itching to get started on the new piece!! My test threads shipped early last week, my fabric last weekend, so I'm hoping and praying they'll be here today.

I've been having some fun, stitching some things just for me. I worked on Spanish Rouge a little bit (no pic) and Blackstone Fantasy Garden a bit (no pic) and did up two smaller pieces and finished both!

This lovely piece is called I Will Give You Five Hearts and is from A Mon Ami Pierre. One of the things I love about the French designers is their use of swirls and flourishes - they are just so pretty and fun to stitch. The pattern called for five colours I think, but I decided to do it as a monochrome and used the colour Rosebud from Crescent Colours Belle Soie. It came out very lovely and was a really nice choice I think. I used Vikki Clayton's 35ct linen in Haywains for this project.

And this beautiful little heart is from Point Passion and is called Arabesque Coeur. It is a wonderfully quick stitch, it only took me about 3 hours I think. I stitched this on Vikki's 35 ct linen again in the natural undyed colour, and used an old colour, double dusty rose. This is the colour I plan on using for Romy's Austrian Spot Sampler.

I then started a new piece, a butterfly, but I really had to question my sanity starting it on 48 ct linen from Legacy. It's not that I can't see the holes, I can see them just fine, but I can't get even a 28 needle through them without force and my poor fingers ache from the effort. So I scrapped it and decided to start Tuscany Hearts by Needlemania. I'm a little way into it and enjoying it immensely. I love the colours so much that I'm using them as charted - something almost unheard of for me!

So what else is new... well I treated myself, after the thrill of being signed by a distributor, and the release of two designs, I thought I deserved a little bit of a present. :) So I picked up a few charts, and some fabric. And I've been investigating picking up full sets of threads for use in colour selection. I've decided, even though it might be a bit of overkill, that I will pick up all of my favourite silks. I already have a complete set of HDF on tags, but the others I just have bits here and there, so I'll be picking up one new set each time I can afford to do so. I'm so excited!!

With that in mind I decided this week that it is time for me to say goodbye to my DMC hoard. I say hoard because there are several thousand skeins of it. Why get rid of it? Because I haven't used even one strand of DMC in over a year. Yes I have projects started with it, but I don't enjoy working on them so will likely never finish them. I will keep one complete set for comparisons and conversions and the rest are going to be sent to a new home. I've got a couple of places I can send them to so I know they will be well cared for. lol

And now I'm off to stitch and do laundry, and enjoy another day off. At least until the mail arrives!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Done, dusted and off to the distributor is Easter Flowers. I'm so happy! This is all so much fun, and each new release is a new wave of excitement. I'm sure after a few more this will become old hat and I'll be less enthusiastic about it, but for now it's a huge thrill.

This is my newest baby, stitched on 40 count Hay Fields linen from Sassy's Fabrics using Gloriana Silk threads.

So with that finished, I now have a week or two to relax and stitch whatever I want while I await test threads and my fabric for Celtic Wings. :) On one hand, it's nice not to have to worry about being perfect and just stitching for fun. On the other hand, I'm at the computer constantly, toying with colour samples and fiddling in Patternmaker with different little things floating around in my head. As I was saying to Sassy the other day, I'm ten steps ahead of myself. I haven't even started model stitching Celtic Wings yet, but I already have 1 more designed and have chosen the fabric for it, another two in my head but not quite clear enough to design yet, and ideas for a couple of others that are just starting to form in my mind. While it's nice to have lots of ideas, I want to take things one step at a time. I don't want to burn out and not know what to do next!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Is technology destroying "the hobby"?

When I say "the hobby", I don't necessarily mean one in particular, but any hobby that isn't focused on technology. The reason I ask? Facebook. In the interests an hobbies sections, I find less and less hobbies listed by people that aren't technological.

I suppose I should clarify. As a kid, I remember a lot of my friends used to have all sorts of hobbies. Some liked to read, some liked to do scale models, some liked to paint and/or sketch, some liked to do embroidery or sew. I'm sure you get what I mean and probably had a hobby of your own.

Now what do I see listed more often than not as hobbies? Watching television and movies and playing video games. Okay, so reading is still a big one, but what happened to crafts? Do kids just not do crafts anymore?

Having a teenager at home, and knowing all of his friends I can tell you that most of them don't. Their lives are focused either around the computer or around the television. Instead of showing up at each others' houses to hangout, they'll talk about hanging out on MSN. Often for hours. And guess what? They don't actually end up hanging out, because by the time they've discussed the idea with everyone on their buddy list, there isn't any time left to actually do anything.

