Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year...

...well, almost! Each year I think about whether I should make any resolutions. Some years I do, while others years I skip it. This year I decided to work on getting some of my UFOs (WIPs) done. I also decided I should be very careful about acquiring more patterns and ideas as I can truly only live so long and will never be able to finish what I currently own. I realize this "being careful about acquiring" is a very silly idea, especially when we will be spending January in Mesa, Arizona, home of the Attic Needlework shop!

If you love samplers, you will love this shop. Once I am there I will take some photos and do a nice review of the shop, but for now you might want to check out their newsletter. The current issue has a nice retrospective of Darlene O'Steen's work. Darlene will be retiring from the stitching world for health reasons.

But back to those resolutions! I do have 5 stitching projects I want to finish this year. One is the SAL I am doing with the Sampler World group on Facebook. The other four are pieces I have had for awhile and just need to get done.

I also have several quilting projects I need to work on. We'll see how much progress I make in the coming months. (See the paragraph about acquiring!)

One thing I just acquired is a new app from the same fellow who did the floss apps I reviewed in April 2011. This app is for Crescent Colours. It works much the same as the others and is for the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad. Same price- $1.99- and very handy for keeping track of what you do and do not have on hand. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve has been a very interesting day for us, at least for the last 30 years. You see, our first child was born on Christmas Eve. We have always tried to make sure his birthday was celebrated just as we would celebrate anyone else’s birthday so, like I said, it has always been an interesting day in our family. This year he is busy with activities at his church so his birthday celebration was yesterday. That was the first time in 30 years his birthday lunch didn’t happen on his birthday!

But, back to all things stitchy! I have made a little more progress on my Mary Wigham sampler. I’m using a frame to work it, which I very rarely do. It does make those one over one stitches a little easier to do. I find that I’m really enjoying recreating this sampler. I have never done a sampler in monochrome before and I do like the way it is turning out. The subtle changes in color are really quite pretty.
As it is Christmas Eve my thoughts are turning to angels. I was looking through my many PDF files and came across a series of angels from Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum. You may recognize her from the series of huge angels she did under the Lavender & Lace name. I did one of those angels and have several of her other charts but haven’t yet attempted them. 
The series I found in my computer files are smaller in size and are perfect for ornaments. They can be found for free here. There are twenty of them. Some are long figures while others are square in shape and are just the angel heads. I think they would make a nice little ornament collection. Now that I am looking at them again I think I will try to do one a year for my granddaughter.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

'Tis the season...

So that means stitching takes a back seat right now! I do have some progress to update you on. I finished the stitching on the acorn ruler from Milady’s Needle. It will go into my little pile of things that need final finishing and wait until I have one of those “finishing frenzy” moments. There are several other pieces that go along with it, like a scissor fob and scissor holder, so I’ll likely do those up before finishing the set at the same time.
I have started a big project. It’s the Mary Wigham sampler. I recently joined the Sampler World group on Facebook. It’s basically a group of people who enjoy samplers. The group decided we would do a SAL (Stitch A-Long) in 2012 and that was the pattern we selected. I have finished the first motif. I am doing it on 25 ct Mushroom Lugana, one over one, using Steamed Broccoli by Crescent Colours. It will end up being roughly 12 x 12.
We found the pattern on a great blog site called Needleprint. If you enjoy historical stitching, you will love this site! The Mary Wigham sampler is a free download, although they do ask you donate a dollar a page to help support the conservation efforts of the Ackworth School embroideries. She also has a number of patterns in her online shop available to purchase and download.

Another group effort I will participate in is the WIP It Into Shape 2012 Challenge. Each participant decides which unfinished projects she would like to work on and complete next year. You create a photo album of those projects so the other members can encourage (or prod!) you in those efforts. I selected five main projects so will hopefully be able to get them all finished before the year is out.

For now, I need to get back to doing a design for my EGA Master Craftsman sampler. I have a variety of books and articles I borrowed from various libraries so I can do a little research on the motifs before I make any final decisions about what to use in my design.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Marghab Linens

This Saturday was our annual December luncheon for the St. Paul Needleworkers. Our special guest was Solveig, the Region Director for the EGA Heartland Region. Solveig has a collection of Marghab linens and gave us not only some of the background on these delightful pieces of embroidery, but she also brought along her collection for us to ooh and aah over. I was not familiar with Marghab linens so was especially interested in what she had to tell us.

Solevig and some of her linen
Marghab linens was started by a married couple, Emile and Vera Marghab.  The embroidery designs were done by Vera then a pricking would be made on the linen. The linen was then sent to highly skilled embroiderers on the island of Madeira were they would be painstakingly hand stitched. The linen used was often specially made just for the Marghab line and came from Ireland and Switzerland.  
A few of Solveig's pieces of linen
Marghab linens were sold in limited markets. Dayton’s had a Marghab Shop in their stores where many Midwesterners bought their treasures. 
What is amazing is the handwork on these pieces. Many are bordered with teeny tiny buttonhole stitches. It must have taken hours and hours to do them. One had a line of very small satin stitched circles going all the way around the placemat size piece. They are about 1/8 of an inch wide and there are NO threads running behind! That means the embroiderer stopped and started each of those tiny little circles. Several of us inspected this piece rather closely and could not determine how those stitches were secured so invisibly. I think this is a good example of the very high standards the Marghabs had for their linen. 
Vera Marghab was born in South Dakota and the state university in Brookings has the world’s largest collection of these linens. A number of us think maybe our chapter should go on a road trip to see them!

