Monday, September 29, 2008

Town House For Sale

I've recently finished stitching up my latest counted canvas quilt design; it's called TOWN HOUSE. (It provides a totally different look and layout from my earlier COUNTRY CABIN design.)

I was inspired to create a monochomatic quilt pattern after I visited my sister, who has been working on putting together a house quilt using all red and white fabrics. I thought to myself, "Hey, I should try that with thread!" So I came home, pulled out some monochromatic variegated threads, and after doodling around with house blocks, came up with this design.

I couldn't decide which color to focus on: red, blue, green or purple. But blue won out this time. (But on the pattern, I include the thread choices for the other color options as well.)

And I have to admit: it was really hard to stick with the monochromatic blue. I really, really wanted to stitch with a variegated thread that had other colors, but I resisted - I so seldom stay in one color, I thought it would make a good stitching challenge for me. For extra fun, I used lots of a soft blue, metallic Ribbon Floss in the border areas (it matches the lightest blue pearl cotton, so it's hard to see in the photo, but in the flesh, the piece has a nice shimmery sheen to it). And I COULD have used a very pale blue for the background as well, but decided to play it safe and use ecru instead. (But I do list the pale blue color on the pattern, if anyone wanted to use it for the background color.)

I designed two different house blocks; one house has shutters and one house has two chimneys. And the striped and checkered border worked up so fast and fun, that it truly was a pleasure to stitch. All in all, this pattern was really a fun one to work on. So, if you're interested in it, check my website in a few days....I'll be posting it for sale sometime soon.

(FYI: I still think this would be tremendously fun to stitch in other variegated colors...or, hey - how 'bout every house being a different color? Anyway, I definitely think this pattern has lots of potential for stitchers who like to create their own color combinations! ...And I sure think this would make a darn cute pillow top, too!)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Leaves in the Forest

I had such a good time walking and taking pictures in the redwood forest, that I thought I'd share these leaf shots with you, too....Consider them a preview of the fast-approaching autumn, here in Northern California:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nature Sampler

For those of you who asked, here is the full picture of NATURE SAMPLER, that I showed just a part of in my last posting....

It's one of my favorite blackwork pieces, and quite large - 14" x 14" on 25 ct. Lugana fabric.

You can see how easy this layout is. Just a simple pattern for the border lines, with lots of boxes to fill with favorite patterns, alternating with backstitched line drawings of favorite nature motifs. And it's finished off with a larger border pattern to surround the whole thing.

This layout can be used for smaller blocks as well. ( A smaller four-patch or nine-patch would be easy to work up.) Something to think about, if you want to create your own blackwork sampler or "doodle cloth" of favorite blackwork patterns....

P.S.: The NATURE SAMPLER and the BLACKWORK PATTERNS book are both available on my website: If you're interested in ordering them, check my weblink listed on the right to get to my website, then check on the ORDER FORM page.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blackwork Patterns

Recently, my self-published book - BLACKWORK PATTERNS - was reviewed in the September issue of ANG's NEEDLE POINTERS magazine.

As I explain in the introduction, "After several years of stitching and designing blackwork patterns, I decided it would be helpful to have a reference book containing all the different stitch patterns I had used in my designs."

So began a massive job of collecting and graphing all the blackwork patterns I had used or come across thus far. After creating 70+ pages of patterns (about 600 varieties), I STILL hadn't come close to collecting all the blackwork patterns out in the world. THERE MUST BE THOUSANDS! (A never-ending assignment, I discovered....)

So I quit when I had a good-sized collection, and then arranged them by size (small, medium, large, and a few border patterns). But I didn't just collect one-color patterns (i.e.: all in black thread). No. My interest has been in seeing what those one-colored blackwork patterns look like when you use TWO colors....or even THREE colors (with embellishments like beads, sequins and metallics).

Here's a sample of a page from the book, showing how the patterns are arranged. Each pattern is shown in three ways: on the left - using one color only; in the middle - using two colors; and on the right - using two or three colors with embellishments.

