Thursday, July 30, 2009

Every 5-10 years this woman calls me. Not only is she too cute...she is smart, talkative and very funny. You would never know by looking at her that she knows how to send me over the edge. She looks so nice and friendly you are probably thinking, "Alma, what's wrong with you?"

But after talking to her and hearing what she has to say....I put the phone back into the cradle and think "Darn it anyway....now I have to lose 30 lbs in a matter of weeks and find something fabulous to wear."

You've probably guessed why she's calling me...it's class reunion time. I don't know why I do this to myself. Last time she called me I told her...."No Theresa, I'm not going!" But each time I end up going and having a wonderful time. I've been to every reunion. Now, as the old folks get out of the car and go into the party it's agony because I know I'm one of them too. We are all getting older....and you can really tell after not seeing someone for 10 years. It's all over our faces, wiggley arms, larger clothing sizes and sagging parts (I won't go into specifics here....but you know what I mean.)

Here's my high school picture. You can tell I graduated when the flip was "in". I'm sure that hairdo took me a bit of time to get just right.

After looking through the year book I see pictures of bright and hopeful faces. Pictures of youth, promise and enthusiasm. I hope they all show up. I love hearing what they have been up to over the years.

Until later dear friends....

Alma

Monday, July 27, 2009

How Many Pictures?

I'm back! My son and I got back around 10:00pm last night. We had a wonderful trip and now back to work. Today my mission is photographing a quilt.

My son mowed a small patch in the back yard adjacent to my blackberries. We positioned 4 hay bales, blow-up mattress sheets, pillows and a quilt. (Plus extras for visual interest.) Barb has finished her Halloween quilt and I'm trying to get a cover shot for the pattern. How many photographs does it take to get it right? I've taken about 30 so far....and nothing says "wow" to me. So after checking the photographs for lighting and positioning I'm going back for more. Not only do I have to get the lighting right...the angle of the shot is very important too. How long does it take to set up an outdoor shot....longer than you might think. The set-up took about 1 1/2 hours. The actual photography is the quick part.

But I thought I would take a break and write to you before running back into the heat. I can't share the entire quilt with you just yet....but I wanted to show you this sheet that Barb found at an Estate sale. Look at the crochet work! Isn't it lovely? Wish I would have found this one. The pillowcases were made from one of our first sampler print fabrics. (Click on the picture for a close up of the sheet heading.)


Do you recognize the pumpkin? I hope she doesn't get heat stroke!


Winners today:

#242 Susie from SimplyPrim
#110 Mitzie in VA Irish 46

Congratulations ladies! Send me your address and I will send you a pillow.


Until later! I'm back out for more fun.

Alma

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well....not really. But tomorrow my son and I are driving to Knoxville, TN. My sister, her family and my Mom all live there. While driving my Mom's car to Knoxville, we will stop for an overnight visit with my daughter in Nashville. Then drive on to stay and visit with my family in Knoxville and then return home on Sunday. It will feel like a jet plane trip....fast and hurried. I can't stay longer as my son has to go to Chicago to visit his girlfriend Amy....and you all know that I have work to do.

So, while I'm gone I've decided to give something away...

Leave a comment if you want one and when I return on Monday I will draw two names.
One pillow each is the prize. These were done by Moda fabrics for Blackbird Designs. They were released with our Beach House fabric line.
I should have ironed the rick rack down in place...I promise I will do that before sending these out. Each pillow could be used as a pincushion or placed on a shelf.


Don't we all need one more alphabet?

Hope all of you have a wonderful weekend...."see" you on Monday.

Alma

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Something Fun

I should be working...but wanted to write to you today and share a couple of things with you. This project was just too fun....and I know you all like fun things too.

First you have to get these supplies:

1. Matte Spray
2. Adhesive Magnetic Sheet by Tree House Studio....or whoever....I just found this product at Hobby Lobby
3. Sponge Brush
4. Delta Ceramcoat Gloss - Exterior/Interior Varnish


While stitching this past week I lost a couple of needles....I know, you are probably saying, "How could you? You have a million pincushions all over the house!" But I have been threading several needles with different colors and slipping the needles into the linen until I'm ready to stitch with that color. Well, as I moved from place to place with the linen...some of the needles slipped out. It just wasn't the best idea. (Now I'm hoping we don't step on them....that really hurts.)

