Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Freebies

Today is Black Friday and everyone is looking for a deal. Here are a few links for free projects that are perfect for your last minute needlework gifts.

The first is from Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum. You will recognize her work under several names: Told in a Garden, Butternut Road, Lavender & Lace. Sadly, Marilyn passed away last year but this page of free angel designs that are perfect as ornaments is still available. I would download the ones you are interested in because there is no guarantee they will be there forever. If you want to see what these look like stitched up, scroll a little down the page and click on Designs Stitched on Paper.

Next is a series of pears posted on the Samplers and Santas blog. There are pears for every season, including Christmas. She even provides a pear template to help you when you finish the piece.

Blue Ribbon Designs is offering several free sampler style Christmas ornament charts. Be sure to download the ones you want because she does "retire" them. Click on this link and then click on Freebies on the left hand side bar.

DMC has Twelve Weeks of Free Holiday Ideas on their blog. Be sure to click on the various links next to each photo as there are several projects each week. The projects cover a variety of holidays as well as a variety of needlework techniques.

Kreinik is also providing free projects each week on their website. Just follow this link and check back each week for updates.

Last, but certainly not least, if you enjoy embroidery and are not already subscribing to Needle 'nThread, please check out her blog post for several free Christmas embroidery patterns.

That should keep everyone busy until at least Christmas!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Yes, I know it is somewhat overused, but that is exactly where I am right now. You see, a few months back a builder we had worked with in the past came in and did a bid on updating the bathrooms and doing an overhaul on our kitchen. The design they did was gorgeous but involved a LOT of tearing up and reconstructing. And, the price tag was more than we paid for the house a little over 20 years ago. Well, let's just say we started thinking, which I know is dangerous, and wondered if we should take a different approach.

We live on the far north side of a large metropolitan area. Our son and his family (translated- two of our grandchildren!) live on the far south side. I am fortunate to be able to take care of the children for a number of weeks during the school year but the commute is long...over an hour one way when the traffic is good, and it rarely is.

Soooo... we decided to downsize, sell this place and move to the south side. If you are a stitcher you know where this is heading! Yep. I need to go through my stash and carefully think about what I want to keep.

Over the years I have cleared out my sewing room. I've gone through magazines, kits, fabric, etc., but I still seem to have a lot of things hanging out in that room. Things I couldn't possibly finish should I live to be 150 years old! How do I do this? How would you do it?

I started first by taking a long hard look at my magazine collections. Recently several publishers have offered back issues in digital form. Just Cross Stitch has a 10 year collection on one CD, and it includes the ornament issues. I purchased the CD and have now cleared up quite a bit of shelf space.

I also did this for my Piecework collection. They don't offer as many issues on one CD, but it is still a great space saver.

The one magazine that is available in digital form that I can't bring myself to replace is Sampler and Antique Needlework. I really enjoy flipping through those and reading the articles and doing it on a laptop just isn't the same.

I then went through the remaining magazines and (now don't hyperventilate!) ripped out the projects I really saw myself doing one day and then I recycled the rest of the magazine. I purchased those plastic sleeve protectors, placed one project facing the front and one facing the back, and put the sheets in a three ring binder. I have a binder for Quilting, Hardanger, Tatting, Needlework. I also have one that includes a variety of interesting articles I want to read or refer to later on. 

I did save some complete issues, but this process cleared out a lot of shelf space and that translates into not needing to box and move them later!

I still have a lot of cleaning out to do. The home is being built and we won't move until late April or early May. Still, it's a large task. Hopefully this downsizing process will help me focus on what I truly want to spend my time stitching on.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A quilted yurt

While at the Quilt Expo in Madison, I came upon a quilted yurt. I had never heard of a yurt, let alone one that is quilted. A yurt is basically a tent like structure that was used by nomads in Central Asia. You can read more about them at Pacific Yurts and Wikipedia. (No, not everything on Wikipedia is true but this article does have a variety of yurt photos that are interesting.)

The quilted yurt I saw was a project by the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts. You can read more about the project and the current Yurt Challenge at this link.

The current yurt has been on display at the museum and other venues. You can see that it isn't large, but is very nice and cozy.

The quilts both inside and outside the yurt are all very different and fun to look at. I think this is really a doable project, especially if you know someone who is handy and can build the frame for you. All you would need is to cover it simply with fabric and add your own wall quilts. Or, why not have your own challenge and invite your friends to create a quilt? If that sounds like something you would like to tackle, you can find yurt building instructions at this link.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Few Online Freebies...

Yes, I know I promised Part Two of the Quilt Expo, but I wanted to let you all in on a few fun things I found online!

First, if you like quilting and embroidery and do not already subscribe to the Little Bits of This & That blog, you should! Sherri just finished up a Mystery Monday project and has posted the free pattern and instructions on her blog. Click on this link and then scroll down for the various parts. If you click on the links on the right hand side of the page you will find other Mystery Mondays projects.

