Friday, December 6, 2013

The adventure continues...

Say hello to Amethyst, the second in the Birthstone Series.

I loved stitching this one, the textures come out cooler than I'd planned! And of course it's purple.

The design is a small one, 100x100, but it's jam packed with specialty stitches, Delica beads and Swarovski crystals.

The chart also includes instructions and mock ups for combining months together to make them into a wedding or anniversary sampler, or stitch them all together for one (very) large design.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Learning Sampler Part 5

I did already post my picture of this, but here it is again...

I've just emailed out part 5, if you didn't receive it, please email me!

Here are some of the members WIPs so far. :)

Jana's WIP  

Jean's WIP

Lotti's WIP

Marjan's WIP - who is way ahead of even me!!
Cornelia's WIP (including part 5)
Can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Release: Celtic Snow

I started working on designing this in 2009, back when I did the other three Celtic designs, but for some reason I just could never come up with anything I was truly happy with. I FINALLY did. :)

Celtic Snow uses 7 colours of Dinky Dyes Silk Floss, 3 colours of Delica Beads, and 1 colour of Swarovski Crystal bicones. As always, a DMC/Mill Hill conversion is provided. The fabric used in the model is from Hand Dyed Fabrics by Stephanie, called Midnight Tryst.

So pleased with how this one turned out!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Black Friday Sale

I decided in the spirit of the shopping season to have a 20% off sale this week. It will run today through Saturday, November 30, 2013 on all PDF format charts. These can be purchased through my Etsy Shop using coupon code: BLACK20 or by sending me an email request at

Back to work now, expect to see a new release tomorrow! :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Some sneak peeks :)

I've been stitching like mad this week on models. :) Three of them to be exact. One of them is due for release early in December, and I'd like to get it finished before I have to do Amethyst.

This is Celtic Snow. It's the fourth in the Celtic series, finally, stitched in Dinky Dyes on Hand Dyed Fabrics by Stephanie. The colours are exactly what I was hoping for, trying to get the look of moonlight glinting off the snow on a dark snowy evening. :) This one has lots of beads to add to the sparkle.

Next is Part 5 of the Learning Sampler - I wanted to get a jump on this, so I didn't have to stop partway through something else to stitch it up. Have I mentioned how much I love these reds?

And finally, Shades of Gold, which is scheduled for release in the new year. :) It's the first in a series of 12 different geometric samplers, each done in 2-3 shades of the same tone. 

Hope you all have a lovely weekend and get in lots of stitching!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The start of something.... sparkly!

Like bling? I wish I could capture how sparkly this is.

Introducing Garnet, the first in a series of mini Birthstone Samplers. Stitch them individually, stitch them in groups or stitch them all together if you're brave! Each monchrome design is 100x100, stitched in Soie D'Alger (or you favourite thread, I'm always happy to do conversions when I can) with Swarovski crystals to match that month's birthstone and a coordinating Delica bead.  

Each chart also includes instructions and mock ups for stitching multiple charts together. Stitch them as a family sampler showing the months for all family members. Stitch them as a wedding or anniversary sampler by including the birth month for the bride, the groom and the month they were married. Stitch them individually as birth samplers by adding the name and date below. Or stitch them all together as one big sampler!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Learning Sampler Part 4

Part 4 of The Learning Sampler has been sent out. This month is mostly cross stitch with one new specialty stitch. Here is my WIP:

Here are some WIP pictures from the group participants on Facebook at various stages:

Cornelia's WIP

Jean's WIP

Lotti's WIP

Marjan's WIP

Mary's WIP

Nicola's WIP

Terri's WIP
I LOVE seeing all the different colours!!

Hope everyone has a very happy and safe Halloween!

