Saturday, June 30, 2012

And the winner is ...

Ann Womack will be my next sampler reproduction!  Thank you so much to all of you who voted and helped me make my decision.  All of the samplers received a good number of votes, so don't worry -- they will all be reproduced in the future.

(If I were voting, I would have chosen Mary Bate, because her verse knocks me out, I love the border, and I love stitching lots of words.)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Graduation Day!

There comes a day with all of (ok, most of) our foster kittens, when they must leave the house.  It's kind of a graduation day, of sorts, when they venture out into the big, big world and make a life for themselves with a new family.  It's always kind of bittersweet getting to the end of our time with the little ones.  I try not to call them "babies" anymore, and get choked up when I take them to PetSmart and say what could be my final "farewell" to each kitten.

But, before they go, I always have to take a few last snapshots for my kitten wall here at the shop (which is more full all of the time.)  Here are our recent graduates:

The Professor: Found in a storm drain at The University of Southern Mississippi (where my husband works).  Special skills -- snuggling, kissing, and being very sweet.  He will be a big cat, but has a lot of love for a new family.  I really can picture this laid-back fellow in a university household.  So, so nice.  We really will miss this guy.

Bunny: Born Easter weekend.  Special skills: following the rules, being cautious, and looking cute.  Bunny was always very careful to look to her mother for permission to venture out, and was always very careful when it was time to play.  Plus, look at that nice white bib.

A nice family saw my posts on the Southern Pines Animal Shelter Facebook page and MET ME at PetSmart when I took the gang over.  Bunny was adopted and is now living with Savannah (above) who is three and loves her new kitten.  Bunny's new "mom" said she's doing great and has learned to purr (something I had never heard her do at our house).  I am thrilled to know this sweet girl has a cat friend to grow up with.  I can't tell you how happy this picture makes me.

Isabelle: Named after Joan of Arc's mother...brave little mother of four kittens.  Strengths -- raising four active kittens, patience of a saint, and a strict disciplinarian.  I am hoping Isabelle finds someone who will properly spoil her after she had kittens at just seven months of age.  She is now fixed and ready for a life of luxury.

Peter: Last of his litter to open his eyes and get around well.  Strengths -- sitting on laps and receiving affection, chasing cat toys, being a social dude.  I worried about him early, and then Pete really grew on me.  I will miss his friendly demeanor and white socks.  He's going to make someone a really nice cat friend.

Jelly Bean: The strongest and most active of her litter from day one.  Strengths -- play time, hanging out with people asking for play time, and sitting around hoping for more play time.  Jelly (as I called her) is going to be a VERY long, lanky cat, and would you look at those ears?  She's got a ton of personality and will be so much fun for the family who adopts her.

Dear Prudence isn't ready for graduation yet.  But she's getting bigger and stronger every day.  And it's having extra little faces like these at home that makes it easier to let the bigger ones graduate.  I hope you had the time of your life, little ones!  Here's to many years of sunshine-y windows, cat treats, scratchy posts, and love and affection from your new owners.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Will you help?

In the course of my day, I get a lot of e-mail from a lot of great stitchers, and in the process, hear a lot about the daily goings-on of my customers and readers.  

Last week, I received an e-mail from Joanne, who has been a customer for a long time.  She works in a lower-income area teaching kids about crafts, and although they try a lot of different types of art, she ALSO teaches the kids about needlework.  

I didn't know she was doing this -- and she helps the program with supplies and money from her own pocket.  You know, and I know, how important teaching arts and crafts to kids can be.  It can help with their feelings of self-worth and accomplishment, as well as give them a lot of enjoyment for the rest of their lives as they pursue creative exercises.

Joanne wasn't asking for a hand-out -- we were just chatting about something else.  I offered to send her some donations from here and asked her if she'd be interested in me sharing her story and seeing what other help we could give her (as the fabulous group of stitchers we are!)  Here's a little in her own words from her e-mails:

Basically I try to teach them about how stitching started with samplers. I tell them about the Loara Standish sampler and how the Pilgrims needed initials stitched on their clothing because clothes were one size fits all. They are amazed.  So we learn how to make x's that are crossed right away.  We use small scraps for that (so I never throw anything away). They do 50 stitches across.  If they do a decent job, they get an alphabet chart. Then make their own sampler and when they are ready, I put out charts from my stash and they go from there. So Aida, thread, needles, any old charts no one wants.  Whatever someone wants to get rid of will be so welcome. Budget cuts are terrible. You should see the boys stitch  They love it too....I would be grateful for anything you would want to send.... The kids will use anything; some will buy stuff, but the majority are poorer kids and their parents can just about manage.  I use a lot of my own stash.  I have 1000 kids a week. (So,) you know how much I go through. 

