Thursday, October 11, 2018


The Dirty Brown Sampler (2001)
Beside the Hearth by Janet Morse
Mystery linen from stash
Needlepoint Ink Silk 587 Burnt Umber Range 2+ skeins
Gentle Arts Sampler Threads Gold Leaf, Mulberry, Forest Glade

This sampler has been in my stash for years!  Yes, Janet Morse released the design in 2001--seventeen years ago!  Both Debby and Rita from the Homespun group have stitched this sampler, there may be others in the group who have stitched the sampler just can't recall right now.

What is it about this sampler?  Is it the simplicity, the undulating border, or the cartouche?  Janet's alphabets are beautiful and stitching with just one color except for the cartouche adds a special touch.  If you are looking for a quick stitch--Dirty Brown Sampler is your girl.

You know my mantra:  finish a sampler, start a sampler.  Who is next?  There are several contenders:  Sally Spencer by Birds of a Feather, Anna Grater by The Scarlet House, and Justice for All by Blackbird Designs

In an attempt to rightsize my stash, I have been sorting, passing and prioritizing.  One of the things I have discovered in this process is the rediscovery of older charts in my stash which I really like and I keep asking myself why I have never stitched them.  It is hard for me to resist the call of new releases.

I am not sure how long Sally Spencer has been released, let's just say she is not one of the newer girls on the block.  Sally Spencer or Mustang Sally as she was nicknamed by Mischievous Stitches has beautiful colors and who can resist Sally's mantra:  Sooner Begun, Sooner Done.  This sounds like something Grandmother Bessie would have said to me in her very pragmatic voice,  (see #mustangsallysal on Instagram)

Anna Grater by The Scarlet House is another contender.  Anna Grater was a club project Tanya designed for the Sampler Club at Country Sampler.  Tanya released Anna at the 2018 Nashville Needlework market and Lynette at Homesteading on the Homefront floss tube also did a SAL with Anna.  (see #annagratersal n Instagram)

Contender #3 is Justice for All by the Blackbird Girls which was released in 2002--another colder design and perfect for all the red, white and blue at my house.  I found some 36 count Patriot's Brew linen by R & R Reproductions and some NPI Williamsburg Blue in my stash.  Seems all the elements are coming together for this sampler.  Am thinking of changing the date to 1780 (the Battle of Kings Mountain) and adding the initials JSS for Grandmother Julianna Stentz Shultz.  I will add Grandfather Johan Martin's story and his contribution at the Battle of Kings Mountain and attach to the back of the sampler.  The alphabet on this sampler just sang to my heart, there are only two colors in this sampler.  (I think Emma Lerch wore me out with all the greens she used in her sampler)

Finish a sampler, start a sampler!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Finish a sampler, start a sampler

Emma Lerch (aka Lydia Emaline Shults)
Scarlet Letter
Linen--mystery stash
Fibers a ver a soie

One of my stitching goals for 2018 was to finish Emma Lerch.  It was Emma's big, bold asymmetrical border which drew me to her.  Emma was not afraid to use color because the colors in this sampler are anything but timid.  Emma either liked pink, she used what she had or her LNS had closed.  At the September Homespun Gathering, Lori shared a wonderful quote:  Done is better than perfect.  This quote comes from the Facebook motto.  Perfectionist continuously tweak projects and never finish them.  Perfection can be an enemy of progress.  I get bored or distracted or discouraged that my project is not perfect and give up.  No finished project is perfect, and if I keep trying for perfection, I will never finish.  There is no perfect project anywhere, ever.  Every project has a flaw that someone can point out.  Done (meets and surpasses standards) but not perfect is okay.  When I wrap my head around this concept, maybe just maybe, I will get more accomplished and will have fewer WIP's and more FFO's.  When I am searching for something in my sewing room and find unfinished projects and look at them and ask myself why I stopped, I am going to remind myself that done is better than perfect.

Yes, I changed the name from Emma Lerch to Lydia Emaline Shults because she is a part of my family.  Attached to the back of the sampler will be an envelope with Lydia Emaline's story, sad and true.  Yes, I also know leaves are missing from one of the bottom sections of the border--the leaves will be stitched before carrying Emaline to the framer.