Monday, October 14, 2013

New design for the Online Needlework Show

I really can't believe I finished this in time. Thread fiascos, discontined fabric and ridiculous shipping times almost put this off until next  year. The threads I originally ordered took 2 1/2 months to get to me and when they finally did, the dye lots were such that they didn't match up as well as I had hoped. By that time it was already the end of September and I couldn't re-order something else, so I went stash diving and used threads I had on hand, picking colours on the fly. On top of that, the fabric I used for the model, Legacy Linen Oaten Scone has been discontinued. When did I find that out? AFTER I started stitching it. I didn't have time to order something else so I used it anyway, but I did find a near perfect match for it, thankfully. Then earlier this week, with the end in sight, I came down with a bug, which has knocked me on my behind. By yesterday I still had the darkest blue and all the purples to finish stitching and I was ready to give up, but I guzzled copious amounts of coffee and pulled an all-nighter and got the stitching, the charting and instructions finished. As far as my health goes, it probably wasn't a good idea, I feel like garbage again, but it was worth it. If I hadn't managed it I'd have been really bummed.

So without further ado, here is Twisted Band Sampler. :) It's official release is Thursday, October 17, for the Online Needlework Show. It will be listed on the European Cross Stitch page.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Learning Sampler Part 3

Part 3 is up in the Facebook group and has been sent out via email. If you didn't receive an email, please contact me!

Here is what my own looks like after part 3:

For reference, I'm using Silk Mill Silk threads and 34 ct Legacy Linen in Wren Wing.

A note on the Legacy Linen - I've just been notified by the distributor that 34ct Legacy Linen in Oaten Scone and Wren Wing is no longer available. :( It's a sad day for me as those are two of my favourites and I've used both in models recently. So I went on a hunt yesterday to find alternatives.

For Wren Wing, Zweigart Natural is very close - just a touch darker. Depending on preference you could go 32 or 36 count. Oaten Scone doesn't have a great match in any Zweigart colours I have here, the closest would be Flax, though Flax is a touch darker and more brownish. I did find a very good match to it from Lakeside Linens, the colour Chantilly Creme is very close.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Some WIP pictures of The Learning Sampler

The group on Facebook is hopping with lots of work in progress pictures and I thought I'd share them with everyone who doesn't use Facebook. :)

Lotti's finished Part 1 and 2, stitched in Silk Mill blues
Cynthia's WIP using NPI purples

Marjan's WIP using Silk Mill reds

Viviane's WIP using DMC blues

Nicola's WIP using DMC

Melinda's WIP
 I love seeing all the different colour combinations!

Friday, September 6, 2013

A correction

I got a message from Kathleen that she noticed a mistake in the materials list for Sampler of Seasons.

S204 Latte SHOULD read S201 Latte. It is correct in the instructions, it's just on the materials list. This will be corrected in future printings!

Sorry about that!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Learning Sampler Parts 1&2

This is just a note to let everyone in the SAL that is not on Facebook know that I have sent out parts 1 and 2 of the Learning Sampler. I figured it was a long weekend and rather than send it at the end of the weekend I would send it a little bit early so people could have the whole weekend to work on it! I decided part one was too small on it's own so included the second part as well. Here is my parts 1 and 2, stitched in the Silk Mill silks on 34ct Wren Wing Legacy Linen. :)

I would love it if people send me their WIP pictures, I'll post them all on here and on my facebook page!

ETA: If you did not receive the email with the chart, please message me or email me and I will re-send and make sure you're on the distribution list. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

2 New Releases

First, A Sampler of Seasons. I pushed through the tears and finally finished it after some 2 years of designing, redesigning and model stitching. As I said before, I had a hard time picking this one back up as it was the last design of mine that dad got to see, so finishing it has been both happy and painful at the same time.

Retail price is $30 for the chart and all instructions. There are a lot of specialty stitches and lots and lots of diagrams - 45 to be exact. It's stitched in Valdani Silk Floss, and of course Valdani also does most of the same colours in cotton, but as always a DMC list is included. The DMC isn't as accurate as I'd like but for a lot of these colours there just wasn't much I could substitute. I did include descriptions of the colours so you could choose your own favourites if you wanted to. I used 34ct Wren Wing linen from Lakeside linens, but have also included alternative suggestions for fabric colours - and you could use any count you wanted of course.

Second, is a re-release. Tulip was originally released in Just Cross Stitch Magazine in March/April 2012.

Retail price is $14. This one is all full cross stitch, and uses Crescent Colours Belle Soie Silk Floss on Lakeside Linens Magnolia Linen and a DMC conversion is included. A big huge thanks to May Khaw for model stitching this one for me.

