Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I just finished this tonight.  At first I was planning on framing her, but I think I've changed my mind and will turn her into a small pillow.  I don't think I'll have that done by this Christmas though.  I'll work on finishing techniques after the New Year.  :0)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

November 2014 Gatlinburg Stitching Retreat

I wanted to share about the retreat I went to in November.  I wish I had taken more pictures, but I didn't.  The first morning of the retreat as I was leaving my hotel, I fell outside on the sidewalk.  It was a very bad fall and I was in pain the rest of the retreat, so taking pictures really did slip my mind.  I was black and blue and swollen and it took me two solid weeks after getting home before the pain started to get better.
But...I still attended the retreat, I still stitched and I still had a great time!  The retreat was hosted by Crossedthreads Needlework in the Mountain Mall in Gatlinburg.  I did a short video about the retreat for my #flosstube channel that I'll share here.  I know I sound tired in the video, but just keep in mind that when I made this I was still in a lot of pain from that fall and the healing process from it was going very slow for me.
But I will say this - except for the fall - I had a wonderful weekend and I fully plan to attend this same retreat again next year.  I'll just be a lot more careful when walking on the sidewalk!!

WIP update

Just a little update for my 1950s-esque Christmas lady.  She's a pretty quick and easy stitch but will be cute as a button once she's done.  I decided to change her shoes just a bit and give her high heels.  The pattern made her look like she was on her tiptoes, but I thought she'd be better suited with some heels.
I don't think I'm going to do the backstitching on her hands/arms until I finish the ornament she's holding in her hands.  It shouldn't be long now though and she'll be finished.  :0)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Stitching with a purpose

Well, another year has come and gone (basically) for my stitching charity.  Our group has done so well.  In the span of one year and two months we have done projects for a Ronald McDonald House in Tennessee, a Habitat for Humanity family in Illinois and a domestic violence shelter in Florida.  I think that is pretty darn good.  I'm proud of us.  We're currently taking a break for the Christmas season and we will get back together with new plans in January.
Potholders I did for the domestic violence shelter:
In my own personal stitching news, my needles have been flying.  I wanted to finish Honeybees by the end of November, but then ended up putting it to the side to work on Christmas ornaments.  I did nine of them.  Pretty good considering this is the first year I've ever done ornaments.  I did 6 sleds - 4 for my family to keep and 2 for an exchange at the retreat I went to.  I did Quaker quilt patterns for the exchange and Eskimos for my family.
Then two more ornies for my own tree and one for my charity.  Christmas cardinals, one for me and one for the charity.
And then a pink snowflake for our tree.  This was my first time doing true finishing and I'm very excited about how it turned out.  For a first try, I think it's pretty good.
Then I did a Christmas pattern based off of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  There is a whole series of these based off of the book.  I eventually want to do all of them.
I'm now working on a Christmas piece that I'll frame.  It may or may not be done by Christmas, but I'm sure it won't be framed by then.  So it will be put out for display next year.  This is what it will look like when done.  (She's bigger than she looks.  Way too big for an ornament.)
My current progress:
So you can see, I'm still doing Christmas themed stitching.  I have new projects to start after the New Year, so I'm eeking out the last of the holiday stitching that I can.  :0)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lacing and professional framing or....not so much?

