Thursday, April 30, 2009

Finishing Ideas and More

Thought you might like to see some of the finished sampler photos I received. I'm going to show several today and several tomorrow. They are all wonderful ideas!

This sweet pillow is from Ivy. She used Crescent Colors Red Currant, Clay Pot and Gentle Arts Antique Rose. Ivy Green is her Grandmother who was born in 1899.


Angela B. from Italy says, "I've stitched this with a French floss by Pomme de pin called Feu de bridget: it's overdyed in red tones. I've done it over one on a linen from my stash. I've stitched two birdies instead one and hope I haven't made any mistakes. And last, I've finished it in a tag shape."



Truus de Wild from the Netherlands has placed her sampler in a shadow box. The checked fabric background is the perfect background for her thimble collection. Isn't her stitched bird sweet?

Tamera says "Mine is stitched on banding with needlepoint silk and overdyed with tan Rit dye as is the trim. Some little friends from Notre Dame watch over it. I always stitch "PS I love you" on my pieces as my husband's initials are PS. This time it is done in french PS Je T'aime."

Tamera, I love the small piece behind your finished piece too! You will have to tell us about it. We love the idea of stitching secret messages in samplers. I will have to share some of the secrets that Barb has stitched into her samplers.

Finally, I must show this piece to you. My youngest son came home right before Barb and I left for France and gave me this. This was stitched by the lovely young woman he has been dating. She wrote a note to me telling me she stitched this piece over spring-break. She looked on-line for instructions and decided to try stitching after seeing all of the samplers in my home. This is her first piece. As my eyes filled with tears, I told my son..."This is the girl I want you to marry!!!"

Barb and I are working on a quilt pattern we will be sharing with you soon. So for all the quilters out there....don't give up hope. Your turn is coming! Also, Barb is sending me the disk with our France pictures...so those will be coming soon.

Until next time,
Alma

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Winners!


Everyone was given a number. All numbers were added to a bowl. One was drawn out.


The winner is.....Brenda Petherbridge from Alberta, Canada. Brenda take a look at what Barb and I found for you.



The needlecase is old....found at an antique booth in Nantes, France. It looks like a sprig of mistletoe on the needlecase. I thought it was just too cute! The buttons are from the Paris flea market. The small tape with the numbers 179 was used to mark children's clothing. The children were sent to school....sometimes a distance away. The numbers were sewn to the clothing as many times the children couldn't go home for a period of time. After the clothing was washed it would be given back to child #179. Brenda, I hope your address just happens to be 179. Well, what can I say? Just thought the tape was really wonderful. It could be great added to a pinkeep.

Also, there are hat pins from the Paris flea market. I love to use them in pincushions. They are vintage. The thread keep has some vintage thread and the small pattern came from a cross stitch shop in Paris. (DES FILS ET UNE AIGUILLE)
Next another pattern for you to stitch and a frame to finish....again from the cross stitch shop in Paris. (We really enjoyed our visit there!!!)


A bit of alphabet tape....


These three lovely patterns were donated by Crown Stitches. The shop owner just happened to be in Nantes at the show and had read about the contest. Isn't she the best? She's from the Netherlands and has a blog too. The small scissors are from Kelmscott Designs. I put in a red pair because Barb lost her's when we accidently left them in our carry-on bag. In France you can't bring scissors on the plane.....so we want you to have a really tiny pair you won't loose when you travel.

We had to do a second prize too....there are 7 winners for this.

1. Misato Mikoshi from Japan
2. Barb Norris
3. Pauline Reitano
4. shari-b@embarqmail.com
5. Marie Pasternak
6. elizabrugg@yahoo.com
7. Annemiek



These sweet cards were found in the cross stitch shop in Paris. One for each second place winner.

Winners please send your address and I will send out the prizes. Congrats to all!


Alma

Contest and winning quilt

Charles Brooks Photography in Knoxville, TN


Hello and Bonjour dear friends!


What a trip we have had.....and what a lovely surprise in my e-mail when I returned! I spent yesterday morning and afternoon looking at the beautiful samplers you stitched while we were gone. Your notes brought tears to my eyes. I sincerely believe you are all winners in this contest. We have 133 entries from all over the world. We are truly a global community!

I will e-mail all contestants to make sure you know I have your sampler and you are in the contest. A slip of paper with your name will be placed into a bowl and the winner will be drawn tonight.

Looking over your notes, Carol R. stated it best when she wrote, "I wonder what Alice would think if she knew that 91 years after stitching her own sampler that many stitchers from all over the world would also be stitching her Petites Lettres Rouges!"


Carol continues:
"I have attached a picture of my entry in the Petites Lettres Rouges Contest. I did not think I would manage to finish this as I had surgery on my right hand just over 4 weeks ago. Not only did I finish stitching it but I hem-stitched it too!

