Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Few Days Away

I am back in my studio after taking a few days off...my husband was on vacation last week...and since most of his weeks of vacation center around hunting and fishing trips, he decided to share a few days with me and take me down to Kansas City for a little rest and relaxation. What started out as an extremely stressful trip for me (just because I have a million deadlines and a huge pile of work to take care of right now), actually was quite enjoyable....and although I did take some work along with me, I did do my best to enjoy the time away. Kansas City (the city of fountains) is a good destination for us - it is only about three hours from our home - it has an old-world charm enriched by quaint outdoor parks, museums, shopping, and great dining. We stayed in a charming historical hotel that has been renovated to have modern conveniences...with a beautiful view of Country Club Plaza - and we were just moments away from many of our "go-to" destinations. My husband did a decent job of keeping my focus away from work and on the trip, as we visited some of my favorite places (the Kansas City Zoo, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and sculpture garden, shopping at the Plaza, and some delicious restaurants - just to name a few).

Even with the extreme heat wave, the Kansas City Zoo was enjoyable - we always enjoy this particular zoo - we arrived as the gates were opening (trying to take advantage of the cooler morning hours) and stayed for about half the day, taking advantage of the train, the tram, the African Sky Safari, and the boat ride. To our surprise, most of the animals were out and active...after a couple previous visits without seeing the Chimpanzees, we were surprised to see them up close...and we even got to see the hippopotamuses being fed. As always, I took a bunch of photos and picked some of my favorites to give you a little tour - I wish I could show you more (this is just a taste), they have so many amazing exhibits - click on any of the photos for a larger view....

Nikita the polar bear swimming in his 65-degree 140,000 gallon pool...

Springbok - taken from the Sky Safari - I just love the two that are nose to nose...

Perfectly posed Meerkat

Red-flanked Duiker

Blue Duiker

Saddle-Billed Stork

Western Lowland Gorilla

Three giraffes and an ostrich - taken from the Sky Safari...

The elusive chimpanzees...

My favorite photo of the day - Liberty the hippo cooling off...

Chilean Flamingos

So there you have it - my little photo tour of the Kansas City Zoo - I hope it was enjoyable...and I still have a few inspiring photos from the Sculpture Garden at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to share with you in the future...

For now, it is back to work - I have multiple models to stitch, new designs to prepare for printing, a newsletter to write, shipments to package, and sewing/quilting to complete - it is going to be a busy week!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

"Christmas In July" Giveaway Recipient

I have been enjoying reading all the holiday comments in my latest giveaway - thank you all for playing along and sharing your favorite holiday memories, motifs, and themes. I just used the random generator to pick the giveaway recipient and it chose lucky number sixteen! Congratulations to Kate - she will be receiving the Just CrossStitch Ornament Issue Bundle (five issues - dating from 2006 to 2010).
  • Kate July 25, 2012 3:58 PMI'd love to have a chance at winning these! I love the ornament issues. My favorite Christmas stitching motif is Santas.
 Kate - I will be sending you an e-mail with details momentarily...

There will definitely be more giveaways in the future (we all know how much I like to give things away!), so if you were not chosen this time, please do not be discouraged...and for more chances to win, be sure to follow Blue Ribbon Designs on Facebook.

Again, thank you all for taking an interest in my blog and in Blue Ribbon Designs - I hope you will continue to follow me on my creative journey!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Christmas in July" Giveaway

Let's have a little "Christmas in July" fun with a Blue Ribbon Designs giveaway...

The prize?? - a set of five Just CrossStitch Christmas Ornament Issues (dated 2006-2010)...and each one has a Blue Ribbon Designs ornament design inside! Yep, one recipient will receive all five magazines shown in the photo - containing a total of 376 holiday ornament charts from your favorite needlework designers....that should keep the winner busy for quite some time...and if you already have one (some, or all) of these special issues, why not share with a friend? - these magazines are great for a beginner or advanced stitcher. Escape the summer heat and enjoy stitching some Christmas ornaments for the upcoming holiday season!

To enter, simply leave one comment on this post telling me your favorite holiday stitching motifs OR your favorite holiday memory OR if you decorate with a particular holiday theme - all comments will go into a random drawing where one fan/follower will receive this special set of Just CrossStitch Ornament Issues.

Fine print (read carefully):

  • Giveaway is open until 11:59 PM CST Saturday, July 28, 2012.
  • International entries welcome.
  • All entries require a valid email address. Please make sure your email address is visible in your profile (so I have a way of contacting you, should you be randomly chosen) - if you are uncertain or post "anonymously", please leave your email address and your first name with your comment - entries without a valid email will be disqualified.
  • No prize substitutions.
  • E-mail entries will not be accepted, you must leave a comment on this post.
  • One comment per person; multiple comments will be deleted/disqualified.
  • One recipient will be announced on Sunday, July 29, 2012.

