Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Silver Stars

A while ago I shared with you the information about NATURE'S PALETTE, a home-based business out of Houston, Texas that hand-paints canvases for stitchers. (FYI: You can email them at for canvas info.) Well, they send me some yummy canvases to play with and this is the first thing I've stitched up:

I've quickly stitched up one of my new HOLIDAY ORNAMENTS on a 10" x 10" piece of 18 ct. "Silver Flash" canvas.

The canvas is medium blue with splashes of silver, so it has the loveliest of shimmers throughout the design. It was really fun to stitch up my little Shining Star in blues and silvers, and not have to worry about the background. Then, just to show off more of the canvas, I added a simple star border (in silver Ribbon Floss) around the edge, and VOILA! Project completed!

And while we're talking about stars, here's another small Shining Star canvas I stitched up many years ago (before the HOLIDAY ORNAMENTS pattern was born) using pastel blues and pinks and silvers:

So, if you're a star fan like me, get out some of those shiny, shimmery star designs and get stitching -- it will definitely put you in the holiday spirit!

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Need a Little Christmas

It's time to bring out the unfinished projects from Christmases past.... And here are the ones I pulled out this year:

This is my EASY PEASY piece -- a big ol' holiday stocking that I'm gonna stitch as a banner instead. It's painted on 13 ct. canvas, and BOY, is that fun to stitch on after working on 18 ct and 24 ct all year long!! (I'm gonna look for more designs on 13 ct to add to my stash - that's an upcoming New Year's resolution.) I've stitched the reindeer in Very Velvet, just for fun... and I might just do the santas in Very Velvet, too.

And here's another oldie but goodie project:

(The blogsite insists on turning this photo on its side - I don't know why...sorry.)
This project is from an old, old cross-stitch pattern called "Winter 1890" which my Mom brought me from one of their trips back East many, many years ago. I've always loved this design, but decided to stitch it on 18 ct canvas instead of evenweave fabric. I chose the white with opal sparkles type of canvas, so the exposed canvas would look like snow. And it does. Here's a close-up (turned sideways!):

I'm enjoying stitching this is simple Tent Stitch - no fuss, no muss on this old project. It would really be nice to get it done this year, but I'm not going to worry about it.... just enjoy the process...

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Holiday Pattern Update: In my rush to get the HOLIDAY ORNAMENT pattern out, I missed a rather large typo on the Materials page. A lovely stitcher, Karen from Wisconsin (who I was totally amazed to learn has every single one of my patterns in her stash - GASP!) called to order the new pattern and tell me I had mistakenly listed the wrong red color. Oh, reindeer poop. Sorry about that, you all....

So, Merry Stitchers, if you're planning on getting the new HOLIDAY ORNAMENT pattern and are already pulling the threads for it, get DMC #5 pearl cotton red color 304 - not 302, which doesn't exist, by the way.....

And now we will return to our previously scheduled stitching project, or two, or three as that big jolly seasonal deadline looms closer and closer....

Fast AND Festive!

Last year around this time, I confessed that I had been working on some small quilty-looking holiday ornaments. I even had a few stitchers email me this year about when they were going to be available. Well, TA DA! I've finished the pattern that has four smaller quilt designs that are perfect for a fast and festive project. It's called HOLIDAY ORNAMENTS, Series 1.... Here they are:

As usual, the photos just don't do justice to all the shimmer and glitter of these guys (and wow, how that Ribbon Floss pops in these ornaments! Ya just gotta stitch these up to see what I mean - 'cuz they use both red and gold metallics...)

I've stitched the models in the more traditional holiday colors (using Watercolours 025 - Holiday), but I also include thread colors for a more muted Victorian Christmas version (using Watercolours 047 - Camouflage) as well as threads for a blue and gold Chanukah version (using Watercolours 160 - Night Sky). But, hey, they'd also be fun to stitch in ANY other color combo you've got a hankering to try!

Originally, I thought these quilt blocks would be fun to stitch up as individual ornaments, but now that I've been looking at them in my office, I can also see them inset into small pillows; all four stitched close together (with 4-6 threads between) as one large square holiday design - like the first photo demonstrates; or even stitched in a long row to create a small banner or bell pull.

