12.28.2006

a book recommendation

Please excuse my lack of posting the past few days. Whether it's after Christmas jet-lag or the weather, I'm not sure, but I just haven't felt that great for a few days. And I've spent most of that time curled up on the couch with my cats. Who are loving the extra attention.

And I'm reading a fat book that I highly recommend if you like historical fiction—Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund. She wrote Ahab's Wife, too, and I think someone recommended it to me but I haven't read it yet. Anyway, this book is a fictionalized account of Marie Antoinette from the time she arrived in France to her untimely death. And it has all the historical details but written like a juicy novel so you'll find yourself just flying through the pages.

Interesting that she never said "Let them eat cake." But she did talk about her embroidery in letters to her mother. It seems she was quite accomplished at it and made lovely needlework items for her husband and friends.

"I truly love my embroidery, as it puts me in a kind of trance. I am not transported into another world as I am at the theater or even when I read an engaging book, but I enter a deep, still place within myself as I create flowers in thread. I feel calm and happy, which is a good balance for the thrill of the gaming table, though I gamble much less now and only in my own apartment; instead I often play billiards."

Oh, yes, she had a bit of a gambling problem, too!

12.25.2006

Merry Christmas!

No Stitch School today—it's Christmas and you all have better things to do. Me, too.

But I'll leave you some embroidered snowflakes to tide you over until next week. These were not meant to be snowflakes (at least I don't think so) but imagine how beautiful they'd be embroidered in white on a dark background.

snowflake 1

snowflake 2

snowflake 3

snowflake 4

snowflake 5

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone!

12.22.2006

Studio Friday: RITUALS & WISHES!

"So many of my friends have certain little rituals they adhere to when starting to work, or finishing work. I do too. It can't be that unusual, and some are very sweet or amusing. Although some are maybe too embarrassing to share?

Another thought is: If you could make one or two changes to your studio, by magic, what would they be?" ~ Nancy Bea


If there were such a thing as creativity dust I'd throw some up in the air before I start to create. It doesn't work like that, although it does seem like magic sometimes. I don't think I have any rituals except that I'm quite messy when I work and I like to clean up before starting a new project—kind of like starting with a clean slate—or work table in my case.

As for wishes, more space, of course. Yet, whatever space I have, no matter how much larger than the previous one, I always manage to fill it up. So I should wish for better organizational powers instead. I'd also wish for better light, whether that was larger windows or track-lighting in the ceiling. I love the natural light on a bright sunny day but it can be very dark on cloudy days and at night.

What do other artists wish for? Read more here.

12.21.2006

Thrift Thursday: Vintage Bread Box

I've already posted about the vintage glass ornaments I found at the flea market on Sunday. It was actually a very good day for finding treasures. I discovered a bunch of old buttons on cards and met a very nice woman named Anne who had lovely old handkerchiefs and rickrack, which I'm afraid I cleaned out her supply of.

But the best thing I found was this vintage bread box with morning glories. For $8!

vintage bread box

For the rest of my time at the market people kept saying how much they loved it and where ever did I find it. I've said it before—look down. It was under a chair in a corner and tucked underneath a bunch of other stuff. There are a couple more pictures on my Flickr if you'd like to see details.

That's the thing with flea markets, and especially this one. Things aren't always clean, and beautifully arranged. You certainly don't want to wear white while shopping. It's messy and dirty and things are piled every which way. Junking isn't for the faint of heart!

As always, there are more Thrift Thursday finds here. Join the fun—show us what you've found!

12.20.2006

a holiday meme

A holiday-themed meme inspired by Kim at Olive Juice & Co.:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
I like both but, since I have to choose, then hot chocolate. Made with real cocoa and without marshmallows.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
Wraps, and in fun color-coordinated papers and ribbons. He must shop at Target, too!