Both of these are shipping out to Hoffman on Monday, and I'm sending out the details to European Cross Stitch momentarily. They are also available directly from me, both wholesale and retail.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Sneak Peek

Okay, I know I said no more peeks. I also said it would be near impossible for me to do, and I was right!!

Here's a peek at Sampler of Seasons. It will be releasing late this week/early next week depending on how quick I am. It's a big one.

I've got lots of other new stuff coming and lots of model stitching to work into my schedule. Hoping materials for the next couple arrive soon, I should be finished this one tomorrow! Of course then I'll be glued to the computer drawing lots of diagrams.

This is the design that almost didn't get completed. Between depression about Dad and similar stuff being released it has taken me a lot of determination to get this one done. It was the design I was working on when Dad announced he had cancer, and was supposed to be released almost a year ago. I'm crying even as I type this and I'm not going to lie, it's been a painful road stitching it, and will probably be bittersweet when I do finish it. But I know my father would be furious with me if I gave up, so I'm fighting my way through it. :)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Some ideas for The Learning Sampler

For those who don't use Facebook, one of our big discussions has been what colours everyone wants to stitch their version in. :)

Over the past couple days I whipped up a few different mock ups so people could see different ideas. I always try to encourage people to use what THEY like. My tastes in colours aren't everyone's cup of tea, and I know a lot of people WON'T buy a design they really like because they don't particularly like the colours used. I like trying to get people to think outside the box - what are YOUR favourite colours and how can we make the design fit? Here's a few ideas.

Original reds

Blues - Any blue will do, just pick six shades from light to dark, and a white.

Greens - again, any shade will work, it's literally whichever one strikes your fancy - six shades, light to dark and a white.

Mauves - this is one of our stitchers colours - it's based on Silk Mill series 3392-3397 with 3400 instead of white, and her fabric is PTP Fog. I've done up DMC and Anchor conversions for this if you want them, just email me. :)

Monochrome - pick your favourite colour and go with it!
Multicolour - brights, more muted colours, pastels, anything goes.

Conversions to other brands in the reds as charted:
Conversions to other colours in several different brands of thread:
Conversions for a multicolour version in solids and variegated threads:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

And some MORE news to post...

I mentioned before that I will be adding a new line of designs, these will be called Northern Expressions Needlework INK - a line of tattoo designs drawn and inked by my son. The first three will be available on August 1st, and here they are:


Red Riding Hood's Revenge

Dead Dave
If you're curious about how these will stitch up, here is a work in progress picture of Hootie (lots more done since the pic, just too lazy to take a new one at the moment!).

The colours in the picture do not do it justice - they are so much more vibrant IRL, but I can't seem to capture them in a picture.

And here he is as a tattoo! Excuse the blood this picture was when he was VERY freshly inked!!

I have several more ready to chart, so there will be new designs added as I get them done. If things go well, two of my son's colleagues at Shogun Tats are interested in having their artwork charted as well so those may follow. For now, these will be available only as PDF files directly from me. If there's lots of interest, I'll offer them through shops as well.

This is a totally different type of project for me, and I'm hopeful that people love the artwork as much as I do - of course I'm biased. ;)

Saturday, July 27, 2013


... The Learning Sampler, for all those afraid of specialty stitches but wanting to learn - or just those who like the design and want to stitch it. This will be an 18 part stitch along design, a small piece released each month beginning on September 1st, 2013 and running until Feb 28, 2015. You can join at any time during the 18 months. The registration for this design costs $20 and can be paid via paypal. You can either message me on Facebook or send me an email to and I will send you an invoice for the total. If you want to pay by another method, please contact me and we can figure something out. Once your payment is received, you will be invited to join a private Facebook group where the parts will be uploaded each month - if you're not facebook savvy, I can email the parts to you each month instead. I'm easy. Please give me at least a day to respond to emails/payments etc, I will try to process them as quickly as possible, but sometimes I'm away from the computer stitching.

