Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ragamuffin #2 ready for a trip up north

I finally have finished charting Ragamuffin #2: A Quaker Sampler.  It was a really fun and challenging one to chart, because the colors are beautiful, and I had to do some creative filling where I've got alphabets missing.  I did some research looking at how other Quaker alphabets are put together, and I think I've done a pretty good job filling in where time has done some taking away.

I know there are some of you stitchers and shops who like to know supply lists in advance.  I don't know quantities yet, but here is what I've selected for silks/fabric:

Gloriana: Antique Black (Florimell), Vanilla (Silk)
Au Ver a Soie 1814, 3723, 2212, 1845, 3812
Needlepoint Silk 901, 224

Fabric is 32 count Vintage Light Exemplar (Lakeside Linens).  Stitch count is 340 by 290, so you'll need a pretty big piece.

To pre-answer some of your questions:

No, I don't know how long it will take my model stitcher to finish this (you can encourage her by placing comments on this blog post, though).  But the chart is finished ... I'll be waiting on the picture of the finished piece and thread amounts for my key.

No, I don't know what reproduction I'm going to tackle next, but I'll let you know on the blog when I've decided.

Yes, you can pre-order the chart and/or supplies.  I already have my Lakeside Linen on order, and will be ordering my silks soon.  Access Commodities and Gloriana will be getting calls from me, so they know to stock up on these colors.

Yes, I will be doing a conversion to DMC floss (as always).

The kittens are all well and happy.  Isabelle's kitties are getting big...and fat.  I'm having to take them out at least once a day to make them crawl around (or they'd be happy to just park their keesters and let mom do all of the work.)  But they are VERY sweet, and I'll take some pictures to post.  They are ADORABLE and SO NICE.  Isabelle is amazing.

The other bunch I took in on Friday have been named: Violet, Charlie and Willie (Wonka).  They had to go to the vet for tummy aches this week, but they're feeling much better, and finally getting adjusted to "not mother's milk."  They are VERY active, strong, SMART kittens.  They are already playing, stalking, pouncing, and following simple commands (or just following my voice.)  This all in spite of the fact that they are so small the vet had to weigh them on the reptile scale (Violet weighs just 200 ounces!)

Also, don't forget that if you're participating in my fund raiser, I need your check by the first.  Otherwise, I'll have to sell your packet to someone else.  The new cat equipment is on order for the shelter and will be delivered around May 18th.  I am VERY excited, and VERY proud of you guys and my faithful industry friends who chipped in to help us make something great happen.

Until next time...happy stitching!

Friday, April 20, 2012

I'm a sucker for a cute face and a sad story

So, I go to Southern Pines yesterday to pick up Evita the tortie to take her to PetSmart for adoption.  Just an innocent errand, right?  I chat with Anthony, the shelter's cat man, and we shoot the breeze.  How's this cat?  How's that cat?  Did so-and-so get adopted?  Any new cats coming in?

And he lifts a blanket.  And staring back at me is a very wide-eyed orange cat with NINE squirming kittens trying to nurse.

Four kittens were dropped off at the shelter the other day with no mother.  Miss Orange Feral-Cat just had a new litter of five of her own little orange and black babies, and so Anthony put the orphans in with the new babies.

Nine is a lot, I told Anthony.


Oh, I can take three of them, I said.

 So I took three of the four orphans (one was nursing at the moment, so I skipped that one.)  They don't have names yet, I don't know if they're boys or girls.  They are about two weeks old.  But since Miss Isabelle is doing so well nursing Peter, Peep, Jelly Bean and Bunny, I figured I could be nursemaid to these three.

(The kitten I left back at the shelter was off-white like the little one in the above picture.)  The other two are tabbies -- a black one and a brown one.  Of course the littlest one...the off-white the loudest.)

As long as I had the camera out, I thought y'all needed some updated pictures of the Easter bunch -- they are getting big and round.  When I go in to see them and talk to them, they lift their heads to look at me, and are becoming quite social.  I snapped a picture of Bunny first.  She was hard to get on film, because she likes to look around and move all over the place.  

Then it was Jelly Bean's turn, but mother Isabelle decided that picture time was over.  "No more cameras, no more cameras.  Jelly Bean has left the building!"

It was Steve's turn to have wide eyes when he saw THREE more little kittens in our house.  But I told him their sad story.  And then he looked at them and saw the little white one and said, "But I might not be able to let them go!"  Of course we will, but in the meantime, we will love them, and name them, and feed them, and clean them.  And our reward is seeing little happy faces like this:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Royal Cats

Are you sick of cats yet?  Because I'm not!  I've been watching a sampler for a little over a week on eBay.  The seller had it up for a Buy It Now of $650, which I felt was a little much ... some bugs made a meal out of part of the upper alphabet long ago and made dessert out of a few other places.

BUT, the cool thing about this sampler is there are two amazing cats at the bottom of the sampler sitting on green cushions with CROWNS floating above their heads.  They are patchwork style cats, I'm assuming to look like Calico cats.  ROYAL cats!  They're all fat and happy on their pillows.