The Dirty Brown Sampler (2001)
Beside the Hearth by Janet Morse
Mystery stash linen
Needlepoint Ink Silk 587 Burnt  Umbre Range

Being a sampler lover, there is always a next sampler waiting to be stitched.  At the gathering, Rita brought her beautiful Dirty Brown sampler to share.  It was wonderful to welcome Rita back to the gathering group.  Stitchers are kindred spirits.  Seeing Rita's beautifully stitched sampler reminded me I had this sampler in my "to be stitched sooner rather than later" pile it was time to get stitching.  So, I did what every sampler lover does:  finish a sampler, start a sampler.  Dirty Brown Sampler has been a delight and joy to stitch.  Letters stitch fast.  Hopefully without any life distractions, I will have my own version of Dirty Brown Sampler to share at the November gathering.

Rita's sampler

At the September Homespun gathering, I was too busy visiting, eating and admiring WIP's to take many photos. I did take a photo of Rita's sampler and I also took a photo of Judy's exquisitely stitched and finished Carriage House (Kathy Barrick) Quaker stocking.  A beautiful stocking and it will be a treasured family heirloom.

Judy's Quaker stocking

In keeping with the spirit of done is better than perfect, Stacy Nash's Rose Garden basket, Threadwork Primitives All American Finn and Erica Michael's strawberry are waiting to be FFO'd.  None of them is perfect, they each have flaws and each will be finished and will be good enough.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

All American Finn

All American Finn
Threadwork Primitives (Nan Lewis) 
copyright 2014
32 count dove gray linen overdyed with walnut
Gentle Arts Sampler Threads
Needlepoint Ink Silk
Sewing Notions Trim

Spent my Labor Day holiday stitching a seasonal.  I did make a few changes:
Black Raspberry Jam instead of Black Crow, Lambswool instead of Parchment and NPI silk Chinese Red 502 instead of Turkish Red because it was the color in my stash which best matched the red in the rick rack.

Doesn't the red in this design just make everything pop?  I had intended to tack down the rick rack  and after trying to pierce the rick rack with my needle realized there was a reason Nan's instructions said to use fabric glue.  

Instead of framing this piece, am going to visit my local Goodwill, second hand store, Miss Lucille's or antique shop and look for older cutting board or wooden paddle.

This is a good mindless stitch because of the dense stitching of the whale.  Just a tiny bit more work on this piece and I can call it an FFO.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Elizabeth 1823

Emilia Pool Sewing Basket (copyright 2014)
Stacy Nash
Linen:  Weeks Dye Works Dolphin
Fibers: combination of NPI silks, Weeks and Gentle Arts

Prized Pig Sewing Book (copyright 2015)
Stacy Nash
Linen:  Weeks Dye Works Dolphin
Fibers: Gentle Arts (Antique Rose, Harvest Gold)

What makes us fall in love with a design?  Is it the verse, a border, motifs, colors, a big old house, the proportions?  When Stacy Nash released this design at market in 2014, I fell hard.  I think it was the colors and turning a simple paper mache box into a sewing basket.

Anna Elizabeth was my Great Great Grandmother.  She lived most of her life in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina near Asheville.  The dolphin linen by Weeks was a rich blue color which reminded me of the mountain colors and changing Emilia to Elizabeth was an easy change.  The rest required  time and some thought.  Turning a Hobby Lobby paper mache box into a sewing box and a simple notebook into a journal were new to me finishes.  (I am not a finisher, finishing is a struggle, there are mistakes and tons of room for improvement, watching tutorials is helpful).

The inside cover(s) of the journal is finished using the Nun's stitch.  Years and years ago, Ginnie Thompson released a book called Linen Stitches.  I often refer to this book and if you don't have it in your stitching library, I highly recommend it.  It is an excellent resource guide and Ginnie's step by step instructions are easy to follow and execute.  The Nun's stitch is an easy stitch with the rhythm one-two change direction, one two change direction.  The stitch is pulled tightly and makes a lovely finished edge.  The Nun's stitch works well for finishing when you don't want a hem, it is less bulky.

The back of he journal was the most challenging part.  The back of the design was plain and I wanted something on the back of the journal.  In 2015, Stacy released a design called Prized Pig Sewing Book & Flower Urn Pinkeep, and the design had a beautiful cartouche:  simple and elegant.  It took some careful counting and recounting to see if the design would fit.  I added the letter NC for North Carolina--where Anna Elizabeth was living and attended school.

