Thursday, March 31, 2016


Grape Hyacinths, Spring Break, Easter celebrations, frost on the Daffodils, brilliant sunshine, blossoming orchards, a new handbag (much deserved, after lugging the last one for nearly six years), antique shopping, stitching, and all the regular things that somehow don't ever get photographed.

Life is good.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

In the Middle of March

Everything seems poised on the edge of bursting in the middle of March.

Buds swell on branch and vine.

The color saturation in grass blade and winter leaf
gets a boost each time the sun's rays peek through the almost certain canopy of clouds.

Water droplets cling to every available surface, magnifying the places where they rest.

There are baby chicks and muddy dogs and plenty of wet days for sitting inside and stitching.

But soon the days will warm and the sun will shine more often than not, and this girl will have a lot of yard work to catch up on. I wish the middle March days of promise would linger just a little bit longer.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Feniscowles Hall Update

It was brought to my attention this morning that in all of the rush of details getting ready for Market, I completely forgot to add the skein count for thread colors needed for this design.

I am SO sorry!

All colors, if stitched with one thread over two like the model, will only use one skein with the exception of the two greens used in the lawn.

You will need 3 skeins of Oscar and 2 skeins of Grasshopper.

I have updated my files, and any charts printed from this time forward will have the correct quantities on the materials list.

DMC Conversions and Tutorials

I have added some new tabs to my blog. Both can be found just above the most current post, right under the blog header image.

The DMC Conversions tab contains a list of conversions for designs that don't include the conversion on their chart cover. If you don't see one that you need listed, please contact me, and I will get it added. A few of you have asked for a conversion for my recent release, Feniscowles Hall. That conversion is included on the new page now.

The Tutorials tab contains a list of links to all of the pdf tutorials that I have ever made available with purchase of pattern. They are almost all design- specific, but feel free to apply the techniques I use to any design that you are so inclined.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring Song

Every Spring, as the birds start to return, I hear a certain song that I hadn't been able to identify until this year. The singer has been rather elusive and hard to spot, but recently, I heard it singing so enthusiastically from the side of the yard, that I grabbed my camera and snuck around the corner to try to capture a picture. It was so focused on its song that it didn't seem to be bothered at all as I got closer and closer.

Still, this is all that I was able to capture:
You can just barely see it there, just to the right of center. But if you zoom in on the picture as close as it will allow:
At last! With a body shape, markings, and song, I can go to the internet and figure it out. I now know that this particular favorite is a Song Sparrow.

Someone else posted this clip on youtube. I'm sharing it so you can see just how they put their heart and soul into their music. Someone ought to cut a record deal for this fella:

Sunday, March 13, 2016

*Now Available* Feniscowles Hall 1824

I struggled a bit with what to title this sampler, knowing that the name of the Hall would be a challenge to many. But the location is real, and the lovestory it commemorates is dear to my heart, so I opted to leave it as is.

Although this sampler is an original design and (sadly) not a reproduction of a family heirloom, the names, location, date, and quote are real. In 1824, an unlikely engagement took place between the eldest daughter of wealthy mill owners and the local vicar. Not only was he considered to be of a lower class, he had an additional shadow over his name, being the son of a bankrupt father (who fled to America to avoid prison).

It is a story well-documented and preserved in letters and journals, a story of two young people who married for love, and against all social protocol of their time. It is a story that has fascinated my imagination for nearly a decade now, and knowing that it happened in my own family tree makes me happy and proud.

My Great –Great (add a few more greats) Grandparents, John William Whittaker and Mary Haughton Feilden overcame all odds and went on to bring 9 children into the world. His career as a vicar of Blackburn Parish in Lancashire, England was by all accounts noteworthy, and although I have only had the privilege to read journals leading up to her marriage, Mary’s personality comes across clearly in her early writing. I wish I had known them both.

The house depicted in the sampler is my best effort of reproducing an old photograph of Mary’s childhood home, Feniscowles Hall. It was surrounded by trees and a deer park, with the river running nearby.

At the end of her life, after her beloved husband had passed away, she wrote in a letter to her children: “Oh what his love was to me from the first! … How my life became happy and complete … No one but himself will ever know how dearly I loved your Father. We were more precious each to each than any thing on Earth...”

Although you are more than welcome to stitch this sampler as charted, complete with my ancestor’s names and date, I included a full alphabet and number set so that you can customize it for yourself or to commemorate a marriage in your own family. I’m pretty sure John and Mary wouldn’t mind.

Stitch Count: 253 x 183

Model stitched on R&R Reproductions’ 32 count Heartstring Blend with one thread over two strands of linen.

Using flosses from Weeks Dye Works: Havana, Flatfish, Grape Vine, Oscar
And from Classic Colorworks: Straw Hat
And from The Gentle Art: Grasshopper, Mountain Mist, Old Hickory, Piney Woods, Ruby Slipper

Conversion to DMC available upon request.

