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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Report from Salty Yarn's Ocean City Stitcher's Jamboree

Hi all stitching friends! Once again I have to apologize for being so bad at keeping in touch. One more week and then I am hoping that things will get back to normal. I have work to do on Saturday and I need to prepare for it over the evenings, so that makes for very long working days right now. I figured that I'd sneak off into the basement to blog real quick before bed-time!

But first - many congratulations to my Littlest Sis who has her birthday today! Grattis Emmis! Alskar dej, saknar dej, pussar och kramar i massor!
Here she is, my gorgeous sister (Little Sis to the very left, Littlest Sis - today's birthday girl - in the center):
This photo was taken during a Swedish winter-day in 2009. Looks cold, huh!?
Here is a nice contrast - Ocean City last weekend:
10 points to anyone who can spot the Swedish connection in the photo below.
NJ-Babe and me taking an early Saturday morning stroll in the sand:

So what to say about the weekend? Remember that I mentioned that I was a little bit intimidated before I left? Well, no reason to feel uneasy - shows up that I know the shop-owners since before from ASG in 2008. Sally and Sara and I even had lunch together at one occasion and we sat next to each other in class!!! How cool is that?
Salty Yarns is definitely a family company in its true meaning. The shop is connected to the family owned hotel, The Lankford Hotel, and also with the family driven gift-shop. It is the coolest set-up. The store fronts are located smack down on 8th street in the middle of the board-walk, so there is a lot of random foot-traffic coming through during the high season. We were allowed to run amok is the huge store after hours, so we were all in heaven.
This is the store front, with the hotel on the right:
A peak inside:
Needless to say I came home with more stash than I have the stomach to post on this blog... :-)

Anyway, Friday evening started off with a homemade lasagna dinner, followed by a cocktail party with hors d'oeuvres. (Let me tell you, we were constantly stuffed during the entire retreat!) We got to make new friends and re-connect with old ones. I was especially happy to meet Lady P from Luxemburg, who is absolutely lovely. We have met at several different events across the US and she is always very graceful and generous with showing all her stitched pieces. What is really cool with Paula is that she actually travels with her own trunk show! She has a huge collection of stunning pieces that she shows all of her fellow stitchers and it is always much appreciated.

Saturday started with class at 9 AM. We were split into 3 groups, one per teacher, and we all got assigned a class-room each for the entire event. Our first class was with Amy Bruecken and it was really fun. She is a merry lady whose key-word was "cute,even though I think that most of her designs combine cute with funky so that it is not too sugar-sweet. The class piece is a large raven sitting atop a huge pumpkin. The leaves of the pumpkin are made from memory tread glued onto felt and the lose thread ends form the tendrils. A very cool design that I am excited to finish! I was having way too much fun to take any photos, but I have a pic of the project:
As you can see, I still have to stitch most of this piece and cut out my felt-leaves. I did find it refreshing to have a teacher who encouraged us to play with the thread and be liberal with glue. You could tell that many of us were definitely out of our comfort zone when we could not count squares... LOL
Amy did even give us an extra little chart (she had a big drawing and she decided that everyone needed to get a prize) of a spider with memory thread legs; Crazy Legs. She told us that the reason why she is so into memory thread is because there is a DMC office next to her studio, so she always get the latest scoop directly from DMC. How cool is that!?
She did also talk about how she always try to keep the prices down on her charts by making them a one-page deal. That is why some of her charts tiny, but she encouraged us to make enlarged working copies to stitch from.

After lunch (or rather, after being attacked by recklessly brave/stupid seagulls during lunch on the porch), my class and I got to take the strawberry class with Barbara Jackson of Tristan Brooks. She has a very different style compared to Amy - the first thing we did was baste the linen for a good 10-15 minutes, so this aiming less for "cute" and more for "correct". She is a pretty assertive lady and the basting step was not optional. Even I, who hate basting to death, decided that I'd better go with it! the strawberry taught was a counted stitch, not crewel work. I would probably learned more from a crewel work class, but the piece is very pretty and I finished all my stitching over the weekend (the trip home was long...)
I did actually take a photo in class, but Barbara prefers not to end up on the web, so here is a photo of her finished piece instead (and my stitched piece below):
Barbara knows what she is doing, so it was quite entertaining to see her get really frustrated when her class did not know what they were doing... She even had one poor student stand up while she fixed their mess - that took quite a few minutes, by the way. It is so interesting to see how different teaching-styles can be. She was still a delightful teacher and seems to be a really sweet person.