The design is a pick your own type of idea, you choose your favourite fabric and thread colours, I'm stitching mine in the reds but there's no reason you can't do whatever colours your little heart desires! I will post and/or send out floss and fabric requirements later this week or when you register, whichever comes first, so you will have lots of time to order materials if you need them.
Edited to Add: For anyone who would like more detailed information about this project, a materials list and stitch list can be found here:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Designing is great, but now a new problem emerges...

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been on a creative streak, and I'm still going. It's been too hot to stitch much so I've been glued to the computer and am pumping out new designs and coming up with new ideas at a rapid pace. Loving it, BTW.

The problem that emerges... now I have to get all of this stuff stitched!!!! lol

I think this is a GOOD problem. :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Designing again

Finally!!! It feels pretty darn good.

A couple of weeks ago I was almost at the point of throwing in the towel altogether. I'll share with you a little story that kind of shows how messed up my mind really IS right now. As many of you know from reading my blog I have been working on A Sampler of Seasons for a couple of years now, and have posted pictures of its progression along the way. Well a couple of weeks ago, one of my dear friends and readers sent me an email that sent me into a rage and distressed me beyond belief. It took the reasoning of some other dear friends to calm me down. So what did this email say? That I had been ripped off by another designer who had released a series almost identical to my own. I went and looked at them and they were pretty darn close. I had been working on the idea for close to two years and it literally destroyed me to think of scrapping all that work. Thanks to some friends that I vented to, I was able to realize that the idea itself wasn't a new one, and that similar themes had been out for a long time, and that it was just coincidence. And of course because these friends are biased, they also convinced me that mine was better. lol So after a lot of wavering I decided to finish it. And honestly, this whole episode is what I think sparked a very big outpouring of creativity and made me really passionate about designing again. On that note and again with the logic of friends, I've decided that I will no longer share WIP pictures or teasers of future designs, just in case. This will probably be difficult - I'm a big mouth as you all know and I am pretty much incapable of keeping a secret. lol

I've finished charting the big design I was working on, the seasonal sampler, and am hoping to finish the model stitching, putting together the chartpack and printing it for the distributor this month. I also managed to sneak in a couple of new ones while I was in Patternmaker, so I've got lots to model stitch in the near future.

One of those new designs is a "spinoff" of the original company, in that the design is NOT my own but my son's. I've begun charting some of his original artworks that he's used in tattooing. I'm trying to get a balance somewhere between say Heaven and Earth Designs - a literal stitch by stitch translation of the artwork - and Mirabilia - more of a "representation" of the original work. In other words they look pretty much like the original, but without the confetti, if that makes sense. It's a lot more work than I thought it would be, mostly because I won't rely on the program to position the colours - rather I import the picture and then trace over it myself, choosing the colours and shading independently of the program. The first I did is a tattoo I myself have. I'll begin model stitching him as soon as I finish up the seasonal sampler and am hoping to be able to release it in autumn. Initially, these will be available exclusively through me in pdf format until I can gauge whether or not there is interest from shops.

That brings me to an announcement. I have made another decision about the business that will no doubt please some of my customers. As of August 1st, I will be selling my charts in PDF format. With the recent increases in postage prices, especially international shipping, it's becoming more and more clear that there has to be an alternative. The charts will be priced at MSRP. I will not sell them for less, even though my production cost is less, for one reason - I will not undercut shops that I have already been selling through for many years and want to continue to sell through. Another note of difference, these PDF files are not resellable or transferable so if you want to sell it or give it away at some point, I encourage you to buy a printed chart from a shop.

I've been hesitant about this for a long time. As a crusader against infringement, I can't help but see how much easier it is for criminals to upload a pdf file as opposed to having to scan a printed design. The companies that sell in pdf format are some of the most heavily infringed. However, I've also come to the realization that printed files are being infringed at lightning pace anyway, mine included, so I may as well just give in. Of course I will still fight against infringement, but I won't let it make me fearful of selling in electronic format any longer. 

I should go back to model stitching, but it's so darn hot and I'm tired of having to wash my hands every few minutes! Thining maybe it's time to invest in an air conditioner. lol

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Time to finish some stuff

As I said previously, I've been trying to re-organize my life somewhat.

