Thursday, December 25, 2008


May your holidays be filled with peace,

love and joy,

happy treats,

special surprises,

and of course..... some stitching time!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Temporary Detour!

Just a quick update on my misplaced website:

If you're having trouble getting to
please try using this address:

and it should get you there.

There seems to be some mysterious roadblock to my website...
(hmmmm....maybe it's lots and lots of snow)

Anyway, hopefully I'll get this issue resolved soon, and have things back to normal.

Sorry for the inconvenience!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Need a Little Christmas??

I've been very busy this season stitching up gifts, working on new designs for the coming New Year, finishing and mailing off models for the TNNA trade show in Jan. 2009, etc., etc., etc. . . . So guess what? I haven't had any time for leisurely blogging lately. Sorry about that....

BUT... I did take time to post on my website another seasonal freebie pattern for all you seasonal stitchers out there. It's called HOLLY & IVY and it looks like this:

It's a small 4.25" x 4.25" square, stitched on 18 ct. mono canvas. I used an assortment of Rainbow Gallery threads, as well as #5 pearl cottons. The original variegated thread I used - Overture V63 - has been discontinued, BUT, you can still get Encore E63, which is the same elegant variegated color, but a slightly finer thread, so use 2 ply of that instead of the 1 ply of Overture.

Anyway, I stitched this cutie several years ago, and came across the model a few weeks ago, remembered how much I liked it...and thought I'd share it now with you.

And if you want to stitch up a matching companion piece for it, check this out:

It's called HOLIDAY SQUARE. For this freebie, please visit Rainbow Gallery's website: and click on their FREE PATTERNS page. You can download this pattern, which I recently sent to Rainbow Gallery as a special seasonal treat.


Friday, December 12, 2008

T'is The Season

I have to admit that not only am I a "seasonal stitcher" (I prefer stitching bunnies and chicks in the springtime, Santas and reindeers in December), but I'm also a "seasonal designer." I really have no interest in creating Christmas designs in July. Instead, I love getting inspired for my designs in the proper seasons.

So now that the holiday season is upon us, guess what?? Yup. I'm busily stitching away on new Christmas designs.

Here's the very latest holiday pattern I've finished. I call it BOX OF ORNAMENTS, because the rounded blocks remind me of those old-fashioned ornaments with sparkly caverns exposed on one side:

I've taken a traditional quilt block and jazzed it up for the holidays. I've used red, green and gold ribbon metallics for the centers of all the "ornaments." Unfortunately, the photo just doesn't show all the sparkle and glitter of this design.... but it's really an eyeful of Christmas cheer!

Here's an up-close look at all the elements in the design - all very fun to stitch.You'll notice that there are lots of different ornaments to stitch: small, medium and large... And since I couldn't decide which outer border to use - the red/green/gold banner or a very fun peppermint stripe - I've graphed both and will let YOU decide which border you want to stitch!

So, if you're interested in my BOX OF ORNAMENTS, please check out my website (click on the LAURA J. PERIN DESIGNS link in the list on the right.) for more information.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's That Time of Year

It's time to pull out the Christmas decorations. All those santas and trees, reindeers and snowmen. Every little thing that's red and green and twinkling bright.

Here's one of my holiday quilt patterns I call RED BIRDS AND WREATHS:

If you look at it carefully, you'll see the flying red birds in the corner sections (they remind me of cardinals, don't you know....not that we have cardinals here in Northern California, but I like to imagine them anyway).

And then the green motifs remind me of wreaths. Hence the quilt name.
Unfortunately, you can't see the sparkly red metallic diamonds in the center squares that are sprinkled thruout the quilt. Photos just don't show the metallics. sigh.... but trust me, the red sparkles add quite a festive touch to this pattern.

And I even stitched this design in two ways: one with nine blocks (above) and one with four blocks. Both graphs are included in the pattern. Here's the four-block version:

I've always thought these would make great pillows for Christmastime. (Not to mentions stitching them in other colorways: earth-tones, blues and golds, pastels, etc., etc., etc....)
Soooo....Are you in a holiday mood yet? Well, get out all those reds and greens and golds and GET STITCHING!

