Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chatelaine and other things

Gorgeous isn't it? My son seems to know me or I taught him well but he sent me the link to an article about chatelaines

My sister sent me THIS RECIPE for oatmeal raising cookies and I made 3 dozen today. She made 7 dozen with the same recipe because her cookies are smaller but man, they are delicious. The secret seems to be soaking the raisins for an hour beforehand with the eggs and vanilla.

Her tip:Read the reviews as I tweaked my version with two tsp cinnamon, one tsp each baking powder, soda and salt. Added a pinch of ginger and nutmeg for fun. Oh, I also only had walnuts so used those instead of pecans. Yummy!!! I didn't use nuts and they still are yummy.

And a friend wants me to take THIS ONLINE CLASS from Amy Mitten with her but since I am finishing challenged I won't, however I thought I'd spread the word as this is a gorgeous project.

Still waiting on my framing, 2 weeks now and counting. Though I should be counting from Oct 7th, the day I first took the pieces in :/

Friday, November 14, 2014

Birthday stitching

While we wait for framing to occur, I thought you would like to see a couple of pieces a friend made me for my birthday. The first one is from a JCS issue and designed by Blackbird Designs. My friend used a metal frame (which I've since learned is no longer made) and wrapped the frame with paper. She attached a hanger, but as you can see by the back, there is also a pin so it can be worn.

The second piece is from With Thy Needle and Thread and done the same way as the first piece without the pin on the back:

I love these pieces so much and especially appreciate when someone does finishing for me as I am so finishing challenged it is embarrassing to admit. These will definitely be cherished.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

A Very Old Book with a Story

Anyone here like thrift stores? Instead of doing much stitching the past five years, I added thrift stores to my hobby list. It helps to have friends who love them also. In Tucson, we are lucky to live near some retirement communities that feed into several thrift stores and that seems to be where I find the best items.

I always look at the books, recent and old. A few months ago I found a lovely children's book called "The Child's Treasury." It wasn't in fabulous condition but I adore old children's illustrations and this book was packed with them:

Aren't they gorgeous? They'd be even better taken with something other than my camera phone!

I bought it and brought it home and it took me a few days to thoroughly go through the book and when I did, I was almost brought to tears.

First I saw a pressed flower, not unusual inside a book:

I flipped through a few more pages and found more flowers:

And then I came across a sympathy card and a pressed flower:

And yet another...

And finally the mystery was solved:
"With our deepest heartfelt sympathy and pray the Great Comforter of us all sustain you in this great sorrow-- in the loss of your beautiful daughter"

This book must have belonged to a young girl who died. I can imagine her mother adding the flowers and the cards to her daughter's favorite storybook after the funeral. I was incredibly glad that I had found it. All I could imagine was another thrifter perhaps dropping the flowers from the book, or throwing them away and using the book to pull illustrations for crafts. Yes, that was big imaginings on my part! I hope whoever might have found it would have realized it was special.But it doesn't matter because I found it!

A superstitious friend told me "I'd get rid of that book, it's probably haunted!"

What? Of course it isn't haunted. This is a book full of love, full of happy moments between a mother and her daughter. I can picture the mother reading her precious daughter stories before bed. This book was special to two people at least. They are both dead now. Perhaps whoever cleaned out the retirement home of the mother didn't realize anything about this book and it was put in a box to take with other items to the thrift store. But love lives on even after death, it is an unbreakable bond between parent and child and I consider myself blessed to now be the keeper of the book.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014


Thank you so much everyone who replied yesterday and those who emailed me. It was lovely waking up and knowing I've been gone but not yet forgotten, at least by some of you :-)

I promised I would complain today. Thinking about it, maybe we should all set aside one day to complain per week. Some weeks we might realize we have little to complain about. Other weeks we might need to add an extra day to the roster. But seriously, complaining is not one of my strong suits. I am generally the person who is pretty laid back, eats my steak that might be a little too done, smiles and says "have a good day" to the grumpy-puss cashier who seems to be having a bad day. I generally don't make someone's bad day my own. I move on.

