Tuesday, December 30, 2003


Stitched a bit on models but the Gorilla Upstairs has returned and distracts me. Finished updating the "one of a kind" catalog pages and uploaded them with the new books that have arrived lately.

It's off to TDJ (the day job) and then more model stitching tonight. Maybe I'll have enough finished to show my progress.

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It was great fun charting up Robin's bits but now I'm back with needle to the grindstone. Finished two Wee Little Samplers that had been almost finished for ages - well since 2002. I'm half finished with stitching the 2002 sampler and am pushing to get them done for our New Year's weekend sale on the webcatalog.

Then there is updating the website...........arrrrggghhhh. New stuff has to go in, prices have to be adjusted as bits are taken off special sale and new bits put on sale. Need to dig up some new graphics, update the links and happily update the shop information where our designs are on offer.

Then it's on to getting models done for Nashville.

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Monday, December 29, 2003


I had some fun this weekend adapting a 16th century design for my friend Robin. I can get into more trouble when I say "mmm I think I can do that" when I've never tried "that" before. When I visited Robin earlier this year we put our minds to doing something for the frontispiece of her German gown. Looking at the portraits she was using as inspiration we found a woodblock in Bernhard Jobin's New Kunstlichs Modelbuch of 1596. Although it was charted in block graph, it echoed the bannered twig designs seen in early portraits. I thought we could turn it into an outline for double running.

Robin is a talented designer but charting challenged as there are not any really easy solutions for producing needlework designs on a MAC so I volunteered to produce the chart.

First it required charting of the 1596 design into a design program. Not the easiest thing to do, these old woodblock prints are not always clear in intent.

Then came the fun of creating a double-running chart.

Then the slanted lettering in a faux 16th century style (Robin chose the motto Vita Brevis, Ars Longa).

Mine was the easiest part - now Robin has to stitch it all. When she is finished though she will truly have a "bling bling bosom" considering it will be paired with a band of goldwork as well.

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Friday, December 26, 2003


Hooray!! My 300 gorilla upstairs neighbor apparently went out of town for the holiday weekend. It has been SO peaceful here. No running, jumping, slamming, throwing. No waiting for the next noise. It takes very little to please me.

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Thursday, December 25, 2003


Being the odd person out, I'm out of step on holiday music as well. The last week of the year finds me indulging in my Edith Piaf collection. My French is lacking, the themes are sad/nostalgic but sometime joyous. I think I enjoy the little sparrow at this time of year because she reminds me of my youth and first visits to Paris at age 19 (pre McDonald's and pre pyramid at the Louvre). So I'm indulging today.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2003


Amazing, ring of doorbell at 5:00 p.m. Christmas Eve- US Postal Service delivering a media mail box containing a book I had ordered for a modest $20.00 from Second Story Books in Rockville, Maryland. I first saw the book on e-Bay whilst surfing about but didn't want to pay a huge price for an ex libris copy of a book on a textile subject rather marginal to my usual interests. After a search I found it on an Alibris listing and ordered it. It turned out to be a pristine copy of a 9 pound art book titled Great Tapestries, the Web of History from the 12th to the 20th Century by Edita S.A. Lausanne (1965). It is full of stunning color plates (including amazing detail plates) and tipped in plates. The four sections (Gothic Tapestry, Classical Tapestry, Contemporary Tapestry and The Weaver's Art) are comprised of page after page of text by some of the world's authorities. For example the Gothic Tapestry section is written by Pierre Verlet the then curator of the Musee de Cluny and curator of the Department of Objets d'Art at the Louvre. The section on the weaver's art is one of the most illustrative looks at tapestry weaving I have seen. If it is in your local library or you see a copy available and you are interested in weaving/textile history, medieval history or just lust for gorgeous books - don't pass this one up.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Cyberspace is a miserable world when all the spam arrives (despite the efforts to block the worst of it) but it's great when amongst the mess is a nice friendly message from a young (assumed) man who just wants to know "why you bought shares in my blog". Umm I may not agree with some of their views, I may agree with some of their views but it would be a very boring world if I only read blogs of people who agreed with me. I did make money on the blog and sold it off, but I've now gone back and bought a few more shares even though I'm usually ruthless in selling blogshares (even my own).

Then also wedged in with various invitations to increase the size of anatomical parts I don't possess was an e-mail from someone who bought one my books and had visited our website.

It's just nice to know there are people out there who do listen and respond and are ready to engage in friendly interaction. A good way to start a new year.