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!!!

Friday, October 31, 2008


Hope your Friday is filled with happy tricks and treats!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Indian Summer

I don't know what the weather is like in your neck of the woods, but here in Healdsburg, Indian Summer has definitely arrived. The days are bright and sunny, the air has the tangy snap that reminds me of apple cider, and the light thru the trees is as golden as poured honey.

A few years ago, I designed the above quilt pattern, INDIAN SUMMER. It's been a very popular pattern with stitchers. I can't decide if it's because of the colors -- or the intricate pattern. Probably both. Anyway, it's one of the designs I never get tired of looking at. [And I must confess, I just love those "wild geese" triangles; they've always been my favorite quilt patterns... And since this design combines those triangles with the ever-popular "lone star" how can any stitcher or quilter resisit it?!?]

Anyway, it occurred to me that it would be fun to design a companion piece to it, using the same variegated thread (Watercolours' "Rainforest"). Here's what that new piece looks like so far:

You can see how I stitch up these models: first, I work all the variegated and solid pearl colors; after the colors are balanced to my satisfaction, I switch my focus to the background colors. [Really, it's just like creating a fabric quilt: first, you focus on creating the pieced quilt top; then, you decide which quilting pattern you will put on top of your quilt -- thus these stitched quilts have the same multi-dimensional effect as a real quilt... except with stitching, we have the added pleasure of the changing light on the directional sheen of pearl cotton threads.] You can see in the lower areas that I've started stitching the intersecting diamond shapes in a darker gold floss. I'll work all the darker gold areas next; then everything that's left will be filled with the final light gold floss color.

I create all my quilt designs that way: focusing on each type of thread at a time. I guess I prefer counting out all the main parts of the quilt first; then when I get to stitching the background areas, I don't have to do that much counting -- it's basically just filling in the blank spots. That makes it easy to stitch while watching tv or stitching in a group when you can talk and stitch at the same time!

Oh, yeah....I'm calling this design: INDIAN AUTUMN. And as you can see, I'm on the home stretch...just have to finish the background and then I'll be ready to write up the instructions for this pattern.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Another Border Idea...

While I'm thinking about different ways to finish a piece with borders, I want to show you this one:

This is from a large piece called "SPIRIT OF THE SOUTHWEST" by Susan Portra. (I didn't scan the whole piece; just a section of it). I stitched it many years ago, using my favorite Southwestern adobe and turquoise colors.

What I want to show you is the way I finished the border on this piece. The instructions show the angled ECRU borders as the finished edge of the piece. If you've ever seen this piece stitched up and framed (and absolutely GORGEOUS, of course), it usually has a custom-cut mat that has all the triangular sections cut, so that the mat fits snug against the angled outside edges.

Well, I didn't want to mat the piece that I came up with another way to finish the piece so it would fit within a plain square-cut mat. I decided to TENT STITCH inside each triangle shape with a medium-dark color (so the background would recede a bit) and then add a simple string motif (or jessica, if you prefer) that echoes the various jessica elements in the overall design. Here's a closeup of those sections:

I think the extra tent stitching was worth it. I created a background against which the Southwest design could stand out. And I still finished off the piece in an unusual way, without having to have expensive double or triple mats cut.

I share this idea with you, just in case you might have an unusual geometric design that you want to finish in a different manner. When in doubt, consider STITCHING your borders or backgrounds, to show off the rest of your work!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Feeling A Little Batty?

It's that time of year when stitchers start to get a little batty... or even a little witchy... Yup. It's that wonderfully purple and orange time of year: HALLOWEEN!

Time for all us stitchers to look thru our stashes and pull out our fun Halloween canvases.... or grab those purple, orange and lime green threads and start to work on a fun and/or spooky stitching project!

