Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Time Limits and Tail Waggers

It is a cool, quiet morning and while Garin is having a much needed timeout in his kennel, I thought I would clear my head. Whew! - what a crazy few weeks it has been...I'm actually a little speechless. Garin is a smart, fun, and lovable addition to our family - but WOW - he sure keeps me on my toes - you can't leave him alone...not even for one minute. So, of course (Murphy's law), my husband was informed he has to be out of town for work until Christmas...perfect timing, NOT...did you just hear my deep (VERY deep) sigh...yeah, I'm not thrilled. Trying to balance my workload and daily life chores/events with a very active puppy is quite challenging - I have to work in spurts when he is in the kennel, which for me is not there is not a lot of sleep happening here...and let's face it, there is asbolutely no time for me....and preparing for the holidays is basically non-existent. So, last week, I made a simple decision - I'm cancelling Christmas this year - yep, it's not happening - on my calendar, Christmas 2017 doesn't exist. I like to make 95% of my gifts, and well, there just aren't enough hours in the day. Friends and family, you are reading correctly - if I happen to be on your holiday list, your list just got shorter - please take me off...see, I'm helping you out too - your shopping/creating list just got shorter! If you are a good friend or longtime reader of my blog, then you know, I have terrible "gift guilt" - I am not good at receiving gifts if I can't reciprocate - seriously, I am the worst. Right now, I just really want/need to focus on my clients and make sure each and every one is happy and taken care of...and to be honest, even that is a challenge - but it WILL happen! So, in an effort to make my life less stressful, I'm lightening my load - bye, bye Christmas - see you in 2018....and you know what - it feels great to put that out in the universe and cross it off my list.

Now that my load is slightly lighter, let me share what has been happening in the studio when I am not on puppy duty. Last week and this week, I have been on a project bag frenzy - you heard me right - it has been zippers, zippers, and more zippers in the studio....more orders were shipped out today and the piles are starting to almost look manageable - if I have received fabrics from you, your bags are in progress!  I will be busy cutting and preparing the next several bag orders this afternoon during Garin's afternoon kennel session...I am working in the order received...last count, I had seventeen project bag orders left to complete (each with multiple bags)...and my goal is to get as many done this week as absolutely possible. I have also been sneaking in more Stitch Starter Ruler Sleeve Sets for my Etsy shop when time allows (extra special thanks to those who have shared my rulers and sleeves on Flosstube - you helped me sell out quickly and I am busy restocking)...I have a huge pile of ruler sleeves cut and ready to sew, and each time I change thread colors to sew bags, if the color matches any of the sleeves, I sew a few up. Next week is reserved for needlework finishing - I have quite a bit to get done before the holidays - so that will be my focus. Again, thank you to everyone for being patient with my turnaround time during this busy holiday season!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Fourteen Fabulous Finishes

Hello creative friends - Garin is on a short time-out in his kennel (hopefully taking an afternoon nap), while I catch up on some pressing work/chores. I just finished packing up a few orders and answering some correspondence, so I thought I would quickly stop by and share some needlework finishing with you. These pieces were all stitched by the same incredible needleworker and I just did the finishing. I will put designer names/titles in the photo captions, just in case you are interested. This great group of items was quite fun to work on and several pieces definitely challenged me...some were limited edition kits that included finishing materials...and others, I chose the supplies, doing my best to make the pieces resemble the model images. I am really happy with how each and every piece turned out...and I think the stitcher was quite pleased too. I put them all in a large box when complete and it was like Christmas day watching my friend and customer unpack each one! I still have well over fifty needlework pieces to finish for clients, so I will have more fun photos to show you soon. For now, enjoy these images...and I hope you will be inspired to pull out your most recent cross stitch piece and do a little needlework finishing yourself...

