Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Vintage "Mother Load"!

What a beautiful Sunday! We left early this morning & headed up the valley to Yakima (and my favorite antique store, Pieces of the Past !) I was looking for metal letters.... wow! did I ever hit the mother load! I found lots of them & a glavanized metal locker basket (I'm heavily into anything that's galvanized metal!) Also managed to walk out of there with two big cement planter boxes that had been painted green at one point & then white. They're all flakey and chipped & absolutely PERFECT!! They also had this great display with sewing items just inside the front door (their merchandising is always so much fun!) Look at the chandelier of button & hook cards etc.... That's my "take" (well....most of it!) home safe & sound! Now it's time to play anagrams & figure out how many different words I can spell with the letters I've got!

In another shop down the block I found an old green toolbox a galvanized pail and an old purple (you know, from the sun...) glass bottle. I'm in heaven!!

On the way home we stopped at Piety Flats winery & mercantile in Donald. That has to be the cutest, most personality-rich building in this part of the state!! I'd give my eye teeth for their doors & screen doors! We're not really into wine but we did manage to walk out of there with several bottles of locally grown/made this & that. Dipping oil (mainly because the bottle is GORGEOUS!) Spiced apple jam & black raspberry jam (mainly because the jars are GORGEOUS!) Hmmmmmm......... I think I just learned something about myself!! LOL!!

How can anyone not love a place like this??? They used to offer fresh peaches or strawberries over ice cream in season..... wonder if they still do?? We'd get one on our way to or from camping in the mountains & eat them at picnic tables out under the apple trees in the orchard outside the store....................... Ahhhhh............. summer!

Hey! I hope your weekend is just as fun as mine has been!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Saturday's Stitching

What a nice way to spend a Saturday..... just stitching & watching one old movie after another! I think I'm really liking the way this Autumn Angel is turning out.... I had to take out all of her dress stitches tho.... have to change the colors. Oh well! All in a day's work, right? Hopefully I'll have her done tonight & can press & photograph her tomorrow. I'll officially have the Summer Angel & the Autumn Angel done!!! Yahoo!!! I think I'll leave the pattern writing till Tuesday & take the rest of the weekend off..... I feel a bad case of antiqueing coming on!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Stitching Workshop 1

We've had so many questions recently about "how to" this & "why?" that, so I've decided that now might be a good time to share answers & tips that I normally give in my classes!

First, let me make really clear that... if you're comfortable with the methods you already use in your preparation for stitching or your stitching itself, GO FOR IT!!! If it's working for you & you're having fun, that's pretty much all that matters!! I'm going to give you MY opinions, MY methods, MY experience. None of it is written in stone, & I'm not trying to pass myself off as "Master Embroiderer Woman" ! Hmmmmm....... wonder how I'd look in tights & an embroidered cape.............. OMG!!!!! THAT'S an awful picture! LOL!!!! : )

Q: Why do you put muslin of the back of the stitchery?

A: The muslin will stabilize the stitchery fabric which really comes in handy when you're going to use it in a project where it will be stuffed (such as a pillow) because it cuts down on "the Lumpies" and stretching. For the most part though, I put it on the back so that I don't have to be so careful about being neat & tidy on the back side. Knots, tails & short cross-overs won't shadow through & show on the front of your work. MUCH more fun!!!! Oh!... forgot to tell you that we hand baste the muslin to the back of the stitchery & stitch through both layers!

Q: What length of floss should I use?

A: Well.... whatever length you'd like! A lot of people say to use no more than 18" because if it's any longer it will fray, tangle, & the world will come to an end. If you're using silk ribbon, silk floss, or metallic floss that rule is absolutely true!! If you're using regular, good quality embroidery floss that rule is a bunch of hooey. I usually use about a 4 to 5 foot length without any troubles at all. But then..... I'm kind of lazy & I don't like to constantly knot off & re-thread my needle! That brings us to the next question.....

Q: What kind of needles should I use?

A: Good quality needles (I'm madly in love with "Scarlet Today" needles which we sell on the website). There are several good brands. The ones that are really cheap that you find in the craft store or grocery store are NOT good brands. Their eyes will have burrs that cut or fray your floss, they won't be as sharp & smooth & they'll be frustrating!!!! YIKES!!! The old needles that were in grandma's sewing basket might have sentimental value, but they're probably pitted with age & rough......... which makes for rough sewing! Also very, very important is that your needle is the correct size for the floss size you're using. You need the hole that the needle is making to fit the size of the strands of floss so that it pulls through smoothly & doesn't fray or fuzz. #7 or #8 embroidery needles work well for 2 to 3 strands of floss.