But I thought if I had a magnetic strip on my floss ring this wouldn't be a problem. After stitching Summer Iris I took the linen to Kinko's and made several color copies. The one I liked the best was reduced to 79% of the original stitched piece.
Took the copy and trimmed it down. Save a bit of extra space around the color copy for a second trim. Cut the magnetic strip the same size as the trimmed color copy with my rotary cutter. Pulled back the adhesive protector on the magnetic strip and positioned the color copy in place. I then trimmed the piece again.

Color copies smear easily...this is where the matte spray really helps. I lightly sprayed 2 coats of matte spray over the piece, allowing it to dry between coats.

Now the varnish. I used a sponge brush and gave it 3 coats. Let it dry well between each coat. Punched a hole in the top and WAHOO! A cute magnetic needle holder. The magnetic part is on the back of the piece. I wish the color side was magnetic....but it's only magnetic on the back. But still very cute. You could do this with anything you stitch....make one for each project....but I'm really fond of my Summer Iris magnetic needle holder.

Now for the results!!!

Above is the picture of the magnetic strip on the back. Look how it's holding all of my needles in place....do you ladies see all of the John James needles? (I followed your advice!)


Here is the front of the magnetic needle holder. I know I've placed the needles on the front...but it's just for the photography.

Here it is again with the Summer Iris pincushion and strawberry.

What fun, right? I know you will want to make some of these....so easy. Make several at a time. I think as much time as it takes to stitch a project, we should be able to use it in different ways. Gives it another life.

Summer Iris is going to the printer today and will be available in the shops in two weeks.

One more fun thing for you to see.

Bonnie Olson sent pictures of her Peacock pinkeep. She stitched it over one thread. Wonderful Bonnie! Thank you for sending these to me.

Oh yes...also take time to visit Rebecca. She has just started a blog and has some great Blackbird Designs projects I know you will want to see.

Until later dear friends!

Alma

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Projects

I'm sorry for the lack of posting. It's project time around here though. When Barb and I get in this mode everything else comes to a screeching halt. No home cooked meals or niceties around here. We just have to hope there are some kind of left overs in the frig.

What's in the works around here? Here goes.....

Our current projects:

1. The new loose feather project has been completed...I'm doing the pattern layout now. They will go to the printer this week and ship out to the shops on August 1st. The picture below is a photograph of all the bonus sewing accessories provided in the Loose Feather patterns this year. Each Loose Feather pattern provides one of the sewing accessory patterns. The house design on the floss ring is the latest design to be added. It's a quick stitch!



2. A new Reward of Merit pattern, Summer Iris has been in the works and will be released with the next Loose Feather pattern. It will be in the shops the first week in August. This pattern also has a small strawberry pattern too. It's made from a bit of wool.













3. Barb has just completed a new Halloween quilt. Dave is going to mow the lawn today so I can get out and do photography for the quilt pattern. (He will start the mowing, just as soon as his weeding is done! I know how to torture a husband....just ask Dave!) This pattern will be out as soon as I photograph it, write the pattern and get it back from the printers. This will mean about 2-3 weeks. I know you will love this one.



4. Barb is working on a Halloween cross stitch book. I mentioned this in the blog earlier. Three projects have been stitched....but we need 10 more. They are being stitched now and won't take too much longer. Look for the book in August.

5. We are finalizing our next fabric line for Moda fabrics that will be shown at fall market. We have approved the second round of colors and did some work on the large scale print. Usually that means that more proofs will be coming soon as fall Quilt Market will be here in about 15 minutes. We are beginning our line of fabric for spring market now too.

6. Several teaching projects are in the works. Our first teaching event will be at Virginia Beach, VA. Dyeing to Stitch is hosting the retreat October 2 - 4, 2009. Click on the shop name for their site and retreat information. Should be lots of fun! Lots of teachers and projects.

Our second event is hosted by Country Sampler in Spring Green, WI. The Boxwood and Berries annual event is held Nov. 11-14. We will be teaching a small quilted project. Maggie Bonanomi and Stacy Nash will be there too. Country Sampler will be decorated for Christmas and this will be the first time we've seen it for the holiday. Not to be missed.