There you have it - all the details for the July giveaway - I look forward to reading your holiday comments. A big THANK-YOU to thank those who continually follow my blog and leave encouraging and enthusiastic comments - you all bring me joy!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Stitching & Sewing

I have been on a very creative path since my last post. As far as cross stitch, I have been working on needlework smalls and a tutorial for a class coming up later this year, I have been preparing five new Blue Ribbon Designs for printing...and I finished charting and started model stitching magazine pieces for both The World of Cross Stitching Magazine and Cross-Stitch & Needlework Magazine. There will be more details on each of these designs coming in the future....

I have also been keeping busy with sewing and quilting. I finished a birthday gift for my dear friend Lorrie - a knitting needle case using the Blueberry Crumb Cake fabric line by Blackbird Designs for Moda....I had been wanting to make Lorrie one of these cases since she admired one I made for my friend Merry last Christmas. This tri-fold case has plenty of pockets for knitting needles (with a fabric flap pocket cover) and a zippered pouch built in...plus it folds up and ties closed to make it perfect for travel.

My Etsy shop also has new pincushions for sale. I have had several requests for more Blueberry Crumb Cake and Beach House tuffets (to match my stitch starter ruler pockets and stitching pouches), so the ones pictured below have been listed....

I also completed this custom purple set for one of my Etsy Shop frequent buyers - I had fun working on this special project...

I have ten of my new project bags cut and ready to be pieced this week...I just need a few more hours in each day (don't we all?). I also have a pile of needlebooks ready for assembly (which I know several of you are anxiously awaiting)...I am hoping to get to those soon, as well. With massive model stitching on my plate and my husband being home on vacation this week, my time is a little limited...but I will do my best to get these new items completed/listed soon....

Monday, July 16, 2012

Never Stop Growing

BRD-001 "Never Stop Growing"
I've recently been taking a look at Blue Ribbon Designs - where it all started, where it has progressed, and where it will be in the future. Not only has the cross stitch industry changed drastically over the years, but so has my design style. Looking back at my design catalog, each piece contains special memories...and it is so interesting to see how my design style has evolved over the past nine years. When I first started counted thread designing, I was extremely inspired by historical samplers and the history of needlework...I think you will always see a bit of that in my artwork....but now my signature style has grown immensely and become much more (for lack of a better word) modern. Taking a look at my very first design "Never Stop Growing", I have to smile and think about how far my work has come over the years - this design is very "spot motif" based....and although it is detailed, it is very basic. Looking at my latest designs, I have definitely left the "basic" historical sampler style behind, but I am still extremely inspired by the same organic motifs and themes...and everything just seems to "flow" a little better. As I look at the future of Blue Ribbon Designs and set new personal and professional goals, I can't help but reflect on my first design title and how very closely it relates to me (and my work) today - it is so true, we "never stop growing"...

A selection of recent releases (L to R):
BRD-104 "Beauty In Simplicity"- BRD-106 "Redwork Garden" - BRD-105 "Friendship Blooms"

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bunnies and Birds...

I received such wonderful feedback on my wool appliqué pincushions and the new project bags I will be working on - thank you for your notes and comments! I managed to complete fifteen more pincushions (and list them in my Etsy shop) - all unique...some with birds and some with bunnies...each with different embellishments and motifs. All of the pincushions have machine appliquéd wool fabric/felt tops and cotton fabric bottoms...and each is filled nicely with about two cups of crushed walnut shells. They measure approximately 6" W x 4.75" H x 2" D...and come with three decorative straight pins. I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoy making these - they make me smile! I have been struggling a bit lately and spending some time at my sewing machine, working with some of my favorite materials and embellishments really lifted my spirits. I definitely have ideas for more...including some holiday themes.

I know some of you are anxiously awaiting the project bags, and I will do my best to get some completed soon - I have picked out the first batch of fabrics and zippers and I hope to start the cutting and preparations tomorrow. I am going to start by making some with sampler fabrics, as they are perfect to hold an entire stitching project!

