Class prep is great fun!

A rainy weekend in the mountains is just what we needed to get kits ready for our Summer School at the Attic class in three weeks. We snapped the work-in-progress photo as Maegan recreated parts of this little Victorian thimble case with red thread to tie in the "Six Shades of Red theme." Deconstructing the antique whithout doing damage is always a challenge. Not to mention repeating the thousands of blanket stitches some patient girl completed many years ago.

Fourth finery...

Well, the day started with major yard and pool cleanup following the first "monsoon" storm of the season. The upside is that today was pleasant and cooler than most July Fourth's in the desert. But, before the sun goes down and the fireworks begin, we want to share some Independence Day images with you. The first is the talented Bonnie Olson's finish of our new "Sweet Land" chart, completed just in time for July 4.

Selecting the right frame

We are having such fun preparing for the Fall Needlework Market in August. With a break from book writing and projects, we've had time to focus on some reproductions, and it looks like we'll have five samplers and two original designs for the show in St. Charles. As projects near completion, we start asking: How are we going to finish this? Hemstitch like the original? Frame? If it's pillow? Stand-up?

Introducing our new patriotic design: "Sweet Land"

Collaborating with artist Nancy Mills to bring you “Sweet Land” was a true delight! Back in February, her daily doodle on notebook paper (at left) was a charming pencil sketch that just begged to be repurposed as a cross stitch chart. Its free-flowing lines and casual playfulness expressed a bit of whimsy while capturing a sense of pride in our “sweet land of liberty.” Check out her talented and creative multi-media work at Five Times Blessed on both Etsy and Facebook.

Mother's Day greetings & musings...

These simple images from an old sampler (we promise to have it charted, stitched and available before Mother's Day 2015) bring to mind the words from a poem by Elizabeth Chase Akers Allen (1832-1911). It is one of Vickie's favorite poems about motherhood. Although she first heard the words as the lyrics to a folk song recorded in the 1990's, they were first set to music in 1862, and remained especially popular during the Civil War.

Beloved borders

We were out trimming trees the other day when I noticed a vine winding its way along a Palo Verde tree. The leaves were so evenly spaced, alternating angles every-other orderly, so border-like. So, I snapped a photo and came in to see if any of our antique samplers had a leafy pattern similar to the creeping fig vine. While I wasn't successful in finding a monochrome border, I did nab a few that illustrate the harmony that borders can create.

We love cows. We love bee skeps. But...

Sorry it took a while to get these photos loaded. Thanks to Mary McCallester, we have our beloved cow next to a tidy little bee skep atop a large pasture. Problem is, those bees decided to make our homes their homes a week or so back! Pesky critters set up shop in the wall between the outside slump block and the drywall at Maegan's house and in the block wall of Vickie's house. We sure prefer they stay tucked inside their official skeps or hives.

Works in progress

First up is AH 1837, the alphabet sampler in the background.Its array of varied alphabets will make it a terrific resource for your stitching stash. Although the original was wool on canvas, we opted for overdyed cottons on linen. Next off the drawing board and into our hoop is this Mexican band sampler. Although unnamed an undated, its vibrant colors and delightful borders begged to be charted and stitched in silks that closely resemble the original fibers.

No fooling..."Hippity Hop" is cute over-one too!

A week or so ago we introduced the over-two, framed version of "Hippity Hop" to welcome the first day of Spring. Now that April 1 is here, the over-one version makes his debut, stacked atop some old books while visiting with a pair of vintage porcelain bunnies. We fashioned this version into a sort of pin mattress and tacked an array of buttons along all four sides. The chart includes a photo of the 1905 hand-drawn Easter greeting that inspired the project.