Friday, May 28, 2010

New England Stitching Retreat - The Stash

Let's talk about stitching! I think the most asked question when I returned from the retreat was "what stash did you bring home"?...I'm not sure why...seems there is a lot of interest in my purchases. First of all, I am a stitcher...I am just like all of you...I have stash accumulation beyond life expectancy....I am a needlework FAN (or probably more appropriate fanatic)...I still get giddy when I find a good needlework shop! Those days of being blessed in Des Moines with multiple needlework shops are gone, and I truly miss the ambiance of a specialty needlework store...there is just something about being able to see the charts in person and being able to see, touch, and feel the fabrics and fibers. When we visited ABC Stitch Therapy for a shopping spree and tea party, I felt like a little kid...it seemed I roamed the aisles for hours trying to decide what to bring home...and I am sure I was seen sitting on the floor slowing going through pegs and pegs of design charts. For those of you who are able to frequent this shop in person, I am so very green with envy...it was such a treat...a true candy store for the needlework enthusiast. I found it so organized and clean (which is a HUGE plus)...and there was fabulous natural lighting...and even comfortable chairs and sofas - with a fireplace - yep, you heard me correctly, a fireplace. I seriously would consider moving across the country to be near this shop....well, maybe that is extreme, but you get the idea!

I had to bring home several A Mon Ami Pierre charts - and it is a good thing needlework charts are a universal language, because the details for these charts are mostly written in French...I am such a fan of these designs and it was quite fun to have an assortment to choose from! I brought home "Porte Aiguille Angelots" and "Au Coeur De La Vigne". Also, being a huge lover of peacocks, I brought home Just Nan's "Keep A Little Secret" (this is a tiny tin...and for the inside, you stitch a peacock sampler and back it with wool to hold needles or pins)....and the Cottage Garden Peacock Stick Pin...and not pictured, I brought home the Daisy Needle Tweet, too.





Next...this was the hardest decision, EVER...I brought home only three packages of Puntini Puntini Pins....oh how I love these...and it was so very hard to choose the ones I wanted...I could have bought the entire rack (but I definitely would have needed a bigger suitcase!). It was a painstaking process to be good and narrow it down to these three choices....
















If you follow my blog, then you know I am a HUGE fan of Liberty Hill Boxes and I was thrilled to find this one from 2007 - it accompanied the Historic Stitches Pattern "Quaker Pynkeepe". And finally, from one of my most favorite designers, Maureen Appleton of The Heart's Content, "Splendor XIX A Colonial Coverlet ~ Treenware Sewing Box"...complete with the gorgeous treenware candle box. Over the years, I have collected quite an array of Maureen's kits...in fact, I have most of the "Splendor" designs. We all know I love tiny stitching, and this piece is stitched over-one on 40 count - WAHOO! I was super excited to bring this kit home...I wish I could make the time to start it right away...



So there you have it, a taste of what I brought home from the shopping spree. I know that seems like plenty, but there were several other patterns in my shopping cart - three from Carriage House Samplings, one from All Through The Night, and one from Homespun Elegance. Looks like I have plenty to keep me busy....

Wishing you a wonderful holiday weekend, filled with sunshine, family, and good barbecue...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New England Stitching Retreat - Gift Shop Finds

Today, I start out with a bit of sad news...before I share the things I purchased at the Enfield Shaker Store, I will give you an update on the House Finch nest...

I woke up this morning to the basket on the ground, my geraniums crushed and broken...and the nest was on it's side and empty...some how during the night, the basket had fallen and the contents had crashed all over our front doorstep. There were no signs of the eggs...wanting to remain positive and hopeful, I was trying to figure out how the birds could have moved or saved the eggs...but my mother was quick to smash those hopes and dreams by telling me a predator probably found them and had a delicious meal. I was so heartbroken. As I cleaned up the mess and tried to salvage what was left of my geraniums, I only found a few small pieces of egg shell. So, there will be no photos of the baby birds...at least not in the near future - I did read pairs may raise three or more broods in a season, so we may have a new nest soon!

