Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lots of stitching since Friday...

I spent the weekend working away at Spring Quakers by Rosewood Manor. While the colour changes are driving me to distraction, the results are very pretty. I played in photoshop to try and get the colours accurate - the floss colours are pretty close, but pictures just don't show the subtle colour changes in the fabric. Overall it's a sand colour, but has subtle splashes of pink and green overtones which make it a wonderful colour for a spring design like this. The fabric is Sassy's Desert Sandstorm, and the floss is Belle Soie (12 colours). I managed to get the first three pages done and bits of the next three where the motifs ran onto the next page.

On that note, I discovered am incapable of stopping a motif midway just because it's the end of the page. One of my little quirks I suppose, but I'm fanatical about it. When using variegated floss as I often do, I don't want to take the chance of coming back to the area later and the floss not matching up perfectly. I might have cut a new strand and the shading is slightly different, etc. I don't just stitch row by row when using a variegated, but follow the shape and flow of the motif, line, whatever I'm stitching, and it really messes with my head if I lose that "flow" by stopping partway through. So for something like a flower, I stitch petal by petal, working my way around the flower. I also always try to hide my start and end points in a corner because the colour might be lighter or darker where I finished up than where I started. Plus, especially in a piece like this, it means more stopping and starting if I quit half way through the motif!! I'm very strange. lol

I also discovered that I am fanatical about red. I'm also very picky about it. My favourite red is one that is clear, bright and true, that doesn't lean towards a blue, doesn't lean towards a yellow. This is true of the reds I'm using in the piece. Tulip, the brighter red, is exactly as I described, and really rings true. It really has a wow factor. The darker red, which is called Cranberry, also stays true. Even at it darkest points, there is not a hint of brown or purple in it. This impresses me - I'd imagine it's a challenge to get a red this deep and still keep it this clear. Well done Sharon! That's not to say I don't like blue reds or yellow reds. They're always useful and they're great for creating a feeling. There's just something about finding a perfectly balanced red that excites me. I'll say again, I'm very strange. :)

After taking pictures last night I decided to swap out to something that I wouldn't have to constantly change colours on, so I pulled out Sabrina. As far as cross stitch goes, I only have white and a little bit of metallic left so it fits. I must say though, going from the super soft, luxurious feel of the Belle Soie to DMC is such a drastic change. I miss my silk already and I only put in a couple hundred stitches last night. I'm so spoiled. :D

Still waiting for materials to arrive for Antique Lace. Not that I've been waiting long but it feels like forever!! Can you tell I'm excited about this one?

On another note, I sort of have a job interview today. Yesterday, Jon had a customer come in who works at Len's Mill Store (local craft store for those who aren't familiar), and he asked if they were looking for anyone - and they are! So he told her a little about me, and she said I sounded like I'd be a great fit and that I should come in and speak to the manager. So I am. :) It's 2-3 days a week so it might be just what I'm looking for. Fingers crossed and wish me luck!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Another one bites the dust...

I've been on a real finishing spree these last couple of weeks!

Last night I put the finishing touches on Daisy. I'm so pleased with how she turned out! This is stitched 1x2 on 40ct Lakeside Magnolia Linen, using Crescent Colours Belle Soie threads. I spent the morning getting the chart all put together and will be sending it along to my distributor shortly. It certainly makes me feel like spring even though it's snowing (again). I was going to start Rose, but I really want my next model start to be Antique Lace. I'm really itching to do that one!!

So, while I wait patiently (yeah, right!!) for my materials for Antique Lace to arrive, I decided to work on Spring Quaker for a little while. I didn't get much done last night but I'll show it off anyway. I changed the threads to Belle Soie and brightened up the purples and of course I switched to 40 ct instead of 28 and I'm using Desert Sandstorm from Sassy's. I love how it's turning out, but all this colour changing does do my head in. If you're interested in my conversion let me know and I'll post it. :) The red in it, Tulip, has to be one of the most amazing reds I've ever seen. It's so clear and true, not blue, not yellow, just perfect.

