Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Year in Review

Time seems to move at mock speed.  I begin each day with great intentions and look at the clock and realize the day is almost gone.  Time is precious, use it wisely has become my new mantra.  For those of you who participate in stitch mania I applaud  you--I am to cowardly.  For others who have chosen BAP monster projects I salute you.  Looking at my to do list, it seems achievable, until distractions start eating into my time.


M. Quertier 1799
Scarlet Letter

House on Pumpkin Hill
Stacy Nash 

The Keyskeeper
The Primitive Hare

Poinsettia Stocking
Blackbird Designs

April Bunny

Casting a Spell
Blackbird Designs

Berry Days at Thistle Down Farm
With Thy Needle and Thread


Half Square Triangle Challenge
Jo Morton




Zinnia Basket


Prairie Road Designs

Snowman Ornament
Primitive Gatherings

So. . . I can either beat myself up or be thankful for the projects I completed.  Am so very thankful M. Quertier is completed, she was a big project and has been in my stash for years.  M. Quertier along with Faye's beautiful Quaker sampler wall has given me motivation to stitch another Quaker sampler.  

Is very cold here and I have spent much time in my stitching room cleaning, sorting, organizing and prioritizing projects.  Time well spent.  Year in Review can be painful or it can be a motivator.  

2018 Goals. 


Finish Margaret Cottam Mystery Sampler by La D Da, Emma Lerch by Scarlet Letter and Heaven and Nature Sing by Kathy Barrick.  All three of these pieces are more than one half stitched.  I allowed by stitching ADD to kick in and not finish them.  All three of these pieces sing to my heart and deserve to be finished!  

New starts:  Either Quaker Handework by Brenda Gervais or the Companion Quaker sampler to Beatrix Potter.  Have fallen in love with the concept of having an "Ackworth" sampler wall.

After working in my stitch room, I am putting myself on a self imposed budget and diet!  Market is just a few weeks away and I need to carefully and thoughtfully think about my purchases.  Clubs are great, the mailman and I have a special relationship--he makes me smile when he delivers a club piece.  I need to concentrate on finishing the club pieces I have instead of accumulating more inventory!


Jo Morton is releasing Jo's Little Favorites III in March.  Yes, I have preordered a copy.  I have three Jo Morton quilts in progress:  Churn Dash, Court House Steps and Stars.  Sad to say, all three of these projects are more than one half completed.  All three of these quilts make my heart  happy and deserve to be finished!  Jo's Little Favorites III contains the instructions for completing a pineapple quilt--a quilt I have always hoped to make.  

During my organizational efforts, I discovered a large stash of red, white and blue fabric and am going to complete another quilt of valor:  Laundry Basket's flag quilt.


Only one completed wool project in 2017--that is dismal!  Shelby's Fat Cat was a 2016 Christmas present.  I spent time at the July Beat the Heat event purchasing wool and have not pulled one piece of wool!  Liseanne Miller is coming in March for a wool event at Montgomery Bell State Park called March Madness.  There will be incredible rugs and projects to motivate me and Liseanne there to guide me with tips, techniques and color selection.  

Penny Rug--I have pennies cut and sewn and this is a great carry in the project car.  During my lunch hour I can sew pennies.

Maggie Bonanomi is releasing a book in June (?) called Pure and Simple.  Maggie's books are great and can be enjoyed on so many levels.  (Yes, I have preordered)

Punch Needle

Not one completed punch needle project!  Disappointing.  I am determined to improve my skills and complete the two projects which I have started:  Shepherds Shade and Stars and Stripes.  Stop thinking everything has to be perfect and just do it!


There is purchased lumber sitting in our garage for raised beds.  We had intended to build the raised beds during my Christmas break--the weather had other plans.  I am not a wimp.  The thought of being outside when the temps are below freezing and it is so cold I cannot hold a hammer is not a happy thought.  Next Year (my garden) received more care and attention in 2017 than in previous years.  The garden rewards me with beautiful flowers--she deserves my time. 

No judgement please--this is am ambitious list!  The list was made to give me direction.  The next two days will be filled with football, projects, and hot soups on the stove.  


Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Year Organization

The Container Store is one of my happy places.  I love the Container Store, there are women who buy shoes, others purchase purses, I shop for containers.  In the fall, the Container Store is filled with every conceivable school supply a student or teacher could imagine.  Christmas time brings beautiful wrapping papers, ribbons, and bows.  Containers for presenting those special home baked cookies and bars to be shared with friends, neighbors and co workers.  Kitchen organization, it is there in the aisles of the Container Store and if your closet looks like someone set off a bomb and closed the door, they can help you out.

Keeping my threads and fibers sorted and organized has always been a challenge.  Through the years, I have tried several different ways and each method has had its strengths and failures.  Sad to say, I often spend more time searching for fibers than the time it would have taken to stitch those ten stitches on a knobby knee Adam.

Sorting my fibers the way designers list them on charts works for me.  For example: designers list Weeks, Gentle Arts and Classic Colorworks fibers by names like Harvest Basket and Onyx while fibers like Needlepoint Ink Plus and AVAS are listed by numbers 346 instead of Meadow Green Range.  I sort the Weeks, Gentle Arts and  Classic Colorworks (Crescent?) fibers alphabetically by name and the Needlepoint Ink Plus and AVAS by numbers.  Being a visual person, it is important for me to be able to see the color of the fiber.

While these boxes and cabinets are pleasing to this primitive girl's eye, they do not allow me to quickly see the fibers and no matter how hard I tried to keep them organized there was always one or more wayward fiber which was completely misfiled and I would make a trip to the LNS only to get home and find I had purchased multiple fibers.  Ugh!  Yes I would love for all my containers to be wood and beautiful, but I need them to be workable!  I want to spend time stitching not searching.

My Jo Morton blocks get lost.  I sort and store them in stackable containers with instructions, tools and fabric scraps.  The slide of a drawer and I am ready to go.

These stackable boxes work great for hexies and wool appliqué.  These boxes came from Hobby Lobby and I found them in the scrapbook section.  Their intended purpose was to sort/store scrapbook papers and pages.

The Container Store has an assortment of project bags.  Before the beginning of the school year, they have a huge inventory.  AppleJack gifted me with one of Faye's beautiful project bags-I love it.  I use it when I get together with the stitch girls.  The rest of the time, my projects are stored in these bags--they easily hold linen and chart and the smaller ones hold fibers.

AppleJack has always referred to my craft room as "The Store."  I call it my true happy place.

I need your help with storing and sorting linen.  What is your system?  Do you sort by count, color, manufacturer?  Mine is a mess.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Catching Up

The week between Christmas and New Year's is one of my favorite weeks.  My schedule slows and permits me to stay home, work on projects, and sleep later.  One of my really bad habits is falling in love with a design, making a purchase and then it languishes in my stash for years.  It's small and should not take long to stitch will be the words on my tombstone!

The Blackbird Girls, Barb and Alma released this design in 2011, please don't do the math--yes, it has been in my stash longer than I want to admit.

Yes a finish!  The Blackbird Girls stitched theirs on 30 ct Confederate Gray.  I was fresh out of Confederate Gray but did not have some 30 ct Lucky Penny by R & R.

 This is Berry Days at Thistle Down Farm by Brenda Gervais, it was released at the 2017 Nashville Needlework Market.  The original was stitched on 36 ct wren by Picture this Plus.  Yes, you guessed it, I was fresh out and found a 35 ct mystery sale fabric in my stash which I thought would work.  Wasn't really crazy about the butterfly above the house, it kinda reminded me of a moth, so I added my initials.

The thermometer says it is 37 degrees and wind chill takes it to single digits--I am more than happy to stay inside and stitch.  Am currently listening to Ron Chernow's book on Hamilton.  Cold temps, books on tape and time off a formula for stitching time.  The tart tin is for Plum Street Samplers, Olga's Tart, the ort basket is for another With Thy Needle and Thread, the tray is for a Stacy Nash and the board is for a La D Da.  Am making a dent and catching up.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


According to myth, the Virgin Mary is said to have spread her blue cloak over a white blossomed rosemary bush when she was resting and the flowers turned blue.  The shrub then became know as the Rose of Mary.

In the Middle Ages, rosemary was associated with wedding ceremonies.  The bride would wear a rosemary headpiece and the groom and wedding guests would all wear a sprig of rosemary.  From this association with weddings, rosemary was thought to be a love charm.

The plant has also been used as a symbol for remembrance.  Mourners would throw sprigs of rosemary into graves as a symbol of remembrance for the dead.  Shakespeare's Ophelia said:  "there is rosemary, that is for remembrance."

