Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all of you stitchers out there, here's an old pattern of mine called "Pumpkin Harvest" that I tent stitched on brown 18 ct. canvas (it could also be cross stitched on fabric):

May you enjoy the bounty of the season with your family and friends.

May you reflect on all the things for which you are truly grateful.

And of course, may you have time for stitching during this long holiday weekend!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Scotch on the Roof

The other day, my dog Katie and I were taking our daily walk around the neighborhood. It was a grey and gloomy day, so we scurrying along, eager to get back home. (At least I was...Katie was happy to stop and sniff at every little leaf, rock or tree.)

But as we climbed up the street, I noticed something strange on the garage roof of the house at the end of the hill:

It looked like a really life-like stuffed animal... It wasn't moving, just sitting there still as a statue. Was it a holiday decoration? It sure looked exactly like Scotch, the labradoodle dog that lived in that house.....

WAIT! IT WAS SCOTCH! Sitting absolutely still, watching the street. She wasn't even barking or moving as we approached - just sitting watching us. And the whole time, Katie never even saw her up there.

I was afraid to approach too closely, for fear Scotch would get excited or try to jump down. I walked back down the street to my neighbor's house, since she was friends with Scotch's family. We all walked back up the street again and my neighbor called Scotch down from the garage roof. She tried to put her back in the backyard, but Scotch escaped easily and so my neighbor decided to take Scotch home with her, until Scotch's owner returned.

Later in the day, Scotch's owner came to fetch her. I'm sure she couldn't believe her dog would climb onto the roof, but I was able to show her these photos I took with my cell phone camera (sorry for the poor photo quality, folks). Anyway, the house is further up the hill, and the garage roof is just a few feet away from the steep front steps of the house, but still, it's a pretty clever thing for a dog to do to await her owner's return, isn't it?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Autumn Surprise!

I was rummaging thru my heap o' models the other day and came across an old favorite of mine, MINIATURE WILD GEESE. This was one of the very first patterns I designed using Watercolours variegated pearl cotton.

As you can see, I stitched it on the plain brown mono canvas (18 ct.) because that was all I could get in those days. And I used just one skein of the variegated thread, and a few skeins of ecru #5 pearl cotton. That's it -- no other colors or metallics -- because I was focused on highlighting the beauty of the thread with the classic simplicity of a traditional quilt pattern. I still love looking at this piece. And because it's such a simple, elegant design I decided to stitch it up again... but THIS time I wanted to try it on 24 ct. Congress Cloth and use Caron Collection's Impressions thread, which gives a much softer look to the piece.

And, oh yeah, I couldn't resist adding one solid color, one metallic accent color, and a few little acorns in the corners! It's the same pattern, just done in a totally different way:

Stitching this up on the smaller 24 ct. Congress Cloth made the little piece only 5" by 5" (unlike the larger version at the top, which was 6.5" by 6.5." on the larger 18 ct. canvas). Very cute, don't you think? (Would be perfect for a box top or pillow inset.) And if you really want to have a more contemporary look, you can omit the ivory background stitching and just leave the canvas unstitched - it looks totally fresh and modern that way, too.

Anyway, as a HAPPY THANKSGIVING TREAT FROM ME TO YOU: I'm sharing the "new, revised" pattern with you on my website. Check out the FREE PATTERNS page, and then print out the pages, if you want to try stitching this cutie up yourself! You can certainly stitch it up plain and simple - like the top photo - or you can choose the "jazzier"'s all up to you. Consider it a seasonal "THANK YOU" to all you stitchers out there who have been kind enough to buy my patterns all these years!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Indian Autumn is Here!

I've finally finished up on my next quilt design: INDIAN AUTUMN.

It's 10" x 10" on 18 ct. canvas (I used sandstone, but eggshell would work, too). I used Watercolours' 168 - "Rainforest" because it matches my INDIAN SUMMER pattern, but also because that particular colorway has lots of interesting colors you can choose from - to mix and match and coordinate with your solids and metallics.

I enjoyed stitching the different geometric motifs, too. Here's a closeup of the three different motifs and the three different colors (I chose blues, greens, and rusts this time around).

And while all the primary elements are done with #5 pearl cottons, I've done the background in two slightly different colors of DMC floss (436 and 738). I enjoy stitching with 4 ply of floss in the background, after I have ALL the pearl cottons and metallics stitched -- it's kind of a treat for my fingers! Although, you do have to "strip" the floss plies and lay them with care, so they lay flat and smooth (a laying tool is helpful for this.)