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Tiny white ones and some that are shaped like chile peppers from a previous southwestern decorating phase.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
I sometimes hang a kissing ball that's made with artificial mistletoe but I can't seem to find it this year. I know it's somewhere in that attic closet.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
When I find the time. It's Christmas week and I'm just finishing the tree.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
We aren't very traditional when it comes to holiday dinners and change the menu every year. But, if we serve turkey or chicken, then stuffing would be my favorite thing. Mmmmm...carbs.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child.
We lived in a townhouse-style apartment complex and everyone would decorate their windows and front porches. In a traditional way—this was before icicle lights and those ugly hot air-filled monstrosities that everyone seems to have on their lawns these days. We always seemed to have snow for Christmas and sometime during the week before we'd wait until it got dark, then bundle up in warm clothing and walk through the streets looking at all the lights. It was magical.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Probably from one of my older friends but I had a younger brother and sister so had to pretend anyway.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
We open all our gifts on Christmas Eve. We don't have kids so why wait. But when I was a kid, we always waited until the morning. And only after our parents woke up.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
With lots of treasured ornaments—old glass ones inherited from my parents, crocheted white snowflakes, quirky carved and painted animals that I've picked up over the years.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
I don't think we'll be getting any in time for Christmas this year—it's too warm. Snow is pretty, but I live out in a rural area so it can be a pain to get around in it.

12. Can you ice skate?
I can. But I haven't done it in something like 20 years and I have weak ankles so was never very steady on my feet.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
I used to get those ginormous boxes of Crayolas every year. I was into art so it was the perfect gift for me.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Spending time with family and friends.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Gingerbread with lemon sauce.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Baking cookies.

17. What tops your tree?
A silver star.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
Giving. I spend lots of time thinking up and looking for the perfect gifts.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Carol of the Bells, especially the piano version performed by David Lanz and Michael Jones on Solstice.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?
Meh. What I really like is chocolate peppermint bark!

12.19.2006

Vintage ornaments

In their December issue, Country Home magazine did a short article about collecting vintage glass Christmas ornaments. Like these:

vintage ornaments

And these are some ornaments from my collection. It was kind of cool to see that I have some of the same designs—and the tiny blown-glass teapot has always been my favorite.

ornaments

I don’t really collect ornaments—I just happen to have these from my parent’s collection. And I’ve moved about 20 times since leaving home so it’s a wonder they haven’t broken. The teapot is especially delicate with its little spout and handle.

If you do decide to collect ornaments like this, October to December is the time when they're most plentiful in antique shops. But keep your eye out for them all year 'round as they'll be less expensive at other times of the year. And don't forget flea markets. I found several boxes of ornaments on Sunday at the local indoor market—$1 per box!

ornaments

Now to get these on the tree!

12.18.2006

Stitch School: Scroll Stitch

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find the Scroll Stitch post here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new one.

oh, Christmas tree...

Christmas tree

Saturday found us tramping through the woods trying to find the tree we'd tagged the day after Thankskgiving. Luckily it was still there. The owners told us that three people's trees had been "stolen". There are about a million trees at this farm—plenty for everyone—so why do people have to take the trees that other people have already tagged? Are they too lazy to find their own? Hearing things like this saddens me, especially at this time of year.

Anyway, we got the tree home and adjusted in it's stand. With the job being supervised by one of my cats, of course :)

Christmas tree

And that's about as far as we've gotten so far. Hopefully I'll have time today to get the lights adjusted and start decorating.

12.17.2006

something from the oven

This weekend has been a flurry of cookie baking. I have three or four cookie trays to make up for neighbors and friends and a tin to ship to friends who live farther away. I used to bake cookies every year—and not just one or two kinds—more like ten! Then I hit a rough patch in my life—sick parents, then dying parents, moves and job changes—and for a few years I couldn't deal with Christmas. I did it but it felt like going through the motions. And baking seemed like too much work.

But this year I'm back and I made some of my old favorites—my grandmother's raisin cookies and layer bars, linzer cookies with strawberry jam in the middle, peanut butter with Hershey kisses, and ginger nuts. I tried a new almond sugar cookie recipe that sounded good, too.

ginger nuts

Ginger Nuts

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon water
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 375°F. Beat butter in mixer bowl until smooth. Continue beating, adding sugar gradually, until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and egg.

Dissolve baking soda in water; stir into butter mixture. Gradually stir flour and ginger into mixture. Continue stirring until dough is smooth and stiff.