Oooooh and I got some pressies in the mail!! Susan from SJ Designs sent me some wonderful bead samples to test out for Antique Lace and they are just divine. I love, love, love the little pearls and I'm leaning towards them for the design if they work out the way I hope they will! I fear they might be a little bit of overkill given there are over 1000 in the design, so once I get a bit stitched I'll give them a test drive.

And something frustrating, albeit amusing. I've been applying for part time jobs, things like receptionist, secretarial, data entry, etc. Dr's orders, I can't be on my feet all day, so it really limits what I can apply for. I don't want full time, I want 2-3 days per week, just to top off Jon's income and leave me time to keep up with the designing. I pretty much state that in my cover letters, because I don't want companies to think I'm going to leave as soon as I find full time somewhere else. I found a couple that would be perfect - and one of them replied asking why, with my qualifications, would I want to be a receptionist and that I was much too over-qualified. Makes me wonder if they actually READ the cover letter. Rolling my eyes here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

So much for spring...

This last week has been so nice. It felt like spring. I even cut off all my long hair to celebrate - 18 inches of it!! It's quite amusing actually why I had let it get that long. Last winter, one of the girls at work and myself got our hair cut around the same time (this was around March 1st 2010). So we decided to see whose would grow faster. I won. I went from barely chin length to almost waist length in a year. Yesterday I decided it was time to rid myself of it. My hairdresser was so happy, and so am I. I've got a very short bob now and it feels soooooo good. But I digress.

Today, I wake up and the world is white again. Not a little dusting of white, but completely and totally white!! There must be close to a foot out there and it's still coming down like crazy. So much for a trip to Brantford to see Brenda today. Maybe later on in the week when spring returns!

I'm finishing up the last band on Daisy now. It's been slow going this week, and I'm back to dragging out those last stitches. Maybe one of these days I'll figure out exactly why I do this.

Friday, March 18, 2011

One more finish!

After I finished CDT this week, I decided I wanted something blue. Daisy just wasn't calling to me yet. So I pulled out Sampler Cove's Enya and finished it up. This one is stitched 1x2 on 45 ct white Florence from Graziano linen (one of my favourites!) using Waterlilies Mediterranean and Azure Skies. I really love this series from Sampler Cove, there are four in all and I plan to stitch all of them (though I'll need to order more of this fabric darn it.), each in a different colour. I'm thinking the next will be purples, then one in pinks, then one in greens. Diane named them the Flourish series, but I re-named them Di's Divas. lol They're such fun little pieces, not too big, so they stitch up fast.

And now I'm back to working on Daisy. :) I finished up all the pink and most of the yellow last night, and will probably finish her up this week so I can get the chart all done up.

I also did some work for a customer this week. To say I've learned a lot about charting since I started designing would be an understatement. Looking back, I wish it were possible to re-do my older charts!! But alas, they're on the market. So I've started a "Corrections and additions" page here where I'll upload anything that people ask for. I've already added the corrections for Hearts Entwined, and I added a short tutorial of sorts for doing Hungarian Stitches.

I had intended to get my website up and going this week, but I've not been well. At first I thought I had an ear infection, I had pain in my ear and down into my throat but it was bearable and nothing serious. I probably should have gone to the doctor sooner, because it turns out it was the start of a sinus infection. Had I caught it early I would have been alright, but as it stands right now, my whole jaw is inflamed and I can't even eat. The doc got me all straightened around and put me on antibiotics and a nasal spray and I should be right as rain in a couple days. I haven't tried chewing yet today, but I will say that the Flonase he gave me is doing it's job because it doesnt hurt to talk.

The good news is that my back is sooooo much better. I don't know if the pain in my jaw/sinuses has me distracted or if it really is better, but I have a lot less pain in my lower back this last day or so. YAY! SOMETHING had to go right, right??

