Monday, January 30, 2012

Arizona Shops: Part One

My time in Arizona is drawing to a close so I thought I would tell you about a few of the shops (three quilt shops and two needlework shops) I visited this month. I’ll do this in two posts so it won’t get too long to read in one sitting.

First is A Quilter’s Oasis. This is located in East Mesa on Baseline and Crismon. It is a small shop but very pleasant. It is very well lit and was quite busy when I stopped in on a weekday morning. All of the ladies in the shop were very helpful and engaged the customers in conversation. They had a nice variety of fabric for a small shop including Moda, batiks, children’s prints and a very good selection of Civil War/ traditional prints.

I picked up a few more pieces for the quilt I am making for my daughter’s baby. She and her husband are waiting to adopt a child and this grandma wants to be ready!

I also picked up a fun book by Anni Downs called Some Kind of Wonderful. I will have to say that the title describes it well! It has a lot of fun, cute projects that all have a sewing theme. There’s a sewing bag, a needle book, a quilt, a warming bag for your neck, and several others. The patterns include a mixture of simple embroidery and patchwork.

My second quilt shop was the Cutting Edge Quilt Shop. It is located in historic downtown Chandler. It is a small shop with batiks, Moda and some novelty prints. They had a clearance room in the back they call the Stash Room. All bolts in that room were at a reduced price with a minimum one yard cut. I ended up buying a pattern for a large zippered pocket to store some of my stitching projects. I have some sampler fabric that I think will be perfect for it. 

Even though the shop is small and doesn’t have the stock of other shops, it is worth the trip. The ladies are all very nice and the surrounding stores make for a nice afternoon of shopping with friends.

The last quilt shop on my list was my favorite! It is Olde World Quilt Shoppe in Cave Creek. (The address indicates Phoenix.) I stayed in the East Mesa area so this was a bit of a hike, but well worth the effort! As I entered I was greeted by two different clerks who both welcomed me. I was almost afraid one of them would need to revive me because my knees were beginning to buckle as I started to take in all of the wonderful fabrics! This is a reproduction quilting heaven!
They have a large collection of Civil War fabric including Jo Morton, French General and a nice display of fabrics well suited for Dear Jane. Next to this section was a wool section with a good compliment of wools and patterns. In the middle of the shop was a small section of children’s prints and a teeny amount of 30s prints. If you looking for these types of fabrics I would suggest you try a different shop as this was not their specialty.

They carry patterns included designers such as Lori Smith, Jo Morton and Blackbird, among others. They offer a variety of kits, especially in the wool area.

Now the fabric impressed me, but I was even more impressed with the way they handled their customers. EVERY person who entered the store was welcomed, told to enjoy their visit, asked if they could be helped in any way, etc. They used the phrase, “You’re our guest. Please enjoy your visit to our home.” One of the women would rush to the door to open it any time she saw someone arrive. If she didn’t recognize them she would offer them a brief tour of the layout. This is definitely a place I will visit again!

There are a number of other quilt shops in the Phoenix area and I have touched upon just a few. Watch for my next post when I’ll tell you about the needlework shops (did someone say The Attic?) I visited.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Online Freebies

I love free things, don’t you? I thought I would share a few stitch related online freebies with you that I found while wandering around the internet. 

Handmade Adelaide has several collections of free cross stitch designs including borders, alphabets, misc designs and backgrounds. Click here and then scroll down. The first page has Borders and then at the bottom of the page you will see links to three more collections. The Alphabets are especially nice and include motifs that are just perfect for name tags.

The Workbasket has a number of free charts. Many of them are Quaker themed and would make nice ornaments or small standups. Be sure to click on all of the PDF file download buttons. Some of the charts have a description but no photo on the main page.

Another excellent site for free charts comes from Ellen Maurer-Stroh. Go to this link and in the center column you will see three tabs, one of them says Free. Here you will see a rendering of her current year long free chart. A new section of the chart is available each month.  There is also a link to see more of her free charts. You need to register for the EMS Cross Stitch Board to download the free charts. If you continue to scroll down on the Free section you will find a link to register. 

