Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Next Cyber Class

Had enough of winter?

Ready for a little whiff of spring?

Why not join me in creating a small floral tapestry called "LILAC TIME" that celebrates one of the most-beloved flowers of spring:

LILAC TIME is 7.5" x 7.5" on 18 ct. mono canvas in Santa Fe sage green. The thread palette combines Watercolours 064 - "Pale Lilac" with a handful of DMC #5 pearl cottons, floss, floche, and metallic Ribbon Flosses.

Framed within a sparking border, is a pastel lattice with lots of lilacs of all sizes - small, medium and large! You know I love flowers, and one of my personal challenges as a designer is to create my favorite flowers using stitches and threads that I love. I think LILAC TIME captures those romantic lavender flowers extremely well (and I fancy I can smell those fragrant lilacs every time I look at it - even in the middle of winter!)

(I might also mention that I have designed several floral pieces using this same size, format, and layout - all with the double borders, the watercolory lattice, and the floral tapestry with several sizes of the same flower. I haven't released them to the public at large, and I intend to offer all of them as Cyber Classes throughout the rest of the year. Other designs in this floral series include Summer Daisies, Golden California Poppies, and Grape Harvest.)

The registration period for LILAC TIME starts now and runs through March 20th. I expect the cyber class to begin April 20, 2011 and it should run about four weeks.

LILAC TIME is not a particularly difficult project, and the stitches are easy to do, but the precise arrangement of stitch sequences within a small space can be a bit confusing to a true beginner, so I have to rate this project as an advanced beginner-to-slightly-intermediate piece. It is certainly helpful to have some experience stitching on canvas (we will be working on 18 ct. mono canvas) and it is, of course, essential to have a familiarity with counting and stitching from a counted canvaswork graph.

If you love lilacs and are interested in joining this cyber class, please visit my website (listed on the right side in BOLDED LETTERS) and click on the LJP CYBER CLASSES menu at the top of the website.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Photo Finishes!

Recently, my first cyber class came to an end, and stitchers sent photos of their finished CORSAGE pieces. I though you might enjoy seeing the variety of finished pieces as well.

JoAnn Shepherd of Burke, VA gets the "fastest stitcher" award, for finishing her red version first... (her motivation was that she is entering it in the Woodlawn show held later this season):

Edy Fenster in New York City finished her orange version in record time.
Don't her orange colors give the piece a fall feel?

JC Reft of Chicago, IL shows us the turquoise version,and decided to add more more greens to her piece:

And Kathleen Klein of Tustin, CA really made some changes! How lovely is her salmony pink version?? And don't you just love the way she stitched her center flower?

Barbi Sherman in Arizona decided to go with a TOTALLY different Springy spin for her CORSAGE, with pinks and purples:

And here's the purely purple version, done by Barbara Ward of Knoxville, TN:

Great job, everyone! And again, thank you, CORSAGE STITCHERS, for taking the class!

Monday, February 14, 2011

True Blue Monday

Last week I was showing you some of my old - and new - quilt designs. Judy H. of POSSIBILITIES! wrote me to say how much my quilts really looked like miniature fabric quilts. Thank you, Judy!

Which reminded me of the days when I would go to local quilt shows and set up my display of threads, canvases and quilt models. I can't TELL you how many times women walking past the booth would think my stitched quilts were actually done with itty bitty fabric pieces. And then, when they got up closer to the quilts they were stunned to realize they were actually stitched! Wasn't it HARD? they asked. How did I see the canvas? I told them it was much easier to get crisp even edges on a geometric grid of canvas than working with pieces of fabric. And often times I would get them to buy an easy pattern and try it themselves. I hope over the years I got a few of those quilters re-interested in stitching and doing needlepoint again!