In keeping with the spirit of the season, I've posted a free little Halloween project on my website: under the FREE PATTERNS page. It's my CATS & BATS freebie. Check it out!

Here's the story about this little bat: A few years ago, when I was going to local quilt and craft shows, I would design a little freebie handout for the shoppers passing by my booth. I made this little bat design into a pin that I could wear (I turned it on point, and added a pin back). It was a very fun and easy project. Other stitchers even stitched just the outer border, and then added a fun fimo, porcelain, or wood button in the center - a very cool way to show off a special Halloween button!

I stitched this 3" x 3" design on lavender 18 ct. canvas, but any color would work. And while I used #5 pearl cottons, you could also use 3-4 ply of floss if you prefer.

Anyway, I thought I'd share the pattern with you (there's also a black cat that you can stitch in the center, if you prefer cats to bats) you too can whip up a new little project just in time for Halloween!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mystery Border Revealed!

Have you heard about the Shining Needle Society? Have you joined yet? A stitching friend told me to check it out and after I saw all the luscious designs they were offering, I joined too. It's a society of stitchers (it's free to join) that enjoy talking about their stitching obsession. And best of all, they offer special cyber classes by wonderful designers who will certainly inspire you to great creative heights!

One of those designers is Gay Ann Rogers. I got a look at her recent cyber class, MYSTERY IN A CORNER, and was totally smitten. I had to stitch this project and was as excited as anybody to see where this project was going. The really fun part was deciding on the colors of your project. Everyone was encouraged to try their own combinations - in fact, that was one of the primary missions of the project. There was plenty of discussion (and I'm sure a lot of angst) about what colors to choose...

But I was in one of my springtime green-and-purple moods, and chose to work the MYSTERY in this color combination:

This is the completed project. Isn't it a stunning geometric design? And Gay Ann even gave us stitchers several stitch options so that we could mix and match our own side elements and motifs.... The idea being that we could create our own unique design in the process.

Well, after I finished stitching this MYSTERY, I left it on its stretcher bars and hung it on my office wall, where I've been staring at it for many weeks. To my border-obsessed eye, I realized I REALLY, REALLY wanted to put a border around this design, but wasn't sure what KIND of border it should have. I spent a lot of time staring at this piece, trying to visualize what kind of border it should have.

And here's what I finally came up with:

Instead of having triple mats cut in unusual (and extremely expensive) shapes, I decided to stitch my mat lines (remember those simple Dutch pieces I showed you earlier?) - similar to quilting lines - and by so doing, echo the rather Art Deco (or maybe opulent Edwardian) look of this piece. Using radiating lines around any geometric design is a good trick to remember, if you want to finish it off in an unusual way.

The thin radiating lines are done with a fine metallic thread. The green border is really just parts of the main design that I enjoyed stitching and thought I would repeat along the outside. I've never done a telescoping border (where it varies width) so that was a fun learning experience for me.

Does this border go to far? Is it too ornate? Maybe... Maybe not. I just wasn't happy putting a simple border on a visually complex piece such as this, so I opted to try a much more intricate border. But, ultimately, my border-obsessed eye is now satisfied. My version of the MYSTERY IN A CORNER is finished. I'm happy. (And that means I can start something new! Woo Hoo!)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crossing the Border Line

Here are a few more border ideas that I wanted to share with you.

First, I want to show you one of my favorite designs by Diane Evans of Something Different, called "A Third Diane's Delight 2".....

I LOVE this design! (I love all of Diane's designs; they are all different and totally unique, but this one really "sang" to me and so I had to stitch it up.)

I met Diane at several of the CATS Festivals and we had a great time chatting about stitching. I asked her how she came up with these gorgeous designs and she told me that she gets bored doing repetitive stitching, so she just starts stitching and then changes the elements as she works. And VOILA! Something very different is created.