The lovely frame is by Valley House Primitives: Profile: MCN, Color: Coffee Bean, Design: Small Swirl with Corner Fans

This design is now available in my etsy shop, and is already in the hands of my distributors and the shops that attended Nashville Market last weekend. If you prefer to bypass etsy and order directly through me, you can send me an email:

*Now Available* The Bird Collection, Part I

This booklet is the first in a collection which will highlight my favorite Pacific Northwest birds. I will release them in groups of three, and will total at least twelve birds by the time I finish, but I might just keep the collection open and expand beyond my own territory to include yours. Perhaps some of these birds are new to you, or perhaps they also live in your area. Either way, I hope you enjoy taking off on this feathered journey along with me.

All models stitched on Picture This Plus 32ct. Wren with one thread over two.

American Goldfinch: Stitch Count: 59 x 93
Threads: The Gentle Art: Old Red Paint, *Pecan Pie, Brandy, *Ohio Lemon Pie, Grecian Gold, *Shaker White, *Raven, *Piney Woods

Blackheaded Grosbeak: Stitch Count: 69 x 57
Threads: The Gentle Art: Cornhusk, *Barn Grey, *Pecan Pie, *Ohio Lemon Pie, *Endive, Pumpkin Pie, *Shaker White, *Raven, Toffee, *Piney Woods

Mourning Dove: Stitch Count: 97 x 62
Threads: The Gentle Art: Cornhusk, *Barn Grey, *Endive, Weathered Barn, Harvest Basket, Brethren Blue, Woodrose, Parchment, *Pecan Pie, *Piney Woods

*Flosses with an asterisk are used in more than one of the designs, but you will only need one skein total for entire booklet.

DMC conversion provided inside chart cover.

The frames were thrifted and then refinished by me. Tutorial available on request.

This design is now available in my etsy shop, and is already in the hands of my distributors and the shops that attended Nashville Market last weekend. If you prefer to bypass etsy and order directly through me, you can send me an email:

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

A Super Long-Winded Post about My Trip to Nashville

It all feels like a dream now; one of those really great dreams that you never want to wake from, and when you do wake, you try desperately hard to fall back into. There was so much hard work in the months beforehand, and I sometimes wondered if it would all be worth it. Let me tell you as adamantly as I can. IT WAS.

Last year was my first trip to Market, and although it was an amazing time, I felt like I barely got my toes wet... this year I may have made it up to my ankles.

I took two new chart designs and decided to try taking a kit as well (SO much work goes into making those kits! I had an idea, but experiencing it for myself makes me have major respect for those designers that kit their charts regularly). And then, as if I didn't already have my hands full enough, I decided three weeks before the show that I needed a completely new look for my charts. I have Crazy Creative Brain Syndrome in combination with another rare disease called Unrealistic Overachieving Optimist.

I pulled it all together in the nick of time. But only with the help of some of my favorite people (thank you again Mama, Angela and Jen!).
I sent ahead nine flat rate boxes stuffed with charts and kits and three very large UPS boxes full of models and other assorted items for my exhibit room, plus one barely-within-the-limits-to-carry-on suitcase and a gigantic carpet bag in place of a purse. Not to mention the items left from last year that the lovely Donna Gabbard stored for me in her attic for the past year.
It really was a lot to calculate and schedule and put into action.

After working feverishly for so long (preceded by the birthday/Christmas/birthday season, don't forget!), I found myself on Monday afternoon before the show with everything done and shipped and just time to wait until my early flight on Thursday. So what did I do? Cleaned and did laundry and shopped so Farmboy wouldn't have to do it while I was gone... then I designed two brand new samplers. Nothing like nervous energy with nowhere to go to fuel the fires of creativity, I guess.

At last, the day was about to dawn, with a 3 am alarm set, and bags packed, I tried desperately to sleep. But of course I was wide awake at 1:30 in the morning. It's so hard to wait sometimes for that silly clock to make its rotations, then other times its all I can do to not cry in despair as it turns way too quickly.

At last, my flight left just as the sun rose, and with a full day of travelling behind me, I touched down in Nashville forty minutes early (when does THAT ever happen?).
My health has been really great for the past year, but I haven't forgotten just how horrible I felt for the long three years preceding. I feel like I've been re-born in so many ways, and I don't want to waste a single day that I've been given. So... instead of going early to bed, I checked into my hotel, then headed back to Nashville to have dinner with a childhood friend that I haven't seen since at least 1989. The original plan was to see a live show as well, but the exhaustion from the long day hit me about the time the music was supposed to start, so I called it a night.

When I texted my Farmboy to let him know that I skipped the show, he couldn't believe his ears. He knows me well, and knew that I would be disappointed with myself. And he's usually right about these kind of things. So when my friend from the night before texted an invitation to go to a writer's round at a cigar bar on Friday night, I decided I had better go for it. This would mean missing out on Early Bird shopping time, but I hadn't planned to have my exhibit room open anyway.