The ornaments all measure 4.5" x 4.5" on 18 ct. mono canvas. I used eggshell canvas, but any other color would work, too. Sooooo, if these cute little projects ring your bells, just visit my website for more information on these HOLIDAY ORNAMENTS. Ho, Ho, Ho!!

And P.S.: If you're wondering whether my naming this pattern "Series 1" means they'll be more -- you're right. I'm thinking that another four ornament designs are a definite possibility for NEXT year.... Stay tuned, Stitchers!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Luscious Canvases

Recently, I had the nicest talk with Marti from NATURE'S PALETTE in Houston, TX. Marti called me to tell me about her canvas painting business. After years of being a needlepoint canvas painter, Marti and her partner Nancy decided to create a line of colored canvases that provide the most unbelievably luscious backgrounds for all sorts of counted canvaswork.

They graciously sent me a ring of her colored canvas samples and I've been oogling them ever since. They are all so lovely I'm having a hard time deciding which ones I like the very best (all of them are terrific, by the way). The colors are grouped in the following categories: SOLIDS, with colors like "Grape Juice" and "Lemonade"; PREMIUM, which are vibrant solid colors with opalescent glitter (great for holiday ornaments) and some are mottled like "Silver Flash" and "Gold Flash"; and CUSTOM colors, which are softly variegated like "Flamingo Bay" or "Caribbean Waters" and others are speckled like "Pumpkin Patch" or "Latte" (both perfect for Halloween ormaments).

Here's another peek at some of the samples that I had to smush onto my scanner bed so I could show you these great canvas colors:

Frankly, all I can say is: "Yum, Yum, Yum..."

Marti and her partner Nancy hand-paint all the canvas pieces themselves, which they cut in standard sizes of 10"x10" or 20"x20" before painting. Marti says the canvas colors are totally permanent and perfect for showcasing a spectacular counted canvas design. They are also available to paint your own custom color requests, in whatever size you need.

If these gorgeous hand-painted canvases intrigue you and get you excited/drooling about all the infinite possibilities of working on painted backgrounds... or if you have a special project that needs a really unique canvas, you can email Marti and Nancy directly for more information on their exciting canvas line of NATURE'S PALETTE. their email address is:

Monday, November 22, 2010

New November Piece

Remember a few months ago when I revealed my ONE LONG PANEL and said I'd be doing a series of long panels? Well, I've finished the next one, which I'm calling LONG AUTUMN PANEL. Here it is:

I found the novelty of working on a long rectangular piece very fun and quite a relief from the usual "square designs" and as I was eager to see the patterns unfold, it worked up very quickly. And because it's such a long piece (finished size: 4.5" x 16") and hard to see from the full view, I'll zoom in a little closer and show you the parts of it up-close:

I've chosen another set of fun and easy stitch patterns to use in this design and the colors are especially yummy and what I consider very Novembery (with Caron Watercolours 231 - "Ethiopia".) And like the first panel, I've chosen to stitch it on the brown or tan colored mono canvas, to give it a richer appearance.

I've also suggested another autumnal colorway on the pattern, if you would prefer to do this design in ORANGE AND TEALS. And of course, if you want to pick totally different colors, I give you the suggested thread types for doing that as well.

If you're interested in trying out one of these fast and fun panels, please visit my website: and see what's available!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Colors of the Harvest

Instead of my usual Friday Flowers, I wanted to share with you some of the spectacular vineyard colors that are carpeting the hills of Northern Sonoma County this autumn. Literally in every direction that you look around here you see all these amazing fall colors, as the wineries in the area gather up their grapes and are now in the midst of their "crush" season...

Cloverdale is at the northern-most edge of Somona County, and just a little way up Hwy 101 you cross into Mendocino County, where there are vineyards, too:

In the hills above Cloverdale, I've been fascinated by the vineyards that, seen from a distance, remind me of pieces of variegated corderoy:

I stopped along a Cloverdale road this week and took these photos, starting up close and then panning outwards to the larger panorama...

And here's a view looking southeast, towards what I think is Geyser Peak (since Geyser Peak Winery is just below it along the highway in Geyserville).

