Monday, January 31, 2011

Pillow Talk


The Moda blog hop starts tomorrow! Take a trip over the Atlantic and visit Aneela Hoey in Great Britain. She is a new designer for Moda fabrics and her first line of fabric will be released this April. She's already posted her note and has a giveaway of her fabric too!

The quilt above was made from a "layer cake" of our Antique Fair fabric from Moda.

Our "Pillow Talk" day is Feb. 2. On the second we will be giving the pattern for the quilt above.

This has to be short today. A Stitcher's Journey is turning out to be about 52 pages! I have to finish it up and get it to the printer or we won't have a book for market!

We are expecting a winter blizzard here! Just right for staying at home and working.

Hope you are all warm and safe!

Alma

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fabric colorways


When the UPS man arrives out in the country it's always exciting! The dogs are barking and attacking the windows and doors just trying to get out and be the first to lick the UPS man to death. I'm sure those delivery people are sick of my dogs and their threatening barks. But nevertheless, we are all excited when we see the brown truck come down the drive.

This delivery was from Cheryl Freydberg, Design Director, of Moda Fabrics. Her packages always mean that our newest fabric line is progressing to the next stage.


When Barb and I work on a new fabric line, we have to choose items that convey our color choices to Cheryl and the mills in Korea. We have tried sending floss, paint chips and even wool swatches to convey the hues and shades illustrating how we want the prints colored.

Above is the beginning of Blueberry Crumb Cake. I thought a limited two color palette sounded like the perfect recipe for fun. The soft and restful look of old pieced two color quilts are favorites of mine. The blue tones in this line are based on an old faded piece of antique fabric I found.

After we approve the color swatches, the mill will begin to color our prints. I'm loving the blue and brown tones. Makes me eager to see how the prints turn out.

Speaking of Moda fabrics they are having a blog hop starting Feb. 1st. We are on for Feb. 2nd. click on the link above and it will take you to their blog for details. Look for a contest here on the 2nd and more details about my sleeping arrangements than you probably really want to know!

And your comments are just too funny! Thank you for taking the time to respond in the comments section. I laughed all the way to bed last night after reading some of them. After reading Terry's comment, I will never look at this candle from Pottery Barn the same!


Terry said...

At first I thought the candle was a glass of milk you'd magically flamed - the perfect drink to go with fire-roasted bread! Glad your fire was just a little one and that your grandmother's crock survived unharmed.

Small update on cross stitch market.

I'm working on the project book, A Stitcher's Journey. It's going to be jam packed with the projects we taught last year....plus an added extra. More details and cover shot soon. This will be released at Market.

We have a plan for Loose Feathers and it will begin after market. We will show a preview to shop owners in Nashville. Of course I will show details here on the blog as soon as I have the patterns ready to print.

Until later dear friends!

Alma

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fire In The Oven!!!


Last night while watching television, I heard a loud beeping noise. First I thought it was from the tv, but then as it continued I realized something was wrong. I went into the kitchen and found I had a fire in the oven and smoke everywhere.

Yesterday, I worked all day on a couple of loaves of Rye bread. When I say all day, I really mean 30 minutes here and then 30 minutes there. Mostly the bread is fermenting or rising. One of the doughs had fermented for 6 hours and was working on its final rise. The other loaf was a walnut-date bread. I had shaped it into a wreath and it was almost ready to be baked. Then, I didn't pay enough attention and accidentally preheated my top oven to 500 degrees instead of the lower oven. Needless to say, all my bread dough was rising in the oven that was slowly heating to 500 degrees. (Along with my grandmother's vintage crock...luckily and surprisingly it didn't break.) Not good for dish towels though. They were in flames.

It felt like those times when you think you are making great progress on a quilt, only to find out you have to take out stitches because you pieced something wrong or, after stitching a large motif on a sampler and finding out you are off 1 thread. As my friend Cherie says, "You want to rip your head off and throw it across the room." (Cherie has quite the way with words and images.)

I went ahead and baked the walnut bread anyway to see if it might turn out. I added a candle for the picture above hoping to divert your attention from my bread. Everything looks better with a candle don't you think?

This is what the bread should look like. I took a picture of Richard Bertinet's bread from his book Dough.

Mine doesn't look like his at all....but I'm giving it a second go this morning. I'm feeling hopeful.