Lemon and Rosemary Simmering Potpourri
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 3-4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (or whole cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 cups water

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Christmas Quilts

To make things more festive and colorful for Christmas, I brought quilts out of storage.  Depending on the time of year and holiday, my quilts rotate in and out of rooms.  When they are not on display, they are comfortably resting on a (guest) bed, no folds and out of direct sunlight.  The bow tie quilt is on the back of the sofa.  The Harry Tyler's lion print is the backing of this bow tie quilt.  It added some nice color.

Jo Morton Christmas log cabin from the book Jo's Little Favorites (Book I).  I feel in love with this little quilt the minute I saw it pictured in her book.  The fabrics used in this quilt are mostly traditional greens and reds, I added gold/yellow for interest.  If you look closely, the black center of each log cabin has a holly print.  Carol Ann, my long armed quilter did a great job with the Baptist fan on this quilt.  

The HST quilt is one of the first Christmas quilts I made.  The red and green fabric add that special Christmas look using traditional fabric.

Tumbling Blocks was a birthday gift from a college boyfriend.  He gave me the pieced top, I had it hand quilted.  The quilt had a happier ending than the relationship.

When it comes to fabric, I think I am like Will Rogers: never met a fabric, I did not like.  Being a traditional quilter, the historic prints are chosen before the Christmas print fabric with Santa, reindeer and snowflakes.  Don't let me misrepresent myself, if I find a snowflake print or holly which will blend in with any quilt any time of the year, I will choose it.  Let's don't even talk about fabric panels.  Those panels can sure make for an interesting focal point or nice additions to backings.

On cold winter nights, when the wind is howling and the left over leaves are blowing, there is noting like snuggling under a quilt with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Punch Needle

I love punch needle, I'm not very good at it (yet).  I am determined to improve!  Several years ago, my LNS invited Charlotte Dudney to teach a class.  Charlotte shared a brief history of punch needle.  Ancient Egyptians were among the first to use punch needle.  Their needles were hollow bones of birds wings.  During the 15th century, punch needle was referred to as punch stitch.  The technique was used throughout Europe during the Middle Ages to decorate ecclesiastical clothing and panels.  Sailors on long voyages would pass the time punching miniature rugs.  It is the look of a miniature rug which draws me to punch needle.

Charlotte was a great teacher and I learned how to thread an Igolochkoy needle, the importance of having the weavers cloth drum tight in the hook/frame and the amount of fiber used.  Wowozers--punch needle uses copious amount of fibers/threads.  When I learned to punch, the Igolochkoy needles were the only needles available.  They are great for details.  They are small and for myself can be tiring to use.  When the Cameo needles were released I found them to be more to my liking because they are larger (like holding a thick pen or magic marker). and it was easier to select the needle depth (thread height).

One of my challenges with punch needle is getting the weavers cloth drum tight in the hoop/frame.  The Morgan no slip hook with the locking lip is the hoop I have been using.  Recently, I discovered Nistock Farms in Prattsburgh, New York.  Their punch needle frame is made of solid cherry and features Howard Brush gripper strips.  They recently added a turntable which allows the frame to rotate while punching details and curves.

YouTube has several instructional tutorials for punch needle embroidery.  Two of my personal favorites are Brenda Gervais (With Thy Needle and Thread) and Lori Brechlin (Notforgotten Farms).  What did we ever do before YouTube?  When I am stuck on a technique be it punch needle, quilting, or rug hooking, there is a tutorial which guides me step by step.

When I visited Shepherd's Needle in Little Rock, AR in August, Shawn Williams had been at the shop teaching a punch needle class.  Darn, I missed her by one week!  She has some great designs and I am determined to learn to punch those miniature rugs like the sailors of old, my friend Anne and Shawn.

Almost forgot, Lori  (Notforgotten Farm) shared a great tip for using Press and Seal on her blog June 15.  She puts Press and Seal on the front (loop) side of her project to act as a layer between the weavers/loops and the gripper teeth.  The Press and Seal prevents the loops from being pulled out.  Thanks for tip Lori.  Practice makes perfect so I am off to practice and improve my skills until my needle punch looks like one of those miniature rugs.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Christmas Preparations

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man's hat
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do
If you haven't got a penny, then God bless you

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seems to move at mock speed.  There are parties, dinners, shopping, decorating, wrapping, gift exchanging.  If I am not careful all this can put me into a bah humbug mood and I end up like Scrooge!