I CAN tell you for a fact that technology has destroyed two things in our youth. The ability to spell, and the ability to do simple math. My son leaves me notes, written down on paper, and actually writes things like LOL and BRB. And in school projects, his spelling and grammar are atrocious. He will either use internet shortforms or common misspellings that you find in text messages, or he uses the spellchecker instead of actually proofreading and lets it autocorrect. Well in Canada, we have different spellings of words than in US. However, our Wordprocessor is in US English, so it will often correct things that don't need correcting. What I find terribly distressing is that I find teacher comments on his work in American spelling as well. As far as math goes, and I see this almost everyday, ask a teenager to figure out the sales tax on a simple purchase, and then watch their face take on a seriously puzzled look. Oh dear, how can one figure these things out without a calculator?? I can, and I could by the time I was about ten, probably earlier. I wasn't allowed a calculator in math or science class until high school, by which point the basics were pretty well engraved in my skull. My son was allowed a calculator by grade 3. Why? Because with this new curriculum, there is too much to learn to spend time reviewing the basics, like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. That's what his teachers tell me. This is a load of crap. The teachers end up spending more time than they should on things which 90% of kids will never use after they leave school, and not enough time on things that they will use everyday. But I digress...

So, with all of these wonderful technological inventions, do kids actually spend time creating anything other than logfiles and saved games? Not many from what I've seen. They talk at great length about the things they're going to do, but not many actually get around to doing them.

One of my son's best friends is female. They've been friends since they were about 7, and even though they've both moved far from where they met, they still keep in touch and still visit each other a couple of times a year. A few years ago, on one of her visits, this young lady showed a keen interest in my needlework and asked me to teach her how to do it. I spent the better part of the weekend working with her on how to make her basic stitches, made up a care package for her of some patterns, fabric, and floss and off she went. For a few months I would get updates from her in my email, with pictures of what she had accomplished. This last year or two, I ask her what she's working on and suddenly she doesn't have time. She has a part time job which she works at 1 night a week and Saturdays. Most nights she is logged into MSN and chatting with my son, so I know it's not that she really doesn't have time, it's that she chooses to use her time on other things.

Here's another little rant, perhaps a little off topic, but I feel it's still connected in some way. I'll use my son as an example, but I KNOW that this is not just something that I've had to deal with and is something that most parents have heard. To what am I referring? Two words. "I'm bored." Sure, as kids we were all bored at some point or another, but we most often found something to do. However, I hear these words from my son almost every day. He has lots of friends to do things with. He has several guitars to play. He has an enormous library of music - hundreds of CDs worth of every kind of music you can think of. He has a hundreds of DVDs at his disposal, as I'm quite a movie buff and enjoying watching them while I stitch. He has an Xbox 360, a PS3 and a computer of his own, all with several games. He has ten times more to do than I ever did at his age, yet he's always bored, and I never was. Why???? I'll tell you what I think, and I may be wrong, I often am, but here goes. Why is he bored? Because he never really does anything. He'll fiddle on the guitar - while logged onto MSN. He'll play a video game, while either logged onto MSN, or, chatting with his online buddies (most of whom he sees every day at school). He'll listen to music - while logged onto MSN. He'll talk on the phone - while logged onto MSN. My solution? GET RID OF MSN!!! Talk to your friends face to face!! Do something instead of typing about it!!! Do you know when he's NOT bored? When one of his friends comes over or he goes to their house. When MSN is not involved. MSN, text messaging, Facebook... they totally kill real life, because it's too easy to get caught up in drama online that in real life would seem pretty trivial. They've destroyed our social graces. Who the heck has a party on Facebook???? Stop talking about life and start living it!

Okay so back to my original thought. Has technology destroyed hobbies? Maybe. At least it has changed what is considered a hobby. I suppose that playing video games could be considered a hobby, it requires hand-eye co-ordination and mental agility. On the other hand, it produces nothing tangible.

On the flipside, the internet has also boosted hobbies among the older generations. I speak from experience when I say that if not for the internet, I would surely not still be stitching, let alone designing. There's a wealth of information to be found about so many different things, and people of my generation and those before me are re-discovering things they enjoyed years ago because of it. My fear is this: what happens when these generations are gone?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Almost done... here's a peek!

I thought I would post a sneak peek of my newest project. :) I'm a few short hours from completing the stitching and will hopefully (barring any unforseen issues) have this one ready for release next week!

I'm very excited, and am stitching up a storm trying to get it finished this weekend. It's been a fun one to stitch, the soft pastels have given me hope in the midst of this dreary winter weather.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


That was exactly what I said when I opened the envelope I received from Gloriana Threads yesterday. WOW!! Very pretty colours, perfect to finish my model of Easter Flowers. I'm just a few days from finishing it! Just to tease you, it's a spring design in soft pastels with lots of satin and specialty stitches to show off the pretty shine of these oh so soft silks.

