Willing Hands Needlework Design

"She seeketh wool and flax and worketh willingly with her hands"
Proverbs 31:13

Welcome to my blog! I created this blog to keep you updated on my teaching schedule, designs, new designs, kit availability,
works in progress and other stitching related activities. From time to time I'll also be adding extra info about goings-on in my life.

To see my current teaching schedule, teaching pieces and retired designs, click on "older posts" at the bottom of each page.

Thank you for visiting!

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Virgin Queen's Stitching Wallet

Happy Spring and Happy belated 2016 stitching friends!

It has been a very long time since I posted anything here.  2015 was taken up with an insane travel schedule and this winter was taken up with travel and surgeries.  Happily, I'm fine and back to work - at the moment I'm putting together about 150 kits for a conference in Auckland, New Zealand this summer which will be followed by a 5 city teaching tour of that gorgeous country.  In between all of the above I've managed to produce a new design.

A bit of background...last spring I did a 5 city teaching tour of the South - Charlotte, NC, Athens, GA, Atlanta, GA, Hilton Head, SC and Richmond, VA.  Along the way I had a couple of days off and on one of them I stumbled on a small antique mall on a country road somewhere along the NC/SC border.  There I found a wonderful leather sewing kit which probably dates to the 1920's.  It had all of the original tools which were made of celluloid, as well as French cardboard thread winders, lots of cards of buttons and a packet of needles at a price of $25!  Needless to say, I snatched it up.  The inspiration for the new design began there with the leather folding wallet type format of the sewing kit.  But what to stitch on the outside?  What theme?

That problem was solved by a student, Lori Doty of Livermore, California.  She attended my annual classes at Elegant Stitch in Modesto and one of her stitching tools sitting on her table was a scissor sheath worked in multicolored black work on the front and white work on the back.  It was lovely and definitely Elizabethan in style.  Lori graciously allowed me to photograph it and it set my imagination on fire.  This was last October.

I spent months playing around with adapting traditional blackwork patterns and developing some of my own and the result is the design below.  A little Bargello found its way in as well with two very traditional patterns.

The photos below show the piece folded closed, the entire outside opened up and the entire inside opened up.  The silk lining fabric is my favorite acid green color but I will also have red and blue silk lining options for those who aren't fans of what my friend Lucy calls "slime green".  The design is worked on 32 count ivory linen with DMC Pearl cotton and Gloriana silk flosses.  The "smalls" are a scissor fob, two octagon shaped thread winders and a needle book with wool felt pages and silk satin ribbon spine.  The design is largely worked in my favorite stitch - double running (Holbein), but may also be worked in back stitch.

This will be a two day class and will be available as of January 2017.  The kit fee is $180.

I hope that you like it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bristol Sampler Stitching Bag

At long last I have a new design to debut!  Based on 1860's samplers from the Ashley Down Orphan Houses in Bristol England and including the new (to me) technique of English paper piecing, this design is fun to stitch and construct.
Following the tradition of the original samplers, it is stitched entirely in red floss on white linen.  The bag itself is worked with an alphabet and single motifs from the original samplers which were comprised of rows of alphabets and rows of repeating motif patterns.  The base of the bag is made of four patterns of red and white quilting fabric which have been cut into triangles and joined using the paper piecing technique.  The octahedron shaped pin cushion is constructed the same way.  The bag includes a solid red lining which forms a ruffle at the top and has sleeves to hold two striped ribbon draw strings, each of which ends in a small stitched tab with space for initials and dates on one side and tiny floral and geometric motifs on the back sides.  The bag is approximately 6 inches tall and 3 inches in diameter.
The "smalls" are: a needle book with wool felt needle pages and a ribbon spine, a paper pieced pin cushion, a scissor fob and a thread winder.
The two day class will focus on the paper pieced bag base and pin cushion, and making the red bag lining.  The kit includes Belfast linen, Gloriana silk floss, DMC pearl cotton, 6 quilt fabrics, wool felt, Gloriana silk ribbon, striped cotton ribbon, paper piecing supplies, skirtex, interfacing, sewing thread, needles, polyfil, color charts and detailed instructions.  The kit fee is $140 and the design is available for workshops beginning January 1, 2016.
Note:  kits for future classes may not include the exact red and white fabrics used in the model because I'm at the mercy of fabric companies which are prone to discontinuing designs, but I will make every effort to match fabrics as closely as possible to the original.  Thanks for your understanding!
I hope that you like it! 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

It's About Time...

that I updated this blog!

As you've probably gathered by now, I only write on my blog when I have a new design to present or a new class to add to my teaching schedule.  Today I have both.