SO.... you need good quality embroidery needles that are smooth, sharp, have smooth eyes & are the correct size (#7 or #8)

Q: How do you separate the strands of floss?

A: There are alot of different ways to do it, usually people have learned this from mom or grandma (one method even involves your tongue!) I'll show you the way that I was taught. It seems to work well but it's definitely not the only method!

One thing I DO want to talk about though, is the notion that you have to separate the floss into single strands & then put them back together. At some point, someone who was hopelessly obsessive/compulsive decided that this was the "primo" way to go about it. Holy Mackerel!!!! What a waste of time! (Yes, that's just my personal opinion.) The stitches don't look any different if you separate them or not. With the strands separated & put back together you will have a little bit more tangling (yes, personal opinion & personal experience )
If you separate hand dyed or variegated floss this way, be really careful that you keep the strands going in the same direction when you re-join them or the variegation will be lost or the colors muddied. So... just don't do it because it's a complete waste of time........

To separate the strands ( the way I was taught to do it ):

1. Cut a piece of floss & separate 2 strands (easiest if you pull two out about 2" or 3" from the end.
2. Hold the strands you're separating between your thumb & forefinger and the rest of the strands between your ring finger & pinkie of your left hand.3. Place the end of the floss loosely in your right hand as shown with your forefinger between the separated strands. 4. Pull your finger down gently to separate the strands. If the end at the bottom tangles (it will naturally twirl around) don't let go with your left hand unless it's just to move closer to the point where the strands meet & simply run the fingers of your right hand down it to straighten & smooth it. Then continue as before.5. Hand dyed flosses will be a little bit harder to separate because of something that goes on during the dying process (sorry, don't know exactly why!) but they just take a little more smoothing of the ends when you're working with them.

Q: What is "stitchery background fabric"?

A: The fabric you choose to embroider on. I like to use subtly patterned or tone on tone 100% cotton quilting fabrics. You can choose to use linens, satins, wool, ANYTHING you'd like!!!

We'll have "Workshop 2" in a few days!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Friday!

The sun is shining! Most of the trees are all leafed out, flowers are blooming (I have to get the last of my annuals potted up this weekend!) The robin who built her nest right outside the back door of the studio is busily sitting on her eggs.... and dive bombing us if we forget & walk outside the doorway. I have the feeling that before we're through we'll end up having to walk all the way around until she gets her little family out of the nest! There's another little family (sparrows I think) who have set up a nursery in the pergola on the other side of the studio. Unlike the robins, they don't seem so "all fired" ready to attack us when we go out there though, thank goodness!

We've been so busy with the new pattern release all week! Our poor UPS "dude"! The front porch of the studio is full of boxes for him this afternoon.... not as many as there were yesterday, but still.... I'll bet he hates seeing our "UPS" pick-up sign out!

We've had a lot of questions about the Cosmo floss (especially the 2 strand Multiwork). We have the floss ordered & it should be here any time now! We'll be getting all the floss colors used in our "Berry Picking Party" quilt. We'll pick up more floss colors as we use them in the new designs. I've also ordered many (about 75? 80?) of the 2 strand Multiwork colors.... It's a pretty good assortment I think! I can't wait till you can try it out. I'm just LOVING working with it on the "Flight of Fancy" quilt blocks (OH! that was another question we received!.... the pattern for it will be out in October.)

Last.................. I promised I wouldn't show you any more pictures of dirt..... but! I just have to show you our new house! The framers have been working on the roof trusses. It all goes together so quickly! I'm told though, that after the roof is on & the windows are in, progress slows Waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyy..... down! By the way, just look at that blue, blue sky!

Have a nice weekend!

Friday, May 1, 2009

WOO HOO!!!  I just had to update you about the new Cosmo Multi Work embroidery floss!  This is the stuff that is only 2 strands so you don't have to separate it.............. I started stitching on the new "Flight of Fancy" quilt last night.  This stuff is GREAT!  It's really smooth and the 2 strands don't seem to come apart.  I didn't have any tangle problems & it didn't fuzz, shed or break ( I use about a ..............hmmmmm............... 5 foot to 6 foot length of floss when I stitch.)  I think I'm going to be madly in love with this floss before I'm through stitching all 12 of these blocks!  I can't wait till we're able to get it in so that you can try it too... maybe you're lucky enough to have a shop in your area that is carrying it??  Oh, the French General fabric (it's a woven) is really easy to stitch through too..... Yup!  I'm definitely having a happy day!