Sunday, September 28, 2003


Home again and read up on blogs. Opened the mail (had some great stuff which I'll share later) and fell into bed for an hour or so. Now back to bed and to the day job tomorrow. So "gimme a break" for tonight. I'll report in on the London adventure tomorrow. Had a splendid week.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2003


Sitting here looking out at the fountain in the internet cafe at the PRO (Public Records Office). Libby is getting her reader's card today (she is on a kick of chasing early household accounts and records) and then it's off to The Coach & Horses for Fish and Chips. V&A Tomorrow all day....

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Sunday, September 21, 2003


Well, for reasons various, we were not on the Friday flight but will be on a Monday flight. Had a "lost weekend" we didn't expect with Libby staying with me in town until tomorrow when we get off to London. We did get out and have some photo opportunities for inspiration for our new collaborative series of designs and some good stitching time.

More after arrival in London.

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Friday, September 19, 2003


Well, we're off to catch a plane today - so it's on the road for us. I'll check in as I can. If the hotspots or Internet cafes are good to me.

Now wonder what movies are on Virgin tonight?

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Wednesday, September 17, 2003


Found every one of those blasted colors. I keep saying "never again" and I am getting better. I've begun keeping projects together in the nice amenities bags Virgin used to give us. Now they have downsized them and they don't hold nearly as much.

Lazy person's tip for the day - blow all extraneous lint from floss boxes with a blast of pressurized air - oh heck blow out the keyboard while you're at it.

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I'm working at home today (which is otherspeak for I couldn't get a dayjob gig) so I've been doing long avoided chores. Turned out a drawer of abandoned stitching projects. Ruthless cutting off of usable fabric and throwing away of stitching.

Floss tidy fit. I use floss and never put the bobbins back where they belong in their nice little arranged boxes. I throw them in a heap in a collecting box to "be refiled later." Later never seems to come. I had a wonderful friend who didn't even stitch but LOVED organizing things. She used to put all my floss up when she visited. She moved a couple of states away though so I had to bite the bullet and do it myself. Bummer. What prompted all this virtue??? Another bad habit. I tend to fling colors into something I'm designing "on the fabric" and then let the bobbins get separated from the project before I document the colors I used. I'm now tediously searching for about 16 colors to match those in a piece of embroidery.

I TRY to be very organized. I envy folks who are. I've read every help yourself to a better life book about organization but they all seem to want me to do things that would take more time than I think the activity is worth.

There is hope I think. I'm pretty organized about research notes and bits and bobs. Perhaps I can improve in other departments as well.

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An eyeful of celtic dance costumes with a lot of what I assume is machine embroidery on them. Very expensive... but some nice iron on transfers when clicking on the designs button of this site.

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I love the fact that we have people blogging on about needlework in a handful of time zones. I can continually find something new and interesting to read at any hour of the day or night. Today I'm feeling a very dull person who knows a lot of clever needleworkers.

Another day of office boredom today but a little stitching on models tonight. I'll show off my progress tomorrow. Home to get some stitching done, work on the BIG blackwork design and pack to leave town for London on Friday.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2003


We find blogs and people are encouraged to start blogging.

Very quiet day on the stitching front around here. Life and the day job took over. Would someone kindly inform some great philanthropist that this white haired designer would like to just sit around stitching, designing, looking at old embroidery, and blogging? Address for grant provided upon inquiry.

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Sunday, September 14, 2003

The Beds of Roses Sampler that finally went on sale in our webcatalog a week ago has a long history.

Some 10 years ago, I found a band of barley twist meanders and roses on a 17th century sampler at the Victoria & Albert Museum. I fell in love with this little band in mossy green and soft rose and over the years I always wanted to design a sampler including this band.

I kept on collecting floral bands to complement the first band and then searched out a whitework band with a floral motif and fell in love with a diabolically difficult whitework alphabet. Then I sought text that would be appropriate. What better than a bit of love fluff from an Elizabethan poet "I will make thee beds of roses and a thousand fragrant posies"?

Once I had the sampler designed - what to do with it? First a sampler guild considered it for a workshop but declined. Then I taught it at CATS three years ago. After that students and others who saw the sampler kept asking when it would be published for sale. Most classes I teach need the booklets edited and adjusted for stitchers to use sans tutor.