I will also have a photo to share with you (very soon) of the needlework smalls for my upcoming release "Berries, Birds, and Blooms"...I am currently working on the finishing...there are four pieces that coordinate with the sampler. I would like to have the two new cross stitch releases to my printer in the next week or so, so they will be available in the not-so-distant future...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bird On A Branch

I did some "playing" today....I worked on a prototype for a new zippered project pouch I plan to produce in multiple for my Etsy shop...I made two different styles with several specifics in mind - I have always had serged seams inside my fully lined/padded zippered pouches and I am working to have no raw/serged edges...it was a bit of a challenge today, but I finally got one made of muslin to work....and then I did one with quality cotton to test everything...once I have the pattern perfected, I will get a pile cut and start the assembly line sewing. These zippered pouches will be large enough to hold a stitching chart and supplies - the prototype is 14" W x 10.25" H....and may change just a bit before production...and they are fully lined and use fusible fleece to give them a sturdy padding. I would like to add some embellishments and, of course, a zipper tab. I have quite a few yards of retired sampler fabric that will be perfect for these...

I also wanted to try a new wool appliqué pincushion idea I have been playing around with....which turned out to be a very fun distraction to my day. The top of the pincushion is wool fabric and wool felt (some hand-dyed)...and the bottom of the pincushion is quality cotton quilting fabric (the same green leaf fabric you see in the photo). It is stuffed nicely with crushed walnut shells and measures approximately 6" W x 4.75 H x 2" D. The wool appliqué was all done on machine...and it gave me a chance to experiment with some specialty stitches. The bird's eye is a teeny tiny button hand sewn in place and I added a few decorative pins for embellishment. I have plans to do an assortment of fun wool appliqué pincushions for my Etsy shop - with a variety of colors and motifs...this was just my first attempt to work with size and layout...and if you like this particular one, it will be listed momentarily...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Focused and Inspired...

It has been a productive few days, as I have been having model stitching marathons each evening and working on items for my Etsy shop during each day. I have a very detailed list of what I plan to accomplish in the next couple weeks and I am doing my best to stay focused to meet my goals. I have a nice long list of new ideas for my Etsy shop, but have had numerous requests for more of my pieces in the Blueberry Crumb Cake fabric line by Blackbird Designs...so I finished up 24 pieces over the weekend - nine more Stitching Cases (Needlework Pouches) and fifteen more Stitch Starter Ruler Sets....and yes, there will be some needlebooks on the way (I know I have been promising them for a while - they are just a little more time consuming and require some additional supplies - but I will get some completed soon!). All 24 pieces shown below have now been listed...

I have a fun new pincushion idea I want to try...so I picked up a 25 lb. bag of crushed walnut shells today while running errands. I also picked up a fun assortment of new fabrics while I was in Omaha/Fremont a couple weeks ago - so I have things in the works for those, as well.

More exciting news - my prize-winning $1,000 AccuQuilt shopping spree order arrived last week...after spending over a week narrowing down my wish list (was that ever a task...my "want list" is ridiculously LONG), I finally settled on 23 Studio dies, 2 GO! dies, and 10 cutting mats/plastics...I was completely giddy when two large boxes arrived from AccuQuilt! I haven't had much time to just "play" yet - but I have big plans for all the dies I chose...and as I work on each project, I will be sure to share them here....

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"Feathers, Flowers, and Fruit"

I am finally ready to share a photo of the class project for the Salty Yarns October event (Ocean City Stitcher's JamboreeOctober 12-14, 2012)...it is titled "Feathers, Flowers, and Fruit"...and I am just tickled with how it turned out! In this class, the project focuses on a framed sampler design and two coordinating needlework smalls (a scissor fob and a snippet receptacle). The project is stitched on 30-count linen (Parchment by Weeks Dye Works) with WDW cotton floss...and the class will cover the stitching of the sampler and needlework smalls, working the specialty stitches, tips and tricks for Cross Stitch over-one linen thread, finishing techniques for both of the needlework smalls, personalizing your smalls, and making twisted cord. Stitches in the project include: Cross Stitch over-two linen threads, Cross Stitch over-one linen thread (minimal - personalization only), Back Stitch, Smyrna Cross Stitch, Satin Stitch, Ladder Stitch (finishing), and Whip Stitch (finishing). I am so happy with the "snippet receptacle", which many of you may call an "ORT box"...it measures 3.5" H x 4" W x 2.75" D...this piece just makes me happy! The class kit will be all-inclusive, with the exception of framing materials...and will include (as usual) my extensive project binder with color photos and finishing tutorial. For more information about this special event visit:
http://www.saltyyarns.com/ or http://www.saltyyarns.com/pages/saltyyarnsevents.php
As with all Blue Ribbon Designs class projects, this design will not be available to the general public until approximately one year after the event.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about this special class project and seeing the photos...and for those of you attending, I hope this project exceeds your expectations!