And would you believe that after a day of taking shots of golds and oranges and reds, the evening sky decided to give the vineyards a little competition by ending the day with this blood-red sunset:

May your weekend be filled with dazzling Fall colors - wherever you live!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's a Start!

Remember that PRAIRIE SCHOOLER alphabet project I showed you a while back?

Well, I'm happy to report that I have two more letters finished: H and I.

My mini-goal for this past weekend was to get the I IS FOR INDIAN CORN finished in time for Thanksgiving next week. And I'm pleased to report that I met my goal:

As you can see from the up-close photo, I "cheated" a bit by stitching the corn leaves in long straight stitches. I wanted to get them done quickly and thought they'd look okay for the corn stalks. Hey, it works for me!

I was so happy to have the Indian finished, because that means I can start on the next three letters: D, E and F, on the left side of the same row.

Is there anything more fun than starting a new project? Which is why it occured to me while I was finishing the Indian, that this alphabet project is the perfect project for someone like me who is always struggling with a severe case of "STARTITIS" ... (and for those stitchers who have the same disease, you can certainly relate, can't you?!?)

Within this large alphabet layout, I can approach the start of each letter/block as a separate project ... how fun is that?

Soooo, I've gotta run now -- I'm off to start F IS FOR FRIEND, and can't wait to begin an exciting new block for my growing collection of alphabet letters.....

Monday, November 15, 2010

An Oldie But Goodie

Recently, a stitcher contacted me about seeing an old quilt design of mine on someone's stitching blog. It was called SUNSHINE AND SHADOW.... and was it still available?

Here's the design she was referring to:

I created this pattern many, many years ago - it was one of the very first quilt designs that I stitched. And really, it was one of my favorites to stitch as well.
It's a 10" x 10" design stitched on 18 ct. mono canvas. But frankly, it never really sold very well, so later when I created my website, I didn't include it in my AMERICAN QUILT COLLECTION.

So imagine my surprise (and delight) when a stitcher in England enquired about it and asked if it was still available. I told her that yes indeed it IS still available and I've just printed out a copy to send to her.

Because her request made me look at it again, I thought I'd share it with you as well. It's different from all my other quilt designs because it's worked primarily in Tent Stitch (or Basketweave, which is really what I used). The variegated checker boxes alternate with squares of black Scotch Stitches. Lots of repetitive stitches and rather tedious.... BUT, I found the stitching relaxing and fun, and I really enjoyed seeing the surprising appearance of the variegated squares, since each one turned out differently, giving the whole piece a subtle feeling of real sunshine and shadow.

Here's a look at it up close, so you can see the easy stitches I used:

There are four different colors used in this piece, and I suggest four different colorways (all using Caron Watercolours) in Rainbow, Pastel, Amish, or Lavender options. Or you could pick out your own and surprise yourself as you stitch. (I'm seeing an orange and purple version that might be fun as a Halloween project.)

Anyway, this classic SUNSHINE AND SHADOW quilt design is still available from me (even tho it's not currently on my website), so if you're ever interested in stitching it up, drop me a line!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Still Stitching....

Here's another "FUN" project I've been working on as the mood hits (and my eyes aren't too tired). It's The Prairie Schooler's set of alphabet letters.

The leaflets show these designs stitched individually on 18 ct. fabric, but I'm stitching them en masse, and on 24 ct. Congress Cloth. As the photo above shows, this project requires a really long set of scroll bars. In order to figure out the size of the overall piece, I calculated the size of each design on 24 ct. canvas, then cut pieces of paper to fit. Then I rearranged the paper pieces until I had a suitable arrangement for all of the alphabet letters.

I decided to have A, B, and C centered on the top row, and then there will be four more rows of six blocks - to make 27 blocks in all (the patterns have all 26 alphabet letters plus one extra block.) I forget the overall dimensions of my layout, but it's gonna be BIG. But I figure it will be a truly fantastic piece to see when it's done. And I really am enjoying working on each letter block at a time. Each letter has so many witty details, it's fun to look at while stitching.