Now on to something much more fun!...
Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I did some wonderful stash shopping while in New England...and I brought back some fabulous finds from the Enfield Shaker Store (the gift shop located in the Great Stone Dwelling House/Museum). It was extremely difficult to choose mementos to bring home, as there were SO MANY incredible, hand-crafted boxes and gifts in this lovely shop. There were many gorgeous pincushions and sewing boxes in a variety of shapes and sizes...it really was hard to choose what to purchase and bring home.

First, I chose this amazing Fir Balsam Pillow - it smells so fresh and relaxing...plus I love that is has a natural linen cover that I could actually do some stitching on, if I so desire. This pillow is about 8" x 8"...and I am going to find the perfect place to put it, so I can continually enjoy it's delightful aroma.























Next, I chose this quaint little framed print. It is 5" x 7" without the frame...and it was a little difficult to get a good photo, as it is framed with glass. One of the things that drew me to this piece was the lettering of "Hands To Work, Hearts To God" - although you probably can't tell from the photo, the letters are made up of little tiny "x"s, so they look like cross stitch...and the hands are holding strands of thread. Plus the birds and the flowers...I just loved the whole design...


























And finally - I purchased this beautiful walnut shaker box made by Steve Grasselli. I love the unique two-tone look and the size of this box - it is about 4"W x 6"L x 3.25"D...a great size for sewing or stitching tools. I plan to make a padded cushion for inside and possibly some needlework smalls. The craftsmanship on all the various boxes was truly exquisite and I looked over many boxes multiple times - it was so hard to choose...I almost brought home a second box with a handle, but showed a little restraint!























So many fun things to share with you this week! I will be back tomorrow to share the stitching stash I purchased at ABC Stitch Therapy during our shopping spree and tea...

Also...I have to mention...Marie has started a New England Stitcher's Retreat Blog, so if you are interested in seeing photos and information on future retreats, you will want to visit:
http://www.stitchingretreats.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New England Stitching Retreat - A Peek Inside

Today, my New England Stitching Retreat photos focus on the inside of the Great Stone Dwelling House - our home for the retreat weekend. The vast amount of windows and the natural light they provided was a huge plus for stitching...and the quiet halls and rooms added to the relaxation. The first evening of the retreat a tour was provided for those of us who were interested in the history of the building - we got to take a peek inside the attic, the second attic, and the bell tower...as you will see in one of the photos below, the second attic had a room completely filled with antique spinning wheels (quite the sight!). The view from my room window was lovely - overlooking the water and an endless skyline of trees. One of the wonderful things about this particular retreat was the fee was "all-inclusive"...including all of the meals...so we all had meals together and we didn't have to leave the location...and extremely important - the food was FANTASTIC...it was catered by a local restaurant called Mickey's and each and every meal was truly delicious. There was a wonderful stitching lounge...and seating areas at the end of each floor where stitchers could gather....and we did nightly. It really is a unique location. Although the individual rooms did not have the amenities of modern day hotels - I was very comfortable...and once the hot water reached my room (I was on the top floor), my shower was great! My room had the original split shaker shutters on all the windows....and of course the pegs for hanging my clothing. As you can tell, the history of this special venue was not lost on me - I was very inspired!

Inside My Room - taken in the evening with the shutters closed (as seen above the bed)...



























The Class Project - the shaker box with the kit supplies all tied together neatly, the special goodie bag commemorating the retreat - filled with awesome stash, and the class binder...























The Classroom - with loads of windows and natural light...

























The Classroom once the students took over...

























The Dining Room
























The Stitcher's Lounge

























The Meeting/Stitching Area (at the end of each floor)

























The Spinning Wheels in the Second Attic

























Shaker Chairs

























I hope you are enjoying a little tour from my New England teaching trip...I will be back with my stash photos (which for some reason everyone wants to see)...and a look at what I purchased in the museum gift shop!

*House Finch Update*...there are still five eggs in the perfectly round nest...and if I have timed it correctly, we will have baby birds any day...I will let you know as soon as they start to hatch...