I might have to go and take a nap! Not really.....I've got a couple more things to tell you and then back to work.



I've been tagged by Veronique in Paris to let you know three things that make me happy.
So here goes!

1. My family. They keep me in laughter, joy, worry, tears and love. Don't families provide the best and worst in life? How can we forget the first time our kids drive down the drive-way and into the world by themselves for the first time? The agony of it all.....and the ecstasy when they make it safely back.
2. My friends....where would I be without them?
3. My stitching. Much joy comes from making quilts and samplers. I love when everything seems to come together just right.

Click on Veronique's name and check her blog out. I know you will want to see her basket of pin keeps! Wow! You can tell what makes her happy.

Thank you for all of the kind comments about the dining room. Pictures of the family room will follow ....but cleaning is called for first!

I set up all of the stockings that have been stitched so far this year on my silvered tree. This cross stitch stocking series by Barb is really sweet. I need to do this where the light is better! You can tell I took the picture in the dining room.

Until later dear friends!

Alma

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

You're Invited

Thank you for all of your stitching suggestions! While stitching yesterday I paid more attention to my technique. I will let you know the results as I stitch more....at least I feel that I'm not alone with this problem. And I did feel more relaxed as I stitched...so again thank you!

Today I'm inviting you to my house. I want to show you some things in my dining room. It's been rainy and dark here....so you will have to forgive some of the shots. But....I still want you to visit. (What else do you have to do on a dark and rainy day?)

A couple of years ago I painted my dining room Molasses. The paint color is by Mary Carol Garrity. It's a dark color and I know all of the magazines now show white, white and more white ...but I love how my samplers stand out and shine against this color. It's a warm and cosy in here. I love when the kids are home and we all sit around the table and laugh, talk and play word games that I always lose.

The vintage lace curtains on the window are thumb tacked into place. I use the clear plastic headed tacks...but they are tacked up nevertheless....I know this is shocking....but please don't leave just yet....(I feel like this is true confession time!!! Are these secrets I should share?)




This cabinet was a light green and a couple of years ago I got out the black spray paint and redid it. I then sanded it down and let the green shine through on some of the surfaces. After a bit of wax it looks great to me. The patchwork dishes were a Christmas gift from my husband years ago. He knows what I love!

The sampler on the left has my Grandmother's name (Mary Little) stitched into it along with the date she got married. I always try to put a family name on my samplers. I think they will have more meaning for my kids when they inherit them. On the back of the sampler, I write something about the person whose name is stitched into the linen.


The switch plates in the dining room are covered with vintage maps. I choose maps of locations I would like to visit. This one is a map of Prince Edward Island, Canada. After watching Anne of Green Gables over and over, it has made me want to visit and see this place for myself. Everytime I turn on the light, it reminds me of this place I would like to visit.


I love my old corner cupboard. It is a piece brought over from England...or so I was told. It has been sawed in half...either to get it out of the house...or for shipping reasons. Whatever the reason, it matters not to me. I still love it.

Santa is still hung with care on the wall. He's out year round. I know I should put more seasonal pictures up...but since the kids have left and since time flies...I just leave him out year round. That way I know where he is for next Christmas.

Speaking of leaving things out take a look at this picture again...notice anything wrong here besides the size of my chandelier? (another story!!!)


Let me give you a better clue.

What should I do about this? I bought this pumpkin last year and drove her to Shepherd's Bush for their retreat in Park City, UT. She loved sitting on our table and watched everyone paint, stitch and chat.

Then I threw her in the van and drove her to Houston, TX last fall. She sat on our table and saw everyone at quilt market. She looked at fabric, quilts and patterns. I put her in the van and drove her back to Kansas City.

Then....this small pumpkin drove to Nashville, TN in Feb. for Cross Stitch Market. She sat on our table and listened to everyone laughing and talking about linen and floss.

She is the most well traveled pumpkin I know. And....she's sitting here in my dining room waiting for autumn when she will be 1 year old. She has traveled about 4,800 miles and not a rotten spot on her.

Should I keep her? Should I name her? Should I give her a needle and thread? I just don't know.

Thank you for coming by!

Until later,

Alma

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Send Help

I'm almost finished stitching the next loose feather project. But I've just about had it. I'm irritated instead of feeling relaxed. I'm hoping someone out there in web-land can help me. Take a look at the following picture. (I know....I'm sorry. I should have used a darker thread to illustrate my problem!)