Thanks so very very much. Love, Jo Edwards
Joanne told me the school's budget for art is very low, so she can use a lot of different type of art supplies -- think paints, crayons, markers, construction paper, felt, glitter, glue, scissors, as well as Aida fabric, floss, patterns, needles and other stitching supplies.  This is a great way for you to help a new generation of stitchers, and I know Joanne will be very touched by whatever you can send.  I'm going to start getting stuff together here.  I know I have a box of art supplies at home that my kids used when they were younger in school, and of course I have lots of needlework items I can share.  Will you help, too?

You can make donations by sending them to: 

Joanne Edwards -- Elementary Art Teacher
c/o Lakeland Elementary School
1569 Lakeland Drive
Scott Township, PA 18433

Or you may send directly to her home address:

Joanne Edwards
528 Deerfield Drive
South Abington Township, PA 18411-1315.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012


This last weekend was particularly long and sad.  We mourned for a few days over the loss of Violet (see my previous post.)  But we have many kittens to take care of, some are getting ready to leave us, and another group was waiting to be saved....

Right now the shelter is not housing any kittens under six weeks old.  There are too many kittens coming in, and the littlest ones don't do well in the kitten cottage (they quickly become sick.)  A litter of four was slated for euthanasia yesterday, and while a plea went out on the shelter's Facebook page, nobody offered to take them.  In swoops Theresa to save the day!  

These poor babies were absolutely covered in fleas -- probably a few dozen per kitten.  We bathed them in magical blue Dawn dishwashing detergent (which gets rid of fleas), gave them some flea spray, and then a dose of a topical flea ointment to keep them off.  These four are some of the NICEST and SWEETEST kittens we have ever taken in.  They are playful, energetic, loving, social, friendly and so, so happy.  We have named them after Beatles songs are:

Sergeant Pepper.  (He was hard to catch on film, because he was tearing around this morning.)

Bungalow Bill.  (He hisses at ALL of the other cats, and he has perpetual poof tail...but he LOVES people.  Maybe he thinks he *is* one?)

Lucy.  (She has taken a particular shine to Steve last night, who said he "didn't sleep for one minute" last night.)

Prudence. (We tell Lucy and Prudence apart, because the orange marking on Prudence's face looks like a "P" and Lucy's looks like a lower case "l.")

For Father's Day, we went to one of Steve's favorite dude restaurants ... Buffalo Wild Wings.  We joked while there that even the SALADS all have meat.  It's ridiculous.  Then we went home and painted with the painting supplies I received for my birthday.  This is a picture of my painting, inspired by a photograph in a Barefoot Contessa cookbook.  It turned out really cool.

And why not ... one more little happy story.  This is Minty.  She came and wenty.  (See what I did there?)


Wednesday, Minty was on the PTS list (Put To Sleep).  She had fleas, ear mites, worms (probably), and a goobery eye.  I scooped up this baby, and Amanda (one of the shelter vet techs) and I cleaned her all up -- gave her dewormer, flea medication, ear mite medication, and then I medicated her eye when I got home.  She was really nervous at our house, but after a few days, she started sleeping out in the open and playing with the other cats.

A nice lady (named Sarah) I had met at the shelter had made plans to come by and see me (and my kittens) to pick one out.  She is going to do her doctoral work at Purdue this fall and wants a cat for a companion.  Well, she came over Saturday afternoon and went home with Minty, who is now named Hattie.  Hattie is now being royally spoiled and is doing well with a lot of one-on-one attention.  Sarah's roommate came along on Saturday and fell in love with little Charlie (Violet's brother.)  The roommate and her fiance are coming over today to look at him and possibly take him home.  LOTS of happy stories, huh?