As I mentioned, I am participating in Christmas in Williamsburg and have been working toward that goal all summer by designing at least 8 new samplers. I thought I would send at least 6 of them as patterns to be sold there. But of course, they needed framing, so a friend suggested Hobby Lobby, which I have to say has the best prices out there PLUS they lace the needlework, no staples, no sticky board. It seemed like a good thing. I tried them out with a piece I stitched for a friend's birthday and a piece I had stitched for my daughter's graduation last year and they did an excellent job. See how nice? Excuse the glass glare:

So off I trotted with two friends and six pieces very early in October and was instantly met with a roadblock. The framing manager was not pleased to see my six pieces. Two pieces on my last visit was fine but six was simply over the top. He explained they can lace no more than one piece per week which begs the question, "what if there are other needlework pieces ahead of mine?" I didn't ask that question as I didn't think of it until now. Imagine if all the needle-workers in Tucson decided to bring their pieces in at the same time! It could be years and years before a piece could get to the top to be framed. People would have to write in their wills and remind their loved ones to pick up their heirloom in 10 years.

I digress,but he strongly cautioned me to leave a couple and take the others elsewhere. I've never known a business to refuse business but I took him at his word and chose two to take elsewhere, left two with him and on his advise decided to bring two back for framing when I picked up the first two. Confused yet?

I picked up one about 2 weeks later (nice job too) but the second piece I left was having problems with frame size so there was a delay to order another frame. Still, I left the other two that were on delay the first time I was there. I even took a photo of each as they lay on the framing table as I was so pleased with the frames chosen, no thanks to me but to my friend with the good eye for frames.

Pretty nice don't you think?

Another two weeks pass and I received a call that one of my pieces is ready so back into the car for a long drive across town to pick up a piece that turned out to be framed way too close to the border. It was wrapped in plastic and I noticed the top border was a bit iffy but I didn't notice the side borders until I was at a stop light half way home. The poor sampler had no room to breathe with the frame squeezing her so close. I could almost hear her gasping for air.

Well, I knew I would be picking up the last two pieces in about a week so instead of making the long hike back, I decided to return it when I picked up the last two which was yesterday. I was pretty excited and when I walked in the same manager greeted me happily and I explained the problem. He was not pleased. A big chill dropped over his usually friendly personality. I'd gotten to know him, hey we were on a first name basis, we had chatted at length each time I was there and suddenly I'm "Ms Thorpe". Okay, maybe he forgot my first name, I can grant him that though it was spelled out in big letters on the order form. At least he had my last name correct and perhaps the seriousness he was feeling was cause enough to use last names.

I think he knew something I didn't know which was the fact that my last two pieces were framed even worse than the one I was returning. See that one at the top? The birds heads were covered! That might be okay for a Halloween piece where severed heads are expected but not for my piece. The second had two stitching rows of the flowered border covered by the framing. Sigh. In what world is it okay to cover half a piece of artwork with the frame? I exaggerate, it wasn't half but it still looked shitty.

He brought them out, slowly I might add, as if he were stepping up to the guillotine. Hey, I've worked customer service in my youth, I know people can be nasty. And as a nurse, I've worked with people who are so ill they haven't a nice bone left in their body or the strength to be polite. I have always said people need to work a customer service job at least once in their life and they will never treat a waitress, a cashier, a phone operator or anyone else with disrespect again. That's one reason I never do and I generally never take a mistake personally, and I never think someone is out to get me because my order was wrong.

I understand it is not fun to say you have made a mistake but guess what? He didn't say that! Instead I had to convince him this was a serious problem and then be told it was going to take at least 30 minutes to re-write the order. Fine. I still wasn't upset, I'd say I was frustrated but I really just wanted to ask, what is your problem buddy?

So off I went to leave him alone to re-write the order, nothing worse than someone breathing down your neck, so I had fun actually gathering up some supplies I needed and even bought a bow maker which looks like fun. Anyone ever use one? Do they work as well as the bows shown on the box?