Monday, May 24, 2010

New England Stitching Retreat - The Area

Hello friends! I have returned from my trip to New Hampshire, where I was teaching at the first New England Stitching Retreat. WOW....I don't know where to begin...what a fabulous weekend! First of all, we stayed at the Great Stone Dwelling House in Enfield, NH, which is also home to the Enfield Shaker Museum....and the history of this amazing building was not lost on me....what a treat to stay in this unique environment, free of televisions, radios, phones, etc. Some might miss those modern day amenities, but I'll take the charm of this lovely quiet setting any day...and who misses modern technology when you have the GREAT company of fellow needleworkers, fabulous views, delicious food, and a full schedule of great events....I truly had a wonderful time. My days in New England flew by! I have a brand new stitching family - friends I will have for a lifetime - we spent our late nights chatting it up in the stitching lounge and boy did we do our share of laughing...I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard...and many were stitching away into the wee hours of the morning. Our class was so much fun...and most of the students, if not all, finished their scissor fob in class...finishing work included! Plus, the students took home beautiful goodie bags, special treat bags each evening, door prizes, and stash bags...even I was jealous of all the great stuff they were able to take home...it was a good thing some of them brought extra suitcases. Not to mention we got to take a trip to ABC Stitch Therapy where we had a tea party (with perfect little treats) and massive shopping - those of you who live close enough to frequent this shop, I am so jealous...it is spectacular...I told Marie (the owner and sponsor of this retreat) I would live there, if she would let me! I did a TON of shopping and brought home some great stash (which I will share with you in the next few days)...I also brought home some unique things from the museum gift shop.

There is so much to share, I will do several posts...here are just a few of the photos I took of the grounds during my stay...



























The Great Stone Dwelling House 1837-1841 (our home for the retreat):
























The West Meadow Barn 1856

























The Stone Mill Building 1849

























Laundry and Dairy 1813























The Mary Keane Chapel 1932

























I promise to return with more photos over the next few days...including pictures from inside the Great Stone Dwelling House...and my stash enhancement! I feel so extremely blessed to have been invited to teach at this event...I am truly living my "dream"...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's My Blogiversary

I had no intentions of posting today, as I leave for the New England Stitching Retreat at 8:30 AM tomorrow morning...I have such a pile of things to do before I leave...BUT, I couldn't miss my 1-year Blogiversary! Yep, it's been a whole year since my first post...and looking back, what a year it has been!! I have really enjoyed this first year - 140 posts sharing my favorite projects, giving some of my creations away...and of course meeting fellow needleworkers and new friends - thank you all so much for your comments! I am so happy I decided to start this "blog" journey...and I am thrilled to have so many fun followers and readers...

House Finch Update - the egg total remains at five...so looks like in about a week I will have a photo of five baby birds to share with you!

...and one photo to share. I managed to find time to work on a couple gifts this week - two more quilted journals. These were done with the same free pattern I have shared with you before...the pattern is from an older Quilts and More Quarterly Challenge and can be found in PDF form on the allpeoplequilt.com website. I took these gifts to Marie at ABC Stitch Therapy and Kathy from New England Stitching Retreats - a small thank you for all their all their hard work and a memento from their first stitching retreat (which I hope is the first of many to come!)...























Well, that is my short update for today....I am off to teach at a retreat in New Hampshire tomorrow morning and won't be back until very late Sunday night...I am taking my laptop with me, so we will see if I find any time to do an update while I am gone...

Wishing you all a wonderful week...and thanks for making my first blog year such a joy!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Sign of Spring: UPDATE

A little update on the basket bird nest....
First of all, after seeing the mother bird in the nest and the father bird close by (and with a bunch help from my mother who is a bird aficionado), it has been determined that this nest belongs to a House Finch. When I posted on Wednesday, the bird nest had two tiny adorable eggs....Thursday morning, the nest had three eggs....Friday morning the nest had four eggs...and today, the nest had five eggs! Looks like my little bird family is growing...who knows, maybe tomorrow the nest will have six eggs....



