I had a slight issue when I tried to register. The site uses spam software that sometimes can be overzealous and I was initially refused registration. If that happens to you, just follow the directions and contact the site owner. She sent me an email right away and I was able to go in and get registered with no problem. The issue may have been that my name was too short. I had used my first name (5 letters) but when I added my middle and last initials I had no problems.

It is well worth the extra effort to get registered. You can see that her current year long sampler is gorgeous. She also has another sampler in the free archives that you will enjoy. Plus, there are lots of small designs as well as a set of “stitcher’s tools” designs.

One last freebie I’ll share is another year long project that comes from the Aurifil blog. If you aren’t familiar with Aurifil, they make thread. I’ve used their machine thread and really like the way it stitches. This year they are featuring a designer each month. The first designer is from a Twin Cities shop, Rosebud’s Cottage. Follow this link for more information on the January designer and then scroll way down to the bottom of the page for the link to the pattern download.

I hope some of these websites inspire you to create something new!

I'll leave you with a photo I took while at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. This is the perfect cactus for a stitcher...a pincushion!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sampler Symposium: Part Two

Day Two of the symposium began with Jean, the owner of The Attic, presenting each of us with an ebony wood tape measure. Her husband designed the sampler and then laser engraved it onto each one. What a guy! The next day I was complimenting him on his fine sampler design and he told me it was over one on 0 count!

Darlene Anderson started the day with another wonderful presentation, this time on Adam and Eve samplers. Adam and Eve samplers first appeared in England in 1709 and in the colonies in 1741. Sometime around 1810 they seemed to drop out of sight and are rarely seen in samplers after this date.

These samplers feature Adam and Eve, sometimes clothed-sometimes not, and usually include the Tree of Knowledge. The snake can often be seen wrapping itself around the tree and usually is facing Eve. Makes me want to find more of these samplers just so I can see in which direction that snake is looking!

Darlene gave us her chartography (if there is such a word!) of the samplers featured in her presentation. That was great for keeping track of the samplers as she told us about them and marking those that I might want to do.

At the end of her talk she had a drawing for door prizes. My number was the very first one chosen. Ten of us were the very lucky recipients of a small Adam and Eve sampler done as a needle book/scissor holder complete with scissors! Like I said, the woman is a turbo stitcher!

Our next presenter showed us how to make a teacup ort holder. The design was an online freebie. We used cereal boxes and paper dipped in a glue and water mixture to create the teacup. We had varying levels of success. 

Next, she had us paint a frame that would hold a very quick sampler project (the kit was provided), and a divided box. One side of the box had a lid and inside that section we were given the materials to make a small needle cushion. This part of the day didn’t go as planned. We had to paint a base coat and then paint a layer using milk paint. While the paint was still wet we were to use a hair dryer to dry it quickly so it would crackle. 

We started with two hairdryers and thirty women all trying to dry their wet paint at the same time. Several ladies went back to their rooms to get more hair dryers and before long we were blowing fuses! The project had to be stopped so a number of people (including me) were not able to complete the project. The day ended about an hour and a half early which did give the attendees extra time to shop at The Attic! So not really a bad thing to have happen!

We were able to take home some dry milk paint so we could mix it up and complete the painting at home. I did this and then bought some patterned scrapbook paper at Michael’s to line it. I decided that I won’t do the small sampler but will instead use parts of it to create a few stitching accessories that I will store in the box. I’ll post photos when I have everything finished.

On Saturday evening there was a reception at The Attic. Jean very graciously invited the visiting husbands to attend. Below you can see my husband amid the Christmas section of the shop.

On Sunday we returned for our final day. We found this lovely tree with “fobs” hanging from it. Jean’s husband, John, had struck again! He had created needle cases out of coco bolo wood. Each one was personalized with our name and inside were Bohin size 28 tapestry needles! The man is amazing!

Our project for this final morning was from Catherine Theron. You can see her finished Stitcher’s Pouch below. Much of the stitching is not cross stitch but Smryna crosses. The colors are very pretty and hard to see in the photo. The pouch is shown opened up. It folds over into an envelope shape and the pieces fit inside.
She had several of her other teaching samples there. I planned to take photos of all of them but only managed to get photos of her samplers, though if you look I the photo of the “tree” you can see a few of her things in the background.