[PRIVATE CONFESSION: I've done dozens of blackwork designs, but I've never, ever, ever (yet) done one in black. My excuse: I love color and there are so many colors to explore, I want to try them ALL before I stitch with just black.]

Here's one of the first color combinations I tried - and loved - in blackwork.
It's just a part of a much larger piece called NATURE SAMPLER:

It uses two blues and one green color, and little white pearls for embellishments. I love how light and airy this design looks - simply because of the colors I used. And it started me on a love affair with blackwork that continues to this day...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Goodbye, Summer!

Here's a bouquet for the end of summer,
filled with vibrant reds and golds
to celebrate the last warm days of the season....

Friday, September 19, 2008

Into the (Red) Woods

Here in Healdsburg, it's been overcast every morning this week. Except yesterday, when the sun rose in a slightly hazy sky, and I could tell that it was going to be a gorgeous September day. You know... the kind of day when the light has a golden glow and an apple-cidery tang.... The kind of day that makes you want to get in the car and travel down the road with the windows down.

So that's what I did. I packed a lunch, grabbed a map, and set out to travel down the Russian River as it heads west to the Pacific Ocean.

I first passed thru lots and lots of vineyards. Most of the grapes have been picked, because you can't see any heavy clusters of grapes hanging under the leaves. But a few of the vineyards are still being picked this week, and you can see big trucks loaded with grape bins heading to the wineries.

After driving thru miles and miles of vineyards, you take a bend in the road, and suddenly you find yourself in dark redwood trees and other tall, woodsy trees, and you get glimpses of the Russian River down below the road. But the road is narrow and windy and there are few places to pull over and take pictures (much to my disappointment). But never mind, I cruise thru the summery vacation town of Guerneville, where all summer long the town is packed with people heading for the Russian River. Mid-week, it's quiet, although I still see a few kayaks or canoes out on the river...

But on a whim, I decide to turn away from the river and up a long road that leads to ARMSTRONG REDWOOD STATE RESERVE.

I've never been there before, but suddenly have a craving to see redwood trees.

Well, here they are...
lots of beautiful, tall, redwood trees....
and oooh, it's so cool and quiet under these big giant trees.

Truly a photographer's and a hiker's dream spot!

Here's a shot of Katie, my constant companion, as we rest on the redwood trail. (Dogs ARE allowed here on leashes, but we have to stay on the asphalt roads. And we certainly met a lot of dogs on the trail; even a dog walker with 4-5 assorted dogs.)

After our wonderful walk thru the redwoods, Katie and I went back to the car, had our lunch, then headed back home. As luck would have it, I finally DID get a good shot of the Russian River, as we crossed an old iron bridge.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Bouquet for You

Here's a bouquet of yellow flowers I thought I'd share with you....
(Couldn't we call these flowers "summer on a stem"?)

...And don't they make you smile?

Enjoy their warm yellow colors!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Playing with Patterns: Herringbone

I was looking thru magazines this morning while having my breakfast and came upon this page with two interesting herringbone patterns:

The magazine blurb says about herringbone patterns: "...rendered in new materials, with a metallic flash or a new set of references, this spiny motif of syncopated chevrons reaches higher levels of chic."

Of course, I was intrigued about how these patterns might look as stitched patterns, so I created a doodle canvas and whipped out some herringbone samples:

The three patterns on the RIGHT were stitched with #5 pearl cottons. I like each one of them. They have great potential as borders for painted canvases, don't you think?The middle (solid color) one would make a great basket texture on an appropriate canvas (it's done on the diagonal over 8 canvas threads). Imagine this herringbone pattern as a border to a handpainted canvas, with a plain (or padded) diagonal satin stitched row on either side of it, to create a basketweave mat effect around the central design. Can you "see" how elegant that would look?

The other two patterns have a variegated thread in them; maybe it makes them rather busy, but perhaps with subtler variegated colors it could create a sophisticated effect for a border, or large pattern area. Imagine this pattern done in two solid colors - or maybe two solid colors, but in different TEXTURES - wouldn't THAT look elegant?? [FYI:The top right pattern is done in rectangles of 2 x 6 threads, stepping up 2 threads each box. The lower zig zag of chevrons is done on the diagonal over 8 canvas threads.]

