Thursday, December 30, 2010

Introducing New Year, New Designs!

This happens every year, at about this exact time:  Weeks, if not days before the Winter TNNA tradeshow in California, I am working hard to crank out some designs.  I'm not the only designer in this boat.  Nearly everyone I know in the business is doing the same thing.  We're scrambling to produce  new designs to debut for 2011;  painting on canvas, stitching like mad, and editing our stitch guides and written materials on our computers.

"But, you've known about this for the past year!" you say.  Well, yes, true enough.  And it's also true that I've been designing in my head for the past year too.  Some of my ideas have been cooking in that head for much more than a year.  I just have not had the chunk of time to implement some of them until now.  And I guess you might also say that I work well under pressure.  Make that extreme pressure.

Sigh.  Yes..I have put myself in this situation, and I'm making the best of it.  And also enjoying it immensely!  Because this new stuff is to make it's 'debut' on the tradeshow floor, I'll give you just a peek.  (I love long as I'm not the one doing the peeking!  In that case, I am a very impatient person.)  But I must say, I'm very excited and optimistic about the designs that will be shown in the Sundance booth this year.   And hopefully, you will see them in your LNS (local needlework shop) soon too!

But I digress.  I decided to show you where this creative process takes place, and to show you that I am a true arteest!  I work with abandon, and make huge messes, and I'm disorganized, and ...well, never mind.  In the end, I love what I do, and that's all that matters, right?

These photos are of my materials and my work space.  For many years, I worked sitting and hunched over a drafting table, thinking it was the "way it is done."  "It" is the way I was taught, and I fell into that trap of not questioning, even though my shoulders would knot up painfully.  A few years ago, my husband of 12 yrs, a Philosophy professor, proficient in questioning, made the observation and suggestion that perhaps, if I stood to work, it would be much easier on my back and my overall health.  What a concept!  I was ready to try anything, so I made an investment in my health and bought a wonderful standup easel.   Can I just tell you that it has changed my life!  (My husband, and my easel...both dear loves that have changed my life for the better!)  But as you can see, having the easel has not made me any tidier. 

This last photo is looking toward the other end of the above mess.  This mess is much nicer, and contains my soft chair to stitch in, my tv to watch, my computer and my printer.  BTW...I LOVE my printer, because as I'm designing, I can enlarge, reduce, and flip or rotate my sketches.  It is a huge time saver! are two little peeks of the work in progress on my easel.  The first is the border. 

Gold paint is always a plus, don't you agree?  And so are polka dots!

Here is a little darling kitty who is trying to 'steal the show' on my new canvas, but he has a lot of competiton.

OK!  That's all you're going to get from me tonight.  Except for this final photo of the tradeshow floor.
This was at the end last year, when the show was over.  Curtains mostly down, trunks and boxes loaded.  Another great show came to an end.  But I'm looking for THE BEGINNING right now!

A New Beginning, a Happy New Year,  and may you acquire lots of great new designs to stitch and receive joy from!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Stitch, Stitch, Stitch, Shop, Shop, Shop, Plan, Plan, Plan, Decorate, Decorate, Decorate, Wrap, Wrap, Wrap, Eat, Eat, Eat, Think, Think, Think, Stitch, Stitch, Stitch, Read, Read, Read, Party, Party, Party,
Rest, Rest, Rest, Worship, Worship, Worship, Cook, Cook, Cook, Clean, Clean, Clean, Sing, Sing, Sing, Hum, Hum, Hum, Eat, Eat, Eat, Stitch, Stitch, Stitch......

Merry Christmas to all, Happy Holidays to all, and Keep Stitching when you need to relax!
See you next year~

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Next Generation!

I've just returned from my vacation in Florida where I visited my eldest daughter and her family.  She and her husband are parents of a darling little boy, aged 5.  It had been a year and a half since my last visit...far too long!  As beautiful as Florida is, my real enjoyment came from being with family!  And I have to say,  all the statements made about the joys of grandchildren are TRUE! 