Threadwork Primitives - Vintage Mini Pinwheel (2)
Threadwork Primitives Stitcher's Mat
Threadwork Primitives My Work

Threadwork Primitives - Stitcher's Mat

Threadwork Primitives - My Work

Scattered Seeds Samplers - Happy Hearts Rejoice (round)
Scattered Seeds Samplers - Harvest Waiting (left)
Blackbird Designs - Sewing Bird Pocket (right)

Scattered Seeds Samplers - Happy Hearts Rejoice (round)
Scattered Seeds Samplers - Harvest Waiting (left)
Blackbird Designs - Sewing Bird Pocket (right)

Blackbird Designs - Sewing Bird Pocket

Little House Needleworks - Friendship (left)
Little House Needleworks - A Stitcher's Heart (right)

Little House Needleworks - Friendship (left)
Little House Needleworks - A Stitcher's Heart (right)

Little House Needleworks - Friendship (left)
Little House Needleworks - A Stitcher's Heart (right)

Lizzie Kate - Be Silly (top left)
Shepherd's Bush - Bless Ewe (top right)
Shepherd's Bush - Poor Robin's Pincushion (center)
Elegant Stitch/Blackbird Designs - Buttons and Bloom for a Cure (bottom left)
Shepherd's Bush - Ewe are my Sunshine (bottom right)

Lizzie Kate - Be Silly (top left)
Shepherd's Bush - Bless Ewe (top right)
Shepherd's Bush - Poor Robin's Pincushion (center)
Elegant Stitch/Blackbird Designs - Buttons and Bloom for a Cure (bottom left)
Shepherd's Bush - Ewe are my Sunshine (bottom right)

Shepherd's Bush - Bless Ewe

Shepherd's Bush - Ewe are my Sunshine

Elegant Stitch/Blackbird Designs - Buttons and Bloom for a Cure

Shepherd's Bush - Poor Robin's Pincushion

Lizzie Kate - Be Silly

Friday, November 3, 2017

Canines and Creativity

Garin - 10-weeks old - 16 pounds
Where did the last month go?? I usually don't miss an entire month of blogging...but I was preparing for's not an excuse, it's just reality. I was trying to accomplish as much of my workload as possible before Garin joined our family. I was doing all sorts of needlework finishing, project bag creating, custom designing, and quilting/sewing...knowing that as soon as this fluffy little GSD joined our household, work time would be limited for a week or two (or twenty!).

My holiday finishing/sewing/quilting deadline passed on October 15th...and I am blessed (and a little overwhelmed) to have tables of work to complete before Christmas. Thank you to all my fabulous, loyal customers! Right now, there are 53 holiday needlework finishing items, over 100 project bags, and a pile of custom sewing/quilting a couple design projects lined up on my studio counter...and all those are the "I need these back before the holiday projects" - there are countless others (a HUGE note of gratitude to my patient clients!), all logged in and dated and needing my attention...yes, I will be keeping busy.

This week has pretty much been a lost cause - my husband is out of town again, so I am on solo puppy duty (I forgot how needy/insane Schatzi was as a puppy!) I have been fighting the annual fall head cold and losing the battle. I get small amounts of time to myself when Garin is in his kennel (as he is right now)...and we are outside every 30-45 minutes for house training. So far, he is learning pretty quickly - but I definitely have my hands full. He is teething and everything (I mean everything) on his level is fair game...I need a new set of eyes in the back of my head - if he is alone for even one minute, he can do some major damage (don't let that cute face fool you!). At night, I set an alarm for four hours after he is in the kennel and I am in bed, so we can venture outside - and so far no messes in the kennel - although, I am definitely not sleeping well. He is getting used to his kennel and the whining/crying is subsiding - thank goodness, as it breaks my heart. Schatzi is being a GREAT big sister - she is playing well and sharing all her "stuff" with the puppy...and Garin is copying everything she does and following her around all day long. Yep - it's all the normal stuff that one can expect when they add a puppy to the household. Luckily, my husband will be home Monday morning and will start dog duties, so I can get in a few solid days of work before his next business trip...and hopefully the head cold will be subsiding by then!

For today's creative eye candy, here are a few images of (just a few) sewing/quilting projects I completed in the last month in my attempt to have a handle on things before Garin arrived...I will share some beautifully stitched needlework finishes in my next post...

I'll be back when I can get another moment of quiet time...I have some really fun cross stitch pieces to share (not my stitching, just my finishing work). Thank you for visiting today and I will "see" you again soon....