For the spine of the book, I dug into my wool stash and found a soft cream fabric.  Is there anything more fun than shopping for silk ribbon?  I'm not sure which part I enjoy most:  the beautiful colors, the sheen, or the luxurious feel of the ribbon running through my fingers.  A silk ribbon for a girl living in the mountains of North Carolina in pre Civil War America would have been an extravagance, I doubt Anna Elizabeth tied her journal with a silk ribbon.  I thought it was past time Anna Elizabeth had a silk ribbon for her journal.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

SassyJacks, Nicola and Esther Benson

This post begins with an apology--my body is back in Nashville but my head and my heart are still in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina and at SassyJacks.  AppleJack and I have spent the last few days enjoying the mountains and taking a class with Nicola Parkman at SassyJacks in Weaverville, North Carolina.  If you haven't been to SassyJacks, what are you waiting for?  Go!  The linens, oh the linens:  Lakeside, Weeks, R & R, Silkweavers, you name the linen, the color, or the count and Kimberly Young, the proprietress of SassyJacks has it.  Fibers, again, name the color or manufacturer and your needs can be met.

If anyone is looking for linen for the Sarah Braizear 1829 sampler, SassyJacks has an abundance and the linen is beautiful!

SassyJacks is currently located at 30 Main Street Weaverville, North Carolina.  Weaverville is just north of Asheville, North Carolina.  Walking or driving through the town I was quickly reminded of Mayberry, Aunt Bee, and Andy Taylor because Weaverville has all the quaint charm of small town America.  People stop their cars and allow you to cross the street and shop owners keep water outside their shops for the people who are walking with their dogs.  The photo above is the future home of SassyJacks.  This is the Zebulon Baird House built in 1878 and is currently being restored by Kimberly and her husband Everett.  Isn't it fabulous?

This is the back or ell of the house.  There are great plans for this porch:  teas, receptions, stitch-ins.  And one day, there will be a carriage house which will serve as a classroom and gathering place for stitchers.

Back to Weaverville, this is a photo I took one day while I was walking to lunch.  Weaverville has many artisans and eateries.  In a future SassyJacks newsletter, appropriately called Jack's Journal, Kimberly and Jack are going on a walking tour of the cafe's, coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants, food trucks and eateries of Weaverville.  When you go to Weaverville be sure to check out the Creperie & Cafe, you will not be disappointed.  On the corner next to SassyJacks is a bakery called Well Bred Bakery and Cafe, Travel and Leisure magazine has discovered them, whatever you select, your tastebuds will be satisfied.

This is Nicola Parkman, Hands Across the Seas Samplers beginning her talk and instructions on stitching the Esther Benson sampler.  Nicola does extensive research on each sampler she releases and shares the stitchers story.  Don't we all want to know more about the sampler and the person who stitched the sampler?  Nicola's enthusiasm and passion for needlework is contagious.

Esther Benson 1739, the reproduction.  Esther doesn't disappoint with her version of Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge.  Check out the moon and the sun--easy to fall hard for them.  Esther didn't leave anyone guessing with her name, the year she stitched her sampler and where she lived.  The reproduction is stitched on Lakeside Linen vintage meadow rue and the fibers are Au Vue A Sore.

On our way to Weaverville, AppleJack and I took time to enjoy and hike a stretch of the Appalachian Trail.

If you look closely at the sign, it says Spring Creek Tavern.  Yes, Spring Creek is a real place.  It is part of the Appalachian Trail and where my Great Grandmother Sarah Miranda and Great Great Grandmother Anna Elizabeth were born.

Walks in the cool mountain air, reconnecting with my roots, delicious crepes, SassyJacks, Nicola, the Baird House, Esther Benson--I have new found energy!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Finishing Fool

Two Red Houses (copyright 2003)
Little House Needleworks (Diane Williams)
Mystery Stash Linen (30 count overdyed with walnut?)
DMC fibers

Two Red Houses is stitched and at the framers.  I waved a white flag when I entered the framing shop.  I was afraid when the framer saw the one inch margin and how poorly the needlework had been centered on the fabric, she would send me and my red houses home.  

Land of Liberty
With Thy Needle and Thread (Brenda Gervais)
Mystery Linen (I think this is a scrap of Birds of a Feather)
NPI silks

For years Betty Mansfield finished my needlework.  She did an excellent job!  I always told her she made my needlework look good.  I am not a finisher.  I am learning, I watch a lot of tutorials, I make many mistakes, I need to improve,   Land of Liberty was not fully finished in time for July 4th 2018 but will celebrate Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Summer & Winter Book No 90
The Prairie Schooler 
More Mystery Linen
NPI Fibers

Every year I promise myself I am going to add more seasonal smalls.  The year comes and goes and there are no smalls stitched.  This has been the year.  There is a turkey in the Spring & Fall Book No 91 which I hope to stitch and have finished for Thanksgiving (the overlooked holiday).