I had an experience this past week regarding professional framing of my pieces and I'm not quite sure how I feel about it.  I have always had my finished pieces professionally framed.  It's just my preference.  Also, I have always used Hobby Lobby.  I've never had cause to have a complaint over their work.
Now, sidetrack with me a moment so I can say that I have always assumed that when I get a stitched piece framed that they lace the back.  I thought this was industry standard and I know a lot of other stitchers think the same thing.
But I learned this week that those of us who think that may very well be wrong in almost any given circumstance.
It all started because I went in to pick up the two pieces I had put in for framing a while back.  I put in two items.  One I had stitched many moons ago but never framed and my large I Am A Stitcher piece that I did with a SAL this past summer.
So I get to Hobby Lobby only to be told that my smaller piece is framed but they couldn't finish the I Am A Stitcher piece because the frame I had chosen was on back order.  First of all, no one had called to tell me that.  Secondly, they had no clue when my chosen frame would come in - it could be in two days or two years, they had no idea.  So in order to get my piece, I had to choose a different frame.  Ugh, but ok.
Then they brought my piece out to me to show me they already had the mat attached.  And then this is what I saw.
 This is the back - that I had assumed would be laced.  As you can see, it's simply taped.  Then on the sides, there were probably well over 100 pins put in.
The white part that you see under the pinned material is the side of the mat. 
I was shocked to say the least.  I told the lady that I assumed it would be laced and asked why it was not.  She replied that all of their training was to lace, but lacing is so much trouble and feel that they can get it as tight as lacing with the pins.  Then she said, "I don't know what that taping is about.  I've never seen that done before." 
Have mercy.
She also said that if someone wants lacing done, they can still have it, but they have to specifically ask for by name.  She kind of rolled her eyes like she thought anyone asking for that is a royal pain in the tush.
I was just flabbergasted.  For years I've assumed that lacing is the norm for needlework.  And to see my piece pinned and taped...I didn't like it.  So I came home and got in touch with one of my very well respected local needlework shops that has it's own framing department.  I told the owner there what had happened and fully expected her to be as aghast as I was.  But quite the opposite happened.  She told me that their practice is the same as Hobby Lobby's.  They tape and pin but will lace if someone specifically asks for it.  But my question is, if someone asks for and are told they will then lace, how does the customer know for sure it was done?  When you pick it up the back is fully covered.  And if the employees obviously have a bad attitude about lacing, can you be assured that they are telling the truth when they say they laced it?
So I decided to search further and contacted a professional frame shop in Nashville.  They are not a big box store like Hobby Lobby and they are not in a needlework store.  But a 100% framing shop and that is all they do.  I spoke to the owner and asked lots of questions and she was gracious and spent her time helping me understand and explaining what the current industry standards are.  She also said I was doing the right thing by asking questions to find out what should and should not be done.
She said there was a lady (can't remember her name, sorry) that passed away two years ago and she was the person that set a lot of the industry standards for framing.  She apparently is the person who brought the pinning of needlework to the table.  The pins are stainless steel and are now set as much of an industry standard as lacing is. I could tell the store owner was very meticulous about doing a proper job and she did feel that the pins do a fine job.  But she also had no issue at all with lacing, if that is what someone wants.  And even went further to say that she would look at each piece individually to see which method would be better to be done to that piece - pinning or lacing.
As for the tape, she was horrified.  She said that she knows of no tape used on fabric as an industry standard within the world of framing.  She was also very concerned about any chemical in the tape that could compromise the fabric over time - I have to agree.
She also questioned if the mat that my piece is pinned to is acid free.  I'm not sure, but I do intend to find out.  She told me to get the mat # from the workers at H.L. and she will find out for me.  So basically at this point, my plan is to take my piece, as it is with pins and tape, to her shop and let her look at it and we will decide the best course of action and go from there.  But we both agree that the tape has to go ASAP. 
So there you have it.  What I've learned:
* Lacing no longer stands alone as industry standard of needlework pieces but has the stainless steel pins standing on equal ground with it.
* And it may be a good idea to stay away from the big box framing stores as well as shop around and ask questions.  The lady I spoke with told me she knows people who work in those shops who have told her they are given 30 minutes per piece and have to have it done in that time frame - and that there is no way to do a quality framing job, especially with fabric, in 30 minutes.
  * Find a framer who will work with you, explain their process - both the hows and the whys.
*Also find one who does not hold lacing in disdain because it is more time intensive, but one who still sees it as a good quality method that they will be happy to use.
This has definitely been a learning experience for me.  But I'm glad that I seem to have found a frame shop that is willing to openly and honestly explain their process, will willingly lace if that's what I want or if that's what is best for my individual piece and who truly wants to provide the best quality job they can. 
Moral of the story ~ ask a lot of questions when getting your work framed and never make assumptions as to what the framers are and are not going to do to your work.  You just might be surprised at what is under that nicely covered back of your framed piece.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Lots of dolls and cross stitching at Loretta Lynn's ranch