Unfortunately, timing is always bad with these things, I had to work yesterday, and then again today and tomorrow, so serious stitching time won't come until Friday. Hopefully between that and the next couple of evenings, I can put a real dent into the stitching!! I'm almost there!!

After I finish, I get a week or so to relax while I wait for fabric to start testing colours for Celtic Wings - I can't wait!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

All Excited Again

Well, I worked all day yesterday and all morning this morning, and I'm finally satisfied with the layout for Celtic Wings, my fourth piece and the second in the celtic series. I've even almost decided on colours! I'll have to do some testing when I get my fabric, which I haven't even ordered yet, but I've definitely narrowed it down a great deal.

I'm ten steps ahead of myself, mind you, I won't be ready to start model stitching for at least 2-4 weeks, but it's nice to have the next one ready to go!

I'm kind of torn now... do I relax and work on personal stitching or do I keep up with the roll I'm on and get some work done on the third celtic design - which I started ages ago and put aside because I wasn't happy with it. That one I already know the colours I'm using - floss and fabric - but the design is stuck in my head and hasn't quite cleared into stitches yet. Maybe I should wait and not overload myself? I should probably just relax and celebrate the accomplishment of today and give my brain a rest.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

So much wonderful news, my head is spinning!

So what's the good news, you may ask?

Well, first, the non-stitching news. Long story short, DB has been here in Canada for just over 3 years now, and we've been doing his immigration paperwork for residency. While full permanent residency is still a couple of months away, he got his work permit a couple of months ago, but with this recession, finding a job has been difficult. I kept telling him that in spring it would be a snap, there's so much building going on in this area (he's a carpenter by trade) that he would be tripping over jobs. Well today he got one, and a very good one at that. He's been hired to join a small crew of guys who do home renovations/restorations on centuries old homes, and starts Monday. Very happy for him - and me! This means I can finally cut down my hours at work and get some serious designing done!

Stitching news... part 1 - http://europeanxs.com/index.html - Celtic Garden is now available for sale. I got the chart sent off this morning and it was up on the site right away - and on the front page too! I was doing my happy dance before I went to work today! The neatest part was coming home from work, and seeing a couple of emails, and a message board post about the design from some friends. The message board post had me dancing again, my friend mentioned that some people I don't know were emailing her about this new, must-have piece that was just released and it was mine! I was so happy I almost cried.

Stitching news... part 2 - Carrie's threads has just released a new product which has me flying. Silks!! I'm a fanatic for silks, I rarely stitch with anything else. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Carrie's colours, and I do have a couple of projects kitted in the cottons, but I rarely work on them for the sole reason that I don't enjoy working with cotton much anymore. And now I can re-kit all of these pieces in silk and still get to use all the cool colours! I'll definitely be contacting Carrie in future for some of my own designs!

Stitching news... part 3 - I'm almost done the design for piece number 3. Well I guess it's actually number 4 if you include the free piece I released last June. I know I promised DB and Mom that I wouldn't work on designing or model stitching after working all day and would give myself a break, but I'm glad I didn't really. I had a bit of a play earlier and I'm quite happy with how the ideas are flowing now. Sometimes I can see it so clearly in my head it's scary, but when I try to convert the picture in my mind to stitches it just won't work. This one seems to be coming more easily. And now I have 3 whole days off to work on it!

Stitching news... part 4 - I've gotten two more people hooked on silks. I sent an HDF e-card to my aunt - I say aunt because she's married to my uncle, but she's my own age and one of my closest friends. I had been telling her for ages how nice silk is to use, so much nicer than cotton and a hundred times nicer than the kit threads she uses on so many pieces. When you send an e-card from HDF, there is a spot to put the persons mailing address in, and Vikki will send them a thread and fabric sample. Well she got it and played and is in love. :D AND... another aunt was down a couple weeks ago for my son's birthday. I had brought a few things I was working on with me including various silk threads I was using for them, and my HDF tags. I just got together a care package for her with all kinds of silks and fabrics that she loved, my mother is heading up north this weekend and taking them along. Apparently my aunt is so excited that she's reminded mom about 10 times not to forget the bag of goodies!! I love getting people to explore new horizons in stitching! I fear though, that I have become a dealer, and they'll be coming to me for their fixes!

