Thursday, April 30, 2009

Everybody misses Earl

I talked to my sister last night about her annual "school's out" visit. I live at the beach and she's a beach bum so every year she and my nephew, A., come for a week as soon as he gets out of school. I tease my family about making reservations early so that they get the week they want, but it's only half teasing. We have a lot of company in the summer. So, I reminded her that she hadn't made a reservaton yet. And she told me that A. wasn't sure he wanted to go to the beach this year because it wouldn't be the same without Earl. I almost cried. When they visit, every morningwe would come down A. would be on the couch watching TV with Earl on one side and Lester on the other. I assured my sis that Lester would try to take up the slack. And when we go for walks, A. always insisted on holding Earl's leash. I guess he'll have to take Lester this year.

Since we had to put Earl to sleep, it's been a little quiet around our house. Earl was the one who followed me around all day and had to know what I was doing every minute. Sometimes it was annoying. I always knew Lester was more independent, but now I'm not sure he even knows I'm here unless it's time to eat or time for his walk. He must get out and visit his friends. Sometimes it seems like everyone in town knows him.

Anyway, I'm hope it won't be too hard for A. Lester is quite a clown and he loves the attention from others. He tends to get a lot because people feel sorry for him because of the amputation. Take my word for it, he does not miss that leg! He gets along fine. In fact, he has always been the alpha dog.

We will just have to see how it goes, I guess.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Grace Mason lives!

Well, the sampler does anyway. I'm back at it and loving it. I finished the border last night and now I'm working on some of the motifs at the bottom. I don't have a photo today. You'll just have to use your imagination. I'll do better next week.

I'm not like most stitchers. I work primarily by color, not by section or area. So, since the border flowers were in gold, I found pieces within the border done in the same color and I'm stitching them now. I know, it sounds crazy, but that's the way my brain works. Remember, I'm an engineer by training and the counting is the easy part for me. If the cross stitch police told me I had to work by section, I'd probably quit because it drives me crazy to work that way. In the back of my mind there is always a nagging thought that I'll have to rethread with a color I've already used.

I'm off to visit my mom on Thurs. and won't be back until Sunday, so I may not update the blog til next week. The good news is that I should have made a lot of progress...I hope.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

More scissor fobs on Etsy.

It's been a little while since I showed you some new things in my Etsy shop. I just love the simple elegance of this black and green scissor fob with the tiny traces of gold in some of the beads. you can see it here.

You don't have to be a wine lover, although who isn't, to love this little fob. It would really dress up a key chain too. Check out all the views.

And finally, this apple themed wall hanging was an experiment in various stitching techniques. Each apple is done in a different way, including hardanger, bargello, Gobelin stitch variation, blackwork, and a band sampler. There are close up views of four of the apples here.

I'll be adding more all the time, so check it out. And I also have counting pins for cross stitch and needlepoint.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Beehive Sampler is DONE

I have a new, easier to remember, name for my Facebook fan page. I give updates to my Etsy shop there, as well as specials for my fans. Check it out. Go directly to TJB Designs's page from anywhere using this short, memorable address:

I finished the silk gauze Beehive sampler last night! WOOHOO! It measures 1.5" x 2". So this picture is bigger than the actual piece.

Now, I can go back to "Grace Mason". And since I am totally unmotivated to work on the business today, I may stitch all day. So there.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Get Excited, Make Things!

Brave People Make Things so get excited and make things….The first five (5) people to respond to this post will get something made by me.This offer does have some restrictions and limitations so please read carefully:
1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. Whatcha get is whatcha get.
2. What I create will be just for you, with love.
3. It'll be done this year (2009).
4. I will not give you any clue what it's going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It may be weird or beautiful. Or it may be monstrous and annoying. Heck, I might bake something for you and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure!
5. I reserve the right to do something strange.
6. In return, all you need to do is post this text on your blog and make 5 things for the first 5 to respond to blog.
7. Send your mailing address - after I contact you. IMPORTANT: This offer is null and void if I do not see you post your own blog to pay this forward.
This is going around blog-land. I saw it first here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Still stitching on silk gauze

It is a glorious day in SE North Carolina! If I didn't have to go to the dentist, it would be a PERFECT day. Oh well. When I get back I may sit outside and stitch...unless the sun is shining too brightly. Hard to believe that could be, but sometimes I have a hard time seeing if the light is too bright. Go figure.