After class was over (all classes were short - 3-3.5 hrs, which was also very nice), we ran around in the store like head-less chickens. Oh, I forgot to mention all the gifts we got from Salty Yarns. I am pretty sure that I forgot a bunch of my gifts there, but that is alright. This is what I managed to actually get with me home:
The coolest gift was a chart, November Word Play from With Thy Needle and Thread, plus a small note that said that we would get a cut of linen to stitch the design on of any count, color, brand, that we wanted. I picked out a really neat piece, but since I don't seem to have the chart anymore, I may have to come up with something else to stitch on it. Dinner with the stitch-buddies, early bed, and ready to stitch again on Sunday.
Even though I did stay up a little bit extra to work on my Hare Pyns companion piece:

The last class was the one I enjoyed the most. Elizabeth Talledo, who owns two design companies - Dames of the Needle and Finger Work - had designed the coolest design for us. She decided to use the Mexican "Day of the Dead" for her inspiration and created a very cool and colorful felt small for us. You can check out the project photos and read more about it on her blog, http://damesoftheneedle.blogspot.com/ and while you are there, leave her a comment (or even better, sign up to become a follower). We were gently encouraged to keep in mind that there were no rights or wrongs and to do our own thing, as in picking our own floss colors and to not fret over the evenness of our blanket-stitches. I think that my creative juices were over-flowing at this point, so the fabulous colors (and an early stitch-mistake) made me give up and just do my own thing. I really liked it and Elizabeth was very graceful and did not get irritated that I hijacked her kit.
This is what I have at the current stage - note the wonderful buttons and the pin,, threader and thread holder with the little sculls on them - aren't they cool!?
I felt really great after the end of this class. Elizabeth told us that she had noticed an interesting development during the retreat. The first class was very picky about getting thievery just so, and after that, each class got more and more creative. Our class was definitely having fun picking funky color combinations, but we were also asking for help constantly, so she was very,m very busy while teaching our class.
As a little bonus project, we got a beautifully printed piece of heavy-weight paper, extra wool felt and a ribbon, so that we could make a needle book - very cool!

Well, that was the end of class. Since Sally owns the hotel we were free to keep our luggage in our rooms as long as needed. I managed to do some more damage and picked up a few Dames of the Needle kits (Maryland Hornbook and Primitive Needle-Roll (neither photo makes the actual pieces justice). The trunk show was just too inspiring to say no to. After browsing the net a bit, I realized that even though I am not entirely familiar with Elizabeth's companies, I do own quite a bit of her designs, like and Elizabethan Purse and Elizabeth Savilles 1841 Sampler (published under Finger Work -check out Terri's gorgeous finish on her blog Chocolates for Breakfast, Stitching for Lunch, here)..

It showed up that Elizabeth was getting to Philly on the same flight as I was going on, so we had lunch and drove back to the airport together. I had such a great time and I can't wait to take a class with her again! The weather was fantastic, so we even had time for one more walk along the boardwalk before we had to leave Ocean City. I am definitely coming back to Salty Yarns again and I recommend this retreat to stitchers of all levels - it will be a bunch of fun, I assure you!

Well, time to hop to bed (no work got done this evening....)
Have a Good Night, some Happy Stitching, and talk with you soon again (on Sunday I hope....),

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

String, String, String...

I am so sorry about not having time to surf around and visit all of you, but the weeks over here are pretty insane right now. I'll do better - promise (I'd better, or I will probably yell at someone at work soon...)!
I also wanted to say tanks so much for all the kind words and cheers over the finished Hare Pyns - I really appreciate it, thanks so much!

Right now it is work, work, work during the days (you know, days so full that you have to plan when to squeeze your bathroom breaks in...) and string, string, string in the evenings.
I probably didn't mention in my last post that we were taught to make a couple of different lucet cord types; the square cord and the flat braid. The latter is plenty harder to make than the first. We concentrated very hard on making the flat braid during the second half of the course day, which was great because it was a piece of cake to go back and pump out a few yards of the basic square cord after that. I even developed my own technique after a while and I got the square cord done in no time. Here is the current update (note my brand new silver-dollar lucet!) with bundles of square cord and flat braid ready to be used for the finishing step:
I am looking forward to finish the lucet pouch and to use all the yummy cord.