About this time, the model went missing so publishing it was out of the question as I didn't have time to restitch a model. Hey - some of this is really picky over one.

I kept saying "soon, soon, soon" not wanting to confess I couldn't find the model. Then, will wonders never cease, a few days ago I found the model where it had not been removed from a set of display boards we had used at a show two years ago. And now I can get on with work on a companion piece for it. I have the text and a nice thistle band in mind. Watch this space!

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Saturday, September 13, 2003


Having noted a request to add comments to my blog --adding comments requires figuring out another add on program and bit of code and I'm not up to that right now, but I do gratefully accept all e-mail through the link on my blog or at blog@skinnersisters.com

If you would like your comments posted with my blog entries for others to see, give permission and I may do it (time permitting).

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Friday, September 12, 2003


New York City being much on my mind lately, I thought I would go surfing for embroidery and New York. Unfortunately I neglected to tell Google I meant NYC but thanks to the forces of serindipity I found a link to a site which chronicles the life of an embroideress who began to embroider in a time of armed conflict.

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Now that I'm addicted to blogging, I'm constantly on the lookout for other members of the blog tribe. As I knit (but don't design knitting patterns) I'm always up for a little knitting chat to knock me out of the ruts I get into. I found a great blog by Larry and have added a link to it (with his gracious permission). Now to decide on a new knitting project (don't mention the baby blanket sitting here staring at me). I did finish a warm cuddly throw for a friend who needed a warm cuddle but that was a no brainer. I just rummaged out some fuzzy thin sort of manmade stuff cast on some stitches did a few rows of garter stitch and made some diagonals of faggot stitch. Hardly counts in the scheme of things. The little blankie is finished except for the knit lace edging which I'm perpetually attaching. I make most baby blankies with white cotton so they can be bleached. Anyone who has ever been close enough to touch a baby doesn't have to ask why?

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Thursday, September 11, 2003


Having received some necessary floss from my design partner Libby the stitching on Sandycombe continues. I wonder if other designers reach the point I do when stitching their designs. At some turning point I wind up thinking "right, fine, it works -- now I just want to finish stitching the blasted thing and move on."


With all the lack of peace in our world today I've been re-reading Erich Fromm's "The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness" and it doesn't seem as if humankind has made much progress since 1973 when the book was written. I decided to see what embroiderers had to say about destruction and found a link to an inspiring article about creativity on the Canadian Guild site. As a social group we have no choice but to let things "stand" once we've made mistakes but I hope when we take up the same problems in the future we too can achieve "a triumph of creation over destruction."


We do love to talk and write about needlework and now Janine has joined the needleworkers who blog.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2003


I know many stitchers follow a rotation plan when working on stitching projects. I tend to rotate designs I'm working on. I start a design and then leave it for a bit and then come back to it. If it turns out to not fall in place gracefully and stubbornly resist my poking at it - I shelve it!! The two doors I'm working on now sat on the shelf for nearly a year. They were being very stubborn. They both needed a blackwork filling element that would be of a size to fit around both designs. Libby found her inspiration for the stained glass portion of these designs on one door, so I felt the blackwork "frames" needed to evolve from the same basic little motif. About a month ago, I got stubborn and determined to get them moving past the "designers block" phase and scrapped most of what I'd tried before (7 versions) and went back to counting threads, positioning the stained glass portions, positioning the corner elements and determining that I needed two 4 unit x 4 unit motifs that could be enriched in two different ways. Then they fell in place. Part of designing is knowing when to scrap what is simply not working.

But yesterday I did start a project that has been on the back burner for a long time. I hope it is ready for the Nashville trade show next year. It is a huge blackwork design that gives my charting software the wobbles it is sooooooooooo big and it won't be for the fainthearted. But it is a switch from the simpler things I'm also working on now and will bring a different flavor to my rotation.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2003


I try to live by the adage "you get up each day; you do the best you can; then you go to bed." This is one of those days. Did some model stitching last night (but not a lot), dashing around shipping orders from our weekend Fall Sale, paid bills, did laundry, washed dishes, put out the trash now off to day job. Not an inspiring day so far.

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Monday, September 08, 2003


I did get a bit of stitching done on Kew door no. 10 this weekend


but now it's back to the day job....groan.