Oh, and a little more good news.  Kathy the amazing finished stitching the Quaker Ragamuffin Sampler last week, and I should have it in my mailbox today.  She said it turned out beautifully, and I can't wait to see it.  Remember, this one is stitched on 32 ct. Vintage Light Exemplar by Lakeside Linens (you will need a fat half.)  And while I have previously posted the thread list, I didn't have totals.  Here is what you will need in terms of threads:

Gloriana Florimell Antique Black (3)
Gloriana Silks Vanilla (2) (please note, this is the only thread you're going to stitch with TWO strands)
Au Ver a Soie 1814,  3723 (2), 1845 (2), 3812, 2212
Needlepoint Silks 224, 901

I will post a picture as soon as I can get a good one.  Hope y'all are having a great week so far.  It's back to work for me, and I am feeling much better this week after losing two dear kittens last week.  Life goes on, and while I will not forget those we have lost, I will keep fighting the good fight.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My heart is breaking

We lost poor Violet this morning.  I just can't go through all of the details.  There was nothing we could have done to prevent it ... there was nothing we could have done to treat it.  Her illness was not contagious, but in the words of our vet, it was "evil."

She really only suffered the last day.  Two days ago, she was still climbing me like a tree to sit on my shoulder while I made popcorn.  Last night, I was using a syringe to try to get some fluids in her, as she wouldn't eat or drink anymore.

Our vet gave her gas before administering the medication to end her life.  She had eight weeks of kitten fun at our home ... warm bottles of homemade formula, lots of kitten friends, sunny windows, and a chance at a long healthy and happy life.  A chance many kittens in her position would not have had.

We will not forget Violet.  And I am not yet out of tears for this one.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Taking it to a vote

Which of these three samplers should I reproduce next?  I need your opinion.  Leave your vote in the comments here, and whichever gets the most votes (only one vote each person, please), will be the one I work on.

These are in alphabetical order by last name (which is a very diplomatic way to list them, don't you think?)  You can click on each of the pictures to make them larger (all the better to SEE you with, my dear!)

Mary Bate 1796


THE human soul without Education
is like marble in the quarry which shows
none of its inherent beauties until
the skil of the polisher fethes out
the colours makes the surface shine
and discovers every ornamental cloudy
spot and vein that runs through the
body of it Education after the same
manner when it works upon the mind
draws out to view every latent virtue
and perfection which without such
helps are never able to make their
Keep such Company as you may im
prove or that may improve you and
if you or your Companions cannot
make one another better rather leave
than grow worse by them
Her Work In The Year Of
Our Lord 1796 B Oct 29 83
Strait School

Eleanor Hawkesford 1838


Lord Jesus guide me day by day
And lead me in thyself thy ways
Preserve me from each dangerous snare
And make me thy peculiar care
Thy wisdom gracious Lord impart
And take possession of my heart
Work in me all thy sovereign will
And guide me safe to Zion's Hill
Eleanor Hawkesford
Her Work Aged 11 years 1833 
Ann Womack 1838 

Time is always moving on,
Time, we soon may say is gone,
Time, is fleeting, and we know,
Time, at last, will disappear.
Ann Womack, Aged 8 Years
Voting will close June 29th in the evening.

By the way, voting for one sampler does NOT mean that I won't reproduce the other two.  I am just trying to decide ... what's next!  Thanks for your help.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A tiny, but huge, loss

Shortly after midnight last night, this baby died in my hands.  We hadn't even decided on a name for him (or her.)  I still didn't know if this kitten was a girl or a boy.

An enlisted man found this kitten in New Orleans and drove back the entire way with this sweetheart in the front seat.  He contacted PetSmart, and PetSmart contacted me.  The shelter was closed.  Where else was there for this baby to go?  I couldn't say no.

I carried this baby around with me -- he came to the shop and slept by my desk.  After a few good days, the kitten stopped sucking at the bottle and rejected all attempts I made to keep him warm.  I'd put it on a heating pad, and the kitten would scoot away.  I'd lay warm wash cloths on top of it, and the kitten would squirm out.  We kept a gentle heater in front of the kitten's bed, but he would try to get away.  By last night, the kitten was cold no matter what I did.  I was dripping warm formula into his mouth, but the kitten would spit it all out.