Unfortunately, there are no cross stitch or sewing project photos to show today...I have been busy getting all the materials and kits finished and shipped to New England for the retreat next week. I have also been doing some charting for new summer designs, a magazine sampler, and a class for 2011...I'm keeping busy, as usual...
Wishing you a joyous weekend filled with sunshine...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Sign of Spring...

The wonders of nature never cease to amaze me! While working on a project today, I was hearing a commotion outside our front door...several birds singing so loudly, it sounded like they were in our entryway. I went outside to investigate...only to see the birds fly quickly from our front door to the tree in the front yard. Next to my front door, I have a beautiful basket filled with geraniums...at first glance you would only see the geraniums....but looking closer, you can see the birds have built a nest in the lower left corner of the basket...and low and behold, two tiny eggs...


I couldn't believe it - it is tucked down inside the corner of the basket...and is perfectly round! Had the birds not been making a ruckus outside, I would have never seen there was a nest...it is completely camouflaged. Maybe I will be able to do a covert operation and get a photo of the parents at the nest...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Beauty In Simplicity Oval Shaker Box

I am putting the finishing touches on the class I am teaching for the first New England Stitching Retreat...and I am getting more excited, as I fly out next week. It will be my first trip to New England and I am looking forward to visiting a new area of the United States. The class materials are just about ready to ship...and I have finally received the gorgeous hand-crafted Shaker Box and mounted the needlework in the lid. I am thrilled to share a photo of the finished box with you!

























This class design is titled "Beauty In Simplicity" and includes charting and instructions for the Shaker box and three matching needlework smalls...and those taking the class are getting the lovely oval box (it truly is gorgeous!). For those of you taking this special class, I can't wait to meet you...and for those unable to attend, but interested in the project; you will need to be patient, as it will be at least one year before this design is released to the public. For more information on this unique retreat, visit: http://www.stitchingretreat.com/ ....I believe there are still a few seats available...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

It was a beautiful Mother's Day here in Iowa - the sun is shining...and although it is a little cool (which I LOVE!), it was the perfect day for a barbecue. My mother-in-law and father-in-law joined us for a little cookout this afternoon...we had a lovely time. I thought I would share the mother's day gifts I put together this year.

For my mother, I made a new set of hot pads and a set of snap bags. I have posted about the hot pads before, but in case you missed it, the pattern/tutorial is FREE on YouCanMakeThis.com. ...and of course, I foofed the gifts!!
For my mother-in-law, I made an embroidered scented trivet...then I picked up a pie plate and server to go with it. The scented trivet was a class I took at a local quilt shop last year - a Martha Pullen "Gift of the Month" project - the class focused on Gimpwork and Machine Embroidery. The back side of the trivet has an opening where I put a cinnamon scented sachet...so when you place your hot pie (or anything out of the oven) on the trivet, it make your home smell even more wonderful.



Wishing each of you a very special and very relaxing Mother's Day (especially my mommy who I was unable to be with today)!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sneak Peek: "Sweet Simple Samplings"

You are seeing it here first...a sneak peek at one of my new designs for release later this summer...it is titled "Sweet Simple Samplings". This design will also include instructions to make each square into an ornament, fob, or hook hanger...stitch the entire sampler design or stitch a small single sampler. Obviously this is a pre-frame photo and not in the perfect lighting, but I wanted to share it with you right away...you get the idea! The model is stitched on 40-count Lentil hand-dyed fabric from Lakeside Linens with Weeks Dye Works cotton threads. I can't wait to start stitching a few of the ornaments...more information and photos will be forthcoming...


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Inside My Stitching Studio

Hello friends and followers!

I am SWAMPED preparing for my teaching event at the New England Stitchers Retreat in a couple weeks and the Columbus Market in June, but I just *had to* share a link with you. Today on the DMC Thread Blog, you can see a peek inside my stitching studio! DMC Threads kindly asked me to share some photos and tips regarding my stitching/designing space for their segment on "Organize Your Stitching Studio"...today, I am featured...


I hope you enjoy this rare look inside my stitching nest....and make sure to take a look at the other designers/crafters featured in this series - there are many tips and photos to inspire you!!