As usual, I was totally focused in stitching up this particular autumnal color combination, but about halfway thru, I started to visualize other yummy color possibilities (green and cranberry, pastels, red and gold, blue and gold, etc., etc.).
Because there are lots of different elements to stitch, I recommend selecting a variegated skein that has at least THREE different colors that you can match with your solids and metallics.

Here's a few Watercolour skeins I pulled from my stash that would also be wonderful to try with this design:

From the top, they are: 220 - Cheyenne, 222 - Sierra, 195 - Paprika, 231 - Ethiopia, 245 - Savannah, 236 - Appalachia, 244 - Olive Grove, 259 - Garden Path, and 47 - Camouflage. .... Not to mention the hundreds of other yummy varieged pearl cottons out there!

[ASIDE: This pattern will be available soon on my website: , after I ship it off to my distributors.]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Just a Peek...

For all of you who've asked about the next ribbon pattern, I wanted to give you a peek at my latest RIBBONS OF HOPE, that I just started stitching on this week. Here is the thread palette I've pulled for the design (I may or may not add or subtract colors from this palette. I'll decide as I get more stitching done.)

Then here is how much I've got stitched right now:

You'll notice that I've worked most of the ribbon borders first (in ecru and 739) because those are the areas I'm most certain of, in terms of stitches and colors. If I'm uncertain about which colors or stitches to do next, I just leave those areas blank, trusting that they will become clear to me as I progress...

In my first design, RIBBONS OF HARMONY, all the ribbons had zig zag edges. In this design, all the ribbons will have soft scalloped edges. (A subtle secondary theme - after the primary theme of color - that pulls the assorted ribbons together.)

At this point, faced with all those white borders, I'm ready to start adding the color. I take it slow at first. As the designer, I spend a lot of time just STARING at the piece and visualizing what each ribbon should look like: where to put the darkest colors; how to spread and balance each color thruout the whole design; how much/little metallic should be used in the piece. I think of it as a puzzle, really, and my favorite design challenge is carefully adding each little piece to the puzzle - stitch by stitch, color by color - until the puzzle is complete and the design is totally balanced and unified in color, texture and composition.

Monday, November 10, 2008

About Those Threads...

In my last post, I told you about the luscious SILK LAME' BRAID from Rainbow Gallery.

Well, if you are itching to get your hands on some of this new thread, check out THE NEEDLEPOINTER, a stitchery store in Everett, Washington. They happen to be running a special this month on SILK LAME' BRAID -- if you buy all 42 colors you'll receive a 15% discount on the threads. You can call them at 425-252-2277 or email them at: or

I might also mention that THE NEEDLEPOINTER is having a trunk show this month of my designs, with a bunch of my models and lots and lots of my patterns. Here's a photo that Donnelle sent me of one of the shop walls featuring my designs:

So if you happen to be in the Pacific Northwest and are looking for some new threads and patterns, you might want to stop in at THE NEEDLEPOINTER and look around. ....And please say "HI!" to Jill and Donnelle for me!

Friday, November 7, 2008


Recently, I sent a pattern to Rainbow Gallery that I designed to highlight a bunch of their threads. (Can you imagine how much fun it is to have a handful of new and delicious threads sent to you and then be asked to design something using them?!? Oh, BLISS!)

Anyway, Rainbow Gallery sent me some of their newest thread, SILK LAME' BRAID, and BOY was it wonderful to stitch with! It's a soft, flexible thread (72% silk, 18% rayon) with the slightest shimmer of metallic color woven thruout. It's not a fragile thread either. It's a good weight - like a full strand of floss or silk - so it stays in the needle and covers very nicely, too. It's NOT a strandable thread; rather, you just use it as it comes off the card, in a nice full strand of blended threads - 4 strand of silk braided with 4 strands of fine metallic. (To see the sparkle up-close, just double-click on the above photo and you'll get a dazzling eyeful!)

I especially appreciate Rainbow Gallery's color range. They don't just give you one or two yellows or pinks, but a whole range of each color - warm and cool variations of each color, so you can pick just the RIGHT color that you need.

Currently, Silk Lame' Braid is designed especially for 18 ct. canvas (it has the SL prefix) and comes in 42 colors. John Satterlee, at Rainbow Gallery, also mentioned to me that they will be coming out soon with Silk Lame' Braid for 13 ct. canvas (it's a little bit thicker, and just as soft and yummy). You can see a skein of it above in the warm pink color (it has the LB prefix.)

SO -- it's become my current THREAD CRUSH. (You know how you get crushes on movie actors, or singers? Well, I get the same kind of crush on new threads or threads that are new to me. Crazy, huh? Or maybe you can relate, too? ...hmmmm?)