Another fun part of the December luncheon is the Secret Stitcher exchange. This is what my Secret Stitcher made for me!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Stitching Updates

Well, you know I was at a stitching retreat earlier this month and you may be wondering if I did any stitching, or if I just went shopping for more things to stitch. I did indeed work on several projects. Once home, I even finished one!

This is a photo of the Christmas ornament I finished for our guild’s Secret Stitcher exchange. The design is from the Just Cross Stitch Ornaments 2010 issue. It was shown as a flat design, but I like it as a biscournu. You can find a good piece on making a biscournu here. Any square design you may have will work.
I have also continued to make some progress on the ruler holder I showed you several weeks ago.  I am getting close to finishing it.
The rooms in our house are decorated in themes. The front room we refer to as our Victorian room. It has repro Victorian furniture and is a nice, quiet room in the house. I am decorating it (slowly!) in what I refer to as Victorian nautical. I have mostly Victorian style things in there, but have also pulled in a few nautical type pieces.

We have a long wall in this room that currently has nothing on it. I decided to do a variety of samplers for this wall and to bring in that nautical piece within those samplers when I could. My first sampler was purchased from The Scarlett Letter and was started several years ago. I am finally back to working on it. It isn’t at all nautical. 
Another piece I am also working on is nautical, however, and is a design from Dames of the Needle. My plan is to keep working on them until they are finished and I can get them framed. I do have several other patterns I have purchased that will also go on that wall. Perhaps by the time we are ready to downsize to a smaller home I will have them all finished!
One more project I have started is a very pretty poinsettia pin we did as the monthly program for our guild, the St. Paul Needleworkers. I haven't made a lot of progress, but trust me, the pin is quite lovely.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Branson Quilt & Needlework Shops

As you know I recently took a trip to Branson for a stitching retreat. While in town I made many trips to Cecilia’s Samplers, which is the shop that sponsored the retreat. This shop is on Shepherd of the Hills, which is nice because you don’t have to fight the insane traffic on 76 in Branson.

The ladies in the shop are all very helpful. The shop carries a selection of Blackbird, Victoria Sampler, Just Nan, and many other designers. They have a small section in the back of the store for Hardanger as well as knitting, crocheting and punchneedle. If there is anything you want that they don’t have, they will gladly order it for you.

The only thing I can see that needs improvement is the fabric section. It is a small section that can get cramped very quickly. I would say that no more than three people can be in that area without being in one another’s way. On the plus side, they do serge the edges of the fabric you buy so you don’t need to worry about doing that yourself to prevent unraveling as you stitch.

While in town I also stopped at some quilt shops. The first stop was Quilts and Quilts. It is on 76, just a little west of 65. It is a large store with lots of patterns and bolts of fabric. I spent about an hour there while I was waiting to pick up my husband at the airport. I had a particular project in mind and wasn’t able to find exactly what I was looking for in fabric, but I did buy  a couple of quilting stencils and the Marsha McCloskey feathered star ruler that I have been trying to find for quite awhile.

This shop does have a good selection of quilting stencils and of Happy Hollow patterns and finishing accessories. They also carry some gift items and patterns for aprons, clothing and other non-quilting things.

Another shop, Fabric and Decor, is in a shopping plaza that also has a very large “antique” mall (not much in the way of antiques- more novelty items) and shares a parking lot with an Applebee’s. This shop isn’t large but does have a variety of fabrics both for quilting and for home decorating. They had a number of project samples with kits available for sale. Like Quilts and Quilts, they had a selection of patterns for aprons, clothing for little girls, etc.

Historic Branson, which is on the far east side of town, has a shop called Ozark Quilts and Branson Landing has one called Branson Quilts. Both of these shops offer ready made quilts which I wasn’t interested in.

One of the days we were in Branson we had some free time so decided to drive into Arkansas. On the way back we saw two billboards advertising the largest quilt shop in Arkansas. It wasn’t far off the highway so we made a little detour to see it. Country Corner is a small shop. They have one large room that holds several longarm quilting machines. The other areas of the shop held bolts of fabric, but most of it wasn’t from current lines. They did have some of the Moda precuts in the newer lines, but I could not find any of it on bolts. The ladies in the shop were very pleasant and asked if they could help me with anything. I really tried to find something to buy, but wasn’t successful. I didn’t think this was an especially large shop so have to wonder what the other quilt shops in Arkansas look like. Their website hasn’t been updated since 2004 so perhaps they really aren’t the largest any longer.