Sunday, August 30, 2009

Love/Hate


I've been working on this sampler for about 2-3 years. Not steadily....just when I take a trip or have a bit of time. I'm getting close to the end and just the idea of being almost done makes me want to work on it more. This sampler and I have had a love/hate relationship. I've made so many mistakes I can't even begin to talk about it. Most I have just left in the sampler....because this should be fun right? I'm doing this for relaxation. (I repeat this like a yoga mantra over and over.) As I study the motif trying to find my mistake, many times I can't even find where I went wrong. Those Quakers and all of their geometrical patterns!

This sampler is the Beatrix Potter sampler from Needleprint. The initials I'm adding are those from my maternal line. We have names and dates for 10 generations of women in my family. I'm stitching this for my daughter.

The initials on the left are mine and my daughter Laura's....the initials on the right are my Great-Great Grandmother's. Elmina Embree was born in 1849 and traveled from Iowa to Nebraska in a covered wagon. She was a Quaker.


With my Quaker heritage this is the perfect sampler to stitch for my daughter. It truly has become a token of love. I'm getting up early and stitching for about an hour. Beatrix and I have now become one....so much so that I've begun another Quaker for my niece Martha.

Until later!

Alma

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Busy ....busy ....busy

It's our most stressful time of the year. It feels like we just finish one project and move to the next. We are rushing to finish projects for fall quilt market, cross stitch market and planning two teaching events. We always have grand plans...but in the end have to compromise a bit.

Tis Hallowe'en, our newest cross stitch publication was finally delivered to our warehouse at 4:00pm. two weeks ago. Donna and I were "throwing" (really carefully wrapping) books into boxes and trying to get as many shipped out before the UPS man came at 4:30. My husband came by and said, "How do you like the book?"

I replied, "I have no idea. I haven't even looked at it....I'm trying to get them shipped out. The cover looks great though." I asked him to call Barb and let her know it was in the warehouse. After work, Barb and I met for dinner and clinked our wine glasses together and said, "Congratulations."

We then opened our calenders and said, "Now, tomorrow we have to do......"

I feel sad that I have neglected this site for over 2 weeks. But I thought I would just do smaller more frequent entries during this busy time.

Wildflowers, our next quilt book, will be released at Fall quilt market. Barb and I are each stitching the featured quilt. My color palette is in reds, blues and tans. Barb's is going to be in reds and browns. I can hardly wait to see hers! We have many of the quilts done...but we are both still working on the main featured quilt. The featured quilt will feature 42 pieced stars, plain alternating blocks and alternating blocks with appliqued wildflowers. My stars are pieced and the flowers are glued in place. Applique day tomorrow! My sewing machine is set up and ready to stitch.

We are also working on a new cross stitch book. Joyeux Noël is the title.


You can tell I've been looking for some fun props for the photography.

Hope you have a bit of time to enjoy some stitching!

Until later,

Alma

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hooked Rug

Barb and I love hooked rugs. We have 4 rug-hooking booklets and have also published one by Marilyn Schmidt and Minerva Cabanas. When you love color and fiber you can't help but be drawn to the colors of overdyed wool hooked into a canvas.

The above rug was adapted from our quilt design Midnight Silhouette. You can purchase the canvas and wool for this rug at American Whatever! Sandy is the shop owner and hooked this one for Barb.
American Whatever!
816-781-3313
131 S. Water ST.
Liberty, MO 64068

Or just adapt your own canvas from the Midnight Silhouette quilt pattern.

We try to add a hooked rug to most of our quilt books. Many of our quilt patterns could be adapted for a hooked rug.

Sheri from Calico Moon sent a response to the last blog posting. She asked me to take a look at her rug. Click on her shop name to see her rug adapted from the same pattern. What fun!


Kaaren sent the following:
"As long as I can remember, I've been in love with samplers. In my travels, I've come across a few that have been for sale but unfortunately they were much too rich for my budget. I came to the conclusion that the only way I was going to have a sampler was to make one myself.
Therein was the problem. I didn't have a clue how to cross stitch. Back in April when you released the Petites Lettres Rouges sampler, I fell in love with it and printed it off. When I saw all the completed samplers on your blog, my heart melted. I then started to frequent stitching blogs and my desire just grew.
With encouragement from the readers of my blog, I decided to take the plunge and attempt the Petites Lettres Rouges sampler. I started it on Friday night and completed it this afternoon. I am absolutely thrilled with it and I'm attaching a photo for you to see. My second ever attempt at x-stitching and I'm hooked! I've dedicated this sampler to my Mom who passed away in June of 2006 after a brief but courageous battle with cancer."