It is stitched on 48/50ct French Gander Linen with a deep red Soie Surfine just perfect for a tiny red sampler from France. Ethel Susan Richards is my maternal grand-mother who was born in Aberdare, South Wales (UK) in 1893 and was a dressmaker/embroideress. The sampler measures just under 5" x 3" to include the hemstitching and I am eventually going to mount this on a raw linen and then frame it once I find a suitable frame."


Veronica S. writes, "I stitched this small sampler to commemorate 35 years of very happy marriage, I have used my own initials and my husbands and added the date of our wedding. I have used these shades of turquoise as I really like them and it shows the bluebird of happiness.


I have used 32ct Lambswool linen by Permin (Wichelt) with Anchor 064 for the dark colour, Anchor 0596 for the medium colour, lastly DMC 747 for the light colour. I have enjoyed doing this very much."



I can not put all of your pictures in this one entry so I will be posting them during the month of May. I have much to post....but my mother has to be moved and it will take a bit of extra time this next week. Don't think I have forgotten you!!!

Charles Brooks Photography in Knoxville, TN

Peggy Garwood has won the Honorable Mention award at Paducah this year using a slightly modified version of our design from the book "Birds of a Feather" published by the Kansas City Star. Peggy writes, "I chose the color scheme to go in my living room. The wall hanging is a great addition. I miss it when it is gone to a show. I loved the variety of the various segmnets and the fact theat the blocks were differnt sizes. My friend Kathy Drew did a great job of long arm machine quilting."

Above is the close-up. Take a look at the quilting! I love the color selection of this quilt. Makes me want to re-do mine. The full quilt is pictured at the beginning of the blog note. Congratulations Peggy and Kathy!

I will post a picture of the prize along with the winner tonight. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for all of you!

Alma

Friday, April 24, 2009

In France

Hello dear friends. Barb and I are in Nantes. We have been shopping our way through the country. I can't post pictures here yet....but will soon. We will be back home Monday night and will have lots to report on Tuesday.
You can mail pictures of your samplers to:
alma@blackbird-designs.com   I have found some really fun things for the prize. 

Happy stitching!
Alma

Friday, April 17, 2009

Another Entry

This one is from Beth Twist.

"I have stitched dozens of samplers, but have never stitched my own name in, or the actual date, so this time I did... I'm not sure how I will finish it off just yet. I hope you like my "translation", I followed the chart for the design, but chose to let my threads do the talking, and only switched colors when a thread ended, with the exception of little Miss Bird, who simply needed to be striped! I think the linen is Zwiegart in a natural, and probably 28 count, but I'm not sure (I really should label my stash linens). I used DMC 221 for the dark red, WDW Raspberry for the medium, and WDW Red Pear for the light."

Beth I'm so glad you added your name to a sampler. At first I thought ....I can't believe she hasn't added her name to a sampler!!! But the more I thought about it I thought....heck I haven't either. I usually put an A or maybe AA. Now I think I'm going to have to do one with my full name too. You are entered into the contest.

I love the little box with the tulip in your picture Beth. I know everyone here is going to want one. Is this a pattern? Is it needle punch? You are going to have to leave a comment because inquiring minds want to know.
For those of you looking at this for the first time check the April 14th post for contest details.
More later dear friends! My bags are packed and I'm off to bed.

Alma

The first entry


We have received our first entry for the contest! I asked Vonna if we could post her sampler here and she graciously agreed. The following note tells a bit about her entry.

"Recently I
ve been thinking a lot about my Granny. Her maiden name was Eileen Campbell. She loved rusty coral colors, so I stitched my sampler and dedicated it to my Granny. I used DMC colors: Light Value 3830, Medium Value: 355 and Dark Value: 3777. I stitched it on my own bake and basted 28 ct. coffee/tea stained linen. I think it turned out just lovely. I didnt make any of the school girl mistakes in the pattern because one thing about my Granny was she was a perfectionist and in her stitching every thing had to be perfect!"

You can see more pictures on her blog spot. Click on her name above and you will be magically directed there.
What a wonderful way to remember your Granny! I know she would love seeing her name stitched into your sampler Vonna.
Vonna you are now officially entered into the contest! Barb and I are getting ready to leave tomorrow so don't forget ....we will be shopping!
If you haven't seen about the contest check the April 14 post.

Until later dear friends, Alma

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our first contest


Here it is....the sampler pattern. We are turning this into a contest. Stitch this while we are in France. Send a picture of your completed project to my e-mail address alma@blackbird-designs.com
Barb and I will purchase some fun items in France for the winner. Your picture will be your entry to the drawing. Believe me ....Barb and I are good shoppers. We leave for France on April 18th and return April 27th. So your picture must be to me by the 27th. The contest winner will be announced April 29th. We need a bit of time to recover after the trip.
This is not a design contest. We will draw names from the pictures submitted. Hopefully we can post pictures of the "fun items" as we find them in France. My daughter is taking her computer and I hope to put it to good use.