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Meet Garin

*WARNING* Cuteness overload.
Today, I want to introduce you to the (soon-to-be) newest addition to our family - he will be joining us at the end of October. We are pretty sure we will be naming him Garin (German for warrior). He is a long-coat German Shepherd...and is actually related to Schatzi. Miss Schatzi and Caldonia (the mother of the puppies) have the same father. After losing Simba last fall, we talked about getting a playmate for Schatzi - I went back and forth on getting a smaller dog or another was a really tough decision. We actually decided on another German Shepherd back in December and started the process, but (as some of you know) my husband was put on special assignment with UPS and has been in Chicago three weeks of every month since January - I didn't want the entire responsibility of a new puppy on my shoulders (they are a lot of work to add to my already full schedule!), so we had to postpone adding to our family. My husband will finally finish his special assignment at the end of October and then this fluffy little boy will be ready to join our household! We are excited and counting the days...

20-days old.

4-weeks old.

5-weeks old.

6-weeks old.
As you can see, he is growing fast...pretty soon those ears will be up! I'll try not to overload you with puppy pictures, but I will keep you updated...

Thursday, September 28, 2017

"Frosty Friends"

My copy of the Just CrossStitch 2017 Special Christmas Ornament Issue arrived yesterday, and I am pleased to share my contribution with you. My ornament is titled "Frosty Friends" and can be found on page 11, with my Christmas memory and recipe found on page 104. This year, I included my grandmother's recipe for Candy Cane Cookies, a childhood favorite (which I will also share later in this pre-holiday post). My 2017 ornament features a pair of snowmen, pine trees, and snowflakes, and complements my woodland ornaments from the past several years. Stitches include: Cross Stitch over two linen threads, Back Stitch, Smyrna Cross Stitch, and several French Knots. I stitched the model on 40-count Mocha linen from Weeks Dye Works (same as previous ornaments in this series) and used Weeks Dye Works cotton floss (DMC conversions are provided). I opted for a flat-finish with two-tone twisted cord to match my previous holiday ornaments.

This is the eleventh year I have been included in the annual Ornament Issue...WOW, that doesn't even seem possible! If you would like to see all eleven of my contributions, you can visit the "Publications" tab on my website (my ornaments from the Christmas Ornament Preview Issues are shown there, as well). This magazine has gone through a lot of changes over the years (just like my design style), yet still continues to be a yearly fan favorite. I remember getting my first designer invitation back in 2006 to be in the magazine - I was so excited - it was an honor to get that invitation each year to be included. Over the last few years, I have read quite a bit of criticism regarding this issue - complaints that the ornaments seem too simple and/or without thought, complaints that favorite designers are missing, complaints the photography isn't good and the magazine is of lesser quality...even complaints that the holiday memories and recipes are in the back and not shown with the designer. As a designer and contributor (who puts a ton of thought and time into EVERY ornament design), this is quite discouraging. I definitely agree with some of those issues and, to be honest, I too have wrestled with myself the last couple years on whether or not I want to be involved. For me, the magazine has taken away quite a bit of the prestige and excitement that came along with being included in this publication. Let me clear -  this issue has always been an "unpaid" assignment and designers do not receive any compensation for being included...years ago, it used to generate quite a bit of excitement and a designer had to receive a special invitation to be included - back then, it was always a treat to be involved - but that excitement has changed and now designers receive an invitation to "submit a design idea" (which let's face it, takes away most of the incentive, especially when there is no payment)...also, included designers would always receive a handful of copies of the magazine (which I would give away in contests to my readers and social media followers) - now we get one copy...these may be just a few of the reasons you aren't seeing some of your favorite designers in the 2015-2017 issues. The needlework industry is going through growing pains and constantly changing, who knows what the future holds - but I have been proud to be a part of this special publication for the past eleven years! I can't wait to sit down with my issue and look through each page - at quick glance, I see a diverse selection of lovely designs from some very talented creators, that love needlework so much they contributed their time and talent...
I would love to hear your comments on this year's issue - what are your favorite ornaments??

Candy Cane Cookies

½ cup shortening
½ cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
2½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon red food coloring
½ cup crushed peppermint candy

Mix in order given, except food coloring and peppermint candy. Divide dough in half. Blend red food coloring into one half. Roll one teaspoon of each color on a lightly floured board to 4” long. Place side by side; press ends together and twist like a rope. Place on greased sheet; curve top for handle.

Bake 375ยบ for nine minutes. While warm sprinkle with peppermint candy.