Form dough into walnut-sized balls, using 1 tablespoon dough for each. Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake until bottoms are light golden brown, about 15 minutes. It's normal for them to crack on top so don't worry about it. Cool cookies on wire rack and store in airtight container.

Even with all this activity I managed to fit in a quick trip to the local indoor flea market where I scored a bunch of vintage buttons, rickrack, and old glass Christmas ornaments! Pictures to come. Hey, I think I have a Thrift Thursday contribution this week :)

12.15.2006

Studio Friday: PURELY WHITE!

"All these colour combos have given me an idea, especially with christmas coming...to do a 'white christmas' studio friday...where artists put together whatever they want...only using neutrals...or to be really strict....white, (being a textile artist its great to get back to basics and to restrict oneself to just one colour, then see how many different surfaces or textures you can find.)" ~ Jo

Some white things from my studio...

white

Row 1: Pin-tucking, vintage button, vintage cutwork embroidery
Row 2: vintage crocheted doily, hairpin lace, pearl buttons
Row 3: white-on-white embroidery, white flower buttons, daisy trim
Row 4: embroidered eyelet, pearl buttons and seed pearls, white crocheted lace

It was nice to take a break from all that color of the past two themes. And white just makes me think of Christmas so it was the perfect theme for this week. Want to see more? Check 'em out here.

this is it

Last day to order. Over the past week or so I've been featuring products from my web site that would make perfect holiday gifts. This will be the last of those posts because today is the last day for ordering in time for Christmas delivery. But, if you want to order next week I won't stop you. There's always Priority mail and it may get to you in time.

Vintage fabrics are a very recent addition to my site. As you can imagine, I have stacks and stacks of vintage fabrics to use in my work. But I sometimes buy things that don't get used. Or I buy a lot of fabrics from someone who is getting rid of theirs and end up with too much or with patterns I'm not crazy about. So, the extras are put up for sale. The fabric shown here is a 2-yard length from a much larger piece I purchased this summer. It's cotton and probably from the 50s although I'm not sure of it's age. Mint condition. $10. You can see more vintage fabrics here.



As a special thank you to my blog readers and newsletter subscribers, take 20% off your order with discount code INDIE06 from now until December 15th!

12.14.2006

gift idea #10

In case you need some last minute gift ideas, I'll be featuring an item that's available on my website every day until December 15th, my last day for ordering in time for Christmas delivery. That's tomorrow, so better hurry!

We mustn't forget pillows—they're what started me off in this business of mine. Handcrafted from vintage embroidered linens and fabrics, and accented with vintage buttons and trims, each pillow is one-of-a-kind and unique. The one shown below showcases a gorgeous piece of vintage eyelet with embroidered red and green tiny flowers. Underneath is a white on white print and on the sides is a red poinsettia print. Tiny red buttons secure the layers on the front. Very Christmasy! $30. You can see more pillows here.



As a special thank you to my blog readers and newsletter subscribers, take 20% off your order with discount code INDIE06 from now until December 15th!

12.13.2006

gift idea #9

In case you need some last minute gift ideas, I'll be featuring an item that's available on my website every day until December 15th, my last day for ordering in time for Christmas delivery.

Love vintage kitchen linens? How about a pair of embroidered pot holders? These feature golden yellow pears on a blue lattice background with blue binding. From the 1940s and in perfect unused condition. $18 for the pair (or is that pear?) You can see more kitchen linens, including a wide selection of vintage aprons, here.



As a special thank you to my blog readers and newsletter subscribers, take 20% off your order with discount code INDIE06 from now until December 15th!

12.12.2006

gift idea #8

In case you need some last minute gift ideas, I'll be featuring an item that's available on my website every day until December 15th, my last day for ordering in time for Christmas delivery.

Here are some more great gifts for crafters and sewers—vintage trims! Like the vintage butterscotch-colored ball (or pom-pom) fringe shown here (3 yards, $4.00). I also have vintage rickrack in lots of colors, crocheted lace, eyelet trims, and appliques from the 70s. See them all here.



As a special thank you to my blog readers and newsletter subscribers, take 20% off your order with discount code INDIE06 from now until December 15th!