My grandson insisted on helping me needlepoint.  He called it 'sewing', and was intent to learn.  Of course, when he saw my supplies, he was smitten!  It was almost too much for him...the colors, the threads, the beads!  And the design that I was working on...."So Bootiful, Grandma!"  He had to do it too!

There was no needlework shop in the area where my daughter resides, so we only had Michaels and JoAnn's to obtain supplies for a child friendly design.  After much consideration, we opted to buy plastic canvas, some 'real looking' large tapestry needles (which were really some kind of plastic I think) and a huge package of off brand pearl cottons with 24 colors!  We bought a little plastic case to hold his stitching, and it was perfect.  Sadly, I neglected to photograph this little kit, so I hope you can 'get the picture.'

Next, I drew simple designs on the canvas with Sharpie Permanent colored markers.  We had tried other types of things, but the Sharpies were the only things that really worked.  When he came home from kindergarten that day, we showed him 'the surprise'.  I wish you could have heard his enhaled breath!  He was thrilled! 

I showed him how to thread the needle:

Next, I doubled the thread and tied a knot so the thread would stay in the needle.  This is an ideal way for children to use a needle and thread.  Plus, the doubled pearl cotton filled in the large holes of the plastic canvas quite well.   He was eager to learn, and paid close attention to my instructions.  At one point, he said, "I've got it Grandma!  You can leave now."  When I didn't, he told me I was annoying him!  Hahaha!  I don't think he was being rude...just honest as only a five year old can be!  Anyway, he worked and worked, until he was forced to stop for dinner, bath, and bed.  He announced that he was going to get up before school, and finish it in time for Show and Tell.  Which he did! 

Ahhh....I don't have a photo of the finished piece either!  But you can be sure it was Bootiful!

Now, this blog entry would not be complete without my featuring my 7 year old granddaughter who belongs to my youngest daughter.  We had a sleep over at my house before I left for Florida, and she too always wants to paint and stitch when she visits.   I've given her little kits before, which she has enjoyed.  This time, I gave her a piece of Zweigart 18 mesh and some fabric markers.  I told her to design her own piece.  Here is she is with her beautiful composition.   (Actually, SHE is the beautiful composition, wouldn't you agree?!)

She too has the same intensity to learn to stitch as my grandson has.  I gave her an actual needle because she is older, and I knew she could handle it.  She has been handling scissors like a pro for years now too!  Anyway, seeing her sitting in my stitching chair, with my Dazor lamp, oblivious to everything else, was really cute!  What's a little slobber and steam when you are creating!

             I gave her leftover pieces of Caron's Watercolour threads.  She LOVED them!

Teaching my grandchildren to stitch, or in the least, giving them a glimpse of what I love to do, has been one of the most satisfying teaching experiences of my life!  No national seminar teaching stint can equal this joy!  And I have two more grandchildren yet to convert!  Lucky me!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Softer Side of Halloween!

Here it is October 3rd already!  Fall is in the air, even here in the desert Southwest!  For many people, this month means only one thing:  Halloween. 

I was surprised (no..shocked!) to learn that the most popular canvas designs in the handpainted needlepoint business are Halloween designs.  Really?!  Yes!  They outsell every other type of canvas out there, including Christmas stockings!  I learned this when I designed my first EVER Halloween design in Witche's Chandelier.

This canvas is large..23"X25", and is part of my fantasy chandelier series.  I do want to stitch it, but have not yet found the time.  I know that there are a number of people 'out there' who have purchased this canvas, and I only hope they are stitching/have stitched it to their Halloween love'n heart's content!  That would not be a black heart, mind you, because this design is rather sweet, don't you think?