The regular part of the symposium ended at 12 and was followed by lunch. Catherine then taught a sampler class in the afternoon and completed it on Monday. This was in addition to the symposium and I did not sign up for it. I decided I would have way too many new projects by the end of the weekend.

All in all it was a very lovely weekend! I encourage everyone to try to plan a trip to Arizona in January and participate in the Sampler Symposium at least once!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sampler Symposium: Part One

What a great weekend this has been! The Sampler Symposium, sponsored by The Attic Needlework, was held this weekend in Mesa, Arizona.

We began at 5 PM on Friday night with a few brief introductions of the Symposium staff and then were treated to a talk on a sampler with ties to Arizona history. The sampler is from the family of John Alsap, the first mayor of Phoenix. It is unknown who exactly made the original sampler. Perhaps it was the mother of Lorinda, whose death is noted on the sampler. It is also possible that Lorinda herself began this sampler and then it was completed later by someone else with the addition of the date of her death. 

This sampler is due out at Market next month, but everyone at the symposium received an autographed copy! We also received a smaller project using parts of the sampler. It features the line, "Arizona My Home,” but can easily be changed with the substitution of the alphabet for those non-Arizonans.

This presentation was followed by a slide show of some of the many sampler ornaments Darlene Anderson has created. She decided to create a Christmas tree full of sampler ornaments in 2009 and has made 141 of them! We’ve all decided she is a turbo stitcher! Our suspicions were confirmed the next day at lunch when a couple of us asked how long it took her to stitch an ornament and were told it takes her about two evenings of stitching. She defines an evening as about two hours!! It was a lot of fun to see all of the many pieces she completed.

Last, but not least, on the evening’s agenda was Paulette Stewart of Plum Street Samplers. All I can say is, “Wow!” She designed a special sampler, “Brother’s Keeper’” that features the story of Cain and Abel. This is also scheduled to be released next month but everyone at the symposium received one!

Paulette also designed a very special project, “A Lady’s Trimkeep,” and not only provided a copy of the chart, but also gave each of us a nicely packaged kit, complete with EVERYTHING we need to create it. Yes, she had the linen, full skeins of the Gentle Art threads (though we need but just a bit of each), buttons, backing fabric, corn cob filling and even the trims to store on it! 

As if that wasn’t enough, she gave us a chart to commemorate our time at the symposium and showed a little needle holder she made with the design.

On top of all these fun projects to work on, we received a small notebook with a sampler cover and a package of needles.

That was quite a lot packed into just four hours! Watch for my next update when I'll share what we did on Day Two of the Symposium!

Friday, January 6, 2012

My first acquisitions of 2012!

I waited as long as I could. I tried. I REALLY tried to not run right away to The Attic as soon as we arrived, but I didn’t quite make it 48 hours. I didn’t spend a lot of time there and was able to purchase (mostly) things I had planned to purchase before I entered the shop.

First on my list was the Emma Miles sampler. It was the sampler of the month over a year ago at The Attic and is no longer available on the Scarlett Letter website. I like it because it has a Christmas feel to it but is something that can easily be displayed year round.

The next on the list was The Attic’s 2012 SAL, Ann Dale (see page four of the link). There are two options for this sampler. One is the full, very large sampler, and the other is a smaller piece of it. I love the colors in it so I purchased the full version. I also took a peek at the Lakeside Linen in Vintage Pear that is suggested. It is a lovely color that hints at green but isn’t overwhelmingly green. You could say it looks very much like a pear! I didn’t purchase the fabric because I am still thinking about whether I will stitch this over one or two and what I will use for threads.

Next on my list was a nice piece of 40 count fabric to use for that funky Baron Von Bat needle minder. This piece is not at all what I usually stitch but I saw it awhile back and bought it just because it is so unusual.
I also purchased a Just Nan biscornu that I had been eyeing. It wasn’t on my list for today, but it was 50% off so I couldn’t just leave it sitting in the clearance basket!

A bonus to my trip was being able to meet one of the other members of the Facebook Sampler World group. It’s nice to be able to actually meet people you only “know” online, especially when you share a hobby like stitching.

In addition to shopping I have found some time to work on my Mary Wigham sampler. When finished it will be right around 12 x 12 inches, which is a nice size. The Attic has a number of very lovely frames so if I can finish enough of the outer edge I will see if one of them will work for this project.