However, that was not the case yesterday. My EGA "alumni" group got together to stitch, as we try to do on the third Monday of every month. (Our EGA chapter disbanded due to attrition, so the eight or so left just get together to stitch.) So I got to work on "Grace Mason". You see, I cannot work on silk gauze away from home. I have to have the perfect light and that can only happen under my Dazor. So, I made a little progress on "GM" between all the chit chat and laughing that keeps us all close. And of course, we digressed into an old, fuddy-duddy discussion of the sad state of the education system in the US these days. Have you notice that even journalists and people seemingly educated in the English language can't seem to complete a paragraph that is grammatically correct? Oops, I digress...again. I'll get off the soap box now.

So, I work on the Beehive at home, usually at night while I'm watching TV. It's almost done. All that's left is the background, which you can see I have started. I'm anxious to finish, but not looking forward to making the frame. The little 2x2.5 inch ones are a little scary to cut. When I first started making my own frames, just the sound of the power mitre saw made me nervous. I'm okay with it now. I make the frames for almost every piece I stitch. And I stitch about twenty or more pieces a year.

I started making my own frames because it was hard to find mouldings that were simple or plain enough for the type of samplers that I like to stitch. My framing goal is to show off the sampler, not the frame. So all those ornate mouldings were overkill. I learned how to do a faux finish that mimicked a birdsyeye maple and then I started looking for unfinished mouldings. I didn't have a lot of luck in frame shops, so I looked on-line and found what I needed. Now I buy stick moulding and cut and finish it myself. If I want something especially primitive I'll go to the home improvement store and buy a flat stick of poplar or pine, finish it, and distress it by beating it with a chain or pipe or rock. It's been an ongoing experiment. You can see some examples in the slideshow at the bottom of the blog.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

BeeHive Sampler is well on it's way!

I told you I had to temporarily abandon "Grace Mason" for a Mother's Day gift. Well, even though I have to take frequent breaks from staring at 40 count silk gauze, it is coming right along. I started on Tuesday. This how far I've come.
And here is the chart photo.
I should be done by middle of the week, I hope. Of course, filling in the background will take quite a while. I'll have to use the Dazor for that. For some reason, I have no problem stitching the sampler without magnification, but when I get to the background I have trouble telling where the empty spots are. Does that make sense?
I've also been busy adding new items to my Etsy shop. I love this navy scissor fob. You can see it here.
If you have trouble counting correctly, you might want to invest in some counting/marking pins like these. They are really helpful on those long rows of 200 or 300 stitches on band samplers. Do you know how long it takes to count to 300 four times? And it never comes out the same.

And, finally, here is the fob I made for my sister to hang on her tennis bag! Her bag is pink and black. Hope she likes it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'm in the latest Nordic Needle catalog!!

Woohoo! In fact, this is a GREAT BIG WOOHOO! I got the lastest Nordic Needle mail order catalog and my beaded scissor fobs were right there on page 17! I am so excited.

And to add to the craziness, the scissor fob I listed Tuesday on Etsy wasn't there when I checked the site late yesterday afternoon. I panicked, thinking I had done all that work and neglected to "Save" it. Well, lo and behold, it sold already! How's that for timing?

And Thursday, I completed a custom order of tassels for a lovely lady in Barcelona, Spain. It's amazing that someone thinks my little tassels are pretty enough for decorating.

Now, for the stitching update. It dawned on me that Mother's Day is coming quickly. I have been stitching a sampler on 40 count silk gauze for my mom for the last several Mother's Days. So today I pulled out a cute one from Threads Through Time. It's called "The Bee Hive Sampler". Hopefully, it won't take more than a week to stitch. Of course, then I have to risk cutting off my fingers on the mitre saw making a frame that will be about 2" x3"!

So "Grace Mason" will have to go on hold for just a little while. And I really hate that because I don't like to have more than one project going at a time. But allowances must be made for deadline stitching. And I think being late for Mother's Day would be reaaally bad.

Grace Mason in the really early stages.

I'm back and ready to stitch like crazy. Actually, I did get some stitching done while I was away, but it's not really much to look at yet. But I promised frequent updates, so here it is.
I know you're not really impressed with what I've done so far, but be's 239 x 240 stitches! That's a lot of border. Hopefully, I'll get a lot done tonight while I catch up on all the shows I recorded while I was gone. I admit it. I'm a TV junkie. That's when I get most of my stitching done. Multi-tasking at its best.