It was stitched in 1939 by a ten-year-old named Mary on what must be VERY fine linen (it's only 12 inches across.  When I'm trying to gauge count on a photograph, I picture something like a sheet of paper (which is 11 inches long) laying across the bottom.  There are a lot of stitches in those 12 inches.  Sellers of antique samplers are often not too concerned about the exact stitch count of a piece, although some will count it out for me if I ask.)

Anyhoo, I asked the seller to send me a better picture -- seriously, this picture was the best one he had up.  He had lots of pictures of the damage to the frame, but I couldn't even read the verse or the girl's name (I think it might be Mary Ann Buroughs.)  He never sent me a picture, so I made him an offer of about half, thinking...what the heck.

Anyhoo, again, I was just talking to my friend Kathy up in Milwaukee and wanted her to go look at this silly cats sampler on eBay (because she's a crazy cat lady, too.)  And oh no, the listing had ended.

Because the seller accepted my offer!

The sampler's got dogs, and birds, and butterflies, and the verse is a fairly familiar one about making Jesus your friend (which I like.)  I'll be excited to add another sampler to my brood, and that this one has cats is MWAH (meow?) ... icing on the cake.  What do you think of it?

Tonight I'm sitting here charting my Ragamuffin #2 -- that lovely Quaker.  The more I chart it, the more I love it.  The motifs are gorgeous, and I am realizing what draws so many to the Quaker style -- it's simple in a lot of ways, and very earthy and natural (with recognizable flowers and greenery), and the color palette is very pleasing.  This one only has about ten colors in it all-told, and I know it will be a lot of fun to stitch.

Before I leave, I'll tell you that my Easter kittens are doing great -- Peep, Bunny and Jelly Bean have all opened their eyes, and Peter is lagging a little (he's the smallest now.)  Jelly Bean is starting to walk with her belly held up off the floor, and Bunny is getting (sorry, Bunny!) fat.

We ended up naming the momma cat "Isabelle" after Joan of Arc's mother.  I liked the idea of naming her after someone young and brave (she is only seven months old or so, and under seven pounds.)  But she just didn't seem like a Joan to me.  She's doing a great job with her babies -- I'm so proud of her.

Friday, April 13, 2012

"Hello" from the babies

My name is Peter, and even though my eyes aren't open yet, I can hiss at strangers and I have a LOT to say.

I'm Bunny, and I am very soft, gentle and trusting.  If you pick me up, I feel like a limp, warm beanbag.

Theresa named me Peep, and I am such a smarty-pants, because I am the first kitten in the litter to open her eyes.  (I'm very dark, but if you look real close at this picture, you can see my tiny, dark eyes.)

Jelly Bean is my name, and moving all over the place is my game.  I'm the smallest one, but I'm also the strongest.

Theresa named our mother "Isabelle" after Joan of Arc's mother.  She went to the doctor this morning for bugs in her ears -- Miss Theresa took all of us to the doctor, so we wouldn't have to be separated from mom for too long.  The nice Doctor Kristen said mom only weighs 6 pounds and 7 ounces and is probably only seven months old herself.  But she's very gentle and loving to us, and Doc Kristen even called us "plump."  We'll check in again when we're bigger.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Great news!

Thanks to the generosity of my designer and supplier friends and you, my wonderful, loving customers and followers, I have sold all 100 of the fund raiser packets and know that I will be able to buy new play structures for the Southern Pines Cat Cottage!

I still have room in the $20 packet category (not as much in this packet, but still a lot of needlework stuff.)  Let me know if you'd like to participate at that level by e-mail at

And, if you just want to participate at any level (a couple of bucks or a couple hundred), you can just send a check made out to Shakespeare's Peddler to 6102 US Hwy. 98 #6, Hattiesburg, MS 39402.  Make sure you make a note what the donation is for ("For the Gatos" in the subject line would work.)  And if you include your e-mail address, I can put you on the mailing list, so you can get pictures/updates about the project.  DO NOT SEND CASH!  Every little bit helps, and the more I collect, the more options I'll have for ramps and extras.

Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  The cats will be so appreciative, and it will help keep them happier and healthier.  This is a very deserving cause, and you all are making such a big difference to our animal community.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tiny new friends have arrived

These kittens were taken to the shelter by animal control on Monday, and I picked them up on Tuesday afternoon with their young mother.  They are only a few days old -- their eyes are not open yet, and each one is about the size of, oh, maybe a cell phone.  There are four little faces there -- I took two snapshots last night with my cell phone.  We don't have names yet for anyone, but we think that since these little babies were born Easter week, they might be Peep, Peter, Jelly Bean and Bunny.  It'll depend on how many of them are girls/boys (we can't tell yet.)