12.11.2006

Stitch School: Seed Stitch

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find the Seed Stitch post here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new one.

gift idea #7

In case you need some last minute gift ideas, I'll be featuring an item that's available on my website every day until December 15th, my last day for ordering in time for Christmas delivery.

For the knitters on your shopping list I have a great selection of vintage pattern books featuring everything from mittens and socks, to baby sweaters and shawls. The book pictured is from 1951 and features 16 pages of patterns for knit, crochet and hairpin lace shawls. $4.00 See them all here.



As a special thank you to my blog readers and newsletter subscribers, take 20% off your order with discount code INDIE06 from now until December 15th!

12.10.2006

gift idea #6

In case you need some last minute gift ideas, I'll be featuring an item that's available on my website every day until December 15th, my last day for ordering in time for Christmas delivery.

What are the chances that you'll escape getting some kind of cold this winter? That's what I thought. So, while you're sniffling and sneezing, why not be fashionable and carry your tissues in a tissue cozy. Just $10 each and available in a variety of vintage and new fabrics. This one features a vintage feedsack print of orange poppies, purple lilacs and turquoise leaves. Each cozy has a tab and vintage button closure and comes with a new package of tissues. See them all here.



As a special thank you to my blog readers and newsletter subscribers, take 20% off your order with discount code INDIE06 from now until December 15th!

12.09.2006

gift idea #5

In case you need some last minute gift ideas, I'll be featuring an item that's available on my website every day until December 15th, my last day for ordering in time for Christmas delivery.

For someone who loves vintage linens and appreciates fine embroidery I have this gorgeous pillowcase trimmed with variegated blue crochet. It features roses and flowers in an unusual color combination of rust, blue, brown, and lime green and the embroidery is exquisite. Unfortunately there's just one, but it would be perfect for a single guest bed. I bought this with the intention of making a pillow but it was just too pretty to cut up. $12. Click the photo to see detailed pictures of the embroidery and to order.



As a special thank you to my blog readers and newsletter subscribers, take 20% off your order with discount code INDIE06 from now until December 15th!

12.08.2006

Studio Friday: COLOUR COMBOS THAT MAKE YOU CRAZY!

" We all have combos we are uncomfortable with. Let's explore the *why* of it..." ~ Michelle

The list of colors I don't like together is much smaller than the one that I do. I think there's a place for most color combinations, even ones we don't use very often. Some people, for example, don't like to put bright hot colors together because they seem to vibrate. Personally I don't mind that.

I think the colors I don't like are the dull, muddy ones. A new quilt shop opened near where I live recently and I was so disappointed to learn that they are focusing on the "country" color palette—the deep dull reds, wedgewood blues, dark greens, mustard yellows, and browns and beiges that are used in this genre of quilting. I have no problem at all with the incredible quilting skills involved in the making of these quilts (in case anyone is offended by my opinion)—I just hate the colors that are so often used.

Here's an example that uses the Thimbleberries line of fabrics—

country_1

And some of the fabrics themselves.

thimbleberries

I don't even have a problem with the prints, but the combinations just don't do much for me. Check out what others have to say on this topic here.

gift idea #4

In case you need some last minute gift ideas, I'll be featuring an item that's available on my website every day until December 15th, my last day for ordering in time for Christmas delivery.

Maybe you're shopping for a new mom who loves vintage things. Wouldn't she love this cute baby bib embroidered with a cat carrying a blue feeding dish? From the 1950s, purchased as a stamped-for-embroidery project and completed by yours truly, it's just $10. And I also have bibs with puppies, clowns, and a bunny playing an accordion!

12.07.2006

gift idea #3

In case you need some last minute gift ideas, I'll be featuring an item that's available on my website every day until December 15th, my last day for ordering in time for Christmas delivery.

For the crafters and sewers on your list, how about some vintage buttons? Shown here are a set of three 1960s vintage colorful swirl buttons for $3 and a set of seven bright blue plastic ones with a ruffled edge for $2.50. And that's just two of about a hundred that I currently have listed. See them all here.





As a special thank you to my blog readers and newsletter subscribers, take 20% off your order with discount code INDIE06 from now until December 15th!