Secret weapons for warding off Scrooge
Hot Chocolate or hot caramel apple cider
Music:  Il Divo Christmas, Harry Connick, Jr
Stop Top Potpourri (1/2 cup fresh cranberries, 1 orange slices, 4 cinnamon sticks broken in half, 1 tablespoons cloves, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and 2-3 cups water)
Sleeping under a Christmas quilt
Reading/looking at Christmas books
Laughing at the Griswold's in Christmas Vacation

It is hard to be grumpy with hot chocolate or warm cider in my tummy.  The house smells and sounds like Christmas with simmering potpourri and Silent Night softly playing.

Clark Griswold says:  we are going to have the happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny Kaye.

It's beginning to look at lot like Christmas

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Homespun Gathering Fall 2017

There are special times in life when you think it can't get any better and it does.  This is the case with the Homespun Gatherings.  At the sake of sounding redundant, there is always delicious food, beautiful needlework, inspiration and sharing time with your kindred spirits.

Heartstring Samplery
His Eye is on the Sparrow
Stitched by Jane

An heirloom piece of needlework!  Jane's beautiful execution of tension with her needle and thread is outstanding.  I neglected to ask Jane when she started stitching "sparrow," it is big the colors are rich and it is a piece of needlework which will be treasured by her family.  Jane is an avid gardener and great cook.  Jane was stitching the November word play by With Thy Needle and Thread.

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Sub Rosa
Polly Brown
Stitched by Judy

Another heirloom!  Judy loves stitching big houses and calls herself the youngster of our group.  She may be a youngster in age but this is not reflected in her needlework as she stitches with great execution and skill.  Judy has stitched several large samplers:  Liberty's Welcome, Yuletide Welcome and Ghoultide Welcome by Plum Street Samplers, Christmas Garden by Blackbird Designs, Red House Sampler by Brenda Keys, Christmas at Hollyberry Farms by Stacy Nash and this beautiful Polly Brown by Sub Rosa.  Judy's needle is always busy and she has stitched many other lovely pieces, these are just a few which I have remembered.  Ever the encourager, Judy tells me:  just stitch one needle full of fiber a day and you will make progress.  Judy is working on another big red house: Grateful, Thankful and Blessed by With Thy Needle and Thread--it is a beauty.

Chessie and Me
Club Piece from Country Sampler
stitched by Debby

Look closely at that deer, he is stitched over one.  Can't wait to see how Debby finishes this piece, she is very creative and imaginative with her finishing and framing.  Debby was stitching O Tannenbaum by With Thy Needle and Thread. Several of the group will be stitching this piece and we spent some of the time counting out the layout of the design on 36 ct Legacy by Picture This Plus.  The Santa, the words to Oh Christmas Tree and the sweet sheep all neatly displayed in a shadow box have caused many stitchers to fall in love with this teaching piece from Brenda Gervais.  Like Judy, Debby's needle is seldom idle and am sure she will have this piece finished and ready to share at the next gathering.

Stacy Nash
Country Sampler Club piece
Stitched by Debby

Debby had purchased a beautiful piece of red over dyed velveteen fabric and green silk ribbon for the finishing on this piece.  Hmm, I saw a red sleigh from Target which would be a great compliment piece for displaying this piece of needlework.

Lizzie Kate
To Do List
Stitched by Courtney

Courtney says she will hang this piece of needlework next to her back door so she can read it each morning as she walks our the door to begin her day.  Great words for each of us to practice.

Lucille was knitting, Ruth was stitching a Beatrix Potter baby sampler for a co-worker, Mary was stitching one of the Little House Needleworks Early American Series.  I have retrieved Margaret Cottam by La D Da from my PhD drawer and am determined to get her finished.

Did I mention the food was delicious.  Home baked bread, chicken casserole, corn casserole, cranberry salad, Shepherd's salad, pecan pie and carrots cake.  Yum, Yum--if you walk away hungry  after spending the day with this group, it was your choice.

Thank you Homespun Kindred Spirits for another wonderful gathering.  I am motivated to stitch and have finished projects to share for the first gathering in January 2018.