Sometimes I stumble upon a new or different thread, and as soon as I stitch with it, it becomes my favorite thread. I love using it, and finding new uses for it. So, I'm thinking I'll be sharing some of those favorite threads with you, now and then, when they catch my eye, or pass thru my fingers. Cuz, you know..... we ALL NEED MORE THREAD for our poor languishing thread stashes, right? Of course we do!

P.S.: If you want to see the latest pattern I designed for Rainbow Gallery, just visit their website at: ; then click on the "Free Patterns" menu and look for my DESERT ROSE.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Border Bits

As I go to and fro during the day, my eye is stopping on some of the borders I have on some smaller pieces hanging around the house. So I thought I would share these small border ideas with you.... As we all know, you can never have too many border options!

Here are two ideas combined in one border. First, check out that tiny CHECKERED BORDER made with simple scotch stitches, alternating with smyrna crosses. The scotch stitches are done in a variegated thread, and the smyrnas are done in a gold metallic. This is a VERY SIMPLE border idea that can be worked in a jillion combinations -- and yet very, very effective for a little bit of a different border. This works great on tiny canvases, where you don't want to overwhelm the central design.

And notice that really cute POLKA DOT BORDER. How fun is that?!? Another simple but elegant border idea to use on small to medium canvases. And of course, you can use beads for the dots, instead of stitches!

And one of my easy favorites is the PADDED SATIN BORDER. If you haven't tried that yet, you must! It's fast, fun, and easy. Just lay 1-3 long stitches in the "ditches" of your canvas, then diagonal satin stitch over them to get a lovely raised border. (The scanner smushed the padded border in this photo, but you get the idea...) You can also do TWO layers of padding before covering with the final layer - if you want a higher padded border. Also, notice the thin shaded line sandwiched in between the two green borders. You can do a solid color, a blended color, or a variegated color to echo whatever colors are in your main design.

And let's say you buy a canvas with a solid band of color around it. Here's a real easy way to create a patterned border. Just stitch rectangular blocks in alternating directions to create a chevron pattern. Or, for a bit of pizazz, alternate with a matching metallic ribbon, so the border has a lovely shimmer to it. (I've used that effect on several of my quilt designs, to wonderful effect.) Then finish it off with a padded border on the outside - TA DA -- Easy Peasy!!

And last, but certainly not least: there's the good ole' checkerboard border. When in doubt, a checkerboard border always adds a bit of country charm. Using black checkers is always elegant and creates instant drama to any piece. Alternate with a variegated color and you've added even more sophistication with a really simple technique. HOW FUN IS THAT?!?!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bored With Borders Yet?

Not Me!
I love thinking up new and different types of borders. (Can you tell?!?)

So, I'm going to show you another border trick you might want to use some time....

First, let me tell you how it came about (it's one of those HAPPY ACCIDENTS that occur when you just GO FOR IT, trusting your creative instincts to lead you somewhere wonderful). ANYWAY... I was trying to come up with a good teaching project (something fun, slightly challenging but not hard,with fast results and yet adaptable to several color combinations - gee, that should be real easy, huh?).
While stitching PRIMROSE PATH, I enjoyed the floral tapestry pattern so much, I decided to use it in a smaller project. Since California Poppies were on my mind, I stitched this version first:

I jazzed up my usual plain satin stitched border with metallic insets. I liked it well enough, but it just wasn't as ELEGANT as I wanted it to be. I felt it needed SOMETHING, but I didn't know what exactly. Then I decided to try the "repeat border" technique I used on that green Diane Evans piece I showed you a few days ago.
Here's how it looked after I repeated the border:

Oooooooh....much better! See how I repeated the first border, but slightly darkened the orange colors, and expanded the corner sections so they echoed the first border? Suddenly, the piece had more elegance, more pizazz and definitely a more eye-catching border. (And see...I snuck in a narrow row of the variegated color - in between both borders, to pull the variegated colors out to the border, and also to create a calming rest between those two elaborate metallic borders.)


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Guess Who Katie Was for Halloween!

My dog Katie is a very intelligent wired-haired Pointer mix (I suspect there's some border collie in her as well). She isn't a frilly, girly type of dog. Can't abide anyone fooling around with her hairy mess of a mouth, so I normally just leave her be.


when I twirled her moustache, she sorta reminded me of a famous avante garde artiste, so I played with her hair a bit more and coaxed her into doing some expressive poses for me.....

all the while trying to convince her that she would be the only dog on the block with a REALLY ARTISTIC Halloween costume this year:

So......can you tell who she's supposed to be?!?!?

YES!!!....It's none other than SALVADOR DOGGI!!!