Embroidery + cup. Wow lot of embroidered bras out there! But also a few interesting links including directions for Cup Stitch and a look at Kiddush Cup textiles.

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Sunday, September 07, 2003


In looking at Gytha's interpretation of the Fibonacci chart in close proximity with my stitchery, a subtle difference is apparent. I used the Wildflowers I stitched with in an unbroken manner from top to bottom of the design. Gytha changed colors on various bands. Her use of dark/light values in overdyes gives a good deal more definition to the bands and I really like it better than what I whipped out. What a difference a slight change in use of color application can make on a very small design! Now I wonder if anyone else has stitched this and how it turned out.

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I always enjoy seeing interpretations of designs I've published. This morning I had a scan of a little sachet stitched with one of my complementary designs, a little sampler using Fibonacci's Sequence. Gytha from the UK stitched it on 32 count Jobelan in Antique White from Silkweaver and assorted silk overdyes.

I stitched the original little sketchy model on 18 count Damask Aida from Zweigart using Wildflowers from Caron.

We've been handing out this chart at events and I tuck them into orders. I'll put it up on our guild and wholesale pages in the next week or so. I think I may make mine up as a needlebook.

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Saturday, September 06, 2003


I'm more chuffed than anyone can imagine that Lynn's daughter remembers me. Young artists and needleworkers are our hope for the future. I hope she is still inspired by French art and hasn't given up dabbling in water soluble crayons and other interesting things.


I see Laren is definitely dealing with kicking birds. Although I touch briefly on heraldic notions, it never entered my fairly sketchy understanding that a bird could be rampant. You find these little guys everywhere.

Jobin's print could easily be done in a voided interpretation. I really think I would correct the misprint/mistake in the center flower though.


Okay, part of tomorrow morning is LOST. Meri has enticed me to one of my favorite local flea markets. Not the huge mother of flea markets at the Rose Bowl, but just a little local one at Fairfax High. There usually is a bookseller there - dangerous and all sorts of embellishment bits and bobs for doing mixed media stitchery. Frames are always handy and postcards of embroidery or people doing embroidery or embroidered postcards. Old linens are another temptation.

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Friday, September 05, 2003


A new member in the ring of needlework bloggers, Carole, had checked in from Hawaii. Check out A Cross Stitcher's Journal. Can Asia, Europe, the British Isles, Africa or South America be far behind in joining us in blogging? I think not.

Not much in the way of stitching last night although I did start on CSI reruns for my stitching companion, I switched to a PBS documentary on international primary education. Did get a few bits of Doors in though.

Embroidery Surfing

Terms for the day "embroidery" and "spider" - I met a spider in my kitchen today - yielded a lot of links. Some of them follow:

A way out spider; a beautiful spider; a spider stitch; and a spider technique.

I see Laren is stitching from Bassee. I adore the birds in the early pattern books. I classify them as "KB" or SB" = Kicking Birds or Standing Birds. Now I am curious if Laren is stitching KBs or SBs.

On to the weekend. I always slow down on stitching on Friday thinking "I have all weekend to get that done" - then before I even bend a needle, Monday arrives - sure as death or taxes.

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Thursday, September 04, 2003


Needleworkers are nothing if not inventive - just look at the neat color changes and tweaks Jennifer Aikman-Smith has given to her blog!! We've added her to our ring of bloggers. It is such a treat to get up in the morning and read other folks' thoughts. I work so much in isolation. I LOVE r.c.t.n. and all my groups, but the blog experience is just another enhancement to the WWW (wonderful world of web).

Well, now that I'm home from the day job AND I have all but the fidgets done on the latest webpage update, I'm plotting bits and pieces for the goodie bags our tour group participants will get in London next month and it's back to model stitching.

I only got a few needlesful done on my Kew Door last night. On the commute this evening I got to wondering - are these things selling in the UK. I know our distributor started releasing the first eight as kits in August. I know from people's posts in groups and e-mails that they are being advertised in UK magazines. Ah the anguish. Do I show Puritan restraint and wait for the report from the distributor, do I call, do I bribe all my friends to go buy a kit to make me feel good?

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Now that I've finished the dreaded website update, I'm ready for a little fun. If you want to learn about cars ya' gotta look at a LOT of cars. If you want to learn about embroidery ya' gotta look at a LOT of embroidery.

