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!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve Wrap-up

It's New Year's Eve and we're getting ready to honor our Southern roots by feasting on black eyed peas and greens, to bring prosperity in the coming year.  But first I wanted to post a few more photos...

The first is a stumpwork panel I stitched on for the Northwest Sampler Guild.  The guild has taken on the extremely ambitious project of reproducing Martha Edlin's casket ( in the V&A's permanent collection along with several other pieces of Martha's exquisite needlework ) in actual size.  I volunteered to work on this panel and stitched on it, off and on, for two years.  It isn't complete because the missing flower motifs are worked in detached buttonhole stitch on wire and that is one stitch I've never come close to mastering.  It was a very humbling experience trying to reproduce Martha's work - she was 11 years old when she made this casket!  The theme of her casket is "The Seven Virtues" and this panel illustrates Justice and Temperance.  The whole project is being coordinated by my soul sister, Marianne Adler, who also came up with the wonderful idea for the Jack in the Box in my Toy Chest Etui.

Martha Edlin reproduction panel

I've made another finial pin cushion, this one especially for the above mentioned Marianne.  It was a Christmas gift and I held off posting photos so that she wouldn't see it here before opening it on Christmas morning.  The colors are much more bold than my first finial and they were inspired by Marianne's blue and yellow kitchen and the red pillows in her living room.  The stitching is actually a line drawing of the design painted on the finial.  When I used to make Ukrainian eggs I always worked out a design on graph paper first, using colored pencils to choose the palette.  If the design on the finial was unwrapped and laid flat, it would look like the line drawing stitched on the pin cushion.

Happy, healthy, prosperous and blessed 2012, everyone!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Oops, I did it again!

After swearing twice before that I was done adding toys to my Toy Chest Etui, I've gone back on my word again.  But I REALLY mean it this time - this is the LAST new toy!  ( If I add any more we'll each have to stitch a second chest - the original is full! )

As a child I loved water color paint boxes and as an adult I still paint in my very rare spare time, except that now I use oils.  For some time now it has bothered me that the Toy Chest Etui didn't have a paint box, even though it does have a basket of colored pencils.  I just had to rectify that, so here it is.  Hope that you like it!

Paint Box, closed

Paint Box, open

The paint box holds a needle threader which is embellished with a painter's palette enameled charm fob.  The needle threader fits into a pocket inside the lid of the paint box, and the opening of the pocket is the sawtooth motif just to the right of my initials and the date in the photo above.  The bottom of the paint box is made from the same plaid silk Dupioni which lines the other Toy Chest pieces and there are pockets in both the top and bottom of the box, on the reverse side, for holding packets of needles.  I planned the size of the design to hold a packet of Bohin tapestry needles and a packet will be included in the kit in size #26, along with the needle threader and the charm.

I've ordered all of the supplies to make kits, but the needle threaders are currently back-ordered until "early next year" whenever that happens to be.  I'm hoping to have kits available by the end of February and the price will be $35.  Any guild or chapter which has hosted a Toy Chest Etui class in the past or has one coming up can contact me about making a group order.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fun with Finials

This is the new toy I mentioned in my last post.  I hope that you weren't expecting another toy for the Toy Chest Etui because that's not what this is!

My friend Marty ( who inspired the napkin ring pin cushions ) has done it again.  At our EGA meeting this week she showed us a pin cushion that she had made using a wooden finial from a craft supply store.  She made it from instructions in a book by Blackbird Designs and hers was painted black, then sanded to make it look old and the pin cushion part was a floral design stitched on linen.  It was wonderful and it set my brain to spinning so I stopped by A.C. Moore on the way home and bought up all of the finials they had.  My first attempt is pictured below.

But first a little background...

Years ago, before I started my needlework design business, back when I had more free time, I used to make decorated eggs using the Ukrainian wax-resist method.  It involves drawing the design on the egg with beeswax and then dipping it into dye, drawing more and dipping in a different color, and so on until the design is complete.  This is the same method used to make Batik fabric.  The photo below shows some of my eggs.  Most of them are duck eggs but there are also some from geese, peahens and swans.