Thinking about my range of quilt designs got me thinking again about one of my most favorite designs: COLOR STUDY: FLYING GEESE. I just loved this design, and actually stitched it twice - because I needed two models at the time and also because it was so fun to stitch! Possibly it was the luscious blue/green/purple colorway that I loved, combined with the always classic geese pattern. (I don't know what it is about those simple triangles - but I just LOVE stitching them and never seem to tire of them in a quilt design!)And a row of those triangles always make me think of this:

This was also the first quilt design that I decided to add a few easy stitches to see if I could replicate fabric swatches - and branch out from that tried and true diagonal satin stitch that my other designs use almost exclusively.

This was also the first design that I decided to incorporate DMC floss as the background thread.... just to break away from using #5 pearl cotton all the time. I must say I enjoyed the thread change because it was easier on the fingers to stitch (although the floss plies had to be separated and recombined to lay flat, and a laying tool was needed for the floss, unlike good old pearl cotton!)

Anyway, looking back at this favorite quilt design makes me want to design some more in this vein, since it's been a while since I've done one... so I'm going to get out my sketch pad now and start doodling!

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Affair With Stars, continued...

As I was saying the other day.... I think it's time to tinker around with some of those traditional quilt star blocks, and make a few new comtemporary "art quilt" designs. I've already started in that vein with my favorite STARRY NIGHT design from a few years ago. Here it is in all its complex and colorful glory:

More recently, I came up with the wildly colorful RED HOT PEPPERS quilt design that makes me smile every time I look at it:

Well, I've been staring at that design on my wall for a few months now, and after watching the amazing pictures of snowy weather all over the country this winter, I thought it'd be appropriate to create a new "art quilt" that updates the old LONE STAR motif, but adds a bit more pizazz to the mix.

So this month's new design offering is a WINTER SKY quilt pattern in tealy blues and orchidy purples that is, I've gotta say, WAY COOL:

It's a larger size than my first little lone stars: 10" x 10" on french blue 18 ct. canvas. It also uses two different Watercolours: 192, "Elderberry Wine" for the multi-color bits, and 160, "Night Sky" for the subtle variegated blue border area. I've also sneaked in a bit of glitz with a touch of purple Ribbon Floss amongst the rest of the #5 pearl cotton colors. Here's a close-up of the star block (and the actual colors are a bit darker than my scanner is showing in the photos):

When I start stitching on a new one of these quilt designs, I always amaze myself again and again with how much FUN they are to stitch. They really do make great "no-brainer" projects in-between more complex stitching projects (and I really don't mind stitchers saying that they're "no-brainers" 'cuz that's exactly what I've designed them to be - grin!)

So, if you're interested in whipping up a few artsy-type stars to while a way a cold winter's night -- check out my new WINTER SKY pattern on my website (listed on the list at the right in bold letters.) It's a fun one!

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Affair With Stars

Many, many years ago, when I was living up in the Gold Country of California (in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mtns, where gold was first discovered) I went into the local stitchery store in Grass Valley. There on the floor beneath a table was a basket of the very first Caron Collection Watercolours threads. I was immediately drawn to them and fascinated by their variegated colors.

I asked the store owner if there were any patterns available that used this new thread and she said no, there weren't. But I was so intrigued that I bought a few skeins and went home with them.

As I fondled these luscious threads, I wondered what I could stitch that would really show off the colors of the hand-painted threads. Because I was into quilts at the time, I decided to use some very traditional quilt patterns to try out the threads. The very first one I stitched was a small (6.5" x 6.5") Miniature Lone Star design:

Followed closely by Miniature Bear Claw and Miniature Wild Geese:

I was starting to get addicted to this new thread, so I designed a little bit bigger quilts (8.5" x 8.5") using the same classic patterns. Here's my Lone Star:

By now, I was thoroughly fascinated by the way the colors were revealed as you stitched. And I realized that quilt patterns were the perfect medium to show off the colors of the hand-painted threads.

Well, one day the store owner asked if she could sell a few of my designs. After a while she ordered a few more.... Then a customer who bought one, stitched it up and took it down to a larger stitchery store in Sacramento (the beloved FUZZY PENGUIN) to get it framed. The owner there asked about the design and soon contacted me about providing HER store with designs. Which I was certainly happy to do.