I got many inches done bunch done while volunteering for a Scout Innovation Badge event through work on Saturday. I was talking career options with kids of ages twelve to seventeen and specifically what a Chemical Engineer can do. It was great and I think that some of the scouts did get pretty impressed and pumped about all the opportunities that are out there for engineers. If I managed to convince one out of the 50 kids that were there, I would be very satisfied indeed! Here is the poster I made and displayed - I spent a lot of time on it so that it would attract some well-needed attention.
You throw in a space theme and lots of cool pictures of everyday stuff, stir, and hopefully you have made some brand new engineers... ;-) As mentioned, in between the booth visitors, I did get a bunch of cord done and I had a t least three curious adults come by to ask what I was making. They seemed more excited about the cord making than the kids did about a career in the science field. (Apparently a lot of the kids nowadays are planning a career path that involves going to the moon... Who knows, that may mot be an all that far-fetched future.)

I am still working on the flat braid - I need three more brown lengths (I am not pleased with the tension of the first one, so it that one is a do-over...) - but if I get time, I may get them completed this week.
Speaking of the lucet, Sherri e-mailed me today to let me know that she has finally launched her brand new web-site, Patrick's Woods. It is great - swing by and take a look. She has pictures and descriptions of class-projects (current and retired), patterns, her teaching schedule, and even a blog! Very cool. The neatest thing is that she will teach on-line classes from her site in the future too! She has posted the first project, which is brand new little bunny purse- isn't it pretty!?
Speaking of bunnies - DH took this pic on Sunday morning (thanks for letting me dry my hair and put on make-up, honey... LOL). I finally had some time to sit down and breathe after a crazy week. Talking with Mom on the phone with a big, black bunny on my chest and a little dusty-green Hen hanging out (Henny is totally checking out Bubba.)

This week ended up being packed as well; I am giving a presentation about male gender biases to the local SWE chapter over lunch tomorrow (the presentation is not pulled together yet, of course), going for dinner at a friends house tomorrow night, and I will probably have to pack on Thursday, since I am going away on another stitch retreat leaving on Friday! No, I promise that I am not making this up - I am going to Salty Yarns' Ocean Jamboree for the first time. My friend NJ-Babe has gone before - I try to meet up with her at least once a year - and she swears that it is a great time! I am a bit intimidated, since I have read the organizer's blog and let me tell you, I may not open my mouth once during the entire retreat! You can have a look for yourselves and see what you think.... Salty Yarns. Everything is fair game on this blog; teachers, customers, co-workers - you name it.... It will be nice to see the ocean though... LOL
The teachers are Elizabeth Talledo (Dames of the Needle), Amy Bruecken, and Barbara Jackson (Tristan Brooks). I am particularly excited about the Barbara Jackson's class, since she will be teaching one of her original strawberries. I am pretty sure that it will be crewel embroidery, so it will be a lot of fun to work a bit more with that.

Other interesting tidbits; DH has fallen hard for the TV-show "Dog the Bounty Hunter", so we watch at least 5 episodes on Netflix each and every evening now. It is an interesting show and you can't help but really liking the guy. He looks like a real gangster but he really has a soft and truly caring heart. His wife Beth is fascinating as well (and she is definitely the hard-a$$ in the team). I mean, you are bound to have a huge personality when you chose to chase down bond-breakers by foot in stiletto heels! You go Beth!

Finally, I can tell you that lucet cord making is fun, but I do miss all those crosses... :-)
Happy Stitching and talk with you in a bit,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I am still alive and stitchin'

Hi everyone - I hope that you are all great! I am fantastic, but super-busy both at work and at home, so I have been slacking both on the blog-posting side and the blog-reading front. I hope that I will be able to shape up soon! I apologize for not keeping up with all of your blogs, but that is the big goal for Sunday! As always, thanks for all your comments; they mean so much to me. I am still in awe every day about the fact that blogging is such a wonderful connector to stitchers all over the world. I am still as excited about blogging today than I was when I started.

