Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sky High in Colorado

Hello friends - I am finally back with a long overdue blog post...you know how it is - take a short vacation and spend weeks playing catch-up with work. We had a wonderful trip to Colorado - fresh mountain air - nature - time with friends....beauty in the journey. It was a lot of driving, but I enjoyed the quality time with my husband...and I came home refreshed and a little lighter - spending time outdoors always gives me a feeling of calm and helps me see "the bigger picture." I took a million and one photos (what's new??) and gained some perspective, while finding inspiration for new creative projects! The breathtaking autumn colors were just starting to appear...and even though there is currently snow on the ground, it was unseasonably HOT during our visit.  I will let the images do the talking (I'm just posting a few favorites) - and then post a short update at the end....
















I hope you enjoyed just a glimpse at the beauty we encountered during our trip! For now, it is back to work with all sorts of holiday orders in the works. I have over one hundred project bags cut, fused and ready to sew (although, I am still waiting to get my fancy machine back from the shop - they are waiting on a part) and I have been doing all sorts of needlework finishing...the Christmas rush is on! I will be posting a few updates soon with images I can actually share. It is slower going with my older sewing machine, but I'm doing my best to stay on track. Another slow down (and partial reason for the delay in this post) - our Internet was out for over a week while we were waiting for a new router/modem to be installed - yeah, that was challenging...but things seem to be back to good again. With my husband's travel schedule, life continues to be insane here (especially with a possible move on the horizon)...but things are humming along and it is a joy to be creative/artistic every single day. Thanks for visiting with me today...and I hope you'll stop back soon...

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Gone Jeepin'

I  am headed off to Colorado for a little rest and relaxation...well, actually, a little Jeepin' and hiking...yep, I'll be off the grid for the next week...so this is my short public service/housekeeping announcement....

While I am out of my office/studio, I will have very limited access to correspondence, so please be patient if you send me a message that requires a response....and my Etsy shop will be on vacation until my return. I will be back in my studio on Thursday, September 20th and business will resume at that time. Thank you for your patience.

I'm sure I'll be back to blog in the next couple weeks, when (I'm guessing) I will have TONS of fun and creative things to share with you! Have a wonderful weekend/week....


Monday, September 10, 2018

Caroling Cardinals

The Just CrossStitch 2018 Special Christmas Ornament Issue is currently arriving at needlework shops, in mailboxes, and on newsstands. Today, I am pleased to share my contributions with you. I actually have two ornaments in the issue - one is "Two Stags and a Star" (page 27) - this one was also included in the August issue for the Christmas Ornament Preview. My new ornament is titled "Caroling Cardinals" and can be found on page 29, with my Christmas memory and recipe found on page 100. This year, I included my recipe for Simmering Seasonal Potpourri - an easy list of ingredients that will fill your home with a delightful scent for the holiday season (which I will also share later in this pre-holiday post). My 2018 ornament features a pair of cardinals, pine trees, and snowflakes...and complements my woodland ornaments from the past several years. Stitches include: Cross Stitch over two linen threads, Back Stitch, and Smyrna Cross Stitch. 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 twelfth year I have been included in the annual Ornament Issue...which doesn't even seem possible! If you would like to see all twelve 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 SUPER excited - it was an honor to get that invitation each year to be included. Over the last several 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 can definitely agree with some of those statements...and, to be honest, I too have wrestled with myself for the last few 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, in years past, the included designers would 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 (and somehow, mine always arrives bent and damaged)...these may be just a few of the reasons you aren't seeing some of your favorite designers in the more recent issues. The needlework industry continues to go through growing pains and is constantly changing, who knows what the future holds - but I have been proud to be a part of this special publication for the past twelve years! I can't wait to sit down with my issue (when it finally arrives) and look through each page - at quick glance of the digital issue, I see quite a diverse selection of designs from some very talented creators...these designers love needlework so much they contributed/donated their time and talent...so, while each and every ornament might not be your cup of tea, I hope you will still be able to find a few to stitch up for your tree!

I would love to hear your comments on this year's issue - what are your favorite ornaments??

Simmering Seasonal Potpourri

1 qt. apple juice
1 qt. pineapple juice
1 qt. water
2 tablespoons allspice
3 cinnamon sticks
16 – 20 cloves (a handful)
3 tablespoons pickling spice

Mix all ingredients in a large saucepan or crockpot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Continue to simmer uncovered for an inviting citrus spice holiday fragrance!



While it may be a little too early to get in the Christmas spirit - I hope this post will inspire you for the upcoming holiday season! Time to start stitching those ornaments and gifts...

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Tiny Tokens

Those closest to me know how much I enjoy making handmade gifts - especially for my dear friends, who truly appreciate the love and time that go into each piece. In the past month, I have worked on quite a few pretty little presents and I thought I would share some of my finishes.