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In my vast amount of available play time, I just remembered I wanted to see if Foyles Books, Charing Cross Road was doing something about putting up a website. Oh Dear! Have they! AND if you do a quick search on "embroidery" "needlework" (you get the picture) you not only will turn up available books but also those due out in 2004. Elizabeth Anderson has recently had a book released on miniature embroidery. A must have and I'll snag one in February.

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Sunday, December 21, 2003


Our 9th and 10th Doors of Kew - models done. Libby will get the charts set up and printed (she takes on that job for these charts - she has the BIG printer) and they will debut at Nashville. Hope all the shop owners like them as much as we do.

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Saturday, December 20, 2003


The Celtic Alphabet cover, text finished. First copies printed to send off to distributor and for inventory. Ready to go onto web catalog for after Christmas sale.

On to the next finish. A Doors of Kew model should be done today.

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Gamesmanship and hand-eye coordination as polished by computer games is not just for the young. I bested my personal best Welltris score today. Just a small victory after being treated like a doddering old fool by the young computer geek teenietwit yesterday. And I'll bet he never ever heard of Leather Goddesses of Phobos. Hmm I'll have to crank that up over the holidays and give it a go. Wonder if the scratch & sniff cards are still up to sniff. Probably not. It is a very old game. You need to be able to spell to play it.

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Friday, December 19, 2003


Amazing how small experiences change one's perspective on life, the universe and everything.

I try to live with the following SOP (as they say in the Army- Standard Operating Procedure) I get up every day, I do what I can and then I go to bed. I do try to do the most important or "must do" sorts of things during the day, but I seldom accomplish everything I "should" do so when frustrating events threaten to take over, I just opt out of worrying about them.

I got over my snit yesterday by watching a super 3 hour special on the life of Charles Dickens. I had taped it the night before. It pointed out a few sites in London I now need to explore. I also frogged the mess I made of one of the Kew Doors models and I'm back in stitching mode on them so I soon should have another finish accomplished.

Then today - the part I fought to buy yesterday was delivered and should solve printer problems AND I got 2 super wonderful thingies from e-bay auctions. Four little German and French pattern booklets from an Argentinian source who (being a man and not a needleworker) had listed them in an inappropriate section so I got a wonderful price AND 10 17th century handmade pins from The Netherlands. My students will get to touch the pins in classes in 2004. I think it is important to be able to touch textile history, not just to see it behind glass in a museum.

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Thursday, December 18, 2003


Okay, I admit to one of my most frustrating experiences. I HATE condescending treatment from smooth cheeked young males in computer stores or at the printer supply counter in the office supply big box store. Yes, dear child I'm sure that is the model number of my printer, yes little twerp it does have a separate printhead. My dear little boy, I cannot help it if you don't know the technical ins-and-outs of the department where you are supposed to offer customer advice. I want this part, the number is xxxxx your store inventory number is xxxxxx. We finally came to the conclusion that although it is a disposable part used in printing, it is not carried in store - special order only, so home to order on the web.

I also HATE it when shops hide behind the "we don't do that madam" when they really mean, we don't want to bother stocking it, learning about it, we're too lazy to look it up, or just plain - we don't care about customer service.

There - I will now have a super duper double strength hissie fit after wasting a morning trying to purchase a common item and then I'm taking the rest of the day off, thank you very much. A big thick roast beef sandwich for lunch was somewhat therapeutic as well.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2003


Not only do we have bloggers logging in at all hours but we have bloggers who are blogging away in different seasons. While Laren is struggling with wool stitchery in an Australian Summer others are stitching away by a cozy fire trying to stay warm. Me, I'm in LaLa Land - seldom cold, seldom unbearably hot. I guess I'm just a step out of season all the time. That's why I like to visit places that have definite seasons. A dose of reality.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2003


As did Jennifer I came home tonight from TDJ (the day job) to find an order from a distributor on the fax machine. Now unlike my favorite dragonperson, I have no unpaid staff so I wonder if Nick would be interested in popping in for a little punching and binding of booklets. Perhaps not; it has turned a little cold here - the swimming pool has now gasped its last for the winter and I had to wear a thick sweater coming home at 5:00 p.m. Bless the ladies at Nordic Needle and may they forever keep on ordering Blackwork For The Bewildered.

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Friday, December 12, 2003


What a super day I've had. Libby and I met in Pasadena and went to the Huntington Library's William Morris exhibit which continues through April 4, 2004. I had almost forgotten how much I liked some of the Kelmscott Press books. My hands itched to turn the pages. I did a little search on the British Library catalog and they have 51 Kelmscott books. I'll be able to hold them there and turn the pages.