Last night, I realized there was something really wrong.  It's difficult for kittens this young to survive without their mothers.  And I'm just not a momma cat.  (No matter how much I try.)  I laid in bed with the kitten, holding him close to my body last night, wrapping it in warm (dry) towels.  The last time the kitten urinated, the urine was not only not was cold.

He wheezed a little, and peeped now and then.  And at 12:30, he kind of let out one larger sigh and then was quiet and still.  "Steve," I said, "I think he just died."

"No," Steve said.

And I handed him the kitten, and Steve gently touched it, and turned it over, trying to find any kind of response.  There was none.  "Oh," Steve said.  And we were just quiet while he held the tiny, still kitten in his hand.

I laid the kitten in some toweling in a little red and green Christmas box, and we will be burying him this afternoon in our backyard.  We only knew him a few days, and while he had a good chance, his time on this earth was very short.

And so, I think I'll name him "Little Angel."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Da Cats

I promised a picture of Da Cats -- designed by Prairie Moon and stitched by me for Harrison's 21st birthday.  Here it is -- it was fun to stitch, and really, what could be cooler than a jazz cat with a goatee of sorts? Instead of cross stitching the lettering on the big drum, I shaped DMC wire floss and couched it down.  That way, it looks more scripty.

Harrison DID remember this piece from market, and he was THRILLED to open this gift, as you can see by the look on his face.  He's excited to put this up in his room at the apartment.

We went out for Thai food, which was delicious -- Graham conservatively went with Thai fried rice, but he said it was very good.  I can't believe how old these two are getting (Graham will be 16 in September.)

Harrison's girlfriend, Christiana, made carrot cupcakes for dessert.  They were DELICIOUS!  She says the trick is to use room-temperature ingredients.  She had her own cupcake shop in town for a while called Cirque de Sweet Day.

Just to be silly, we put ALL 21 candles into one cupcake.  That one was pretty ruined after a VERY quick singing of "Happy Birthday."  

But it was a happy afternoon and evening with two lovely people we only get to see sometimes.  We had whiskey sours, watched Mad Men, and played dominoes.  If you ask me, that's a pretty tame 21st birthday celebration!

I've also got one little fellow (or fellow-ina?) as of Sunday.  When we left the restaurant, my cell phone rang.  It was PetSmart.  A serviceman from the base here in Hattiesburg called PetSmart on his way back to town from New Orleans (about 100 miles from here.)  He had found a newborn kitten and didn't know what to do with it.  The shelters were all closed, and he couldn't keep it with his job, but he didn't want it to die.

So....PetSmart called me, of course, and well, here you go.  This little one does not have a name yet, but he/she is TINY (this is a close-up, but picture the face as the size of a quarter.)  This kitten is very strong and mobile and doing great with the bottle.  What can I do?  I'm hopeless!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Cupcake Tree

This is a new piece I designed back around February, and it was stitched a while back by my cousin...but then I didn't like the lettering I had her do.  I re-did it, finally, added the buttons, and I'm printing the charts now.  It's called "The Cupcake Tree" and it's on Alluring Blue Belfast.  Hope you like it!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lots of pictures for you today

First, I want to mention that some of you may be getting a virus alert due to my Shabby Blogs background image file.  I have contacted Shabby Blogs, and they said that while they were attacked by a virus a number of months ago, you have nothing to worry about viewing my blog.  Continue reading....

If I had about twenty Violets at this point, I could adopt every single one of them out.  People are in love with this little cat -- yes, she is a Siamese mix, but in this picture, you can see a little bit of tabby striping above her BLUE BLUE eyes.  She is doing well -- and her coloring changes by the week.  She is already "spoken for," and she will have a good home.

Harrison and his girlfriend, Christiana, came over Sunday night for steaks on the grill and a little Nacho Libre on the TV.  Christiana is VERY sweet and bubbly.  They get along fabulously, and don't those two look happy?  Harrison turns 21 on Sunday.  Christiana is making carrot cake cupcakes and I'm making Whiskey Sours, at Harrison's request (we make them at Thanksgiving -- and they're very tasty.)