Spring Stitching Box
La D Da 2017
Tomorrow's Heirloom Kit

My first time sewing chenille.  It's not as difficult as I thought.  Watching tutorials helped.  Lady Dot has some great trims, if you haven't ordered or used her trims give her a try.  Adding crushed walnut shells can be tricky and messy.

Blackbird Designs
Loose Feathers Pattern #20
Necessity box and Strawberry
Mystery Stash Line
Sullivans fiber

I stitched this strawberry in preparation for a strawberry finishing class Linda Stoltz (Erica Michaels) was teaching.  It was a great class--Linda was so very kind and patient to answer questions and share many ideas for topping the berries.  Linda has many great berry designs.  Sheep roving is my favorite stuffing material.  This was my first time stitching with Sullivans--I love the color but the fiber is very flat and that I don't like.

There are more items in my "to be finished pile."
1.  Bindings on three quilts
2.  Assembly on the Stacy Nash Rose Garden Basket
3.  Hem stitching a sampler
4.  Stitching the cartouche on a Stacy Nash piece, which I hope to finish into a journal.  

All American Finn copyright 2014)
Threadwork Primitives (Nan Lewis)
32 ct Dove Gray overdyed with walnut
Gentle Art--Barn Gray
NPI Chinese Red

The summer heat has taken its toil on my stitching mojo.  Am currently stitching All American Finn by Threadwork Primitives (Nan Lewis).  It is a very whimsical piece.  While shopping at Ye Old Mercantile, I found a bread board which I thought I would use to mount the finished piece.

Saturday, July 14, 2018


Little House Needleworks (Diane Williams)
Two Red Houses Copyright 2003
Mystery Stash Linen (Overdyed with walnut stain?)
DMC Fibers
(My framer is going to hate me for the margins)

AppleJack and I took a road trip last week and there was catching up and shopping but not much stitching.  Was it a hot Fourth of July?  I can't say driving west in 95 degree heat is my cup of tea.  It rained on Friday and the rain brought much needed relief from the temperature and humidity.  Progress is being made on Two Red Houses--three fences, two saltbox houses, one tree and almost one-half of the alphabet.  Do I see a finish in the near future?

One of the first things I do when traveling is look for needlework/quilt/wool shops.  Yes a 50 mile radius is considered "within the area."  There are TWO wonderful needlework shops within the 50 mile radius parameter.  The shops are The Stitcher's Garden in Conway, Arkansas and Shepherd's Needle in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Both shops are filled with so much goodness and both are E*X*P*A*N*D*I*NG.  Isn't that the best news?  In this age when LNS/brick and mortar shops are closing exponentially, it was a shot of encouragement to see TWO needlework shops growing and doubling their retail space.  The Shepherd's Needle was preparing for a two day workshop with Shawn Williams from Threads that Bind.  Shawn was teaching a workshop on July 25th and July 26th and a second workshop on July 27th and 28th.  Darn, due to poor planning on my part, I missed her workshop two years in a row.  If you are in the Little Rock/Conway Arkansas area, plan a visit to these wonderful shops--linens, walls of fibers, models, the latest releases, and all the things--you will be so happy you took the time.

So what did I purchase?

Plum Street Sampler (Paulette Stewart)
Sheep Heap
36 count PTP (Picture This Plus) Oaken

Sarah Jane Grant 1845 Deconstructed
Summer House Stitch Works (Beth Ann Seal)
36 count vintage pear Lakeside
This was released at the Nashville Needlework Market in Nashville.  This linen is awesome, I see more of it in my future.

Mary Barres Sampler 328 x 355
Stacy Nash
36 count Weeks Dye Works Parchment
Mary Barres is a big girl--another beautiful linen.
See that label on the linen?  The shop owner has written the count, manufacturer and name of the linen. She also included the name of the design, thread count and size of the piece of linen.  This is such a nice touch.  

A Sampler Study 1802 Sampler Reproduction
The Primitive Hare (Isabella Abbiati)
40 Count Olde Massachusetts linen

40 count is not one of my favorites.  However, it is a lighter piece of linen, I am hoping it will be easier to see.  When framing this piece, The Primitive Hare had used a piece of lace at the top of the house--I thought this was a cool idea and I happened to have a piece of lace in my stash.

TWO expanding needlework shops made for a great (hot) road trip. Neither one of these shops know me from Adams house cat, if you are in the area--treat yourself, you will be so happy you did.