First up, as pair of little birdie pinkeeps... The sewing bird cross stitch patterns are my own design, created especially for the recipients (I have had quite a bit of interest in this particular design, so I may be releasing it as a chart in the future). The stitched pieces were done with DMC six-strand embroidery floss on 32-count fabric to fit in some vintage Zinc Ball Jar lids...the lovely trim is "Ballerina" Hand-Dyed Chenille by Lady Dot Creates....and those fabulous rose pins are from Puntini Puntini! I was extremely pleased with how these original pieces turned out!



Here's another recent project...
These modern eye-glass cases were so much fun to make! They actually came as a complete kit from a local quilt shop. The openings use measuring tape, so they snap closed...and see those little triangle tabs on the sides? - they make it easy to pull open. I think I see a few more of these in my future!  The pattern is a Hoffman Sew Into It! Kit titled Eye Catcher - designed by Susan-Claire Mayfield....


Next up - an adorable little needlebook - made from linen band. I decided to add a cute little piece of coordinating floral ribbon to the front, as an accent...and again, inside are gorgeous pins from Puntini Puntini (I just adore Paola's pins and buttons - her work is beautiful and so is her heart!!)...



Finally, a couple sets of small zipper bags. I actually purchased the fabric for these with a couple dear friends in mind while I was on my last vacation. One set is all kitties...and one set is all birdies - again, created especially for the recipients...



This week I will be knee deep in two needlework finishing orders and several project bag orders...and hopefully I will have word on my sewing machine soon...crossing my fingers for good news.

My husband and I are headed to Colorado at the end of the week for a little relaxation - taking the Jeep out on the trails and doing some hiking....so I'm hoping to have a productive week first...

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Bountiful Bags

Today's post is all about projects bags...yes, piles of them...large project bags, small project bags, and tool bags. I have been done some serious sewing...that is, until my fancy sewing machine decided it needed to see the doctor...yep, she is acting up, so will be headed in for service (this afternoon)...she needs a little TLC (hopefully just a good cleaning). Until then, I am using my basic Singer without all the bells and whistles...which works, but is not ideal. As you can see, I have been managing to fulfill orders - they are just taking me a bit longer {sigh!}. I am still steadily working through requests, so if you are waiting, thank you for your patience! Here is just a snippet of what has been on the sewing table and keeping me busy...
















Time to get cleaned up and head to the quilt shop (Joyce, I'm headed your way!) - say a little prayer or send some positive vibes to me and my baby (my sewing machine)...

I'll be back very soon with some cross stitch finishes and a couple other sewing projects...plus details on my latest magazine published designs...

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Startled Superstition and Hayride Happenings

Can you believe how quickly the summer months have passed?? - I can't believe it is September...where does the time go?! Halloween items are popping up everywhere...and stores are already getting out their Christmas holiday displays...personally, I'd be content to keep the summer months here just a little bit longer...but it is time to start working on Halloween and holiday items, if you want to have them completed in time to display this year...

I have a couple new cross stitch designs in the current issue of Just CrossStitch Magazine (October 2018) that will fit right into your autumn stitching schedule!

The October issue features a Halloween Ornament Spooktacular that includes six ornaments to stitch up and decorate your Halloween tree....and yes, you can find Blue Ribbon Designs in this feature. My Halloween ornament this year is titled "Startled Superstition" and is a fun, quick stitch!  You can locate my ornament and all the details on page 43. The entire ornament is worked in cross stitch - with a few back stitches and some long straight stitches for the cat whiskers (NOTE: I used French knots for the bat eyes, but I see the magazine omitted them from the pattern - I'm not sure why). I used Weeks Dye Works linen (Confederate Gray) and Weeks Dye Works cotton floss (a DMC conversion is also provided). There are TONS of fabulous ways to finish your Halloween ornaments - for this particular ornament, I chose a flat-finish....and I used two-tone twisted cord in green and black for a special touch. Please also note - the color photography in the magazine for this ornament is WAY off and completely over-exposed - the colors aren't even close - I am including a photo of the actual ornament laying on the magazine for reference - I am not sure why they lightened the photo so much that the colors are muted and barely resemble the actual piece (I was extremely disappointed in how they represented this project)....



This is the autumn issue, so you will also find a Designer Q & A and a seasonal project I created especially for this issue. If you turn to page 50, you can read a short question and answer session with me, followed by my autumn project titled "Hayride Happenings" starting on page 51. This fall-inspired pincushion is stitched on Weeks Dye Works linen (Beige) with Weeks Dye Works cotton floss (a DMC conversion is also provided) and is stuffed with crushed walnut shells and trimmed with lovely hand-dyed chenille (Jack) from Lady Dot Creates.





 You can find this issue of Just CrossStitch magazine at your favorite needlework shop or on newsstands now...
Blue Ribbon Designs is also featured in the Just CrossStitch Ornament Issue, which is arriving in homes and shops now - I'll be back to share details soon!