This baby is rising now. It will be ready to bake soon. I better go pre-heat the oven. Believe me, I'm going to be more careful today!

Until later dear friends,

Alma

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

OUCH!




Look at the nails!!! Are you framing your samplers like this? I certainly hope not.

Mary Evans worked hard on this lovely sampler only to have it nailed to a board. Luckily it was backed with muslin. I think the muslin has saved it from major damage.


The last time we attended Heart of Country in Nashville I picked up this one. Mary Evans finished it October 20, 1830. That was 181 years ago. I bet Mary skipped around the room when this was completed!


Mary Evans will be the featured sampler in a cross stitch book released in April or May. Her sampler was chosen because of the wonderful three baskets she stitched.

Mistress Mary, Quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With Silver Bells, And Cockle Shells,
And baskets in a row.

I don't mean to imply that Mary Evans was contrary. If you judge her by her sampler, she was a very good girl indeed.

Until later dear friends,

Alma

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Evergreen Lane - New pattern


Our warehouse has moved! We house our books and patterns with my husband's computer company. We rent space he doesn't need. Sharing space has worked great for us. But Dave decided to move his business to another location right after Christmas. This meant that Blackbird Designs had to move too. Wish I could describe just how much fun this process has been....but I'm going to spare all of you. Luckily Barb's very strong nephews helped with our move.

Last weekend, I slipped out of town (when Dave wasn't looking) with 2 of my dear friends. Flona decided we should drive to Round Top, TX for the winter antique show. I've read about Round Top for years, so I was very anxious to go. The winter show is smaller than the spring show....but it was good to find our way around without the huge crowds. Flona arranged for us to stay at the Round Top Farmhouse #9.


This is the kitchen area ....isn't it sweet? It was set up for breakfast....just right for a quick bite before we left for the show. These are pictures from the Round Top Farmhouse site...it was rainy during our stay....not a ray of this lovely sunshine was to be seen. (Not that it mattered to us. We were on the search for antiques!)

Flona and Linda stayed in this cute bedroom.

I got the bottom bunk! It reminded me of younger years when my sister and I slept in bunks. I slept on the top then...but didn't think I could get up there now.

Royers Round Top Cafe was pictured in a Country Living magazine years ago. It's one place I wanted to visit after reading the article. We saved one night to have dinner there. The place was packed and very fun. We all had a great meal plus we tried their pies for dessert.


I had to get my picture taken with Bud, the pie man. He's pretty famous around these parts...and very kind to pose too!

We had our picture taken right before dinner. (L to R) Flona, me and Linda. Nothing like a girl's weekend to brighten our spirits.


Evergreen Lane is going to the printer tomorrow. (#11 of the Anniversaries of the Heart series) It will ship out to the distributors in a week. Look for it in your local shops in a couple of weeks. The last pattern in this series will be released at the Nashville cross stitch market. We are getting final details ready and will announce more about market soon.

Until later!

Alma

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wrong blog? Hope not!

I've been working this past week on a sourdough starter. At first I resisted. A week to make a loaf of bread? And what if it doesn't turn out?

As I pondered, I was reminded about what I always tell everyone as I teach applique. "In order to learn how to applique you have to applique. You have to allow yourself to not feel badly about your stitches and accept feeling clumsy with the process. Just go for speed and your skills will follow. Before you know it, your stitches are small and even."

So, taking my own advice (that I'm so eager to give)....I just jumped in. If it didn't work out....what the heck. In order to learn how to bake bread, I'm just going to have to bake some.
I followed Richard Bertinet's recipe in his Crust book. Take water, flour and honey and let it sit. It sits for a bit and then it gets hungry. (A bit like me!) Then you have to feed it....and feed it....and feed it more. But darn if it didn't begin to grow and bubble. It becomes a living organism. If I leave town, Dave's going to have to babysit it!

What a science experiment this whole thing has been. Who knew all of this wild yeast was floating around in my house? (I know I haven't cleaned in a week....but really!!!) There is an entire universe of bacteria and yeast out there that we don't see with the naked eye!


The picture above shows what I pulled out of the oven this morning! The round rings in the dough are formed by the basket as the bread rises.

The basket is in the picture above. I had to order it from King Arthur's flour. See the cuts in the bread top? You need a lame bread slicing tool to make these....you can tell I'm not very good at this yet. It looks hacked up a bit....but Dave thought it looked great. I wonder if my rotary cutter would work better?