I have been TRYING to organize my stash. The biggest problem is that there is not enough room for everything I have so it's all crammed in as neatly as I can get it. I'd buy another set of drawers (currently have two tall narrower ones and two short wide ones) but I literally have nowhere to put one.

Anyway, in this process I have realized I have far too many WIPs. One drawer and a very large rubbermaid tub full of them. I thought the number was around 30, it's actually closer to 40. A couple just need beads, a few are models of my own designs that need some re-charting done (which I can't seem to finish at the moment) and a couple I may scrap and restart (don't like the fabric or floss of I've used or something else about them). So I've decided no new starts for a while. I NEED to clean up and finish some stuff first!!!

I had one finish this week - though it WAS a new start so it doesn't count. ;)

This is Ink Circles Cirque des Coeurs. I stitched it on 40ct Silkweaver Adobe Linen (LOVE this colour). The off white and pinkish flosses are Valdani Silks, Subtle Elegance and Nostalgic Rose, and the burgundy floss is Hand Dyed Fibers Examplar Black Iris Bloom. Was going for romantic and elegant looking since it's hearts. :)

And I'm such a dolt. After I finished this one late last night, I mounted Ink Circles Turkish Delight back up to work on finishing it. Well when I initially started it (oh, about 2 years ago) I stitched it sideways (as in shorter side at the top). When I mounted it last night, I mounted and started stitching it as charted. DOH. So now I have three choices - frog what I stitched last night (about 500 stitches), keep going and finish it and hope nobody notices (it's on 55ct so it's pretty hard to tell, and it's not like I'm entering it in contests or anything but it'll drive me loopy when I look at it), or restart it again since I'm only about 1/3 done it won't take that long to redo. I'm kind of leaning towards the third option because much as I love the colours I chose, there's really not enough contrast between the two so I might lighten the second colour if I do it again. Note to self: 3 am while watching the Game of Thrones Red Wedding episode is NOT the best time to stitch!!!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lots and lots of tidbits today

So much for trying to get back to posting on a regular basis, right? lol

First, I'd like to just address some issues I've been having with my blog and some comment changes. I know how much people dislike the word verification thing to be able to post a comment, I myself find it annoying, but I have had to enable this. Why, you may ask? About two months ago I sent a takedown notice to a Russian website (though the infringer was American, just using the Russian site to host their illegal uploads). About 2 days later, I started noticing a lot of spam arriving in my email, facebook page, and blog. I deleted it and figured sooner or later they'd get tired of harrassing me with this crap - well 2 months later and I'm still getting it, so I enabled the verification so they could no longer spam my blog using bots. Unfortunately in the process I think I deleted some REAL comments as well, not intentionally, but with 200+ spam comments a day it was getting hard to filter out the good from the bad.

Second, I'm still not back in design mode, much as I'd like to be. It's been a bumpy few months, and a couple of months ago I started having severe panic attacks - to the point where I couldn't breathe and was near to or actually blacking out. Along with this has come severe depression. I'm working with the doctor and phychiatrist on getting the right "cocktail" of meds to control it, and eventually counseling to get to the bottom of why it's happening so I can get off the meds and back to a normal life. While this means I'm off work indefinitely (can't operate a band saw on sedatives) and have lots of time to work on designing, it's just not coming to me. Hopefully that will change soon.

I have been stitching a fair bit when I can, I tend to have the shakes a LOT which can make it difficult. I finished Forget Me Not from Heaven and Earth Designs in just 10 weeks. Not bad for a 42 page design, huh? I gave her to mom for mother's day and she loves her. She's stitched 1 over 1 on 28 count Monaco from Sassy's Fabrics.

Since finishing her I've been working on various things, WIPS here and there and I started Cirque des Coeurs. Then I went on a reading tear - been glued to my Kobo almost constantly, so not much stitching the past week or two. Either that or playing facebook games. 