When I begin stitching, I have 2 strands of equal length floss. Then one begins to become a bit loose while the tension on the other strand is ok. I have to stop and pull the one thread tighter and then ease the excess through the needle so that the tension on both threads is equal again. But by the time I have done this several times...the end of my threads are no longer equal. What am I doing wrong? Hopefully I'm explaining this right. It's just not fun to have to work with my thread tension all of the time. (Barb thinks it's because I live north of the equator.....do you?)

On a lighter note...here is a preview of the next Loose Feather pattern....not all of it....but enough to give you an idea of what is to come.

I'm in a pink mode. I just can't get enough of these linens with a pink tinge. I can't explain why these shades seem to call to me. This linen is by Weeks Dye Works....it's 30ct. Baby's Breath. The last Loose Feather project I designed was on pink linen too....Don't you wonder why you are drawn to a certain color and then a year later don't give it a second glance?


Want to see something even better?

I ran into Sharyn Rittgers at Two the Point last week. (My local cross stitch / needlepoint shop.) She sent the above picture to me.
"Here's a picture of my sampler........I dedicated it to my mother, Leila (pronounced Lee ila). That's the first picture taken of my mother when she was around 3. She's with her two older brothers. She was born in Montana where my grandparents had gone to homestead. In a few years they moved back to KS as my grandpa was able to settle on the family farm. My mother loved birds so it seemed appropriate to stitch one by her name. The two hearts are for my older sister and me."


Clare sent the above picture:

"Here are pictures of my PLR pillows, which a friend made up for me. The front is my original one and the back is of the 2nd one I made for an exchange. It was great to use my toile de jouy fabric for something special and I love how they turned out!"


Teresa Kasch sent the above picture: (Isn't Hannah too cute?)

"When I read your blog and saw the cross stitch offering with the Eiffel Tower, I knew I had to make it for my daughter Hannah's 15th birthday. She loves all things French and is taking Honors French in school. She hopes to visit Paris next summer with her class...but for now, she was thrilled with her French cross stitch that is filled with crushed walnuts and lavender...ooohlala!"

Teresa, Clare and Sharyn... you are right there with me! We are now official pink sisters.

Have a great weekend!

Until later,

Alma

Friday, July 10, 2009

And the Winners Are!!!

We have winners! I used the random generator on the web to come up with these numbers. And then I had to count your responses to find the right person. I need to figure out how to number your comments. It would make it a lot more accurate and easy. I'm still on the learning curve when it comes to blogging. If you find a mistake...let me know.

#5 Tracy (in Stephens City, VA)

#122 Denise

#76 Nancy in Wisconsin

#19 Beeinstitches

#214 Peg in Ozark, Mo

I loved reading your comments...It's my favorite part of my day! I've decided to add some extra winners. Just because after reading these....I have to. You will understand why as you read some of these comments.

Sharon Stewart, I'm sending you a bag to celebrate your anniversary....after 33 years you deserve this token of honor! Hope you had a great one!

Susan said...
The one who dies with the most scissors “cuts” to the front of the line! I think we better give her a bag to contain her scissors!!! Don't you?

Mountain Gate said...
"I had the same problem, so I started wrapping a pair of scissors around my neck on a piece of elastic...but was constantly in fear that I would puncture my belly button." Honey, you are a health risk and must have a bag just to protect yourself! I know each reader agrees with me on this point!

Jeannette said...
I have a feeling that I will misplace the bag as well, please count me in. I'm sending you one too ....as you are my kind of gal!

Alice said...
Related to looking for things, my Grandmother always believed in the hereafter...she would go in a room looking for something and forget what it was she was looking for... always wondering what am I here after. Your Grandmother and I are one in spirit.

carol@stitchershabit.com said...
I keep a small book of sayings and words of wisdom I’ve gathered here and there, and will share one that might give you a giggle - “dijon-vu” the feeling that you’ve tasted this mustard before...
This will be my new favorite saying!