Get ready....get set.....GO!

Alma

New Pattern...April Showers



Just a quick update for now. Wish I could write more...but I'm writing instructions for several patterns today. Technical writing doesn't come easy to me....it's like pulling teeth. Ask anyone who edits my work and they will let you know I need plenty of editing. (Right Edie and Kent?) They're ignoring me .... I give them enough grief.

I wanted to give my source for the chenille trim. www.quiltersstation.com
I'm sure you can find it other places and I'm always glad to pass on other sources....but this is the only one I have right now. Thought you might also like to see the trim sewn on a simple pincushion. The pincushion fabric is from Nell's Flower Shop and was one of our sampler prints. I'm sure it's long gone from quilt shops by now though. This is actually the back of the pincushion and was photographed to show the sampler fabric. The front of the pincushion was pieced and you can see a bit of it underneath the sampler print.

Alissa has sent me the promised chart for you. (Posting on April 4th) My husband will help me get it uploaded on the web-site tonight. So you will be able to download it tomorrow.

Our latest stocking pattern, April Showers has been released to our distributors. They will have it tomorrow and will begin shipping to store owners. I love this series by Barb. Each stocking is a quick stitch and they are so sweet!

Until later dear friends!

Alma

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Springerle Cookies



The weather is beautiful here and I should be working in the garden. But I've wanted to make springerle cookies for weeks. And today is the day!
I have several cookie molds purchased from
House on the Hill. Well, really more than several ....but we won't talk about that right now. These cake like cookies date back to the 1600's and are still made in the Alsace area of France. They are dense with wonderful anise and orange flavors. I purchased molds, anise oil and the baker's ammonia from House on the Hill. The recipe comes with the molds and is really tasty.
Thought you might like to see how they are done. Mine are baking right now and the aroma in the kitchen is delicious. If you decide to purchase one mold....I would go for the largest you can afford. One large cookie fits into a cellophane bag and when the bag is tied closed with a bit of ribbon you have a fabulous gift. They are drama queens!
Flour is added to the recipe until the dough is stiff. You want a good print without the dough sticking to the mold. I did have a bit of a problem with this until I added more flour.

I purchased the 6" ring so I could cut out the large circular cookie. I made a mistake and cut out the circle and then pressed the mold into the dough. It works better if you press the mold into the dough and then cut it out with the cutter. This is my large circular cookie after the mold was pressed into the dough. I needed to use a bit more flour on my bread board. It took a couple of spatulas to get the cookie to the baking sheet.
This roller makes a long ribbon cookie. The cookie can be cut into pieces or left long. I've made this one at Christmas also and used gingerbread. Really a sweet look.

These small, bite-sized cookies are cute....
The baking sheet is loaded and ready to go. I let them dry out on the cookie sheet for several hours. It helps them retain their imprint. I bake them at about 275 degrees for 20 minutes. If they begin to puff up lower the temperature. These cookies are great with coffee or hot tea. They can be kept for several months and actually improve with age.
Now.....I have to go and plant about 15 raspberry bushes.
Happy Easter and Passover. Blessings to you all!

Alma

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cooking with Rit tan dye


Too bad we aren't making cookies today!!! Maybe tomorrow. Today I want to show you how to overdye chenille trim. I love chenille trim. It can cover a ton of imperfections when putting together a sewing box or pincushion. I'm working on a pincushion for the next loose feather pattern and I need the chenille trim....but I want it over dyed. White just won't work for this project. I thought this is the perfect time to show you how I do this. First I get my trusty spaghetti jar. Really any jar is fine. This just happens to be a good size. Fill it about 1/3 full with hot tap water. (Or give it a minute in the microwave.)

Put 3 tablespoons of the dye into the hot water. Put the cap on the jar and shake the dye to dissolve all of the dye crystals. If you don't do this you will see red and yellow tiny spots on your trim.

Add the chenille trim.

Put the cap back on the jar and shake the trim in the dye bath.


I want my trim evenly dyed...so I shook this quite a bit. If a mottled appearance is what you're looking for, don't shake the trim in the dye bath as much. I left it in the dye bath for about a minute.

Take the trim out, rinse and squeeze out the excess water. Hang to air dry. When it's dry it turns out fluffy.
This sewing box was a class project Barb and I taught this past year. The papier-mâché boxes we use are not always made perfectly. Any uneven areas in the lid are hidden with the chenille trim. The trim is glued around the edge of the papier-mâché box and gives a finished look. I over dye rick rack and ribbons using this same method. It's a great way to handle dyeing small trims. When you are done put the lid back on the jar and you can save the dye for a period of time....I wouldn't save it for 5 years...but it should last for a month or so.
Warning....make sure the jar is labeled dye bath...or poison...or dangerous....so your kids won't think you made them some ice tea.
Thank you for your comments. I enjoy reading all of them. This blogging is great! I feel like it's a sewing group of friends.