Since I got stash money and gift certificates for my birthday, I have been on a stash buying spree! I decided to try out a couple of new fabric dyers, Hand Dyed Fabrics by Stephanie and Jo's Fabrics which are sold through her facebook group. I got my first order from Stephanie this week and her colours are amazing! Here is some eye candy for you:

The colours are: Top Row - Isolde, Discord, Lady of the Lake. Bottom Row - Midnight Tryst and Ariel's Grotto. All are 36ct linen. Aren't they pretty? I already have another order ready to go, just trying to decide between two purples first! Also very excited about my order from Jo's Fabrics, she has this awesome marbling technique and I can't wait to see it up close. :)

I've also been adding to my bead stash - which I FINALLY got inventoried. The problem I find with most of my current go to shops is that they either don't carry the full line of colours in the size I want (like Artbeads or FireMountain Gems) or they don't list the colours they do carry by the manufacturer's colour number, but by their own stock number (Fusion Beads, SJ Designs). I still use them when they have what I want, especially Artbeads and Fusion Beads because their shipping is so cheap, but my go to for Toho beads is Bobby Bead since they carry a fairly complete selection and have frequent discount sales - though I only order here when I need a lot since their shipping to Canada is $20 flat rate. However, this time I was needing some Miyuki colours, and the only places I could find them all were Caravan Beads - but their shipping was extortionate ($78) or Charisma Beads who only ship to UK and Europe. Then I came across Fox Den Beads. They carry the full line of Miyuki - in all shapes and sizes and their prices were actually much better than Caravan as well. Shipping was again, flat rate package to Canada, $20, but they can fit a lot of beads in that! My order shipped the same day. Very happy with their service and so happy to have found a new go to for Miyuki!

And I ordered a bunch of new charts since I got a GC from 123 Stitch, and they shipped yesterday. So should have some more new stash coming soon!

I've been working on inventorying all my stash and re-organizing my storage so I can actually find things and know what I have. So far I've just done the beads, but I will be starting on fabric this week. I discovered I have a whole lot of fabric I need to get rid of as well, I just won't use it. I'm putting off floss and charts because THAT will be such a huge undertaking. lol So far I've just been using Excel, but I'm thinking I'd like to try out a Needlework Inventory program so I can cross reference things that are for specific projects. I know I can do that with Excel too, but I'm working with several different files (one for beads, one for fabric etc.) and I don't really want to merge it all into one file. I'd love to hear suggestions from anyone. I was looking at Organized Expressions though I wish they had a trial version I could test out first. Currently giving Stash Can a try, but not sure I like it. Given I used to design databases, I suppose I could whip something up in Access, but it's a lot more work than I'd like to do! lol

Along the same lines, I've been trying to re-organize my house. It's a small place, and there really is no room to store ANYTHING, so even after I clean it's always cluttered and it truly gets on my nerves. We have exactly ONE closet, in our bedroom, a very small one at that. We can't use the basement as it floods, and currently the attic is still Nate's domain with most of his belongings still stored up there and I need HIM to go through it all before purging it. Add to that that Jon is a pack rat. He still has computer parts from 10 years ago that are useless and literally just taking up space, but trying to get him to throw anything away is like pulling teeth!! Unfortunately, this isn't a task I can really do on my own, and since Jon generally only has one day a week off, it's a very SLOW process.

Given my desire to clean/organize, it's becoming clear to me that boredom has set in. I'd love to get out and do more, but it's so hard to do. When I'm home and have a panic attack, I can just let it go and happen, but when I'm out, it's much harder, and of course the harder I try to control it, the worse it gets. I'm actually to the point where when I know I have to go somewhere I have a panic attack out of fear that I'll have a panic attack in public. Even going to the grocery store or to the hairdresser or post office get me so worked up - it takes me 2-3 hours to psych myself up just to walk down to the mailbox. It makes it so frustrating because I'm a fairly social person and I LIKE being out and around people, but this crap is turning me into an agoraphobic hermit. Hopefully counseling will address this, the biggest issue is that because I live in such a small town with limited resources available, the wait list to see a psychologist/behavioural therapist is about 4 months, unless I want to pay for private care which is about $130/hr. UGH.

That's about all that's new with me these days... And now that I have lives in Candy Crush again, I'm off to play that for a bit. One of these days I'll get lucky and beat level 197!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Quality takes a backseat nowdays it seems...