Here are my B and C blocks up-close:

The stitch I'm mainly using is the plain ol' Tent Stitch - or Basketweave Stitch when I have the room. But as I stitch, if I can substitute other easy stitches, I do. Check out the little red house on the B block; and the satin stitched leaves on the C block; and also the itty bitty french knot trees in the C block. Nothing too stressful or difficult, but just a change here and there to add interest and dimension to the piece (not to mention speeding up the stitching time).

I was happy to get the G for Garden block done while the work on my yard was underway - it's one of my favorite blocks in the series:

Now.....on to the rest of the alphabet!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Still Stitching

In-between dealing with the backyard remodel, I have been doing dibs and dabs of stitching. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. I thought I'd share with you a few of the "FUN" projects I've been working on, a bit at a time.

[Aside: a FUN project to me is one that I didn't design; MY designs I consider "WORK" projects and they require a different headset than "fun" ones. And yes, I'm stitching away on new projects to release in the next month or so, but you'll just have to be patient about those - grin!]

This truly fun one is ANG's 2010 "Stitch of the Month" mystery project, designed by Sue Reed. I was inspired to start stitching on this after I saw the REMEDIAL STITCHER's progress on her piece (Thanks, Sara Leigh!) If you go visit Sara's blog, you'll see how different hers is from mine...

Instead of using my favorite spring pinks and greens, I settled on more autumnal mauves and salmons with golden greens that reminded me of chrysanthemum colors - the inspiration thread was a variegated thread that I dyed myself to use as the foundation for the piece. I also used #5 pearl cottons thruout the whole piece, which is different from the original thread list, just because those are the threads I pulled and was too lazy to go digging for the necessary floss colors...

If you really look close at my mystery piece, you'll notice that my outer tapestry boxes are different - I switched the threads, so that the diagonal boxes would be slightly different. I was curious to see the difference in switching some of the lights and darks - so I just did it! I'm looking forward to seeing what November and December have in store for this piece and then finishing it up by the end of the year.

This is a fun counted canvaswork piece, and it's free. If you would like to try it for yourself, just go to the American Needlework Guild website: and click on the Stitch of the Month project listed under the Educational Opportunities menu.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Few Distractions

I must confess that during these past few weeks I haven't been in my usual "All Stitching All The Time" mode. But I have a really great excuse: I've been in the midst of a backyard renovation.

These past few weeks have seen a flurry of workers transform my boring, bark-filled backyard from this:

to this:

WOO HOO! Which means that now, with a new flagstone patio AND a lovely lawn, Katie and I can actually walk out into the yard....and we're BOTH extremely pleased about that! As you can see, Katie is already relaxed and ready to play ball in her new space:

This week I plan to go shopping for a few trees and a bunch of shrubs to screen that boring ol' fenceline. And I can't wait to get to the really fun part: planting flowering bushes and lots of bulbs for springtime....

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I thought you'd like to see the October vignette I've currently arranged on my mantle, to celebrate the colors of the season. My HAPPY HALLOWEEN design still brings a grin to my face, with all its colorful Halloween motifs. (I keep meaning to get around to designing a Christmas version of this, but haven't had the time to do it yet - sigh....maybe next year...)

And yes, that's a Jim Shore pumpkin nutcracker, that I bought many years ago at one of the quilt & craft shows I used to go to with my stitchery booth. I'd never seen a pumpkin nutcracker before and just had to have it 'cuz it was so unusual! Perfect for the season, huh?!?

Anyway, don't eat too many candy corns....and have a spook-tacular Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Flowers: October's Colors

Here are a few snapshots of the leaves and pumpkins around my house....
There's nothing so cheery on a grey Octobery day like a few bright orange pumpkins or some fiery gold leaves waving from the trees:

Even the dreaded Poison Oak is pretty in the fall (as long as you don't get too close):

Hope your Halloween weekend is a colorful and safe one!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Flowers: Purple, Pink & Orange

There's something about this purple, pink & orange color combination that fascinates me. It's very happy... very festive... and very autumnal as well.

Here are some flower pictures I've taken around my yard and beyond that show off this color palette. Enjoy this October bouquet of dahlias, chrysanthemums, black-eyed susans, zinnias, tiger lilies, and just a peek of a pumpkin!