Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Queen of Hearts and a Few Late Christmas Gifts

Click here to purchase this chart on my Etsy site.
One of the nice things about moving my business home is it's giving me a lot more time to design and stitch, which I love.  This is my new Queen of Hearts sampler, which is available now on my Etsy site. I will be mailing this to my distributors in the next few days.

I stitched the sampler on 32 count Natural Belfast, one of my favorite fabrics, in one strand of (mostly) Sampler Threads and one color of Weeks Dye Works.  Because I used one strand, the sampler is very light and soft looking.  I wanted to design something in honor of Valentine's Day, but something that wasn't necessarily screaming VALENTINE'S DAY.  You could hang this up all year.

My friend Jennifer and I finally exchanged our Christmas gifts this weekend, and this is what I received!  It is so pretty, and stitched on 40 count Silkweaver linen.  She even stitched our initials on it. How nice is that?  And she knew I'd love a cat on there somewhere...see him?  We have a great local frame shop, so we can find cool frames for our needlework (and if they're in stock, sometimes you can stand there and wait while they throw it together for you.)

This is a Stacy Nash piece from a while back, and of course she got the chart at my shop.  Jennifer used to come one or two days a week to help me pack orders and organize. It was always nice to have her company, and she is one of my best friends in the world.  She is smart and kind, and I'm so glad we found each other.

THIS is what happens when you let your son choose which project you're going to stitch for a friend for Christmas.  I had three in mind -- this one is Maria Selby Humphrey's sampler from 1831, a Blackbird Designs Loose Feathers pattern from a few years ago.  Jennifer teaches at the university, so I liked that there was a saying about education on it.  I stitched it on 30 count hand-dyed linen by R&R Reproductions in Sampler Threads and a little DMC floss.

The reason we were a month late in our exchange was that I was still trying to stitch away on this BIG sampler, which too me through more than a few episodes of Game of Thrones (I plowed through all three seasons in a week.)  There were some specialty stitches in the sampler (mainly satin stitch), and I kind of wish I had done that top alphabet in eyelet stitches.  The frame I was able to find has got a faint gold pattern on it, making it look like an old hand-painted frame.

The most fun parts to stitch, of course, were the top and the bottom.  I almost always start in the upper left corner, and I was DYING to get to that bottom right corner to stitch that happy basket of fruits.  Jennifer was pleased with her new sampler -- she and her family just built a beautiful house out in the country on her parents' farm land (each of the siblings owns a portion of it.)  It overlooks pastures, cows, chickens, sheep and lambs, and rolling hills dotted with trees.  I am happy to have a little piece of me out there in the country.

I have also started stitching my Mercy Goodehart sampler and oh boy, is it going to be pretty (if I do say so myself.)  I made a good number of changes to improve the design.  I'm stitching in Needlepoint Silks on 36 count Vintage Exemplar, and of course I'm using my +2.0 cheaters.

Happy stitching to you -- we're stuck inside today as the entire town is shut down for an ice/snow storm we're having.  It's actually not too terrible (for this North Dakota girl.)  Everyone's got the day off, except me.  I'll be (oh no!) stitching on my model by my big picture window overlooking a snowy back yard.

Stay warm -- I am hearing from a lot of you that winter is giving us another blast of arctic air.  Let's hunker down, stitch, and make it through together!

Find the Jane Pattison sampler graph on my Etsy site by clicking this link.
(P.S. Valerie V. sent me this super-cool picture of her version of the Jane Pattison Sampler, which she stitched on 40 count Porcelain by Lakeside Linens in Sampler Threads.  Jill Rensel framed it, and Valerie says she's goign to hang it all year.  Great job, Valerie!  Love it!)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Postal Rate Sale and Other News

Click here to go to my Etsy site.
Postal rates are increasing by about 6% on Sunday -- darn it! So, I'm having an Etsy sale with FREE shipping until Sunday.  Just enter FREESHIP in the Coupon Code box when placing an order to qualify.  Make sure you put that code in the Coupon Code box, and not in the comments area, so Etsy can make sure to deduct your shipping charge.  This is good for US shipments only.  You'll find me at www.etsy.com/LettersGreatandSmall.

Until today, I didn't realize a few weeks had gone by since my last update. I've been getting back into the groove of the needlework community, and am enjoying devoting more time to designing.  I'm just finishing up a sampler called "The Queen of Hearts," which will be released soon, and I just finished my last Raise the Roof monthly angel, January's Angel, complete with a cute fox.  The entire series is available on my Etsy site as well.

I did have some sadness this month -- not one of my Christmas kittens survived.  Poor little Half Pint (see above) was the first to pass.  He survived ten days, which was more than the one they figured he'd make it at the shelter. I think he had fading kitten syndrome, and even veterinary intervention didn't help him.  He died napping with his brother. Scout and Nonie (aka Thread and Stitch) did better, but soon developed tell-tale big bellies and gastrointestinal issues.  It turned out to be FIP, and that condition is mean, nasty and not survivable for kittens that small, so we made the decision to put them to sleep rather than let them suffer.  It was heartbreak all around, and I shed my tears.  I know that it won't be long, and we'll be back into kitten season. There will be plenty of them who need help, and I'm ready.

I have been working on tweaking my Mercy Goodehart sampler that I designed a number of weeks ago -- a large old-style (yet original) sampler.  I've made some improvements and hope to be stitching on it in a few days.  It will most likely take me three or four weeks of HARD CORE stitching to get it done, but I think you're all going to really like it.  I won't be giving any more sneak peeks before I'm getting ready to release it.

Also, if you're into Pinterest, I've been getting back into it, doing sampler research (and coming up with meal ideas for my family...they're eating so much better than they did for six months.)  You can follow me, if you like at www.pinterest.com/xspeddler/.  I've got a pretty cool board filled with almost 200 AMAZING samplers and commentary by me on each one as to what I like or find interesting about that one.

This one, for example, is the most expensive sampler ever sold.  It is by Hannah Otis and sold in 1996 for $1.3 MILLION to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  The Otis family had lent it to the museum for decades, but needed an influx of money to pay for some inheritance expenses.  Luckily, the MFA won the auction, as this sampler is of Boston Commons, and has an amazing provenance to the area.

I hope you're all having a good January and staying warm.  It is in the 30's here tonight in Hattiesburg, which, hey, is cold for southern Mississippi.  Would y'all quit sending us your icy vibes?! Have fun with your needlework projects, and I promise it won't be so long until I update you again.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Sale

Go to my Etsy site, Letters Great and Small, and save 20% off of the merchandise you purchase before the end of the day on Friday.  It's my little way of saying: Happy New Year!"  Simply choose what you like, and when you're checking out, enter the code: ILOVESTITCHING to receive 20% off of your goodies (with the exception of shipping.)