This is Miss Priss (we call her "Highness," "Your Majesty," and "Queenie.")  She has a very regal bearing for a kitten, and she is well over the ringworm she had when we saved her weeks ago.  She is such a pretty cat, and is so friendly and happy.  She will be able to go for surgery and adoption soon.

Isabelle is still doing a wonderful job taking care of her babies.  They are half as big as she is now, but she still cleans them and watches over them.  I am so hoping to find her a loving and caring home where she will be waited on hand-and-foot (paw-and-paw?)  She is such a caregiver to her children.  She deserves some pampering.

As you can see, Isabelle's babies have gotten big!  They are all around the 2-pound mark now, and can go for surgery very soon.  This was a rare photographic opportunity -- all of them lined up and looking in the same direction.  I opened the door to the guest room this week, so now they can run all around the house.  They love playing with the other kittens.  They have been a joy to get to know.

Here's a cute snap of Jelly Bean.  She's the most social of the four, and look at those EARS.  She is going to be a very long and tall cat.  But she's very friendly and happy-go-lucky.  I think she's adorable.

Of course, Steve and I aren't the only ones who take care of the babies.  Fostering is a family affair.  Ruby is such a mother at heart, and I took this quick picture of her last night after she had given Willie a tongue bath.  You can see our babies get the very best of our love and attention.

And this isn't cats, but it's a beauty -- my friend Kathy up in Milwaukee made this for me for my birthday this year.  I received it recently after it came back from the framers.  It's going to be my June Kit of the Month -- it's a Needlework Press piece, but Kathy changed the silks and stitched it on 40 count.  It's SO pretty.  You can buy the kit from me all this month through my web site.

Hattiesburg has been hot-hot.  I have tomatoes ripening on the plants, and we've been picking zucchini and squash.  Graham wants to go to the pool this week.  I've been busy working on a birthday gift for Harrison -- Prairie Moon's Jazz Cats.  I'll post a picture when it's done.  It's been kind of fun to work on, and it was a piece he mentioned he really liked when he helped me at Nashville Needlework Market this spring.

Talk to you soon.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy news!

About fifteen years ago, when I was living in Winona, Minnesota, our local EGA group took a day trip to Sullivan, Wisconsin to The Scarlet Letter.  The daffodils were blooming, and the weather was that cold air/warm sun fresh air of early spring.

The farm where The Scarlet Letter had set up shop was filled with period buildings and stepping onto the grass from our motor home felt like stepping back in time.  Peacocks roamed the grounds, and behind a fence pasture fence stood a shaggy bull with long horns.  Knitters could go to a little shed and have a sheep shorn -- the wool was put into bags fresh off the animal.

They had set up a little tent in the back with ham sandwiches and drinks.  And attendees could walk through the main house -- filled with antique (SUPER COOL) furniture and small booths of goods like handmade soaps and candles.  And there was another house set up as a shop -- this one was packed with sampler models, kits, books, fabric, frames, and stitchers, of course.  I purchased a kit and a few charts, and a book.  And I felt so connected not only to other stitchers interested in what *I* was interested in...but also to stitchers from years past.

It was shortly after this visit that I opened my shop online (in 1997).  And over the years, I have continued to look at The Scarlet Letter's web site...ordering charts now and again that I especially enjoyed.  In fact, there were a few birthdays, that I spent part of my day just looking through the catalog...and then placing an order as my birthday treat to myself.

I am pleased to announce that I am going to start carrying graphs from The Scarlet Letter.  But I need your help!  Marsha currently has over 300 samplers to choose from.  I know a number of them that for sure I am going to get in...but help me by listing some of your favorites in the comments section.  They can be ones you own, or ones you have on your wish list.  That will help me narrow it down a little.

You can find The Scarlet Letter's web site at

(Note: The sampler pictured is the new Hannah Carter sampler done around 1748.  I just purchased this chart this week -- and it's AMAZING!!!)

(P.S. The cats and kittens are all doing well.  I will take new pictures this weekend and post next week. We are going through an inhuman amount of litter and cat food right now...there are 17 cats/kittens in my house.  I have to get up around 5:55 every morning to put down a few cans of food, and then put down some more before I leave for work.  The kittens are all getting bigger, and they are all happy, healthy, and SO ACTIVE!)