Last year while teaching at the EGA Rocky Mountain Regional Seminar in Albuquerque I was wandering through the booths on Merchandise Night and found that one of my students had a table and was selling, among other things, a book that she had written.  The book is called "Pioneer Memorial Museum Samplers" and was written by Loree Romriell.  Of course, I bought a copy which she then autographed for me.

Most of the samplers in the book were stitched on the east coast of the US or in European countries.  The most fascinating aspect of them, for me at least, is that they were lovingly carried across the country in wagon trains and found their way to Salt Lake City where the museum is now located.  I imagine that some of them were at least partially stitched en route and I envision girls stitching away in the rocking wagons trying to relieve the boredom of the endless trek across the Great Plains.

Shortly after purchasing the book I was approached by the Swan Sampler Guild of Salt Lake City and asked to design a new project for them, to be taught in August 2015.  What a perfect opportunity to study the samplers in the book and adapt some of the motifs into a new design!  The biggest problem I had in this endeavor was deciding what format the new etui would take.  Then one morning in early fall I woke with the solution in my head - a book!  I don't remember dreaming about it, but there it was.  For the record, that is exactly how the Toy Chest Etui started.

The outside cover of the book is loosely based on a very simple sampler in the collection which is worked on "training cloth", which was made in an effort to assist young girls in stitching in nice neat rows.  The cloth is made by removing every tenth linen ground thread and weaving a colored thread back in so that it looks like modern day school notebook paper.  Students will do this as part of the project.

Inside the book, instead of pages, there are two boxes which hold smalls - a scissor pouch and fob and two thread winders.  The spine of the book is a pin roll and one of the inside box lids has a wool felt needle page attached to its lining.  The project was stitched on Platinum Belfast linen which I distressed after all of the embroidery was completed, to give it the worn and stained appearance of most of the original samplers.  Students may follow my lead on this or choose to leave theirs in pristine condition.

All of the motifs used were inspired and adapted from the samplers in the museum collection except the bee hive.  I felt that the design needed one since the bees and the hive, symbols of industriousness, are the symbols of the state of Utah.

I hope that you like it!

Friday, March 21, 2014

New Designs

Happy 2014, stitching friends!

I spent the first few weeks of the year recuperating from a herniated disc which was pinching a sciatic nerve.  Happily, I'm pretty much back to normal now and, as soon as I was able to sit for extended periods of time again, I began work on two new designs.

Last December I had the pleasure of teaching at Just Cross Stitch Magazine's Christmas in Williamsburg Needle Arts Festival.  It was great fun and I got into serious trouble in the boutique as well as in some of the shops in Historic Williamsburg.  One treasure was a gorgeous piece of framed Japanese Embroidery which I found in a consignment shop for $20!  But I digress.

I've been invited back to teach again this year and one of the requirements is that the class pieces must be new and never published or taught before.  Fortunately, I had some ideas rattling around in the back of my head so I wasn't completely panicked.

Just Cross Stitch has now posted photos of these designs on their website and I am now free to post them on my blog.  You can check out this year's seminar by going to http://www.just-crossstitch.com/seminar/index.php.  There is a link to the registration forms there as well.

Both of these designs will be available for workshops starting in 2015. 

The above design is a Mexican stitcher's purse.  Its full name is "Maria Katarin's Stitching Reticule".  It is named for our adopted daughter, Caitie, who is part Mexican.  The various motifs and techniques used in this purse were inspired by an 1844 sampler from Pachuca, Mexico which is in my collection.

When folded closed, the reticule measures 4 x 8 inches.  It is stitched on light mocha Belfast linen using Gloriana silk flosses and is lined in olive silk Dupioni.  Inside there are 3 small pockets for
holding your small needlework tools including two of the smalls in this design - a scissor fob and a thread winder.  The reticule also includes a 5 inch stitched ruler.

Stitches include: Aztec, eyelet, diagonal pattern darning, pulled four sided, long arm cross, diagonal satin, Mexican klosters, satin, rice, upright cross, cross over one and cross over two.

This little box with its pull-out drawer is called "Can't See the Forest" and was inspired by what I see when I look out of my windows at the woods surrounding our farm.  Three sides of the box and the lid are adorned with various stylized trees which are interspersed with animals - a fawn, a fox, a raccoon, an owl, a squirrel, a skunk, a tiger swallowtail butterfly, and a Cardinal.  The bottom of the box is bordered in a vine and leaf black work pattern with space in the middle for initials and a date.  The top of the box is padded so that it can be used as a pin cushion and a scissor fob is included for you to tuck into the drawer.  The box measures 3 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 2 1/2.