I wanted to see how the herringbone would look for a background stitch, so the two patterns on the LEFT were stitched with 1 ply of a 6-ply cotton floss. I REALLY like the look of those stitches! I don't know where I can use them, but I'll certainly try to find a use for them on some canvas somewhere! [FYI: You might want to play around with stitch lengths for these background patterns. And depending on the size and scale of your canvas, you'll need to enlarge or reduce the pattern size to fit.]

So, I'm thinking herringbone patterns might start showing up in some of my next designs because they're.... Chic?? WELL, YES! Fast and fun? MOST DEFINITELY!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Please, Don't Eat These Daisies!

Well, I can finally share my latest flower collage with you -- it's the DAISY COLLAGE. (Which the majority of you guessed correctly!)

It's a very cheerful design....and it makes me smile to look at it. (I'm also smiling because I finally got the model FINISHED after being buried in my to-do pile for many months. ahem.)

Well, daisies are like that, aren't they? They make you happy just to look at them; no pretense, just pure sunshine. Like Meg Ryan's character says in YOU'VE GOT MAIL: "Don't you think that daisies are the friendliest of flowers?" (Thank you, Coni, for that wonderful movie quote...I totally agree with Meg.)

Coincidentally, I was dragging my feet about tent stitching the center bouquet this past weekend and while flipping channels, came across the Doris Day movie, "Please Don't Eat the Daisies". What could be more perfect? So I decided to stitch along with the movie...and voila, my daisies are done! (Although, I must confess that I also have that movie song stuck in my head now, with those silly lyrics looping over and over in my brain...)

But at least I have the model done.... so I can send it off to one of my distributors, Nordic Needle, who will show it off at the next big trade show in September. Meanwhile, I've just finished the instructions - HOORRAY! DAISY COLLAGE will be popping up on my website any day now...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

....And Grows...

I mentioned last time how I started my stitching garden by creating bouquets of certain flowers and stitching them on 24 ct. Congress Cloth. TULIPS, above, is one of those early bouquets.

Then I had the idea to create a collage effect. And I stitched up this WILD ROSE project:

I wanted to have swatches of patterns behind a flower, and then add ribbons and buttons. To do this, I had to draw the design on the fabric and stitch inside the outlines - which worked perfectly well for the freeform flower bouquets. It worked here, but I really didn't see how I could instruct stitchers to duplicate this design using just a line drawing. In other words, I was stumped because this design wasn't easy to explain, especially since I used slanted boxes, which were hard to fill precisely with geometric designs that others could replicate exactly.

So, regretfully, I set this design aside and went back to stitching quilts....

Then quite a bit later, I had the brilliant idea to put my collage idea within straight boxes (which would be much easier to graph and stitch!) and lo and behold, my first flower collage was officially created - the PINK TULIP COLLAGE:

I was SMITTEN! Not only does this layout let me highlight a single flower in the center box, but it also highlights the beauty of variegated threads. And now I have a reason to mix & match stitches to create little boxes of composite stitch patterns - which I love doing - as well as dabble in creating little ribbon patterns to my hearts content. Seeing this PINK TULIP COLLAGE come to life was definitely an AHA! moment for me. I realized I could use this layout to stitch an infinite number of flower collages....and I certainly intend to create them the rest of my stitching life.

Monday, September 1, 2008


I just got a packet of Caron Collection's twelve newest thread colors:

These are the WATERCOLOURS versions, but they're also out in WILDFLOWERS and WATERLILIES.

Here are their names, from the top of the photo:

Barely Blue
Porcelain Blue
Cornflower Blue
Garden Path
Black Hills
Prairie Grass
Sunflower Seed

Aren't they delicious? And their names are worthy of designs using those names, I think....ANYWAY, I was glad to get these new threads and have no doubt they will inspire a several new designs in the coming months.