If you enjoy cross stitch and/or the offerings of Plum Street Samplers, you won't want to miss Paulette's free mystery project, Mary's Sampler. Each Sunday she will post a new part to this Christmas piece. She offers two versions, one is a little more densely stitched. Follow this link and keep scrolling to catch up on all the parts. It began on September 29 and runs for 9 Sundays, finishing up just before Thanksgiving.

Another "one piece at a time" project I found is from Needles at Work. This is a 'Vernaaide linten' sampler and features motifs found on the folk costumes of the island of Marken in the Netherlands. An overall placement is provided and the meaning of each motif is explained. This one is a little trickier than others to save and print. I did a right click Save Image As. Be sure to bookmark this link and note when the next part will be available by scrolling down to the bottom of the page. The image below shows the layout of the various parts.

One last SAL project is from Nathalie of Jardin Prive. Each part of this delightful piece is presented as a PDF file with your choice of a Black & White or Color chart! It also comes in a variety of languages. Click this link for the PDF files. You may use your own supplies or order from Jardin Prive.

Happy stitching!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Quilt Expo

This last weekend I made the trip to Madison, Wisconsin for the Quilt Expo. (I'm not sure how long this link will work but you can also find info at Nancy's Notions.) I've wanted to go for several years but it just hasn't worked out with my schedule. My daughter and her family live in Madison so I was able to stay with them, and spend some time with my youngest grandchild, in between my trips to the expo.

Your admission to the expo includes the huge vendor area and quilt exhibit. You are also able to take classes and attend lectures for additional fees. I went to four lectures and an afternoon class. The class was on the Cotton Theory technique for quilting as you go. You can find more info on this technique here. The lectures included wet felting, making a t-shirt quilt, working with color and using your stash in quilts.

The quilts that were on display were fabulous. I'll show just a few of them that tickled my fancy.

I love Baltimore album style quilts and there were a number of them on display.

I thought this was a fun way to do a wedding ring quilt. Each ring included beautiful embroidery and embellishments as you can see in the close-up photo.

This was another favorite. There was so much texture added to this one with the multi-layered flowers.


 It was very difficult to take a good photo of this one but I thought it was very unique and well deserving of the ribbon you can see on the bottom right.

If you ever get the chance to attend Quilt Expo it is well worth it!

Next time: a quilted yurt...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Floral Whimsy

It has been awhile since my last post but I assure you I have been very busy! Several months ago the Heartland Region of EGA selected one of the Group Correspondence Courses (GCC), Floral Whimsy, as the region GCC for this year. Now, I am not a beader by any stretch of the imagination, but I fell in love with this necklace. The model was done in bright Spring colors, but in my mind I saw Fall. So... I signed up for the course.

Because it was a region course those of us taking it are spread out over multiple states we wouldn't meet as a group, which is what usually takes place when doing a GCC. So, I plunged in and learned quite a bit in the process.

The main focus of the course was a study of color. You had to select three colors of seed beads and blend them together in the flower petals. Then you had to select beads for the neck cord that fit well with your flower. The seed bead selection was done with the help of the friendly ladies at The Garden of Beads in Anoka. They also led me to the correct section of the store when it came time to find my cord beads.

You started by placing beads on wire, shaping the wire, and then couching it down to a piece of chiffon. Then you stitched the seed beads onto the chiffon fabric. The instructor detailed in her manual how to alternate your three colors to help blend the colors together.

I had the most trouble with the peyote stitch that was used to hold the Swarovski rivolis. Because of the size, the center of the flower used an uneven peyote stitch and the neck closure used an even peyote stitch. This was probably not the best project for someone who has never done any peyote stitch! I did find some instructions online, but I still don't think my even peyote turned out quite right when I was stepping up from row to row. The uneven was much easier to do.

All in all I do like the way it turned out. I will turn it in the the group leader in two weeks and it will be sent to the instructor for evaluation. I'll let you know what she says!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Monastery- Final Part

To finish up my report on our trip to see the embroideries at the monastery in St. Joseph, I would like to share a few of the things that impressed me... other than what I've already shared!

In the photo below you can see one of the storage drawers pulled out so we could view one of the vestments. This storage piece was specially designed so the embroidered vestments could be laid out flat without being creased. 

If you look carefully you can see that the drawer pulls out on a center hinge and rotates much like a lazy Susan cabinet you would find in a kitchen cupboard. Some of the drawers opened to the right while others opened to the left. Each piece was then covered to protect it from, I suspect, any visitor who might like to touch the lovely embroideries.

Also on display was a selection of some of the silks used in one of the pieces. You can see how they achieved the shading in the flowers and leaves by using such a variety of color.

I asked which piece these colors may have been used in and was shown this one as a possibility. I wish you could see it in person. It is simply breathtaking!

The piece below is one that I was taken with. The stitches are executed in a way that is not only technically excellent, but there is such care in each stitch. In talking with the sisters they reminded us that the women who created these pieces were not only stitching for beauty , but this was very much an act of worship for them.