Has everything in life become disposable??? Totally off the topic of stitching, but I figured if anyone would "get" why I'm so peeved, you guys would, as stitchers, heirloom and handcrafted mean something to us.

Mom and I went furniture shopping last week. She wanted a new bedroom set, since dad's passing a couple months ago she hasn't been able to bring herself to sleep in their bed, so she figured she would use that set for the spare bedroom.

Our first stops were to the large chain stores since we figured they would have the best selection. Wrong. Even though some of the sets were over $5000, not a one was solid wood. They were all veneers of hardwood over cheaper wood or pressboard. From a distance they looked nice, but upon closer inspection you could see where the grain didn't match up where the veneers were glued on. The salespeople looked at us like we were crazy when we said we were looking for solid wood, preferably North American made, they all said no one makes stuff like that anymore, it's too expensive. You've got to be kidding me.

Well they were wrong, we did find a store that sold it - several in fact, though all carried pretty much the same stuff, because there are so few companies that still make it. Most of them are Mennonite or Amish by the way, since there are so few proper woodcrafters and cabinetmakers left nowdays - but that's another rant.

I always thought of furniture as something you invest in, when it looks aged or worn, you don't throw it away, you refinish it. It's something you hand down to your kids and grandkids someday and it lasts for generations. I mean I'm not what you'd call affluent, but I was raised by a builder and live with a carpenter - quality means something. Apparently that's not true anymore. The stuff most places are selling you couldn't refinish, you would HAVE to replace them. I don't know if it's just me, but you'll spend more in a lifetime buying cheap replaceable furniture instead of a one time purchase that lasts forever. Sure it'll take years to pay off, but it's worth it. Maybe that's why these big chains don't sell the good stuff anymore - it's not a matter of expense, but because they want you to keep coming back every few years to replace one piece or another as they wear out - ask me about my 3 year old sofa that I got suckered into and is already worn out, and guess where I WON'T be looking for a new one. Well that and the fact that most people nowdays don't care about quality, it's all about price and cheap garbage from China is what you'll find most places.

I have had three heirloom quality bedroom sets, my childhood set had been my grandmother's and then my mother's, then mine, and then my son's. I still have it, though it needs to be refinished, and will keep it for my son's children. The first "adult" set I had was a gift from my grandmother when I got married. When I got divorced, I kept it for my son (he's now using it and will for the rest of his life). The second I bought myself after my divorce, it's 15 years old, solid oak made by Stickley, still in perfect condition, and will last me the rest of my life. I did have a beautiful mahogany antique dining room set that I was having stored, but my ex apparently gave it away (loooong story) which I'm very annoyed about. I bought it from his father for $400, yet it was worth 20 times that easily. Someday when I have my own house and the means to do so I will add to my collection of heirloom furniture.

For anyone interested in really good quality home furnishings, here are a few of the North American companies that really impressed me:

Newton Furnishings


Kincaid Furniture

Buhler Furniture

Stickley Furniture

All are custom made - most of the sets can be purchased in several different types of wood/stains. Some will even custom make pieces in the style you like with different dimensions. Mom got pieces from the Florentino set from Newton.

As far as expensive, it WAS more than the chain stores were charging for their garbage - $7500 tax, delivery and set up included, custom built to her preferences of wood type and finish (dark golden oak). It was so hard to choose, there was so much beautiful stuff! Someday it will be mine because my brother doesn't like it - it's too old fashioned. To me it's not old fashioned, it's timeless, classic and elegant. Then again, my brother changes furniture like he changes his clothes, he tires of it and replaces it every few years.

That brings me to my point. When I was telling everyone at work about this, nobody got it except two people - one who is in the market for new furniture for her whole house since her house burned down last summer and she lost all of her mother's antique heirloom furniture. The other was my boss who obviously gets the quality thing, he's a butcher and won't sell anything except the highest quality. I was astonished that everyone else thought it was insane to spend that kind of money on something you're just going to sleep on. Yet these same people bitch about the influx of Chinese made crap on the market - and they just don't see that they're the ones who have enabled it. And when they're in the market for their third new bedroom set, I'll still be enjoying the one I already have. ;)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Change of opinion...