Tis Hallowe'en is almost done. The printer will deliver it to the warehouse on Monday. So, you know what I will be doing on Monday. I will be transformed into a shipping clerk. I'm great with cardboard boxes, plastic shrink wrap and strapping tape. I've been Blackbird's shipping clerk for 10 years now. Lately I've had more help and don't ship books out as often. Donna really works for my husband at Dash Computers, but lately she has been helping more by shipping out books for me when she has a bit of extra time. Her help really enables me to get more done in the studio. I will have to take my camera and let you see where we store all the books and patterns. And of course a picture of Donna would be great too. Although, it would be hard to beat the picture APQ took of her when we helped them with a photoshoot.


I couldn't resist adding a picture of the Halloween stockings. All served up ....just for you!

Until later dear friends.

Alma

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Winners and Visitors

I planted the guest room a couple of months ago! No quilt on the bed...just lots of whispy leaves. These babies just hatched a couple of days ago and are they cute! They are around 1/4" - 1/2" long. They will grow very fast.


Every year I plant fennel or parsley for them. The mother has to fly far and wide to find these tasty plants for her babies. My fennel is lovely and full....just ready for these young ones. The fennel will be stripped bare in a couple of weeks...probably sooner depending upon how many eggs were laid. I don't dare break off a piece of fennel and have a taste now. The fennel recovers just fine after the babies are gone...so I get mine much later in the season.

What will they turn into? A wonderful swallow-tail butterfly! My husband and I check on them daily and watch them grow. (It's really exciting around our house!)


And now for the winners!

1st. place goes to #139 Sue from Michigan

For the scissor bags
1. #325 Jenny Brooks from Florida
2. #140 Marible from Spain
3. # 257 Sandra from UK

and because I don't think the random generator ever picks number #1 ...an extra prize for
#1 Eleanor Antonekos

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

Also ...here is a preview of the cover of the new cross stitch book.
It's our first self-published full color book and we are excited. It has 36 pages and lots of color pictures for you to enjoy! There are 13 stocking patterns and a several other projects too. I'm taking it to the printer on Monday....it won't be long now!



Until later dear friends.

Alma

Friday, August 7, 2009

My Big Mistake

When I make what might be considered a slight error, it can become major headache and problem for others. And I want to let you know that I've created quite a problem for all of you.

On the last Loose Feather pattern, "Summer Basket" I told Norden Crafts, one of our cross stitch distributors, that one of the colors needed for the bonus pattern was WDW Peach. Katie from Nordon then reports to all of the companies and lets them know what colors will be needed for the program. This coordination can take quite a few conversations between companies. After getting the report from Katie, Weeks Dye Works got busy and made hundreds of Peach floss to meet the increased demand.

While all of this is going on....I work on the pattern layout and notice that I used WDW Peach Fuzz for the small flower. I note the correct floss on the chart....but my mistake was I failed to notify Katie.

Norden Crafts in the mean time got all of the linen and floss together and shiped them out to the shops, so when the pattern arrives you can walk into your shop and have everything ready for you to purchase. This is no small undertaking either.

Because of my failure, now when you go to purchase your pattern the WDW Peach Fuzz might not be in stock. I'm very sorry for this...I have made more work for Katie, your shop owner, you for your extra trip to the store and probably have cost Weeks Dye Works extra money for the overdyeing of Peach floss.

All I can say, is look for the color Peach in our next project! And Katie wanted me to let shop owners know they can return the Peach floss and they will replace it with the correct color.
(Katie, I hope the liquid beverage you had last night helped ease the pain a bit!)

The pattern is correct ....I did use WDW Peach Fuzz...but the area is so small I'm sure WDW Peach would work just fine too.

Katie, Miranda (from Weeks Dye Works), all the shop owners (who are probably yanking their hair out) and all of you ...please accept this as a token from me!

I will try next "thyme" to remember to keep everyone in the loop!

Don't forget to respond to the contest too so you have a chance for the tote bag and scissor bags.

Until later!

Alma

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Contest Day

Thank you for your kind comments!

I'm working like crazy trying to get finishing touches on Tis Hallowe'en ....ALMOST THERE!
I think you will really like this one. Even I'm excited!!!

So ...not much writing on the blog today. My husband and I picked three gallons of blackberries this morning and now I'm back to work on the computer. I tell you...if you want to give that special someone a gift, give them a blackberry bush. It's the gift that keeps on giving....and giving....and giving. I bet we have picked at least 30 gallons of berries. Whew! That's a lot of blackberry pie and jelly. I feel my hips expanding just thinking about all that sweetness.






This carry-all is from our Beach House line with Moda fabrics. The image on front is cross stitched by machine. Just right to carry all of your summer projects. I wish we had more of these...but there's only one.



So we will draw three second place winners....I have several more of these and would like to give them to you.

So, ladies and gents....leave your names in the comment section and I will draw a name Saturday night. Good luck to you all!