Stitching news... part 5 - well it doesn't have me totally overjoyed like the others, but I thought I would give a mention of what I'm working on personally. I put aside my latest model to wait for some threads, and in the meantime I've been stitching away at a couple things. Spanish Rouge got a couple more bands finished - very happy with my colour selection on this one and when I'm not so lazy I'll take a picture and post my progress. And of course with all today's good news, I had to celebrate... with a new start. I started I Will Give You Five Hearts, by A Mon Amie Pierre today. I'm stitching it on Vikki Clayton's 35 count linen, in Haywains, using Crescent Colours Belle Soie Silk in Rosebud. What a gorgeous colour of thread. I've been waiting to find the perfect project for it. This one stitches up very quickly - almost done 1 heart already. :)

And now I must get some sleep. It's 5 am, and though I'm still flying high from such a wonderful day, I need some zzzzz's. ;)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Had a play... I think I'm happy now

I remember now why I stopped doing website creating/editing. I don't have much patience for all this fiddling!

I'm still feeling very overwhelmed by all of this. It's an awesome feeling to know that people are interested in what I'm doing, but at the same time, it's very frightening. What if my next design isn't as well received? What if I never come up with anything else good? What if, what if, what if?

I never expected things to move along as quickly as they are. I set my goals for this year, and was HOPING that by the end of the year I might find representation. I never expected a distributor to be interested in me with only one design!! Not that I'm not extremely grateful, because I am!!! It just seems like it's all happening so fast, and between the excitement and the nerves my head is spinning.

I'm having a rough day, design-wise. I have too many ideas floating around in my head. I get a clear picture of one and start plugging away at it, all the while being bombarded with other ideas for different things and it's driving me nuts!! I guess that's better than being struck with designer's block!

So what else is new then. Well, I'm almost finished the stitching on my latest model - apart from a couple of thread colours that are being created just for me - how cool is that?. It's really coming together nicely, and I must say I'm quite happy with it. I'll get back to stitching it later on, for the moment I'm fiddling in PatternMaker with some other ideas.

I suppose I should get back it then, huh?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New career... new blog

Well, seeing that I have really and truly become a designer - though my official first release won't be available until later on in the week - I thought I should set up a new blog to go along with it! Of course this page is under construction and will be fiddled with lots and lots as I have the time and patience to do so, but I thought I'd get the ball rolling!

A little bit about me and my designs....

Well, I love all things sampler. The fun in designing for me is to take old traditional styles and give them a modern flair. I love Celtic knotwork, it ties into my heritage (English, Irish and Scottish) and is so much fun to play around with! I also love playing with colours and textures and different stitches.

I love working with silks. I don't like to stitch with cotton and I avoid it at all costs. I don't care if I have to spend a little bit more money, I'd rather enjoy what I stitch. I've experimented with just about every brand of silk on the market, and I like using them all for different things. My favourite is Hand Dyed Fibers, it's easy for me to get and I can get ANY colour I can dream up. However, I use and love them all - Gloriana, Belle Soie, Thread Gatherer, Waterlilies, Dinky Dyes, NPI, they all have a special place in my heart. Some have colours that are just to dye for, some work better for certain counts of fabric, they all have different light reflection properties and when you mix them all up together, you get some really cool effects - so I do, and will continue to do so!! Every piece should be an adventure, and that's how I hope that people will see my projects.

I'll admit, some of the cotton overdyes are really cool, and I do play with them from time to time. I don't know that I'll ever design with them, but they can make for some really wonderful projects too, so it may happen.

My favourite designers include Sampler Cove, Needlemania, Ink Circles, Needle's Prayse, Drawn Thread, Dinky Dyes, and many others. I rarely ever stitch with the recommended threads, and these designs really lend themselves to experimentation.

A little bit about me personally...

Well I learned how to stitch when I was young, but I never really got into it until about 10 years ago, and even then it was sporadic until the last five or so years. I think the discovery that there was more out there than Dimensions and DMC is what led me back and got me hooked. It's not in my nature to follow directions, I like to be an individual so I think that's why I never had the patience for it back then. The Needlework shops in my area don't carry a great deal of selection, so the internet became my enabler. Since then, every spare moment I have a needle in hand. My life until now has been a pretty rocky road, and stitching has become the keeper of my sanity. It helps me to relax my body and clear my mind, which anyone who knows me knows is not an easy task! My brain is going in 100 different directions at the best of times, so being able to find that clarity is wonderful.

The inspiration to design came from a number of sources. You know it's time to start creating when you look around you and see things in terms of thread and fabric colours. My muse is often nature itself - where you can find fantasy and imagination lurking at every turn. The simple elegance of a snowflake, the wonder of a flower, the drama of a sunset, the pure, raw power of a thunderstorm.... all awe inspiring in their own way, and I think my need to capture some of that in thread is my form of tribute.

Man, that was way too deep and meaningful.