Monday, March 14, 2011

Last Night's Finish

I finished Cirques des Triangles in the wee hours last night! Can't seem to get the right balance to get the colours in the picture accurately - this is without flash, under my daylight lamp, and it's close - but the colours are definitely richer and more vivid IRL if you can believe that! In case anyone is interested in the colourway, I used mostly Gloriana - the variegated is Ada's Rainbow, the purple is Berry Purple, blue is Jewel Turquoise, green is Jewel Green, yellow is Lucky Old Sun, orange is Orange Soda and the pink is Hand Dyed Fibers Hibiscus. Strangely enough, as I neared completion on this one I didn't falter and get distracted as I usually do. Will have to remember to email a copy of this to Tracy, she always loves to see different things done with her designs.

Now I probably should go back to model stitching. I have a couple weeks before the materials for Antique Lace arrive, and maybe 2 or 3 days of stitching left on Daisy, which has to be ready in 4 weeks (so lots of time still). So I might skive for a couple more days and work on something else. Not sure yet. Won't know until stitching time arrives today!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Something bright and cheerful...

...to contrast the dull grey weather. Two (or is it three?) days of rain and today it's snowing.

To keep my stitching mojo flowing I pulled out CDT to work on. It's about as bright and colourful as you can get. Almost finished the green, then just blue and purple to fill in. :) It's stitched 1x1 on 28ct black Jobelan using a variety of Gloriana silks (and one HDF for the pink). I'm quite happy with how it's turning out. This will be a nice contrast to my CDX which was a rainbow of pastels on black. Might have to restitch CDC now in multiple colours just to make it match up...

Once I complete CDT in a couple days, I'll finish up Daisy for the Spring Online Needlework show. AND I saved up enough pennies, so I ordered the materials for Antique Lace today - apart from the beads, which will go on last anyway. So depending on how quickly they arrive, I'll likely be starting on that one next.

I've been busy on the biz front, I think I've found a good web host, and will be getting a site online in the coming weeks with a paypal cart for PDF sales. I haven't done web development in a loooooong time, so I'm sure it will be a frustrating experience, but I've been in business over 2 years now, and I should have done it ages ago. Stay tuned, I'll post the link once I've got it up and running!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Calling all bead experts out there!!

I've been doing my bead testing for Antique Lace. I originally thought I'd have to go with petite beads, but after doing some testing with sizes I found that 11/0 or 12/0 will fit easily given the beads aren't solid but scattered around. So that opened up a whole big range of options.

I found the perfect beads - by picture on the internet anyway. They're from SJ Designs, and they really do look perfect. See here: Creme Pearl Glass Beads.

However, they're not very widely available. I may still use them, but I was looking at the Mill Hill beads and thinking that even if I don't use them I should still at least offer a conversion to them. I was looking at 3021 as the alternative, but of course the pictures I can find are tiny and I can't tell what kind of finish they have. I'm looking for a light cream colour with a pearlized finish. I've emailed Mill Hill but I don't expect to hear back until Monday. So if you have this colour, can you let me know if it fits that description?

On to other things, I did a few conversions today for My Mother's Garden II which is running in The Gift of Stitching Magazine and added them to the Conversions Page. I have a few more to post whenever I find the notepad I wrote them down on!!

I'm stitching again, it was literally just that I needed a change and not that I lost my mojo. lol I decided to work on Cirque des Triangles and will post a picture of my progress when I switch back to Daisy!

And lastly, I've decided that I will (when I figure out how to do it) add a paypal cart to my blog for PDF purchases. I won't, however, offer new designs until shops have had them for at least a couple months. That way everyone's happy - shops get first crack at them, and then if people can't find them in their usual shopping sources, they can get them from me. :)

Off to search the house for my notebook now!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Today, there's pictures

Just a quickie today, but I got batteries for the camera, plus Daisy was off the snaps for some traveling today so I figured I'd take the opportunity to share. :) For some strange reason blogger is doing that weird rotating thing again, I have no clue why. The fully stitched part is the top!! Not that it really matters, the design is symmetrical apart from my initials!