After I stitched up this design, I left it on the stretcher bars and stared at it for a long time. To me, something was missing. And being the border-obsessed stitcher that I am, I finally realized what would make ME happy was a BORDER around this piece. I agonized about what type of border would work on such an asymetrical design, and then finally decided to try something different.... I added this one:

While the central piece was stitched with Waterlilies silk, and had a simple variegated border line, I decided to CROSS THE BORDER and stitch the same internal patterns on the outside, but I used the thicker #5 Watercolours. And look what an unusual border it makes!

By adding a darker, heavier border that echoed the internal colors and patterns, I was able to "corral" the original design with a border that - I think - only reinforces the beauty of the central design. And also notice what happens when you add a darker border to the pale central area. Doesn't it create a wonderful sense of depth?

Just think of how you might use this technique on other counted canvas designs...or better yet, pull out some of your painted canvases and see how you can add this technique around the border of a canvas. Try extending your internal colors and patterns over a simple border line - darkening and thickening (or perhaps even lightening) the colors of the original design.

P.S.: I made an unintentional mistake on my last post. I referred to a stitching magazine called ARIADNE and said it was Danish. So Sorry! It was a Dutch magazine and published in The Netherlands. Thank you, Blog Reader, for correcting my boo-boo. (If you ever come across old issues of that magazine, look thru them. They are truly fabulous!)

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Simple Little Border

I thought I'd talk a little bit about putting borders around your stitching projects. There are so many creative ways to finish off your hand-stitched pieces, that it always helps to have more options to consider than just matting.

Many years ago, when I was doing lots of cross-stitching, I came across a Danish stitching magazine called ARIADNE. Even though the whole magazine was in Danish, the designs were so beautiful, they didn't need much translation. I was particularly smitten by their botanical designs. They seemed much more sophisticated than our early American patterns; and that might be expected, since Scandanavian stitchers have been doing cross-stitch for many, many years.

What also struck me, as I poured over every issue I could get my hands on, was how simply they finished off their needlework pieces. It was a huge revelation to me! They simply added a stitched line around the central image. Look at the mushroom piece above. See how they stitched a cross-stitch border - skipping every other space - around the grouping. Doesn't it create a lovely, yet elegant border?

Here's another small but pleasing Danish piece:

Again, a simple cross-stitch border line in a neutral color works to set of the central design, and by creating a wide border of the same fabric, gives the piece the LOOK of a mat, but without the cost of actually cutting one to fit. The advantage of using this technique is two-fold: it saves you money, yes...but more importantly, it also creates a very calming border area that doesn't detract from the stitched center. As you look at the photos above, notice how well that white border space keeps your eye focused on the stitchery in the middle.

Here in America, we tend to do a LOT of matting - single, double, triple and even all sorts of custom-shaped matting. But as these two Danish pieces illustrate, sometimes LESS can definitely be more pleasing to the eye.

Friday, October 17, 2008

"Something Told the Wild Geese..."

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go.
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered -- "Snow."
Leaves were green and stirring,
Berries, luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned - "Frost."
All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.
Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly --
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.

- Rachel Field

Did you read this poem when you were in school? I did; it was one of my childhood favorites. And it came to mind when I designed this MALLARD DUCK COLLAGE.

It was also brought to mind by the "V"s of Canada Geese that are starting to appear more frequently overhead, heading south or south-east over Healdsburg. Every time I hear the geese honking above, I rush outside to see them, wishing them a safe journey to wherever they are headed. Although, there are small groups of geese that winter over here in Healdsburg, wherever there are small lakes or parks.

Speaking of migrating geese, I was driving down Hwy 101 to Santa Rosa, and glancing over at the acres of grape vineyards lining the freeway, I saw a small group of Canada Geese just standing between the rows of grape vines. Do you suppose they were nibbling on the ripe grapes, just before they were harvested? What a beautiful sight it was - I wished I had my camera with me to take that unusual shot!

[Visit my website: to see the new MALLARD DUCK COLLAGE and its list of materials.]

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hello, Autumn!

Here's an autumn bouquet in blues and golds,
to usher in the shorter days and cooler nights;
A time to get ready for falling leaves, football games,
and pumpkins on the porch...