My husband and I recently took a little trip and ended up in the teeny tiny town of Hurricane Mills where Loretta Lynn lives.  He surprised me with a stop there to take in all the sights. 
We really enjoyed our day there and, among other things, we got to tour her big plantation home.  She gave up the plantation house so it can be used daily for tourists and moved into a very nice home directly behind it ~ which is not open to the public.  We just missed her when we got to the ranch.  She had left two hours previously to attend a concert of a fellow music artist.
But one place we toured there, I knew I had to share with my stitch friends.  Loretta Lynn is a huge doll collector.  Not only were there many cabinets full of dolls in the plantation house, but the ranch property also included a doll museum.  And just as luck would have it ~~ the doll museum also contained a lot of cross stitch work!!  I took pictures to share.  :0)  I'm sorry if there is a glare on a lot of these.  I did what I could to minimize it.
First cross stitch you see when entering the doll museum:
There was more than one cross stitch of the song lyrics to, "A Coal Miner's Daughter."
Then this lovely one of Loretta herself.  These were all gifts to her from fans.
I took this picture because of all the lovely crochet work.
And so many other dolls....
Embroidery work behind this one...
And you can just see some more cross stitch behind the doll on the left...
I wish I could have gotten better pictures in there, but the florescent lights only allowed for so much.  There was another museum with a lot of Loretta's family's items.  In that museum - which did not allow you to take any pictures - was *a lot* of hand embroidery work by both Loretta and her mom.  She had written little cards next to some things to tell about them.  One was an embroidered half apron and the card said her mom had made that for her and given it to her when she got married.  She said she had worn it daily for years while cooking and tending house.  Her mom had stitched her so many things to use in her home to set up housekeeping with.  It was really sweet.
  Another place I wanted to share was the replica of the general store - owned by the coal company - that the family could shop at.  It was soooo tiny.  Their options truly were limited.
But I wanted to share this part of the store with you.  It was a little counter with sewing supplies.
And last but not least, here I am in front of her tour bus.  :0)

We had such a lovely day there and it made for a nice day.  I wouldn't mind going back.  They have a camp ground as well as some small cabins you can rent to spend the night.

WIPs update and calloused fingertips...

I'm in full blown charity stitching mode right now because my charity has a deadline fast approaching.  So I had to put down Honeybee Happening for a while.  But here is where I got to before I needed to stop.
At this point it was no longer practical to keep it on my scroll rods.  So I took it off and started working with a hoop.  This also means that I could *stop* using those hateful waste knots, lol.  I hate using that method, but it's the only feasible way to use my floor stand.  I am so close to being finished with this, I can taste it.  As soon as my charity stitching is done I'm going to get back to this one full steam ahead.  I really want to have it finished by the end of November.  I have a lot of other things I'd like to work on in December.
I already showed you the small Christmas banner I did for my current charity project.  I'm now also working on a set of potholders for it as well.
I chose these because I thought they would be so quick and easy.  Not so much.  They are so *tough* that I can hardly get the needle through the fabric and that's with using a sharp needle too.
I now actually have callouses on my right thumb, index finger and middle finger. -- All thanks to these potholders!  And I still have several to go!
The satin stitching on all these dots may have just shortened my life span. 
Just a bit.
I have also signed up to do another Love Quilts USA quilt square.  It has a February 1, 2015 deadline so I'll start work on that soon.  My chosen pattern will be fairly easy I think.  It's been a while since I've done a Love Quilts square and that organization was my introduction to charity stitching, so I had a yearning to continue on with them when I feel I can fit it in.  I'm looking forward to doing another square for them.
I do have a few small Christmas ornaments to finish after the potholders are done.  But after that, it's back to my regular stitching once again.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Finishes and WIPs