I am not a blood, guts and gore person.  I don't like horror movies or scary things.  I do like fantasy however, and the cuter, the better!  Like Mary Englebreight type Halloween things! Or Libby Sturdy's Adorable Halloween canvases!  Or like my friend Janine Holtzman's Dead Cat Quilt, based on cats she has known and loved.  Perfect for Halloween, this quilt has brightened up her kitchen wall for years.  (Janine, I've put my watermark on the photo, but I'm not claiming it as my design...just so you know!) 

The dead cats are featured in the black and gray bottom border, barely visible like ghosts.  It's a pretty clever and wonderful design, Janine, as are all of your quilts!

I'm currently working on a new Halloween canvas which I will debut in January at TNNA.  For now, though, I'm offering just a peek.  I'm enjoying working on this so much!  The colors and stitches, beads, silk ribbons, embellishments, etc that I'm using on the piece have really given my creativity a boost!  Maybe it is the cooler weather, but I could stitch for hours on this, if I in, if the rest of life didn't get in the way!

Obviously, this doesn't even look like Halloween yet.  Aqua?  Yes indeedy!  Here's another glimpse that has more Fall in it:

Before I go, I'll show you a scary spook that recently 'appeared' on my studio floor!  This could have FREAKED me out, but I laughed when I saw it!

Can you guess how it got there, and what it is?

The FIRST one who submits the correct answer in the comments section of this blog will get a "Trick or Treat!" from me.

Bye for now~  Get Stitch'n!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fall Flavors

It seems I've been obsessed with any flower growing wild around here.  Partly, that is because I do love flowers of any kind, and partly, because a flower here in the high desert is something precious and jewel like in it's rarity.  The tiniest bud stands out against the stark rocks and dirt, and is equally vivid in dull grasses.  (I love grasses too, but that is another story!)

Today, my husband alerted me to a large sunflower that is growing down by the barn.  It was larger, he said, than the roadside sunflowers that are making their appearance these days.  So, I went to investigate myself and this is what I saw.

I desperately wish I could have photographed the HUGE black bumblebee that was visiting it upon my arrival, but alas, it flew off just as I got my camera ready.   So...just imagine how beautiful that was!

This flower is growing tall and stately in a field of weeds.   It stands alone, with no other evidence of similar companions.  Here is another view of it with my hand holding it from moving in the breeze.

Sunflowers are Fall flowers, and there is absolutely a wiff of Fall flavors in the air here right now.  This lone flower got me to thinking of the needlepoint canvases I have known and loved, (some of which are my own designs) which feature sunflowers.  And as Fall is the perfect time to begin a new project, I share these designs with you here.  Perhaps they will inspire you to seek out golden threads, bronze beads, velvety greens and a canvas design worthy of those attributes!

First off, I'd like to show you my Happy Rooster.  He sits in front of a backdrop of golden ribbon floss sunflowers created with darning stitches.  Very Happy indeed!

Next, is a country fence.  Perhaps this is in Nebraska, or Kansas, or maybe it is just right down your road.  This canvas is part of a series available through Sundance Designs, and is called The Fields. 
You could stitch as little or as much as you like on this one, and it will look great no matter what!

Next best thing to a sunny field is a backyard bursting with adventures, lawn, flowers, bugs, and of course, children!  Here is my very large rug sized Backyard Sail'n canvas design and a closeup of the sunflowers featured in the left hand border.

Come to think of it, that section of canvas makes a pretty interesting design all by itself...Hmmmm.

Here is my Talavera Sun.  First shown is the painted canvas, followed by photos of the stitched and finished piece as a pillow.

The beaded sunflower centers called to mind a little sunflower I stitched many years ago for a wooden jar top.  It sits on my dresser and holds earrings.  The canvas was designed by my daughter Aunna.
Sundance beads, turkey work and needle weaving.  Now that spells FUN!
Speaking of Sundance, I pulled the following canvas designs off their website.  They will show up here as very small, but I hope you can enjoy viewing them anyway.

The first is by the artist who made Sundance who they are today; Ted DeGrazia.  His little girl holding a giant sunflower is so charming!