I am not the world's best photographer, in fact, I'm not even the best photographer in my family, but I took some this weekend in God's Acre cemetary in Old Salem. It's hard to capture the glory of the freshly washed stones and flowers specially put there for Easter. The concept is that we are all created equal and so the markers reflect that.

Today, I've been catching up on my Etsy shop. I refreshed some pictures of some fobs. And I listed a new one. This pink tulip and green one would look great on your spring and summer purse.

This morning when I checked my email I found that my Etsy favorites have been featured on the front page of That was pretty cool. Check out the site. It works like a bridal or baby registry. You can make a wishlist of your handmade items and see what others are doing too.

Oh, and just in case you never scroll to the bottom of the blog, that's where my needlework showcase is. I've made a slideshow of some of my stitching. Check it out.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, everyone. I'm going to visit my mom and sisters, et al, for the Easter weekend. We're going to the sunrise service in Old Salem. I grew up in Winston-Salem, NC and as a member of the Moravian church, going to the sunrise service in historic Old Salem is tradition. I haven't been back in a long time and I'm sure it will be memorable.

I started "Grace Mason" last night and love it already. But it is going to take a long time. Maybe I'll get some stitching done this weekend. I'm taking my Ott Lite to make working on that 40 count Navy Bean linen a little easier. But with all those people around, I'll probably just mess it up. But at least by next week I should have something worth showing you.

In the meantime, check out my new scissor fobs on my Etsy site.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Quaker Samplings II is DONE!!

Woohoo! I finished "Quaker Samlings II" by With my Needle last night just as the basketball game was ending. I love this piece and may have to keep it. I used "Midnight" Waterlilies and there is not a lot of variation in the color, but I like it. And I love working on 40 count linen. This is Maple Sugar by Lakeside Linens. Good stuff.

Now I can start "Grace Mason" by Of Female Worth. I substituted Weeks Dye Works and Sampler Threads for the Gumnut Stars overdyed silk and I'm anxious to see who it turns out. I got over that fear of changing anything that the original design calls for a long time ago. I choose a piece because I like the way it looks. So if I don't like the fabric or the fiber colors when I pull them out, or if they don't look like the photo, I change them. It's my sampler, I can do what I want with it. So there.

I'll try to do better on showing pictures as my projects are in work. I just don't always have the camera around when I think of it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Etsy People are Amazing!

I have to admit I haven't spent as much time stitching as I'd like to because I've been concentrating on promoting my Etsy shop. The good news is that I'm making a lot of new friends in the process. Etsy is a great venue for handmade items and the folks there are terrific.

One of my new friends, Shannon, at is featuring a wonderful paper jewelry designer, UniquePaperBoutique, on her blog. And you can enter (several times) to win a piece of her jewelry. It's a gorgeous pendant. Check it out here and follow the instructions.
It wasn't a stretch for me to find a favorite piece of Rachel's jewelry because I already have her listed as one of my favorites!

I am stitching at night on my Quaker Samplings II, but last night I did quite a bit of frog, rip-it, rip-it. NOT lol. But that's the price you pay for not double checking your counting. I think I'm rushing to get to "Grace Mason Sampler" and making more mistakes.
Actually, I'm farther along than this picture shows, but I haven't taken the time to take another one in about a week. But I promise an updated pic soon.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Nordic Needle is selling my scissor fobs!

I am so excited! Nordic Needle, for those of you who don't know, is big in the needlework industry and the mecca of hardanger. They have a retail side which includes world-wide mail order, on-line, and a brick-and-mortar shop in Fargo, ND. I was lucky enough to visit the shop when my amazing husband surprised me with a trip for our 25th anniversary! BTW, we went to the Badlands, and Mt. Rushmore, and Crazy Horse museum too since we were in the area. ROFL. But, I digress...

NN is also a wholesale distributor of needlework supplies of all kinds (cross stitch, needlepoint, hardanger, Brazilian embroidery, punch needle, ...) to retail needlework shops all over the world. In February they chose to distribute my scissor fobs with tassels. I was beside myself. Tuesday, my friend and avid supporter, Donna, owner of Angelwing Needlearts (my LNS), called to tell me my fobs were pictured in "Needlework Retailer" magazine. It's an industry magazine to introduce new products to shops. The description was so complimentary I want to hire their copywriter. Then I checked the web site and there they are, up close and personal.

I can't tell you how gratifying it is to have such a highly respected company in my industry appreciate my work. It's humbling and motivating. Can you see me doing the HAPPY DANCE?

So, I guess I better get to work now.