Blogger Ann said...
My mother taught us to needlepoint at a young age. We were swimmers, so at every swimming meet she would tie her scissors to the leg of her lawn chair--it helped her to keep up with her scissors, and her children (who always needed to come back to get a piece of yarn cut)!
I have those same scissors today, they are too dull for me to use, but I treasure them anyway. They are tied to the leg of my stitching chair--both in memory of their former life, and so that I can’t lose them! Love the way you celebrate your mother's memory!

And finally....
Cindi said...
Thanks for sharing your extra scissor bags. I hope you can find them when it’s time to mail them out!! Oh you know me all too well! I just ran downstairs to make sure they were right where I left them....was able to find them thankfully.

I wish I could send out scissor bags to all of you.....but never fear...I have more good stuff to give away.


Winners....send your address to alma@blackbird-designs.com

Congratulations!

Alma

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Can you find your scissors?

Can I find all of my supplies? I try to remember to put everything back in the same place when I'm finished using it. You would think this system would work. But I get in a hurry and think that I will just leave it out and then put it away next time. I then proceed to walk away and begin something else.

The next time I need the supplies....can I remember where I left them? No, I can't. I run upstairs...look in the living room, thinking maybe I was watching TV while working. But no...wrong room. I check the bedrooms, run back upstairs to look again, look in the studio and finally the last place in the world I look....the dining room, there it is. I bet I waste more time looking for things than I spend working.

Scissors are the hardest things for me to keep in place. I told my husband, "People are coming into our house at night and stealing my scissors." I don't think he believed me.

Between me and the kids there was no hope to ever find a pair. Only now, after my kids have left the nest am I beginning to find some of them. They might be dull....but at least I can hack things apart.

But never fear....no need to be like me. I have 4 scissor bags to give away.

Moda fabrics made these cute canvas bags. You can tell what they are for just by looking at the picture. I got one for me, one for Barb and some for you too. 4 lucky winners will be drawn.

You know the drill! Leave a note in the comment section and the bag could be yours. You don't have to leave a long comment either....just the word "scissors" will do. But if you have words of wisdom for me that's great too. I can use all the wisdom I can get. Deadline July 9th. Good luck! Hope you can find some scissors to put into this bag!

It's a stitching day for me. One of those where you sit in a chair all day and wish you had something great to eat....Unfortunately the things that sound good are all high calorie. Don't you wish you craved carrot sticks and celery?

Until later dear friends!

Alma

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Favorite Things about Summer

Don't you love the beauty of summer? I'm not really fond of the humid heat of summer....but the beauty, yes!

Thought I would show some of my summer favorites:

I love the buzz of my native bees. They are busy making their own kind of quilts. I have leaf cutter bees. The wire around the box is put there to protect the larvae from birds who think they are tasty treats. The non-aggressive, leaf cutter bee lays her eggs in these cells. The females are laid toward the back of the cell. She will place pollen and nectar around the egg. The next egg is positioned closer to the opening of the cell...as she gets closer to the opening she lays the male eggs.

The opening is safely closed by a small circle. The circles are cut from leaves and flowers. A pretty amazing bit of work! I always think a full nesting box is lovely!

Here is how my plants look about now.

Have you seen leaves like this in your yard? If so, you probably have these amazing bees too.

How do they cut a perfect circle? I don't know ...but I can tell you I haven't seen one bee with a freezer paper template yet!!!


My Day lilies are a riot of bloom now. I have planted hundreds of these wonders. When I first started buying them they were 50 plants for $50.00 from White Flower Farm. They are a bit more than that now...but still very worth it. Some are fabulous....and some plain janes....but I love them all.

And finally....my bestest in the world summer favorite:

It's almost blackberry time. Each morning my husband and I will spend an hour picking out back. I then make jelly and blackberry pies. These are thornless....which is a very good thing, as we have a jungle out there to climb through to pick berries. Last year my husband told me he didn't need yoga classes....he already knew all the moves from picking these berries. I planted them about 20 years ago and they are taking over the back yard.

I hope you have a bit of time to enjoy your summer favorites too!

Until later!

Alma

Monday, July 6, 2009

My First and Last Quilt

Camille from Simplify and Carrie from Miss Rosie's Quilt Co. have started something. They are asking us to show our first quilt and last quilt. Wish the pictures were better....but it's a cloudy day....and I'm lazy.

This is my very first quilt. It was machine pieced and hand quilted. Look at the fold lines and color loss from light damage! I need to lay this "antique" out flat on a bed to give it a rest. The colors really date it don't they?