I spent the day Friday trying to figure out how on earth I was going to turn the really badly decorated hotel room into something inviting.
The indispensable Donna Gabbard came to my rescue and helped immensely, especially since my brain only seemed to be operating on half-power.
We shopped for food to eat and lamps to help with the dim lighting and totally forgot to get the hair styling products that I chose to not carry on with me (a curly haired girl's nightmare; I had to improvise with face lotion, which left my hair a bit limp the rest of the weekend). We strategized a timeline and somehow made the room look at least somewhat inviting.
Then, with Paulette Stewart's daughter Sabrina in tow, I headed to Nashville again for a night that was smoky (Uptown's Smoke Shop) but somehow perfect. I absolutely adore live music, and there is something so much more enjoyable and authentic when the music being performed is by those that wrote it. And did I mention that my friend was one of the songwriters in the round? Oh yeah, there is that little detail...
 From the left: Brian White, Chris Roberts, Pete Stewart, and Pete Sallis.

These four have written songs for some pretty big names, so it was surprising that we got a front row table and were treated to what felt like our own personal concert. You really should check each of these men's work out. I know I did, and now that I've seen the evidence of their accomplishments, I am extremely humbled that I got to sit in on their collaborative effort.

At one point, having briefly met the other three writers just before the show, Sabrina and I were treated to a little impromptu ode to cross stitch. Good thing I had my phone set to record, because the moment was priceless for those of us in the Cross Stitch Nation:

And should you doubt my claim that one of these talented performers is an old friend of mine, I have solid proof, right here:
The Stewarts and the Whittakers were two town families uprooted and living in a tiny hippy/logger town in the far Pacific Northwest. Look how far we've both come. :)

Back at the Embassy Suites the next morning, the real work began. Two solid days of selling, networking, collaborating, being inspired, laughing until I cried, and eating bacon for breakfast every single morning. It was a dream. A dream that I can't wait to repeat.

Having five floors totally full of designers and suppliers, all related to cross stitch is truly an amazing experience. I still get stars in my eyes as I get to spend time with my own cross stitch heroes. I'm a pretty small fish in a very big pond, and I know it full well. I look forward to the years to come when I might start to feel like a legitimate part of this creative industry.
 One of the highlights was getting to meet Karen Veers, who stitched Victoria's Garden for me.
Sunday is always slower as far as selling goes, so that's when the hallway meetings happen between designers and suppliers, and also when those of us with blogs try to take as many pictures as we can. Last year I totally failed in that regard, so I tried to make up for it this year. I still only captured a tiny fragment of all of the talent on display, but here are some of my favorites:

Just Another Button Company:
 The Scarlett House:
 Black Branch Needlework:
Brenda Gervais' Country Stitches:
Blackbird Designs:
I had a camera show-down with Paulette Stewart. I'm not sure yet who won, but based on the size of lens being used, I don't think it was me.
Plum Street Samplers:
 Chessie and Me:
Lone Elm Lane:
Needlework Press:
Homespun Elegance:
The Gentle Art:
Picture This Plus:
R&R Reproductions (featuring a candle by my very own Sister-in-Law Jen Hamilton!)
I could go on and on and on, but I won't. Be sure you get out there and support all of the needlework shop owners that attended Market. They really work HARD to get all of that shopping done for you, and I for one, greatly appreciate the energy and drive that they bring to the world of cross stitch. I can sit here in my house and crank out designs all day long, but the brick and mortar shop owners are a tenacious and brave lot, daring to make it work in an increasingly difficult economy. If you need help finding a shop near you, my best friend Google will be glad to help, or you can send me an email and I'll try to do the legwork for you. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate those of you that have faithfully purchased directly from me for all of these years; I wouldn't have had a start without you, but especially at this time of year, I would almost prefer that you go support the shop owners as a way of thanking them for all that they do.

The turnout of new designs this year was stellar, and I only showed you a tiny peek. You must be absolutely overwhelmed trying to decide what to buy! But do take the plunge... you won't regret it. This industry is full of some of the most kind and creative people I've ever met, and I'm proud to be counted as part of the Cross Stitch Nation (no one better use that term, I'm already plotting a way to fit it into a design).

Monday morning rolled around, with all my boxes packed and on their way, and a flight that didn't leave until 1:00. I was stuck sitting in the hotel lobby drinking bad coffee and watching election coverage (seriously... ugh!), and I decided that I had to seize the day. So I spent some time searching the internet for things to do on Monday mornings in Nashville.
Lo, and behold, the Johnny Cash museum was open, and by golly, I do love that man's music, so I loaded up the rental car and saw a bit of downtown Nashville before catching my flight home.
Tennessee is nice in its own way, but nothing can ever comfort my heart like my home state, Oregon. And being greeted at sunset by the lovely Mt. Hood shrouded in pink clouds couldn't have been a better way to arrive.
Home Sweet Home!
Nashville 2017 countdown starts... NOW!