Dave asked me, as he left for work, if he needs to bring shellac home to keep this loaf of bread forever....or would he get a taste? (He thinks he's too funny!)

This prosciutto, parmesan, and pine nut roll was made a week ago. I made a bunch and took them to a friend's house. The recipe is from Bertinet's Dough book. I've been warming up left overs in the oven and having them for lunch. (And in case you are wondering....yes I did join weight watchers! I'm using all those points for bread!)

I am going to try and not talk about bread on this blog too much. But it's just so fun and exciting!


Connie Adrian sent the following note and the picture above to me. She writes,

"I wanted to share with you a picture of Snow Garden (first Anniversary of the Heart pattern.) I stitched it on 30ct Weeks Dolphin using the threads as charted. The fabric is actually a little greener then it looks in the picture. I stitched this as a shop model for Reflections Framing and Stitching here in Omaha where I work part time.

Our framer Julie is wonderful at choosing colors and just can’t seem to do projects as charted!! She thinks out of the box and at first I wasn’t so sure when she chose this fabric but it turned out wonderful I think. Since it was to be a shop model I used ABC and the 2010 plus filled in the other letters with snowflakes.

It was really hard to hand this one over to them so I guess I will have to stitch it for myself!!

Happy New Year!

Tammy Wilcox wrote,

"I was reading your blog and I just had to share a similar story about my quilt! I recently completed the "Home Sweet Home" quilt and it inspired my friends and I to to create a stitch-along using the Anniversaries of the Heart series. We plan to stitch one pattern each month this year. Thank you for creating such beautiful designs and providing hours of creative bliss for us!
Attached is a picture of my finished quilt (I did quilt it myself!)"

Riet Klein-Schuurman from the Netherlands writes,

"I'm sending you a photo of the Home Sweet Home quilt that I've made. I only did four blocks, otherwise it was too big. I had great fun making this quilt.

Thank you for the great pattern."

Barb and I love seeing your work. Thank you for sharing these wonderful projects!

Well......back to work. Our warehouse is moving. I'm busy packing up and getting the new warehouse space into shape. If that isn't enough we are getting ready for cross stitch market in Nashville. We have a couple new books and some new patterns to get ready. (More about that in another post!)

Until later dear friends,

Alma


Monday, January 3, 2011

Pattern Change


Marilyn from France send me a picture of her Anniversaries of the Heart sampler. It is amazing to see all of the houses stitched together. Thank you for sharing Marilyn!

Marilyn writes:
Hello I wish you a very happy New Year 2011 with still a wonderful little crosses, continue to amaze us ....Enclosed is my Anniersaries
Marylin friendship of France

Wanted to give you a quick update about our newest pattern. We've changed the title. It's hard for us to remember all the names we have given various quilts and samplers. I think one of our patterns was already named Pumpkin Vine. (Can I remember for sure? No...but Barb liked Pumpkin Farm so we changed the title.) It is at the printer now....it will be in the warehouse early next week. I might be a bit slower shipping this one out as our warehouse location is moving. (Nothing like picking the coldest month of the year to move!) Barb has #11 stitched. We are waiting for framing and then it should be shipping to the distributor in two weeks.



I've sent out all of the fabric and cookbook prizes (Dough by Richard Bentinet) I ran out of the small fabric squares and had to do a replacement prize for some of the contestants. So winners....look for your prizes soon. If you sent me an e-mail and I missed you...please e-mail me again.
alma@blackbird-designs.com

Donna Pope sent in a picture of her Home Sweet Home quilt. She writes:
I loved making this quilt; it was my first appliqué quilt, and I had it quilted.
I'm now working on the #3 "Remember Me" Maude Eloise cross-stitch.
Love it. Donna Pope



I'm really surprised this quilt was Donna's first applique project! After this one she will be able to make anything!

Wishing all of you a very Happy New Year! Make one resolution this year. Learn one new skill that you have been afraid to try. Take a class....pick something fun.

I've picked two from my local Culninary Center:

1. "Hands-On" A Croissant Is A Beautiful Thing
2. "Hands-On'' Backyard Grilling: Walking the Plank - Party Foods & Sweet Endings
wish you were here to take them with me. (Expect I better add exercise to my resolution too!)

Until later dear friends!

Alma