12.06.2006

gift idea #2

In case you need some last minute gift ideas, I'll be featuring an item that's available on my website every day until December 15th, my last day for ordering in time for Christmas delivery.

For the girls on your Christmas list, how about a stack of little lavender sachets made from vintage and new fabrics and tied with coordinating grosgrain ribbon? The one shown here features two purple and coral vintage feedsack prints and a new purple and white polkadot cotton, all tied with a coral grosgrain ribbon. Also available in seven other color combinations. And they smell heavenly! $14. Just click the picture to see them all.



As a special thank you to my blog readers and newsletter subscribers, take 20% off your order with discount code INDIE06 from now until December 15th!

12.05.2006

gift idea #1

In case you need some last minute gift ideas, I'll be featuring an item that's available on my website every day until December 15th, my last day for ordering in time for Christmas delivery.

Need something for your little girl to wear on Christmas Day? How about this sweet red velvet vintage dress trimmed with green piping and embroidered white flowers and green leaves. Two pearl buttons close the back. 100% cotton, size 24 months. Perfect condition. $10. Just click the picture to order.



As a special thank you to my blog readers and newsletter subscribers, take 20% off your order with discount code INDIE06 from now until December 15th!

fruit coasters!

If you've been reading my blog for a while you probably know how much I love stamped-for-embroidery projects and also that I work a lot with fruit themes. It's so cool when I find both in the same item! I won this recently on Ebay and it arrived a few days ago. It's a single panel with a dozen little round coasters, each with a small bunch of fruit in the center—two each of bananas, strawberries, plums, cherries, grapes, and pears. Once they're embroidered, you cut them out, add a backing (and I have tons of fruity fabrics I could use for this) and then blanket stitch the edges. Or you could do a crocheted edge if you wanted to. I don't know how so I'll stick to the easier solution. Or perhaps I'll use them in the centers of small pillows.

coaster_tbe

I'm getting pretty stressed with the holidays rapidly approaching (and several custom orders on my work table to finish) so I'll be setting them aside for a while. But they look pretty simple—just outline and lazy daisy stitches, and a few French knots—so they should go quickly once I get started.

I have so many cool stamped-for-embroidery projects that I've been collecting for the past three or four years. I'm thinking of selling some of the patterns on my web site. Not to compete with others who offer copies of vintage transfer patterns—there's no reason to think I could do it any better than they already do. But, there are so many cool motifs on tea towels and runners and baby bibs that were never published as patterns—like these fruit coasters. And the chicken waitress patterns I showed you a few months ago. What do you think? Is there room out there for more patterns? Would it bother you if they weren't actual transfers and you had to transfer them to fabric yourself? Just trying to figure out which direction to go so feedback is appreciated.

12.04.2006

Stitch School: Couching

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find the Couching post here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new one.

12.01.2006

Studio Friday: Favorite Color Combos

" I make jewelry and I find that I have certain color combinations that tend to be my favorite and I use more often. So I would love to see what color combinations everyone likes to use". ~ Sharla

Since I use fabrics that coordinate with the vintage linens I use, the linens themselves often dictate my color choices. I'll pick up a couple of the predominant colors from the embroidery or accent it with buttons in one of the minor colors.

But, looking back over the past years work, and not counting custom work since that's always customers choice, I do see patterns and certain combinations that I'm drawn to. I use red much more than I would have admitted because it's not a color that looks good on me clothes-wise. It goes really well with its companion primary colors of yellow and blue—

combo6

And I seem to use purples a lot and love them combined with turquoise like in this recently completed pillow—

combo3

Here's one of my favorite feedsack fabrics that has the same combination with a bit of orange thrown into the mix—

combo5

I suspect that purple and orange only go well together with the addition of another color like the bright green leaves in this fabric, or perhaps with a lot of white—

combo1

I love black with almost anything (true for clothes as well) because it makes the colors really pop—

combo2

And grays seem to do the same, although not quite as intensely—

combo4

I've never been a fan of pink but it's starting to grow on me. In small doses, that is. A lot of my customers love pink so I continue to use it in my work.

Perhaps it would have been easier to talk about what I don't like together—although I can't think of much. This post certainly would have been a shorter one :)

More colorful Studio Friday posts here.