Getting closer to finishing as you can see, if only I could concentrate on stitching. Put in one flower last night and then just didn't feel like it. I'm thinking maybe I should work on something else for a few days to get my mojo back. Now the question is... what to work on?

And just because, I snapped a picture of my fabric rainbow. This is all Belfast Linen, fat quarters of each colour, and there should be enough here to stitch all of the Nora Corbett Flower Pixies (the ones I plan on stitching anyway). :) Not sure which colour will be for which design yet, but I wanted soft pastels that wouldn't overpower the designs. And it rotated this one too. ARGH!! Doesn't it look yummy though? Reminds me of ice cream.

Okay. Off to figure out what to stitch.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A bit of rambling...

My brain is here, there and everywhere today so excuse me if this post is the same.

I'm very saddened today. The loss of Lisa Roswell of The Primitive Needle is such a huge one for the needlework industry. She was very talented and will be missed. Such a terrible tragedy and her family is in my thoughts.

I intended to post some pictures today... a rainbow of fabrics that came in (my Christmas pressie from hubby finally got here) and my near complete Daisy, but the camera batteries are dead and simply will not recharge anymore. ARGH!

I'm a bit disheartened about stitching right now as well. My distributor reported back that Nashville wasn't a good show for them. There were 103 vendors this year and only 107 shops there making purchases - a huge decrease from previous years. The recession has hit our industry and hit hard. Because of that, the usual post show order for more charts was very small. It used to be that when I released a new design, the proceeds would cover materials for at least one or two more new models, new colours for my thread collections, and usually a treat for myself like a new chart or two. Not so this year.

And so of course this has me questioning why I bother. I put in hundreds of hours designing, model stitching and putting together a chart pack and now I can't even afford to buy materials for new models. I never got into this because I wanted to make millions, I never even expected to make enough to pay bills and call this my job. But I at least hoped that it would support itself.

The anwer to my burning question... because I love doing it. There's a huge feeling of satisfaction when I finish a new design, be it in the software or on fabric. A feeling of pride knowing I did that. Yet for the past couple days, since hearing this news, I haven't felt like stitching, and I've been staring at a blank screen in the charting software with no inspiration whatsoever. I know it's just a rough patch I have to get over and I know I will persevere, but it's upsetting nonetheless. I just need to kick myself in the ass and stop feeling sorry for myself. :)

With that in mind, I am considering the option of selling my charts to individuals in PDF format. It's something I have considered in the past, but I wanted people to support their LNS/ONS by purchasing through them. But now that shops aren't buying, it's becoming more and more obvious that I have to do something if I want to get ahead in this game. I'm still on the fence about it, because I know a lot of shops automatically shun designers who sell direct to the public, and I want to keep a good working relationship with the shops that do currently stock my designs. At the same time, I want to make my designs easily accessible to the public and keep the business running in the black so I can keep releasing new designs. Really not sure what else to do and I'm totally open to suggestions.

On a brighter note, Daisy is coming along even though I only managed a couple hundred stitches yesterday. I'm finished almost all the pink, and just have the green and yellow to fill in now. So if I can get my stitching mojo back, it should be finished in a few days and I'll have another new one to release. :)

And on another brighter note, my LNS owner is back from her vacation today, so I'll be popping in tomorrow for some stitching time and all the latest gossip.

And a final brighter note... my back is getting much better. On Sunday, something went pop, and now my movement is much, much better. It was the strangest thing!! I can even touch my toes again! The ache and pain is still there but it's gradually improving. So, tomorrow, while I'm out and about, I need to pick up printer cartridges so I can start mass printing resumes - of course, just when I felt up to hitting the streets job hunting, I run out of ink. My life in a nutshell, really. lol