Friday, August 25, 2017

Summer Break: Week Eleven

It was hot. There were LEGOs and multiple canners full of green beans. There were dry flower beds to water and a final concert in the park. There was zucchini bread, migrating Goldfinch families, and happy Sunflowers.

It was perhaps the most stereo-typical Summer week ever. It was good.

Monday, August 21, 2017


I remember the day I outgrew my Grandma.

It really wasn't that hard to do, she was barely 4'11".

But it was what we all aspired to do when we were littles. The very first adult to be shorter than us, and she was such a great sport about it all; standing there with a patient smile on her face as we stood back to back, hoping with all of our might that it was THE YEAR that we were taller.

This kid would have outgrown her by the time he was 9 1/2.

He's been outgrowing adults for a few years now, so it wasn't such a big deal to outgrow his first Grandma. But I'm still re-living my childhood on a regular basis, so I had to get a photo of this day:

At 64 1/2 inches tall and not yet 12 years old, I struggle to conceive of just how tall he might become. I would be pretty comfortable betting on 6'5". He has less than five inches until he's as tall as me and we have to swap arm placement when we hug. I'm getting in as many top-arm hugs as I can in the meantime.

**A Little Help From Our Friends Stitching Circle Design** F is for Friend

So... that rather large order I spent a good portion of July and August working on? It was my contribution to The Silver Needle's A Little Help From Our Friends Stitching Circle.

This is an 18 month club with releases every 2 months, each one coming from a different designer. They have featured many of your favorite designers over the last few years. This year, I'm in very good company with The Scarlett House, Hands On Designs, Sam Sarah and Blackberry Lane each signed up for one of the kits.

I was thrilled at the chance to get the new club rotation started. So much so, that I offered to also create the additional gift that each club member gets with their chart and kit. Was I little bit crazy? Probably, but I think that when everyone starts receiving their packages in the mail today, they will be happy (I hope!) with what I've made for them... with a little help from MY friends!. I have two good friends that I relied on to help me with portions of this order. Everyone shout out a big thank you to Karen and Becky, who helped me immensely with finishing the gifts and folding the charts, and therefore, helped me to maintain my sanity.

The design is F is for Friend, which goes along with my Alphabet Series. This is exclusive in nature in that I've included instructions and my finishing technique for a thread board.

I do plan to release another F is for Friend in the future, but the color palette will be different and there will be adjustments made to the overall design, not to mention the fact that it will be a framed finish, so no thread board instructions will be included. If you're in love with this variation, then you should contact The Silver Needle to see if they can fit you into this year's club. Otherwise, once they're gone, they're gone.

And my little creation to go along with the chart? A scissor fob, bearing an image of the F is for Friend design... I'm a little fobbed out at the moment, so please don't ask me to make any more. :)

Solar Eclipse

99.789% obscuration was close enough for us to decide to stay home and view the eclipse from our own front yard. Well, at least three of us did... the Farmboy went to work; funny how one can't reschedule a celestial event to coincide with a weekend.

My Mother-in-Law aka Grandma Twist, lives just down the road came to enjoy the festivities with us. With how close she lives to us, we don't see her nearly as often as we would like, so it was fun to have her here with us.

It's pretty amazing how much a .211% sliver of our sun can still illuminate. It was like early dusk instead of the twilight that many saw. We didn't hear crickets or see pets lie down for a nap. We didn't see some of the most famed effects of a total eclipse, but the experience was still amazing, dumbfounding, awesome, epic, and highly memorable.

We viewed the Moon's slow passage across the sun with special custom-made boxes and with store-bought glasses. Both were equally cool.

I didn't buy any special camera filters, so all of my pictures are homespun, taken through my eclipse glasses or taken of the side-effects, rather than the actual eclipse. I think they capture the look of the morning pretty well, but I highly recommend that if you are ever within travelling distance of a solar eclipse, you really should go; it was a priceless experience. Bucket list material.

My very favorite was seeing mini eclipses embedded in the pinholes of dappled shade.

But if I take one moment from the entire event with me to my grave, it will be the ripples across the ground in the last moments before our fullest coverage happened. I tried to capture it in video, but it was so subtle, it really doesn't show. It was like the heat rising from a hot tin roof in full Summer, but across the ground in waves. I've read that this effect is from the topography of the moon, as it races across the sun, casting moving shadows of the peaks and valleys and craters of its surface.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Summer Break: Week Ten

Ah... at last... breathing room.