I told you last week that I wanted to get the Christmas cardinal pieces finished.  Well, I did just that over the weekend.  My original plan was to finish the one for my stitching charity in the "banner" form that the pattern called and to have the one I'm keeping for myself framed.  But then once I saw the charity one finished, I liked it so much I decided to not frame mine either.  I did change one thing.  I didn't like the way they hung on the banners - it was a bit too loosey goosey for my taste.  So I sewed a red ribbon loop onto the back of each one and they are perfect for hanging on the tree.
I am very pleased with how they turned out.  You can see in the top corners of the one on the right I stitched my initials and the year in small script.  That's the one I'm keeping for myself.  :0)
My other WIP ~ Honeybees ~ is coming right along.  Yes, I'm in waste knot hell with it, but my preference is to work this one on a floor stand and my stand doesn't flip.  So it's just easier for me to use the waste knot method on days that I don't feel inclined to work at a crazy angle trying to access the back.
I've got it rolled up quite a bit up top, so you can't even see the top of it anymore.  But I'm very close to getting to the really big bee hive in the middle and I'm really looking forward to stitching that part.  That's really going to be some fun stitching.  :0)
So that's my quick WIP update for today.  Keep your needles flying!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My stitching corner, with pictures

I'm going to share pictures of my stitching spot.  What I'm showing you is directly on my right hand side when I sit in my comfy chair.  All of this is within arm's reach to me.  Although the top section is tall enough, I have to stand to get to those drawers. 
This is the top of my storage cabinet.  In the back are four of the DMC thread storage boxes I recently got from a closed quilt shop, that I talked about in my previous post.  I already had one of these boxes and this past week I got ten more.  I have 8 total in this cabinet, 2 in another spot with the inserts taken out to hold homeschooling materials and I have one to my 18 year old daughter...for her make up storage, lol. 
Anyway, on with the tour.  On the top left stack of floss boxes is a primitive styled doll that I love.  In front of her are two project rolls that I purchased at the trunk show at the needle class I took.  On the top right are a large tomato and a large strawberry pin cushion.  Also a cross stitched one made by my mom's best friend.  This lady was in her 80s when I was a little girl, so the pin cushion with the cat on it is very old.  The little angel also belonged to my mom, who has been gone for many years now.  The pink cup is a Minnie Pearl cup that I purchased in Nashville at the Grand Ol' Opry.  A fun sign about *not* cleaning up my mess, lol, and the stitched towel is from my best friend.
The front wooden cabinet is also filled with DMC.  On top of it are three thimbles.  Two were gifts from my husband and one I also got from the Opry in Nashville.  Also my cute owl cup to hold my pens and highlighters.  To the right of that I keep my wax burner ~ I love the wonderful scents available.  On the front left is my photo album that I have started to keep of my work.  I use small, full adhesive sticky notes to write notes about my projects.
The box under the  photo album holds my threads for my HAED.
These top four cabinets are filled with DMC and are numbered.  And yes, a Wildflowers by Caron snuck in there too, lol. This variegated is the limited edition DMC 127 from last year.  I'm planning to use it in the Save the Stitches SAL next year.
This is the bottom of my cabinet and 4 more of the DMC storage units.
The bottom left one is the one I have had for a couple of years.  It was one of my Craigslist finds and I got not only the drawer, but all the threads that were in it. 
The two on the right hold threads as well.  But the one in the upper left I took the inserts out of to hold other items.  One drawer holds things like my med box, lip balm, etc.  The second drawer holds my calendar and my catalogs and the third drawer holds some of my every day stitching supplies and some smaller projects.
On top of that cabinet I keep my copy of the Encyclopedia of Needlework
It has a diagram of just about any specialty stitch you can think of ~ and that's always a good thing to have close at hand when stitching.  I'm a very visual learner so it's great to have these diagrams.


Last but not least, this is what is usually right in front of me.  It's just a little portable table with a cloth placemat.  I do everything from computer work to stitching on this little table.  That's my ORT jar in the upper left.  In front of it you can see a green...something, lol.  That's my ottoman that I'll sometimes put my feet up on and cover up with the green blanket that stays on it.
So that's it!  My stitchy spot.  :0)  It's where all my stitchy action happens. 
And now...I'm off to stitch...