After more than 30 mins I returned, still not done so I disappeared again. 15 mins later he was done. I asked him "Do you not see what the problem was?" I was truly concerned he thought I was making a mountain out of a molehill. Yeah, he saw the problem, "now look, these frames are bigger so they will cost you more". I think he enjoyed telling me that. I told him "I really don't think I will be paying the extra, I don't think I should." He caved, "yes, I agree." The chill remained. I am so not looking forward to returning to pick these pieces up.

So, I will be writing Hobby Lobby. I can overlook a lot but the big chill feeling that somehow I was causing him problems for no reason is something I can't let go. And I will stick with the other framer who had my two pieces done in 10 days, no muss, no fuss. This is just a warning for those who go to Hobby Lobby for framing, my experience is probably not likely to happen to others but it has been a huge waste of time and gas and because of this I will not be sending any of my new designs to Christmas in Williamsburg this year.

And on the bright side, at least I wasn't this guy:
Uh-oh, I hope I didn't jinx it, he still has 3 of my pieces, anything is possible.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Reinvigorated, finally...

Hello long lost needlework friends! It's been so long that I wasn't even sure I remembered how this blog worked, in fact I believe it's going to take a bit of time to get me up to speed.

I've been hearing that some of you know I am designing again and if you heard that, you are right! I have about 8 new samplers finished and am at the stage of formatting, framing, photographing and all the other loose ends of getting things going.

About 5 years ago, my computer hard drive died. Yes, some of my patterns were saved on an external hard drive but not all and frankly, not the ones I really wanted. At the time I was going through a rough bout of empty nest syndrome as both my children left home for college at the same time. It took a while to get used to it and I was thoroughly down about it and not up to doing anything about my patterns until this year actually. And suddenly, I got bitten by the stitching bug again and here I am, back and hopefully not forgotten. My plan is to open an Etsy shop soon. In fact, I thought it would be later this month but issues with framing have cropped up and that timeline will have to be pushed further away.

For those of you going to Christmas in Williamsburg, it is now called Annie's Needle Arts Festival/Christmas in Williamsburg
and I will again have sampler pendants and some domino books for sale along with a few patterns from the old days such as my Memorial Sampler and Peaceful Paradise.

I was hoping to have my latest samplers there but that story will wait until tomorrow's post which is about framing issues. Yes, bold type for a serious issue! In the meantime, I will show you a couple of the latest that were successfully framed. This is Suzy Moo's Sampler:

I challenged myself to design a cow and Suzy was the best I could do. I am not an artist, I simply wing it as best I can. Someone asked me, "Is that a dog?" and I was going to name this "No, That is Not a Dog" sampler. Then a good friend said I should give her a name and started throwing out names like Suzy Q, which is pretty adorable, and eventually she became Suzy Moo. The verse is appropriate, "There is None Like Thee on Earth, Not One". I found that on an antique sampler and it was fitting, there truly is none like Suzy Moo, the polka dot cow, on earth.

This is a sampler that survived the crash of '09 and is one I was wanting to release and then just put aside after it was stiched. It's simply called "Time".

And look what a fabulous framing job was done by Aaron Bros.

They wrapped the mat with silk fabric which is lovely in person. Suzy Moo was also framed by them, quick and no problems. I like that in a framer.

As I said, we will talk about framing tomorrow, the good, the bad and the really bad. Yes, Hobby Lobby, I'm looking at you. Again bold because they seriously messed me up.

And last but not least, I think I left the blog shortly after posting my "Seven Sins and Seven Virtues" sampler. Another lost to the crankiness of my hard drive. However, where there is a will there is a way and this past week I found a printout of the colors I had used in this piece and spent 8 hours going pixel by pixel from my framed piece and reproduced it in Patternmaker. That was a good day and I felt quite accomplished when I was done. My eyes don't thank me for that since I stitched it on 40 ct fabric.

Back tomorrow with more.

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