Monday marked the (almost) end of a very long project; dropping that stack of boxes off at the Post Office was about the happiest moment I could have wanted.

The remainder of the week held many delights: A day of going to town just for the sake of doing so, Jamba Juice smoothies, the first harvest of Acorn Squash from the garden, the discovery that Clearly Canadian is back on the market! (hello 1990, I've missed you), RAIN (if just for one morning), a quiet afternoon sit on the nearly-finished back deck (stay tuned for a deck renovation post), a Wednesday night free of obligation so that we could return to one of our Summer favorites; Sandy Summer Sounds (live music in the town park). Now THIS is what Summer is all about.

(SIGH) is it really almost over? 

Oldies Revisited

Did you know that this coming March will be my 10th anniversary as a Cross Stitch Designer? I started out so small, dear reader... selling charts one at a time. No distributors, no shops, just me, my computer, and a few dozen ebay followers.

The past nine years have been a slow and steady climb, and I'm often amazed that I'm still doing this thing that I love. I try to not play the comparison game, but it's a bit hard for me to believe that you all want to buy my designs when there are SO MANY amazing and beautiful and beyond-me creations from other designers that you could be stitching instead.

Some of you have been with me from the very beginning, and to you I have the biggest, most heartfelt amount of thankfulness; you have supported me and encouraged me and really and truly are the reason I began designing in the first place.

I've been thinking that, in light of the pending 10th anniversary, I should highlight some of my older designs for those of you that have learned of my existence at some point along the way.

I'm going to start with my very first: Grapevines at the Old Homestead.

To this day, this is the Farmboy's very favorite of my designs.  He has made me swear several times that I will never ever even THINK about selling the model. I think he wants to be buried with it.

This sampler was designed “on-the-fly” back in the days before I had software that made my job much easier. I had a frame that I loved, an old sampler quote that I loved, and I really wanted to work in the grapevines somehow, since we were in the process of adding a new grape arbor to our yard. I picked the colors, started stitching, and it all came together in a way that I was happy with.

For those of you that don't have a needlework shop nearby, I promise you that every single one of my designs will always be available for sale in my etsy shop, including this chart.

Although many of my older designs have been discontinued by one or more of my distributors, there's a good chance they will still be available through one of them, so put in your request with your local needlework shop owner to get it ordered for you. You can currently get my designs through the distributors listed in the side bar to the left of this post. Your local shop owner can also come directly to me to order any of my designs; I gladly sell wholesale directly to established shops.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saturday Stitches

Great Grandma Johanne's Birth Sampler
Cross Stitch Nation : Feniscowles Hall
Anna's Prayer : Stars & Diamonds : Never Let You Go

Friday, August 11, 2017

Summer Break: Week Nine

Mostly spent cleaning up and recovering from Twistapalooza, but also spent up to my neck in a rather large and somewhat complicated club order (which I will blog about in the near future). But there were some photograph-able highlights as well, including a visit from a family of Bobwhite Quail, haircuts for the Girl and I, and trying to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower with cousins (we saw TWO! : the clouds rolled in and blocked the rest).

Also: I managed to revisit an old talent from the past and in the process made my children think I was pretty much the coolest Mom ever...

Monday, August 07, 2017

*NEW* Schoolhouse Coverlet Pin Drum: The American Coverlet Series, Part VII

Inspired once again, by the graphic appeal of woven antique coverlets from the beginning of the 1800’s, meet my newest design!

The included chart is perfectly sized to make a pin drum, but you could also frame it or turn it into a two sided pin cushion with just a little flip-flop of the two floral panels.

I added my kids’ initials and the year to my pin drum to commemorate a successful finish to another year of study.
I’ve included a full alphabet/number set so that you can customize it for your own family and/or friends.

Stitch count: 181 x 76.

Stitched with one thread over two
on Picture This Plus 36ct. Wren.

Using thread from Weeks Dye Works: Fathom (3 skeins).

Materials needed to finish Pin Drum:
Two 5x5 pieces of quilting cotton, your choice.
Crushed walnut shells or other filler of choice.

This design is now available in my etsy shop, and will soon be in the hands of my distributors and the shops on my auto ship list. If you prefer to bypass etsy and order directly through me, you can send me an email:

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Twistapalooza III

My mental planning started the day after our event ended last year. Even when I was distracted by life and work, there was always a little something brewing on the backburner. I don't exactly know why I love planning this gathering so much. It's actually pretty overwhelming in reality, when the day rolls around, with so many people that I want to connect with that I end up buzzing around on an adrenaline high all day, and get rather exhausted in the process. But I do love it dearly, and hope that it becomes a tradition, not just for my family, but for the others that come as well.