I worked part-time at a shop called The Saltbox Sampler in Overland Park, KS. in about 1985 until about 1997 or 98. After retiring from Nursing and staying home with my kids I really needed a part time job. You can imagine chasing and cleaning up after 4 kids can really make you want a part-time job. Anything really, to get out of the house for a bit was great. Quilting was my passion...so I thought about teaching. I made this project and asked Gloria and Karen (the shop owners of the Saltbox Sampler) if I could teach. I'm surprised the faith the shop owners had in my ability to do this...but maybe after they knew I taught Lamaz Classes they thought, if you can "teach" a woman to have a baby ...you can teach her to quilt. (I'm not pretending to do either very well here. Really....all that breathing is pretty hard when a baby is on the way....and maybe supporting a woman through childbirth is the better term here.)

This was my first applique quilt. One of my friends, Rodene Newman taught me the applique stitch and she changed my life. I immediately went home and cut out shapes and safety pinned them to the background fabric. By the time I finished this quilt I had the applique stitch down pat. I think applique has been my favorite since. I think this looks a bit like a cross stitch sampler. Although I really didn't cross stitch at the time I designed this quilt. The house....initials ...the date and the border would really be great cross stitched don't you think? hmmmm

This was the last quilt I made....it was completed last summer. I have done some small projects and some cross stitch....but no quilts. This is Barb's design and we both made one for our last book "When The Cold Wind Blows" published by the Kansas City Star. I loved making this quilt. The large shapes made each block easy and fast to sew. It gave me a chance to experiment with the use of blue for all of the leaves and stems. I loved experimenting with the large rick rack border too. Sometimes when I finish a large applique quilt the last thing I want to do is another applique border. The rick rack gives an easy scallop finish to the quilt.

There you have it! You can join the fun too. Go to Camille's and Carries blog and post your first and last quilt!

Until later.

Alma

Friday, July 3, 2009

Holiday Tables

Today Barb and I met at the Curious Sofa. As we walked around the shop, looking at everything I explained to Barb why I need an extra 10 IQ points.

Yesterday I decided to try and put a roof on my binderboard bee nest boxes. I have about 6 of these boxes for our native leaf cutter bees. These non-aggressive bees are a favorite of mine. They don't make honey for human consumption...but they do pollinate my gardens. One of the binderboards needed a roof so I decided that I could make one from a plastic circular lid and a bungee cord. Needless to say the circular lid and bungee cord went flying and cut my lip. I'm sure those extra 10 IQ points would have helped me realize my plan wasn't sound and saved me from a fat lip. I seem to be loosing IQ points instead of gaining them... (the wine at lunch didn't help either) Oh well.....back to the main theme of the post. Holiday Tables!

Barb found this wonderful cabinet at Curious Sofa. She thought it would be great for one of our booths at market. We loaded it into my car and was going to take it to the warehouse for storage.

But instead I thought....hey I'll put it out in my backyard and use it as a prop for some table settings I wanted to show you. The above shot is the cabinet with the serving pieces I thought I might use in the photography. When we get ready to do photography, I usually get out everything but the kitchen sink. Never use it all....but just in case I want to have it handy.


Barb has made some wonderful table toppers and placemats just right for the 4th of July. These placemats were easy to piece and applique. They are quilted by hand using the long stitch.


After making my husband help me get the cabinet out in the yard we then carried a table and a couple of chairs out there too. I got my chandelier from the back porch and hung the chain over a tree limb for a bit of atmosphere.
Tried to light the candles....but it's just too windy right now. You will have to pretend they are lit.

This small quilt makes a great table topper.



This small quilt is perfect for my dishes. I have a collection of vintage plates with pink flowers. They are all different. The one on the upper left has a pink flower in the center...but most of the plates I have showcase the floral elements on the outside border of the plate. I love using these....


Eating out on the dock at the lake? This one's for you!

This flower table mat and all of the other projects shown in this post were taken from our book "Small Favorites for All Seasons."

It's about dinner time here....my husband is going to grill and we are going to eat out back...and then take it all back inside.

Hope you have a wonderful 4th. Hope you are able to take a bit of time to carry your table outside and enjoy the weather!

Until later!

Alma