Enjoy!

Alma

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Getting It Done

I've been working on the Halloween book today. The title of the book is going to be Tis Halloween. The photography is half-way done. I've been trying to find some new ways to show these stockings. Something quirky and fun.

I thought this bent fork was kind of a "spooky" way to display the stockings. (With a whisp of "cobwebs") Not hard to do with a pair of pliers. Also I have to write, "No Mom....these aren't the silver forks you gave to me....they are safe in the silver chest. I bought these for $2.00 each at Curious Sofa." (I just had to reassure her because this photograph could be enough to really send her over the edge.)

On the quilt front. We will have this new pattern in our warehouse next Friday.

The title is Hallowe'en - 1904

You should find this at your local quilt shop in a couple of weeks. We will begin shipping out the pattern next Friday... I'm sorry that Barb and I can't sell it retail...we only sell wholesale to shops and distributors. Barb wanted to honor her grandmother's year of birth...so that's why the year is attached to the title. (Not to be confused with Barb's year of birth hahahaha....I must be slap happy from all of the photography and all the technical writing I have been doing. I'm beginning to lose it. (Sorry Barb!) Really Barb is a bit younger than me anyway. She just aged another year the end of July.

I will try to keep up and answer comments in the comment section...look for them there. I will try to do better....Also this is for Denise as no one should be without a banana muffin recipe: (And Debbie, we need your Banana-Pineapple Muffin recipe too. It sounds great! Send it to me at alma@blackbird-designs.com if you get a chance.)

Banana Nut Muffins

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter the muffin cups.
Mix all 4 of the dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk:
2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

In a separate bowl, whisk the following:
1 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Fold the flour mixture into the "wet" ingredients. Do not overmix.
Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean...(about 20-25 minutes)
Cool before removing them from the pan.

Here are a couple of great photo's that you have sent to me:

This one is from Susie. She writes, "I have been working on your little baskets quilt from When the Cold Wind Blows. I have 176 baskets hand appliqued. That is a great quilt in your book and I know a number of quilt buddies working on the baskets. I am making mine scrappy and multi-colored on shirtings background. Appliqueing the baskets is very relaxing for me and I haven't tired of them yet."



The next one is from Valérie and she writes, "
I thought you would like seeing one of your summer charts finished on the first day of my summer break. I have customized the text so that it reflects how much the pattern reminds me of previous summers spent beneath the sunlit sky of Andalucia, on the Atlantic coast, not far from the Doñana National Park, home to migratory birds. I am not going away this year, but vacationing at home and it was nice remembering summers past while stitching.
Congratulations on your work - always beautiful.
Amicalement, Valérie

Until tomorrow dear ones! Think it's time for another contest.

Alma

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hedge Apples

In Kansas, the Osage Orange tree was used as fencing. The long thorns and bushy growth on this tree kept the animals in the pasture. The trees were planted close together and cropped to fence height. Very effective and cheap. Plus the spring bloom was an added attraction.

Along the length of our property we have a thick hedge row. Animals use the hedge row as a trail. They can travel without being easily seen. Included in this hedge row are some Osage Orange trees. The wood of the tree is very strong and once you get the bark off the branch you see this lovely orange colored wood. My husband is trying to make some wooden pincushion bases with this wood....but that will have to be another posting....

But as autumn approaches we also get tons of these from the Osage Orange tree. Their color and bumpy skin makes them perfect for fall decorations.

Yesterday I spent the day shopping for fabric and looking for items that would make great props for our Hallowe'en Stocking booklet. This morning I picked the hedge apples thinking that the green would really make the colors in the stockings pop.

Also found this "wicked" guy at a local shop!

Isn't he just too cute?

It rained here this morning and the light isn't good enough to begin photography for the book. After it brightens a bit more I will get everything set up and photographed. What fun! One of my favorite parts or my job.

On another note....I wanted to thank all of you for your kind comments! You are the best. I have been surprised at how much I enjoy and look forward to reading your comments. I didn't realize how much I would enjoy writing to you and hearing from you when I first began this blog.

And one more thing today... I want to show you what I did with my 3 aging bananas!


I'm not going to give the recipe here for banana nut muffins. I know all of you already have great ones shared by your mom or grandmother or aunt or friend.....but what I want to share is the pan. I'm using this enormous (king sized) muffin pan from Wilton. It makes 6 muffins....just enough for one regular recipe. Then my husband and I split one muffin for breakfast. (or not....but wait....I have to be good and split mine because I haven't been to my reunion yet....)

And I must confess another weakness...see the napkin? I've been collecting these old linen napkins. We are using them too. I have found the linen washes up so nicely....not too bad to iron and such a pleasure to use.

Well dear friends...confessions are over for the day. "See" you tomorrow.

Alma