A surprise exhibit was "Drawn to Art - Art Education and the American Experience, 1800-1950" A wonderful little look at how we teach "art" to children. Highly recommended if you are in the area but it only continues through January 4.

Then a special treat, Libby has loaned me her copy of Queen Elizabeth's Wardrob Unlocked. I use it in libraries from time to time but haven't had the luxury of owning a copy or reading it through and through and pondering over the notes. Now it's hard to do any of the tasks I'm supposed to be accomplishing.

AND I've had a chat with Jo of Dinky Dyes and she is sending me some of her fibers to try. I normally pay for all my bits and pieces. I don't get much in the way of free samples from folks, but she barely allowed me to pay postage. What a lady and the colors look good enough to eat. Watch this space, I'll let you know the results.

Now - off to day job tomorrow. Finished up the tour webpages but need to do all the other "fearful finishes".

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Tuesday, December 09, 2003


People do read this blog!!!! Amazing. I just had a call from my friend MJ in Vienna to say she was having fun playing with some of the projects on the kids craft site list I had posted. She had sent it on to a group of parents so they could play as well. We should never grow too old to play. Otherwise we lose that wonderful spirit of creativity that young people take for granted.

When teaching young stitchers I never start by teaching them to duplicate a design or read a chart. We start with plastic canvas and threads and embellishments and then they stitch a scene and tell me a story about it. I sit with them and stitch a scene as well and share a story with them. Kids can handle fine motor movement and correlation with charts and such at about age 8 or so.

Painted canvas is a great medium for them as well. It gives them a foundation design for building a work of fiber art. Having them "paint" their own canvas with markers and then stitch their art is a super way to teach about textures and the way fibers behave when stitched.

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Well, I should have been working on serious stuff tonight but I've been trying out some new and rechecking some old kids craft sites. Here's a great bunch. Don't waste these links entirely on kids - they're fun.

Maverick's Paper boats and also all sorts of folded stars. Even May baskets! Remember those?

Free project instructions from Craft Creations Magazines. Mostly for the 7+ age

Twelve folded airplanes from the simple to the complex. Great for decorating with color, stickers, whatever.

Absolute must for parents. A UK site with all sorts of printable thingies - even kid's checks so they can write checks like mommy and daddy

Another must
Every sort of craft including edible crafts and crafts for holidays that can be hard to find projects to celebrate including Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Canada Day, and El Dia de los Muertas.

Printsville - Hewlett Packard's creativity site

For Everything on railsScroll to Free Paper Kit Downloads and Children's Choo Choo Section. I made a fun cut-fold and glue train for holiday ornaments one year and they keep adding more stuff to this site. Learn a Hobo Alphabet and play board games as well as create dioramas.

Use up those grocery bags - make backpacks.

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Monday, December 08, 2003


As Jennifer reminded me, it's that time of year when I search out online craft opportunities for moms who need to entertain kidlets during the school holidays or badweather days. I'll give a good look around next weekend, but here are some of my old favorites:

Crayola has a great site with print off crafting/coloring projects
Marilee's Paperdoll Page has links to other kid friendly crafting sites and free printable paper dolls
Kids Crochet Page has simple projects suitable for young people and instructions to make them.

I'd better get cracking on this year's list. Moms who work in the same suite at my day job will soon be asking for this year's update.

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Sunday, December 07, 2003


Is it only me or do others get within a cat's whisker of finishing a project and just seem to be unable to finish it? I have the webpages for our 2004 needlework tour almost finished; I have the Doors models almost finished; I have all the stuff I need to send to Rockome finished except for the ad layout; I have the celtic alphabet book ready to go except for the cover. Do I have a fear of finishing??? I know when I do finish a project I sometimes have to go through a period of restlessness before I can latch onto something else to do.


I found Ulrike and her order is on its way. I also found out that Welltris (the original version) will run under Windows and I even found the manual for the look up entry info. Tetris unfortunately will not behave with Windows 98 and beyond. Although it's a DOS program, it worked on Windows 95. Other good news - Blogshares will be up and running soon (finger's crossed) after a sudden demise last month.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2003


This is the second time in a week that I've been done in by folks' spam filters. People will send inquiries through my website to info@skinnersisters.com or sales@skinnersisters and then fail to enable their spam filters to receive a reply. I just spent 2 hours trying to reply to Ulrike in Germany. If she is reading this blog - I really tried and yes I do ship to Germany and the cost of shipping your order would be US$3.80 by surface or $4.00 via airmail.

I know potential customers might think we are flaky but I really do answer all inquiries (sometimes if I'm out of town it takes a few days).

So keep those e-mails coming but remember to answer the door if we try to answer.

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