A little bit later, I was asked to be a part of the FUZZY PENGUIN'S large booth at the old Cross Stitch Festivals that were then held in Sacramento. There I met lots of stitchers as interested in stitching as I was. What a revelation! And somewhere along the line, someone suggested I send my designs to Nordic Needle to see if they would be interested in carrying them... and the rest - as they say - is history!

This is my long and winding way of telling you that I've had a fond and special relationship those quilt block stars for a long, long time. And recently, it occured to me that those very first old designs (that people still order now and then) will always be classics, but maybe it would be fun to re-visit them and see what I could do to give them a little bit of an updating. After years of focusing on very traditional styles of quilt blocks, I think it's time to give them a more contemporary "art quilt" look.


Thursday, February 3, 2011


Last week I decided to enjoy a leisurely breakfast while perusing the latest issue of my favorite needlepoint magazine, NEEDLEPOINT NOW. Imagine my surprise when I turned a page and found one of my old freebie designs staring up at me in an ad, available in a kit!

Here's the design I'm talking about, and I'm sure you may recognize it because it was also on the cover of the May 2010 ANG Needle Pointers magazine, and you might actually have stitched it up yourself at one time:

I did a double take -- how had this happened without me knowing about it?? And stranger still, why did my design, called "This Heart's For You" have a different designer's name attached to it? Someone named Pat Mazu.... Stranger and stranger!

Breakfast forgotten, I got on the computer first to try and locate designer Pat Mazu, who turns out to live in Indiana. Much later that morning, I finally got to talk to Pat and here's what I found out: she had NO IDEA how her name had gotten attached to my design. She have never seen it before, and was as stumped as I was as to how the her name had gotten involved in the ad. Hmmmm, more detective work was needed! Pat agreed to call the magazine and I agreed to call the store that posted the ad, and we would meet again later to discuss our findings....

After many phone calls to and fro, here's what we were able to find out: first, every bit of content in NEEDLEPOINT NOW is sent back to their contributors and advertisers to proofread and authorize before it is published, so they do everything that's possible to make sure their information is correct; second, at the time the ad was placed, the store owner was in the midst of moving her store AND undergoing emergency surgery, so, needless to say, she was a tad overwhelmed and a few things may have gotten overlooked; thirdly, the store owner assured me that my design was NOT being copied and included in their thread kits (which would be a copyright infringement) and when stitchers inquired about the design, they were told to visit my website and print out the pattern from my "free patterns" page.

So, by the end of this long and unexpected day, I had learned a few new and valuable things that I would like to share with you, dear stitcher....

FIRST OF ALL: I met another designer named Pat Mazu, who was extremely nice, very professional and wonderful to talk to. Please know that she is completely innocent and blameless in this ad mix-up. She was as eager as I was to get to the bottom of this mystery, and when all is said and done, not only did we solve the mystery together, but I feel as if I've made a new friend in Pat!

SECONDLY: I was very glad and relieved to know that the error in the ad was not deliberate, but rather a plain ol' unintentional mistake. And you know... that happens now and again, to all of us at one time or other, since no human on earth is perfect.

And THIRDLY: I would ask all you stitchers out there, when you are visiting your local stitchery stores to double-check that "freebie" patterns are indeed distributed free to you stitchers. Those free charts are my gift to you and you alone, and while I give my permission for them to be taught in free guild meetings, they are not intended to be resold in any way, shape or form.

And LASTLY: it's always good to pause and remember that the relationship that exists between stitchery store, teacher, designer, stitcher and let's add stitchery magazine here too, is a very close and special one. Not one of us by ourselves can exist without all the others. When you think about it, we're all part of one big stitching family. And while we may never meet each other face to face, we all share a common bond and love (and dare I say it, OBSESSION?) for stitching. So at the end of the day, what I say is: LONG MAY WE ALL PROSPER!!!