Right now the embroideries are not on display in the museum, but there is discussion about bringing them back as a permanent exhibit. I don't usually do this, but I think this is such a worthwhile project...If you would like to make a contribution to the sisters you may do so at this link.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Monastery Visit- Part Two

Didn't you just love the embroideries from my last post? The work these women did just amazes me!

There were two sisters who were instrumental in the development of the Art and Needlework Department.

At the young age of 13, the first sister, Willibalda Scherbauer, received a scholarship from King Ludwig to learn embroidery. This was quite an honor. She later graduated from the Royal Art School in Munich. As you might suspect, this love of embroidery carried through when she found her way to St. Joseph!

The second sister who was instrumental in the development of the embroideries was Justina Knapp. She wrote a book, Christian Symbols and How to Use Them, that is still available on Amazon. She worked for 60 years in the ecclesiastical art department and was instrumental in obtaining over 500 volumes for the library. Many of these books are out of print.

One of her rules for the sisters who were embroidering was they must take a break every 45 minutes and set their eyes upon something else. She also brought in guests who would teach on various topics such as color. She understood that these embroideries were works of art, an expression of their love for God. She was named one of six women who most influenced artistic development in the state of Minnesota!

There is a nice article about the embroideries and Justina Knapp at this link. Scroll down in the PDF file to pages 8-13.

In addition to the ecclesiastical pieces, the sisters also embroidered for friends and family. Below are several examples. Be sure to click on them to get them full screen, and then click again to enlarge the photo so you can see the detail.

Don't you agree that they are lovely? One of the sisters told us that sometimes these were given to people who would see their lovely work and provide more embroidery materials for the sisters. Wonder if that would work for us today?

I still have more to show you so expect one more post on our trip!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Visit to St. Benedict's Monastery

Today our EGA (Embroiderers' Guild of America) chapter took a field trip to the St. Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota. What a treat! Upon our arrival we were warmly greeted by the sisters who had set out fruit, sweet bread and coffee for us. There were four vestments on display in the room where we were to hear Sister Moira tell us a little about the history of the embroideries stitched at St. Benedict's. This is one of them:

This was just a teaser for what was to come! But first, some background... Sister Moira told us that this order originated in Bavaria. They came to this country in 1852 and made their way to St. Joseph, Minnesota in 1863. In 1867 the Art and Needlework Department was established. St. Walburg Hall was built specially for doing needlework.

The sisters would take orders for liturgical pieces. They had a catalog of possible designs, but all items were made to order. There were as many as 18-20 sisters working in the Art and Needlework Department. They used quality materials, silk and gold threads and fine brocades. At the time these materials were not available in the US so had to be obtained from Europe. Sadly, the department was closed in 1968.

There were two people who were instrumental in the needlework efforts of the sisters, but more on that in my next post. For now, let's go back into the inner room!

One of the pieces that I was taken with was the ciborium cover. Look closely at the intricate detail of the stags. And notice the background of chain stitches. They loop over one another and create an intricate background all from a simple chain stitch.


Another favorite was this piece with the angels. The shading on the wings is incredible. And do you see what is at the top of the wings? The backs of the angel heads! Each strand of hair carefully embroidered. Just lovely!

This was truly a special day for our group and I have much more to show you in my next post! So, until then...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A complete set of SANQ!

Yes, I haven’t posted in a number of weeks. Things do tend to get busy around here! Since my last post I accomplished something I’m very excited about! I now have a COMPLETE set of Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly!!

This is my favorite magazine. It is a little more expensive than other US needlework magazines, but is well worth the money.

I’ve had a subscription for several years. To fill in my missing issues I spent time on Ebay (or as my friend Chris refers to it, the Bay of Evil). I did find a few locally at our EGA chapter’s annual stash sale, but by far the majority came from winning online auctions. I purchased some as single copies and others as part of multiple issue lots. 

So why do I like this magazine so much? I love the history. Each issue has several projects that are either actual reproductions or pieces that are greatly inspired by historical needlework. In addition to the projects you can stitch, the editors also include articles on a variety of topics that are focused on needlework throughout history. For example, one issue had a fascinating article on Tartan ware and another had info on tambour hooks and stilettos.

The projects also vary. You usually find a piece that is a sampler, but you also find a variety of other projects. You can see from a few of the magazine covers some of this variety. There is everything from basket toppers to sampler ornaments to purses to pincushions to needlework tool cases. There is a little something for everyone!

If you haven’t yet tried this magazine head click on this link. As of this writing there is a free motif available that was taken from one of SANQ’s most popular samplers. You can also find more information about ordering a sample issue. You have the both print and digital download options. 

Can you tell I like this magazine? Well, as a little bonus for those who have read this far, check out this link for a free sampler—not related to SANQ! Click on Téléchargement gratuit : Marquoir Elise for the PDF download.