Their mother is an extremely sweet, patient, loving and gentle young lady.  She is very small -- and we think she is MAYBE ten months old herself.  She is tiny -- maybe seven pounds?  But she's taking care of these four young un's like a champion.  She has adjusted well to our guest room where I have set up the "playpen," a little box, food and water (she ate TWO cans of cat food last night.)  Our cats are very curious but have to stay outside of the nursery.  Silly Zero is the worst as far as patience goes.  He keeps vigil outside the door.

We have to name the momma cat, too, and right now, Graham and I think we may call her "Joan" after Joan of Arc, who was also young, but valiant and brave.

Friday, April 6, 2012

For the Gatos

When I come home at the end of the day, I say: "Hey, gatos!" (Gatos is Spanish for "cats," and it's about all that's left of my high school Spanish.) All six of them are rescued cats, and there's usually another one or two in there that are at our place temporarily. Anyone who is a cat person knows how social cats can be, and when cats are happy, they are such a joy.

Our cats at the shelter have recently been put into a free-roaming situation in the cat cottage. This means the cat cottage is more like a daycare, and less like a jail. They get to roam around, climb on things, sleep together, and be free-range kitties. This actually helps them be less stressed and more happy.

But the toys they're playing on are plastic milk crates and cheap plastic shelves covered in donated towels and sheets. Not ideal. I am on the Southern Pines shelter board, and we recently discussed when we would be able to update the cat cottage. With drainage issues on the grounds, a parking lot more like the surface of the moon than anything, and the floor of the dog kennel looking like a war zone, there are projects that need our monetary attention more than installing proper cat toys. "The cats can wait," the board said.

But then I thought ... I have an idea! I know designers. I know stitchers. LOTS of us are crazy dog and cat people. So...I started calling my designer friends to ask for their help, and wouldn't you know it, almost 15 of them have already pitched in. Here's where YOU come in.

On May 1st, I will be able to send out 100 packages of goodies donated by these designers/needlework companies. You can send $50.00 to score one of these goodie bags full of needlework patterns and supplies. (Keep reading for further instructions.) This money will go to purchase the following type of cat equipment for our gatos:

This equipment is made by a company in Alabama called Crijo Pet Products ( and is designed to last 15-20 years. It can be disinfected and is already proving to help reduce upper respiratory infections in shelter/adoption center cats, and greatly improves the quality of their stay at such a facility. The sisal pads can be replaced, and the bedding can be washed. Plus, there are hidey holes up at the top of each tower -- how cool! I called the gentleman who runs the company, and he said he may be able to drive the equipment to us, and he will help me as much on the price as he can.

I already have the following companies who have donated or pledged to donate to the packets: Blackbird Designs (they sent Loose Feathers number TEN -- a discontinued design!), The Gentle Art, Lizzie Kate, Crescent Colours, Just Another Button Company, La D Da, AB Designs, Chessie & Me, Erica Michaels, Norden Crafts, Prairie Schooler, The Thread Gatherer, Lakeside Linens, Little House Needleworks, and of course Raise the Roof Designs and Shakespeare's Peddler. (If you are a designer/distributor and would like to contribute to the packages, e-mail me at

Here are the directions:
* E-mail me at to reserve your spot. I only need your name and intent to participate. (You do need to be a US resident to participate).
* I will send you a return e-mail letting you know if you are on the list and what to do next.
* You will send a $50.00 (or more!) check made payable to Shakespeare's Peddler to 6102 US Hwy. 98 #6, Hattiesburg, MS 39402. I am NOT making money on this -- some of the money collected will help off-set shipping, but I will be chipping in on this, too, as well as donating all mailing materials.
* During the week of May 1st, I will mail out the packages. You CAN get one of these for a friend, or you can buy several (just know that items in the package will be pretty much the same as in any other.) I am limited, however, to 100 of these packets.

There are other ways to help. If you can contribute, but just not quite as much, I have a $20.00 option -- I am getting MORE than what I needed from some of the donors, and am able to do up a number of extra packets. There will be MORE than $20 worth of materials in these packets. Follow the steps above, but let me know you're in for the $20.00 option (you will not get the discontinued Loose Feathers in option number two.) I will have enough stuff to do up about 40 of these -- this should help me buy two ramps for the equipment (to go between the cat towers.)

You can also just send a donation -- I don't need to know it's on the way, but you can send a check or money order (no cash please) to Shakespeare's Peddler (see above) and MAKE SURE you note in there that it's for the cats and not my "Theresa needs chocolate ice cream" fund. Every little bit helps -- even a couple of bucks.

The cool thing about this fund raiser (besides getting y'all a bunch of cool needlework stuff) is that we will all be able to SEE what we have done. A lot of times when I donate to various charity walks, runs, strolls, and bake sales, I kind of feel like my money goes in this big pot, and who knows what it gets used for. With this one, you will all be able to SEE what you have accomplished! The cats will so appreciate this equipment for many years to come. Plus, you're doing something special for a very deserving (and over-worked/under-funded non-profit organization.)

You can start signing up now. Let's do this!

(P.S. Pictured at the top is Bebe, one of our current adoptable cats. She's a chatty-Cathy, and is very sweet, loving, and a little on the round side.)