The box is stitched on light olive Belfast linen using Gloriana silk fosses and olive silk Dupioni fabric is used to line the box and construct the drawer.  A faceted crystal bead is used as the drawer pull.  Stitches include: tent, diagonal satin, eyelet variation, double running, queen, half cross, long arm cross, Smyrna cross, cross over one and cross over two.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Edinburgh Designs

No, I promise that I did not drop off the face of the earth.  I've just been super busy with travel, classes, surgery and designing.

Last fall I taught in England for the Sampler Guild of the UK.  It was a lovely long weekend in a very quaint town at a centuries old hotel with a thatched roof.  The ladies who attended were tremendous fun and wonderful stitchers.

When the weekend was over, my sister flew in to join me and we spent 10 days touring London and Edinburgh.  A day spent at Edinburgh Castle and Holyroodhouse Palace inspired two new designs.  The first ( above ) is the Edinburgh Etui which was inspired by a piece of china, some needlework tools and some embroidery by Mary Queen of Scots in the palace and by embroidered regimental flags, carved woodwork and military uniform decorations in the castle.

The box has two compartments - one in the top section with the swags and tassels and the other and larger one in the bottom section with the crown and branches.  The branches are adorned with Tudor roses, thistles and shamrocks, all of which are worked in surface embroidery.  However, the kit will also contain charts to work those motifs in counted thread for students who aren't comfortable with surface work.  The box is lined with a green/aqua two way silk Dupioni and the lid has a turned wooden thistle finial as its handle. 

The "smalls" are, left to right, a folding needle purse with bead and loop closure, a scissor fob on a tasseled cord, a crown thimble box and a pin pillow with beaded edges and beaded cord.  The back of the pin pillow is embroidered in a tartan plaid and embellished with a silver thistle charm.

The finial and charm are included in the kit.  This design will be available as a two day workshop in 2014.

The second design is the Edinburgh Reticule pictured below.

This design was done especially for Just CrossStitch Magazine's Christmas in Williamsburg seminar 2013.  The reticule shape was inspired by a tiny purse at Holyroodhouse Palace.  Its intertwining branches on the front are home to a Tudor rose, thistles and shamrocks, all worked in counted thread.  The back side ( see below ) has motifs taken from woodwork in the Castle and adapted into blackwork patterns.  The purse is lined in green silk Dupioni, the edges are embellished with beads and the closure is made from Hedebo buttonhole loops and a tasseled cord.

The "smalls" are a needle book and scissor fob.  The needle book has wool felt pages and a silk ribbon spine and the scissor fob slides on a tasseled cord.

Hope that you like them!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Revised Workshop List

This is an updated list of my current teaching pieces, including kit prices and teaching times...

                                                  Elizabethan Casket Etui, $150, two days

                                                      Tall Year Square, $175, two days

                                                   Gathering for Winter, $140, one day

                                                       Toy Chest Etui, $175, two days                                                  


                                                            Helix Etui, $140, one day

This One's for Betty, $150, one day
Edinburgh Etui, $175, two days, available 2014
                                                Edinburgh Reticule, $125, one day
                                          Mexican Stitcher's Reticule, $125, one day
                                          Can't See the Forest, $100, one day

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gathering for Winter Etui


Here's my latest design, completed just last week and debuted at a Toy Chest Etui class in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This etui was inspired by the turned wooden acorn which is attached to the closure cord of the box.  The acorn was made by Mike and Maggie Fraser of Sylvan Treasures and one will be included in each kit, as they have graciously agreed to make them for me.  Mike is always on the prowl for exotic woods and the acorns will be available in a variety of colors.  I'll also be carrying extras so that students can purchase them to make scissor fobs, etc.

The etui box and all of the 'smalls' are stitched with acorn motifs in a wide variety of stitches.  Some of them are based on traditional motifs found in antique samplers and some of them are my own creations.  There is a squirrel stitched on the bottom of the box as well as some more acorns and spaces for intitials and a date.  The 'smalls' are: a pin cushion, a needle book, a scissor sheath and a scissor fob. 

The box and the smalls are lined with a copper colored silk Dupioni which is a very close match to the reddish color used in the stitching.  The flosses and the ribbon are Gloriana ( of course! ) and are colors which I've never used before.  Most of them are new colors to the Gloriana line, created in the last 2 years.  The kit will also include an enameled charm from Susan Clarke Originals to be attached at the stitcher's discretion.

The pilot class is already scheduled for this summer and the design will be available for workshops beginning in 2013.