This year, with the addition of flower beds that were actually weeded, and some lovely lighting that the Farmboy designed and put in place, our place was looking rather more beautiful than usual. We did a trial run the night before, lighting all of the tiki torches and candle lanterns and string lights. I found it a little difficult to get to sleep with all of the excitement in the air...

The morning of... when I put on my custom shirt for the first time, I almost squealed with delight. This logo came to me in the middle of winter, while stirring a pot of stew. It started as a pencil sketch, which was then turned into perfectly formed digital art by a friend, who happens to be a very talented graphic designer (check his web site out here). Somehow things feel much more official-like when there's a graphic tee involved.

We added a portable toilet this year, to help keep traffic in the house at a minimum. I took the liberty of adding my own sign (please forgive me American Sani-Can, but I like my signs better than yours).

My growing collection of thrifted dishes and linens got their yearly airing (still not going with the paper products, my dear Farmboy), the grills were kept smoking and sizzling, with the generous help of good friends, and the potluck table was nearly sway-backed with yummy food brought from homes all over the Portland area.

With a combination of people from the Farmboy's work, our local community, church, members from both sides of our family, and even two brave souls that drove all the way from Las Vegas and camped for a few nights on our property, it was fun to see people that we didn't know knew each other have a mini-reunion right there in our front yard. I really never got to settle down for very long, but the murmur of voices was steady, with kids flitting about, running around in a big gang, and there was so much laughter.

Our crowd was a bit more subdued than last year during the musical performances (a little older? a little less alcohol? weather a bit too hot?), so I'm determined to specially choose some people to come next year that will actually get up and do some dancing. I never realized just how much a performer feeds off of the response of the audience, and I certainly felt the reserved nature of this group. Not that they didn't enjoy themselves; I could see plenty of smiles and feet tapping going on, with a few timely call-outs from certain people that brought laughter and smiles.

My band, The Hipocryts worked super hard in the months and weeks leading up to this event, adding new songs and making the old set better. My bandmates even convinced me to sing a solo, which is never my favorite thing to do; I much prefer adding harmonies. But I did it. And I'm actually glad;  a person should never get too old to try new things.

When it came time to get up there though, our inexperience with performing really showed. Why oh why can't we sound as good in front of people as we do when we're practicing? The crowd was very kind and complimented us on our improvement over last year, which I guess is a good thing. Somehow I felt that maybe they were just being nice. But that's the perfectionist in me speaking, I'm sure. We're going to try to find some local open mic nights to test some audiences that don't know us personally. That ought to be a good indicator of our likability and should also help us to smooth out some of the rough edges.

We did get a thumbs up from the main musician, Chris Stewart. And I have proof right here. So we must have done something right.

I caught up with one of my young nephews after we finished and asked him if he liked our songs. He is the one that is so painfully shy and reserved that he rarely does more than grunt to people that aren't in his immediate family circle. Per usual, I received a grunt and a shrug. But later, my little brother (his Dad) told me that the same little guy said at one point during our performance that he couldn't believe his older brother had gone to play and was "missing out on all of this... this... this... greatness!". And if that was the only compliment I received all evening, it would be enough.

Chris Stewart continues to improve his musical style and set. This guy practically oozes music. Two years ago, it was just him and one guitar. Last year he added a second guitar and had a friend play some hand drums on a few songs. This year? He sat on a cajon (drum box), which he played with a foot pedal while also picking his guitar and singing and jingling a tambourine with the other foot. The iconic one-man-band. And it was good.

My parents came again this year (many of the photos here were taken by my Dad), and they said they really enjoyed it, all except for a few songs (yes, there may have been some swearing and/or questionable content involved in said songs). I think that's a pretty good testimony of the range of audience this guy can entertain.

My Mama and me.

I'm sad for it to be over for another year. Wondering if people will want to come back again next year. Already planning ways to tweak the event to make it better, more fun, more inviting than ever before. Counting down to 2018. Let me know if you want to come!

The day after...

One family of good friends that live in the city camped out next to the couple from Las Vegas (we do live in a quite lovely place, so camping on our property was bound to happen at some point). They shared a morning cup of coffee with us before heading home. This scene made me happy. Three guys that collapsed in their Twistapalooza shirts the night before. 

And perhaps my favorite bit of remnant that I cleaned up the day after... my band's set... taped to the top of a bar stool.