I remember once saying that I hated Monaco fabric because it is stiff and starchy. Actually it was probably more than once. ;)

Well I have these three Heaven and Earth Designs that have been in my "to do" pile for several years. I thought it was time to finally figure out fabric for them and get to work on them. I had the background removed from them because I wanted to use a hand dyed fabric for them.

I used to really like Jobelan, but the last HAED I started on it I was having terrible problems with stitches slipping behind the fabric. I will finish it but not anytime soon. I don't particularly like Lugana or Jazlyn anymore either. I'm not a fan of linen for densely stitched over one work. So I had to figure out something else. Leave it to me to be difficult, right?

So in my searching different hand dyers, that left me with three options that I could see.

One, try out the fabric from one of these new companies like Dovestitch who don't use the standard fabrics to dye on, but rather have their own made for them. However, after reading about their fabrics, I noticed that the fiber content of their evenweaves was the same as that of Jobelan or Lugana so I decided not to bother since it was likely to be similar, and thus have similar issues for me. Scratch that one.

Two, Jubilee. Several dyers have this listed as an evenweave option, it's 100% cotton and it's a pretty thick heavy fabric so the slipping stitches shouldn't be an issue. However, it seems that there is some form of supply problem from Zweigart - everyone I contacted about it said that it was on backorder and had been for a long time. Even though it's a Zweigart Fabric, even Silkweaver who is a subcompany of Needleworker's Delight - the North American distributor for Zweigart - was no longer listing it as an option anymore. So even though stitching wise it was a viable option, I might have to wait three years to get my fabric. Scratch this too - I wanted to start these this year - maybe even finish one of them.

Finally, three, Monaco. This proved to be more difficult than I thought it would be. Not a whole lot of dyers use this fabric, and most of those who do don't offer it in larger cuts and 18x30 wasn't going to be big enough. I decided to go with Sassy's Fabbys, Lauren has never steered me wrong in fabric selection and is always helpful. So now it was just a matter of deciding on colours.

To give you an idea of just how great her service is - I sent her pictures of the designs I was going to stitch, with my ideas of fabrics I might like to use. She gave me some suggestions in return - which of my selections would and wouldn't work because of colours being too similar, etc, and I left it in her capable hands.

My fabrics arrived last week pictured here (middle row) with my colour of the month selections, also from Sassy, and some Silkweaver fabrics I ordered in their Christmas Sale.

And the three designs getting stitched on them are these, all from Heaven and Earth Designs from artist Rachel Anderson, and all using Michele's background removal service:

Right away I knew the green was perfect (it's not as blue as pictured) for Lily of the Valley. The soft grey was perfect for Rose. The purple I was a bit skeptical about. The pictures on her site were of a much more lavender blue, and this piece is decidedly more pink with little hints of blue here and there. I decided to start that one first, because I knew the other two pieces would be perfect and I needed to set my mind at ease. I have to say, I'm pleasantly surprised.

Had the colour been what I had been expecting, the flowers would have blended into the background so much so that they would have barely showed up - which I suspect is the reason Lauren suggested this colour to me instead of the one that I had originally picked. I'm extremely happy with how it is going. In fact I can't seem to stop stitching it I'm enjoying it so much. As of today I've been working on it a week and have completed the first six pages and then some (a fair bit more since I took the picture).

And how is the Monaco fabric? Undyed and loaded with starch I will never like it. Washed and dyed with all the starch removed it is FANTASTIC! Six pages completed and not one slipped stitch. It's got a wonderful hand, it's nice and thick, the weave is dense so the coverage is fantastic - absolutely no fabric showing through between stitches which I absolutely hate when stitching a piece like this as it makes it look "sketchy", the colours look washed out, and takes away from the effect of looking like a painting. Fine for a sampler, but not for this. If I ever finish these three, I definitely see more of this fabric in my future for over one stitching.

On another note, I still haven't been able to get myself back into design mode, my heart just isn't it in it right now. Someday I will return to it, of that I have no doubt, but for the time being I'm having fun just stitching and will continue on that path for a while until some lightning bolt of inspiration hits me.