Alma

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Vacation Stitching

Only a quick update today. There's work to be done! I wanted to show you my sampler I purchased on my last trip to France. I found it this morning. Much to my dismay, I've left it folded in a plastic bag for months. I was lucky to get the folds ironed out. What am I thinking? I must find a better way to store my UFO's. (Unfinished Objects...for those of you that finish everything. I know there are quite a few of you unfamiliar with this term. I have seen your blogs with your beautiful finished projects! You know who you are....we won't mention names here.) I digress....back on topic. I'm going to take this project back with me to France and work on it again. Give it one more chance to be in my completed pile. It will be one well traveled project.

I'm using Poinsettia #035 silk by Gloriana threads. I need another skein of floss. It's a good excuse to visit Des Fils et une Aiguille. There might be another sampler I need to purchase.
This is the sampler of Marie Lasguigue by Bleu de Soie. Here is a great site for European Samplers.
Alissa is still charting the French Sampler I pictured here a couple of days ago. Not to fear, I want you to be able to stitch a French Sampler too. I will post the chart as soon as I get my hands on it.
Couple of sites you have to see. These gals are really busy with hexagons. And Barb and I have enjoyed seeing what these gals are up to.
Barb will post something soon. She has secrets to share with you too.
Until later dear friends! Alma

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Storms of Life



While stitching my mind wanders. Time to ruminate about every little thing. I'm at the age where I am caring for my mom and a son who has a mental illness. This added responsibility can add anywhere from 2 - 5 extra hours to a working day. How to handle the stress? I think each of us deals with that question daily. Sometimes I read a science fiction book....nothing like leaving this world for a bit of time. But the repetition of stitching offers a bit of peaceful time. Stitching can become almost Zen-like. It brings a calmness and quiet. For me, it sometimes feels like I'm stitching a prayer into the linen. What do I pray for? I pray for grace, love, wisdom, patience, and kindness....all those things I want to be. When designing, I add these reminders into my samplers. Believe me....I'm no saint, I can sigh and roll my eyes with the best of them...but the next day I again get up and hope this day I can be kinder, more patient and loving to those who depend upon me.
The sampler below is titled Garland Fair. It was a loose feather pattern. It was stitched during the time of hurricane Katrina. This pattern is sold out.

This design is a preview of May's loose feather pattern. I've stitched all the things I pray for into this sampler. This pattern will be available soon.
The pattern below is in the book With Needle and Thread. This book recently sold out.
The title of the sampler below is Be Kind and True. This saying has been stitched into samplers for years. This pattern is no longer in print.
I hope you find peace through your storms of life by a bit of stitching. Be sure to stitch your prayers and thoughts into your samplers. There is always space in most designs to leave a bit of YOU.
Thank you also for your kind comments. I have really enjoyed reading what you have to say. You're the best!

Until later Alma

Monday, April 6, 2009

My socks

I hope Barb doesn't read this entry. I'm supposed to be working on a quilt project. Barb, if you are reading this just skip this entry. Tomorrow will be a better day for you to take a look at the blog.
At the Moda designers' retreat Sandy Klop was knitting socks. I looked at her web-site and didn't see one sock on her site. Plenty of wonderful quilts...but no socks. Believe me she has made plenty of socks. She wore a new hand knitted pair each day. As I watched Sandy knit, she proceeded to tell me how easy it is to make socks. The more she knit....the more I wanted to make some too. Isn't that always the way?

While spening the day antiquing in Abilene, KS, Sandy and I ran across a knitting shop. I'm a sucker for product packaging. These cute sox stix needles came in a darling bag...never mind that I can't knit well...never mind that the knitting needles are $22.00 and never mind that every project I begin ends up in a bag in a closet. I thought....I must have these. Look at that cute bag!!! Doesn't it make you want some too?

I had to get these needles too....never mind that I already purchased the dark ones...you never know when you will find a project calling for light colored knitting needles.
Loved the yarn...it makes the stripes on it's own. Long story short. I began this project.....about 15 times and went to a local knit shop and pleaded insanity. The nice woman there helped me get it right. Here it is Sandy! My sock in progress. I only have to knit 5" more before beginning the heel. I see another visit to the local knit shop to help me with the heel. Maybe I could just call my friend Cherie Ralston and tell her I will fix her lunch...and then just casually bring out the sock.

My only problem is my Golden Retreiver Gracie ...really she's a Golden Recliner. Gracie feels she is doing you a favor by bringing your dirty socks to you.

She nibbles a small hole in them first...If she gets one of these hand knitted socks she will be at the local dog pound hoping someone will take her home. Look at that face...don't be fooled. She's just thinking about gettng into trouble.

What I'm reading.
Until later dear friends! Alma