When I saw the oval section of the wooden finial, it reminded me of these eggs so I thought it would be fun to decorate the finial to look something like the eggs.  I used acrylic stencil paints and then antiqued the finial to tone down the colors and make it look old.  Finally I sprayed it with satin finish polyurethane.  I stitched the linen for the pin cushion in a pattern and an overdyed thread to match the painting on the finial.  The stitching is done on "Platinum" Belfast linen and is worked in an eyelet variation stitch using Gloriana's Summer 'n Smoke silk floss.  Finally, I glued a matching trim around the linen to cover the edge of the finial.
( Anyone who has been in one of my classes knows that I hate to use glue in finishing needlework, but sometimes there's just no way around it. )

As I look out of my windows at the ridge just to the west, the trees are in all of their autumn glory so I'm thinking that my next finial will use fall colors.  The one pictured here is a gift for a friend.

Many thanks to Marty and to Blackbird Designs for the great ideas and the inspiration!

Friday, October 28, 2011

A New Design - Finally!

I haven't written anything here in quite a while - it has been a very busy summer and fall with lots of travel.  But now I'm back with a new design!

Some of you will remember the whirligig which I stitched in 2004.  I used to carry it around to workshops until it started to look a little frayed and the poor dragonfly sitting on the 'summer' blade was about to lose his wings.  It is pictured below.  A lot of stitchers wanted to do this design but Mike Fraser of Sylvan Treasures, who made the stand, wasn't interested in mass producing them.  Can't say that I blame him as it was a complex piece of engineering and he did a magnificent job.

Four Seasons Whirligig

In 2005 I took some of the bands from each blade and came up with "All Year Square" which has been one of my most popular designs.  It's pictured further back in this blog under Current Workshop Designs.  For years I've planned to take the full design from each blade and make some sort of box, and now I've finally done it, though it's not exactly a box.  It's a French etui and is pictured below, opened and closed.  Since "All Year Square" is a 2 inch cube, this piece is called "Tall Year Square".  The inside houses a pin cube, wool felt needle page, scissor holder, tool holder and rings for floss as well as a scissor fob.

Spring and Summer Panels
Fall and Winter Panels
This is a very colorful piece which uses 6 colors of linen, 5 colors of silk Dupioni, 6 colors of pearl cotton and around 30 different overdyed silk flosses from Gloriana Threads.  It has stitching on the bottom and also on the inside of the lid, though they are not visible in the photos.  It also has beads, pearl buttons, cords, tassels and barrel buttons - those double ended tassels on the corners of the lid.

The charts for this piece are already done so once I write the instructions it will be available as a workshop - next year.

PS:  Look for another new toy in the next few days!

Monday, April 25, 2011

New Stuff

Shaker spool box, opened
Shaker spool box, closed
Darning scissor fob
Mermaid napkin ring pin cushion

The photos above are of some recent pursuits.

Several years ago Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly had an article on Shaker spool boxes which was accompanied by a reproduction designed by Merry Cox. I stitched the design using supplies from my stash ( my linen and floss colors were different ) and then finished it according to the magazine's instructions. I wasn't happy with the way it turned out so I designed my own spool box and finished it my way.

The top photo shows the box opened with the inside of the lid showing. The second photo shows the box buttoned shut with the scissors in their sleeve on the lid and the little emery pillow sitting alongside. This is stitched on Prairie Grain Belfast linen with Gloriana overdyed silk flosses and pearl cotton.

When I was designing the Casket Etui I did some research on darning with the idea of including some in the project. After teaching myself to do it using instructions I found on the internet, I decided that darning is pretty tedious to do and I didn't want to teach it as part of the Casket class. So I wound up with my practice/learning piece of darning just sitting around and decided to make it into the scissor fob shown in the third photo. It is worked on Platinum Belfast linen using Gloriana floss and Valdani overdyed pearl cotton.

I've been on Ebay again and recently found the mermaid napkin ring shown in the last photo. It originally came from Portugal and is sterling silver. In keeping with the previous napkin ring pin cushions I've made and shown below, I designed this one to match the napkin ring. It is cross stitched over one and shows a mermaid sitting on a rock in the sun by the sea and holding up her mirror. Like the others, this is worked on Platinum Belfast linen but this time I used Gloriana's new "Florimell" overdyed Soie D'Alger - a truly gorgeous floss!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stumpwork Ornament

It has been a long time since I designed anything in Stumpwork, but the opportunity to teach a short beginner's level class for my EGA chapter got me back into it. This is a 3 inch in diameter flat disc ornament worked in Gloriana silk flosses and pearl cotton on silk Dupioni fabric. The raspberry is padded with felt and has woven bar sepals. The web is worked in a very fine silver metallic thread. The stitches used in this design are chain, closed fly, French knot, buttonhole, satin, straight, herringbone and lazy daisy.

