home sweet home

Karen at First Fruit Flowers blogged about the custom sampler project I recently completed for her. You may remember this as the pattern I copied from Susan's (The T-Cozy) original sampler and that she has for sale on her blog. A word of warning though—this is kind of an advanced pattern—if you're just beginning embroidery you may want to get some practice in on simpler projects first. It took me far longer than it should have but I realized something about the way I work that partially explains that. I'm easily bored and do better when I can work on several projects at once and can jump from one to the other.

A close up of the bird and birdbath.

Finding a fabric for this project was a real problem—we both wanted it to look like it could be vintage. I investigated options and even ordered several different kinds of linen and linen/cotton blends to work with. Nothing was quite right. Too stiff, too much like Aida cloth. So I ended up embroidering on a vintage towel that I had purchased several years ago. It had a nice weave, although a bit "soft" so it was a challenge to keep it from distorting the embroidery. I also discovered, after doing a bit of the border, that the weave wasn't "square". What I mean by that is that I counted four threads in each direction for each cross but the crosses weren't square. I backtracked, counted four over and down five, and that did it.

I mostly stuck to the colors of Susan's original except for the flowers—they needed to be brightened up—and I chose whatever colors I thought looked good together. I'm happy with the result but, honestly, I don't want to do anything this ambitious again for a while. I'm sticking to the easy stuff (and ones where I don't have to count threads) for my next few projects!


quilt blocks

I love to find vintage stamped-for-embroidery quilt blocks, even if it's just one or two blocks from a set. I might feel differently if I were making quilts but the single blocks are perfect for pillows. I can embroider them to match whatever fun fabrics I choose to use for the rest of the pillow, and they work up very quickly.

sailor duck

The cute blocks shown here are from a batch I found on Ebay last week. Forty four blocks in all, a few of which were already embroidered (and not very well, either) but most were undone. Just a couple of repeats and most were images I hadn't seen before.

playful pig

I love the combination of cross stitch with simple embroidery on these and they'll make wonderful children's pillows after I've finished embroidering them.

I finally finished the big custom embroidery job I was working on and now I'm trying to finish up all the bits and pieces of projects I started and never finished. Some just needed a few French knots; others just facial features on animals (I don't know why I always save these for the end—I should do them first!) Most of these almost-done projects are baby things and you'll soon find them for sale on my website. I've been neglecting the baby section lately and this is my attempt to fix that.

I'm seriously sick of all this rain we're having here in the northeast. My sinuses hurt, the strawberries in the garden are waterlogged and bursting, weeds are sprouting like crazy—everything is a mess. I'm getting lots of embroidery done but a little sun would be nice. Please!


who's got the buttons?

I got a suspiciously large amount of orders for buttons over the past few days. Not that I'm complaining—that's the whole point, isn't it? Then I noticed that several customers, in the section where I ask where they've heard of Primrose Design, said Ready Made magazine. Hmmm, news to me that I was in the magazine. So, I stopped by Borders this morning, grabbed a copy and, sure enough, there I am.

It's part of The Ten Spot: On our radar this month and the short article talks a little bit about how crafters are using vintage buttons. Primrose Design is mentioned as one of the sources for them. Pretty cool!

I do know that many of my regular customers are crafters and use the buttons they buy for jewelry, children's clothing, and handbags.

I've been debating lately whether or not to add a fourth page to the plastic buttons section. These are my favorite buttons and also my biggest sellers. I have boxes full of buttons to be sold and this week purchased another estate lot so I now have even more. But, they're selling so quickly right now that I'll be frantically refilling that third page! The fourth may just have to wait!


the sound of music

I know, its 5 am and I should be sleeping. But it was warm enough to leave the window open last night and I woke to the sound of hundreds of birds singing. At least it sounds like hundreds.

It's been an amazing spring for spotting birds. Maybe they've been forced out of their usual habitats, perhaps the warming climate has pushed them farther north—I don't know the reason but they all seemed to arrive at once. At our feeders I've spotted three pairs of rose-breasted grosbeaks, a sharp-shinned hawk, an Indigo Bunting (gorgeous blue color), purple finches, catbirds, cowbirds, red-winged blackbirds, a female turkey, a white-crowned sparrow, and two pairs of Baltimore Orioles that I've been enticing to my yard with cut orange halves (they love them).

This is in addition to the more standard birds that hang around all year—cardinals, titmice, chickadees, goldfinches, chipping sparrows, blue jays, juncos, nuthatches, mourning doves, hairy and downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, and wrens.

I've also seen a great blue heron flying over (there are several ponds near us and a creek so he moves around a lot), a pair of belted kingfishers, a pileated woodpecker (the kind that Woody Woodpecker is modeled after), flycatchers, red-tailed hawks, and the broad-winged hawks that have nested here for the last four years. I'm a little disappointed that they're not on our property this time but they do like to hunt in our yard (we have a fairly out-of-control vole situation) so I'm sure we'll see them eventually.

Last to arrive were the ruby-throated hummingbirds. The same two pairs come every year and as soon as I spot them I get out the feeder and mix up a batch of sugar water (4 parts sugar to 1 part water). No need to buy the fancy red-colored mixes—as long as it's sweet they don't care.

I love them all, even if they do wake me too early. Time to grab a cup of coffee and get this day going! It looks like rain...again. One good thing about that - it's forcing me to rest my hip - but, boy, is it boring sitting around :)