Sure it's great to see stuff up close and personal at an event or in a museum, but that's not always possible. Also, no museum has a collection covering all aspects of any art. I turn to books and read/reread a bit of one of my library of textile and art books every day, but another favorite activity is SURFING FOR EMBROIDERY. So today as a treat, I went to my near and dear friend Google and tapped in "embroidery" and "Afghanistan". I'm liable to type in "embroidery" and almost anything. This gives me a chance to see a lot of embroidery I might have otherwise missed.

Take a little look at one site I found. As it happens when I surf, one thing leads to another. The triangular amulet reminded me of Sheila Paine's book The Afghan Amulet. This is a favorite book of mine. Embroidery and adventure all together. Can you imagine a nice English lady with no more than a few pounds in her pocket taking off on a quest to find the source of the embroidered amulet? Several copies are on sale at a reasonable price at Amazon.

Ah well, back to work at my day job here. Got to get those monthly billing statements out.

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I persist in doing my own webpages partly because I can't afford a professional webster but also because I always seem to want to tweak and twiddle with the graphics and then I make changes in link choices, etc. etc. etc. etc. You don't send an e-mail to someone else to do that at 2:00 a.m. so it's hands on. It may not be gorgeous but it's improved. However, it is torture to work on. It's like stitching something you hate. You know you'll be happy when finished but can't stand more than 10 minutes of working on it at a time.

But between model stitching tonight (still Kew Doors Sandy Coombe No. 2) I've been plugging away and I think I deserve credit for persistence if not talent.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2003


I guess I'm still rather "gosh, gee whiz" when it becomes apparent that someone actually stitches something I designed. Although I'm flattered to no end, I sometimes wonder "why did they want to do that"? Stitching someone else's vision and making it yours is a very powerful event. This spring Pat Girraffa, President of the Gateway Chapter ANG taught a design I'd had featured on the cover of Piecework at her guild and subsequently mounted it in a very clever way I never would have imagined. She won a ribbon at the Missouri State Fair this summer for this little bit of silk gauze nestled on a splendid box.

Meanwhile, back to model stitching. Have the outlining of the shapes about half done on a new Kew Doors design and have the blackwork sequencing worked out. Still only a touch of the solid cross stitching done though. So long as I go to bed with a bit more done, I'm content with my progress.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2003

One of the joys of being a VERY small business is doing one's one model stitching. Can you tell I'm stitching on models every spare moment right now? Downside is that it takes time from designing and I watch a good deal of rubbishy TV to get me through it -- upside, I really do like stitching my own first model because invariably I wind up changing something or fixing lots of somethings.

Ever wanted to be a professional model stitcher? Are you a designer looking for model stitchers? A Yahoo group brings model stitchers and designers together. The group hosts discussion, useful files and is enlightening to no end on this subject.


But I could stitch a LOT better if the ditzy woman upstairs would quit running around her apartment like a 2 year old. I've not met her up close and personal, but I have a vision of a 300# woman hopping and skipping about madly.

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Monday, September 01, 2003


I started this blog after a plaintiff cry was issued on rctn (rec.crafts.textiles.needlework) by Lynn H. for a blog that addressed the world of needlework exclusively. Now another needlecrafter has begun blogging. Check out meriwanderer's new blog.

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On America's Labor Day holiday I always seem to think about one of the tragic events in the history of working women. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. I was especially reminded of the tragic loss of life to workers in the New York garment industry in 1911 by a review of a book Triangle by David Von Drehle published in the Los Angeles Times yesterday.

The most disturbing thought is that sweatshop safety issues are still largely uncontrolled in the US or internationally. Workers are badly paid, conditions are often unsafe and jobs are insecure as more and more manufacturing is taken "offshore" where workers are paid even less.

Still and all, one needs to keep a perspective. When visiting the Embroidery Institute in Suchow, China a few years ago I determined that workers there were paid the equivalent of about $.30 US per hour. However, in the context of their society and available employment for women, they seemed (on a superficial inquiry) to be quite happy working in the factory setting where they had housing benefits associated with their workgroup, a hot lunch provided for them and pre-school age children who came to work with them as well as a small commission on any work of theirs sold to tourists in the associated shop. Knowing this made me less reluctant to spend money for embroidery there.

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