Napkin Ring Pin Cushions

If you are fortunate enough to have inherited some silver ( or any other kind ) napkin rings and you don't use them, here's something you can do with them.

I don't know who originated this idea but I learned of it from a stitching friend (Thanks, Marty!) who made one from a book by Blackbird Designs. Hers was made with a wooden napkin ring which she had painted. I love silver and collect antique silver British mustard pots so when I saw Marty's pin cushion, I thought a silver napkin ring would make a spectacular pin cushion.

When I was in London in January I went looking for a mustard pot on Portobello Road and found a shop specializing in silver. I did find a mustard pot there but also saw a huge bowl full of napkin rings sitting on the counter. I wish I had bought lots of them instead of just one - it got made into a pin cushion and given to a friend. The two in these photos are from Ebay where napkin ring prices range from $20 up to several hundred dollars.

In designing the stitching for these pin cushions, I used motifs on the napkin rings themselves as inspiration. In one photo you can see the thistle on the ring and also the variation of it that I stitched. The other ring has an ornate leaf which I translated into stitching with a very colorful overdyed floss.

You could also make a pin cushion for just one end of the napkin ring so that the ring would be the base and sit on its flat side. I hope that this inspires you - these would make wonderful gifts for very special stitching friends!

Now I'm off to take another look at Ebay.....

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It's finally finished!

I finished the last of the 'smalls' for the Sampler Casket Etui last night. Above are two views of the complete design. The first photo shows the front of the casket and one side of each of the smalls. The smalls are, left to right, the Quaker scissor fob, the Pattern Darning scissor sheath, the Dutch thimble or button bag, the Spanish/Mexican needle book with Spanish side showing and the Scottish alphabet pin cube. The second photo shows the back of the casket with all of the smalls, except the scissor sheath, flipped over. The second side of the needle book is the Mexican side and features a panel worked in Aztec stitch. The scissor sheath is only stitched on one side - the other side is antique gold silk Dupioni which is also used to line the etui, the needlebook and the thimble bag.

Now comes the really hard part - making the class charts and writing the instructions. This phase will take me almost as long as the stitching did. Anyway, it has been a lot of fun to design and stitch and I'm pleased with the results - it's always a gamble as to whether a design idea is going to actually work. This one has a happy ending. Enjoy!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Trip to England and Wales

On Christmas Day 2010, my husband and I flew to England for a 30th wedding anniversary trip which also included a weekend of teaching for me. We spent the first week driving ( OMG! ) around southern England and Wales visiting friends, seeing the historic ships in Portsmouth and exploring sights having to do with the Arthurian legends which I have loved and read about for most of my life. The photo of me above was taken at the ruins of Tintagel Castle on the northern coast of Cornwall. Legend has it that Tintagel is the birthplace of King Arthur. The castle is on a small island which is connected to the mainland by a rock causeway. That's the Atlantic Ocean in the background. Standing on that cliff in the sunny cold of a December day was a lifelong dream come true!
The second weekend in January I taught my Toy Chest Etui for the Sampler Guild of the UK. The photo above is of our classroom - in an 18th century converted barn in Maidenhead, England! Both the classroom and the group of ladies who attended the workshop were lovely!

Retired Designs

Can’t See the Forest
Autumn Dream Weaver
Dianthus Box
Elizabethan Eights - front
Elizabethan Eights - back
Good for the Goose
Hydrangea Clover Cutter Necklace
Marezie D'orts
Nantucket Morning Glories
Pat's Request Husswif - exterior
Pat's Request Husswif - interior
Quaker Scissor Fob / Thimble Keep
Quaker Schoolgirl Etui
Silk and Satin Reticule - exterior
Silk and Satin Reticule - interior
Spanish Sampler Etui
Viola Scissor Pocket - exterior

Viola Scissor Pocket - interior
Gustav's Graffiti
Pauline's Heart

Mermaid Stitching Bag
 Exact Change Etui

Tall Year Square
Helix Etui