Here is a VanGoghish vase of sunflowers by artist Sally Huss.  I love this one!

And a few more by Sally...

Next, is one of my favorite canvases, designed by Gail Tu-oti.  Wouldn't you love this as your own front gate?

Be sure to check out these and all the designs that Sundance distributes at

And lastly, just to show you how much I love and admire sunflowers, I share with you a cherished painted cupboard that resides in my kitchen.  When Aunna and I came upon it in a store, it didn't take much of her urging for me to buy it.  My husband was a bit shell shocked when I brought it home, but then, the poor man never even knew what color was until he married me!   He's over it now!

I believe this cupboard was crafted in India and the painted sunflowers just brighten my day every time I enter the room!  Perhaps you need your own sunflowers to brighten your day too, so get stitch'n!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fairy Flowers

Who says there are no fairies?  I've seen evidence to the contrary!  First of all, the more magical the environment, the more likely there are to be magical things within it! 

I've emerged from bug hell this summer into a beautiful landscape that occurs this time of year here in the desert Southwest:  Monsoon Season.  The normally dry desert transforms into a lush paradise, if only for a few weeks.   And as in most desert climates, the flowers and foliage tend to be tiny...more to conserve moisture, I am supposing.  These tiny little flowers, leaves, grasses, etc, are enchanting, at least to my eyes.  I'd like to share with you some of the images I've taken of such flowers on my  evening walks down my dirt road after supper.  Then the air is cool and often, a thunderhead is brewing to the east.   So, to set the stage, here is a photo taken just the other evening, around 7:30pm.   Pretty magical, wouldn't you agree?

I should probably clarify that all of the photos are taken with my Droid phone camera.   Often the focus is on the background grasses rather than the flower, because this is a phone, afterall!  Also, because it is dusk, many of the flowers are folding up.  I should go out during the day to capture their full beauty, but the daily temps deter me from that exploration. 

I also need to say that I don't know the names of most of these little plants.  However, that doesn't stop me from admiring them.  I hope you will too!   (My comments on the photos are underneath the posted photos.

            What can I say?  Fairy pink, delicate, so tiny, so detailed!  I love the little stamens!

Look at the sweet little unopened pods on this plant, like Chinese lanterns.  Bear in mind their diminutive size;  these flowers are under 1/2 inch in diameter.

        They have a rather orchid like look, don't they!

The petals on these tiny flowers have a cottony texture.  Notice too, their unopened counterparts on the right hand side....a tiny ball of clustered knots.  Each knot is a petal waiting to be born!

I do know the name of this one:  Fairy Duster!   Of course it is!

This one is my favorite.  The flowers are barely 1/2 " across, and just so precious!  They look like tiny pom poms!  I can see stitching their portrait with a single strand of floss. 

 I know the name of these flowers too.  They are wild verbena, and look very much like the ones you can purchase in a nursery.  Often the clusters get very dense, just mounds of purple/pink!  Love them!

I don't know the name of these, but really now!  FOUR petals?  And how cute are they!
Again, I don't know the name, but so cute, eh?  Those stamens call for bullion stitches, for sure, if you were to stitch them!

                                                      A classic daisy, 1 inch across.

This photo is blurry, but I had to post it.  Believe it or not, this is the unopened bud of the daisy flower featured above.  It is barely 1/4" in diameter, and who would ever guess that color would end up as yellow and white?

Last, but not least, this photo features the flowers of the manzanita tree.  This is not a recent photo, but I decided to include it here because I've long thought of these precious little bells as fairy flowers.  This particular tree is next to my house, and there are many more on the property. 

I hope you've enjoyed "taking this walk" with me today.  The hunt for fairy flowers is just beginning though, as each day, I will be seeing more and more varieties of seasonal wildflowers appearing.   I'll be documenting my discoveries, and perhaps, posting more photos in the future. 
Keep your eyes peeled for ones in your area!