Well, enough blubbering - let's get down to business! As you may remember, last weekend I took two classes with Sherri Jones of Patricks Woods; The Lucet and Hare Pyns. We had a blast and we learned so much! Now I have taken 4 classes with Sherri and I am always impressed with her teaching skills, her personality and sense of humour (her stories are simply hilarious!) and her fantastic designs. I have never taken a class with her without learning something new.
We started off with the Lucet class on Saturday morning. We were about 20 ladies, I would guess, and we were lucetting our little fingers off all day long. So much fun!
Here is Sherri showing off various types of lucets:
.. and here is a small sample of different types of cording you can make with the lucet (beaded, flat, square, multi-colored - you name it!):
DH often claims that I am "easily amused" (is that a bad thing? - I don't think so) - and he may have a point... Apparently I found something to really laugh about here - note that the ladies around me look more skeptical than grinning their faces off like yours truly.... ;-)
Here is a close-up of the Rovaris necklace upon request! (Thanks for taking the pic Froggie and enjoy Joyce! LOL)

Lady P was the hostess for the Lucet class. We crashed her house on the way out to dinner and wow, we were in heaven! She has a vast collection of gorgeous samplers everywhere. I took photos of pretty much all of them, but I will only give you a teaser here.
The is Lady P next to her Dutch Beauty. I can not even begin to tell you how pretty this sampler is - or how huge it is!
A true Kentucky couple's home - samplers on the wall and NASCAR on TV!
Part of Lady P's smalls collection - is this not just the best piece of furniture for a fabulous display?
And this is a fantastic - simply beautiful - large box topped with a Periwinkle Promises sampler. I am pretty sure that this was a class project.

Well, I had too much fun to remember to get my camera out. Dinner was great - Sherri, Lady P, L-bug and a new friend, Amy, and I went out for dinner at a steak place. We had such a nice time. Amy is just the sweetest lady and she got us all desert off the menu simply by giving the waitress one of those puppy-dog looks that you can not say no to. Amy is also a blogger - she blogs e-v-e-r-y d-a-y - can you believe it!? If you get a chance, please swing by over to check out her blog and say hi - she would love to have you stop by, I'm sure: Thread in Hand!
After dinner, L-bug and I went back home to her house. She was kind enough to let me stay over from Friday night to Sunday, which decreased my travel time by 150%! She is the sweetest friend one could ever wish for; she left chocolate and candy in the guest-bedroom for me, had a full breakfast menu, and let me play in her stash for hours. What 4-star hotel has a stash to play in? Not many, I bet!

The Hare Pyns finishing class started early Sunday morning. We were about 12 ladies at various stages of completion and we had a great time! I brought my sewing machine all the way from Kentucky and was so annoyed that I could not get the tension of the sewing thread right through the entire class. It wasn't until I was all packed up and half-way back home that I realized that the thread spool should have been in the vertical position and not the horizontal position - sigh!!! Well, that's what happens when you try to sew too early in the morning... LOL
I love the concept of "finishing class". I am pretty good about whipping up the stitched part of a design, but the finishing step is one that generally takes me a loooong time to get to.
Well, I did not get everything finished in class - far from it - but I got enough done to motivate me to stick to it. Lookie what I finished yesterday night!
The only thing that I am not 100% happy with is the overlap of the ribbon used for the pocket border. I have one corner that sticks out too much and I do not like the look of it. However, it is way too late to try to fix it, so unfortunately, it is what it is. I am very happy about most of the rest (but I seriously do have to invest in a great pair of scallop fabric shears so that my felt pieces don't look like I chewed them into shape....)

Well, so one project down, hundreds to go. It does not help that I accidentally picked up a bunch of new kits and patterns from Sherri. I am really excited about starting on a couple of these, but seeing that I have a 20-project WIP list and that the lucet piece will require many hrs of TLC before I have manufactured the required number of yards of cording, I will have to brace myself. By the way, did I mention that I am going to another stitching retreat in about a week? I'll tell you more about in my next post.... Wink-wink...

And speaking of stash - a huge box awaited me today when I finally got home from work ay 9:30 PM. Stash!!!!! The pile of silks in the front is for the Shores of HRH SAL that Valerie of A Shenadoah Sampler and I are planing on doing here soon. Oh, I can't wait!!!!
I know that 9:30 sounds pretty late to come home from work, but today was a special occasion. We had in our Swedish representatives and customers for meetings at work all day today. It was a lot of fun to speak Swedish and it is also easier to ask and discuss harder questions a lot more directly in someone's native tongue, so I was invited to come along to do the wine and dine thing. Dinner was held at one of the local Bourbon distilleries and we had such a great time! The weather was even good enough that we sat outdoors for most of the dinner. The guests did not want to leave, but luckily they did not have a choice (good planning on the hosts part...) since the chartered bus came and whisked them back to the hotel at 9PM sharp! Good thing too, they are leaving town 5:30 tomorrow morning! :-o
Well, I need to get up pretty soon here too, so I'd better get going (I can hear DH snoring all the way from the bed-room...). Bubba is sitting behind me on the couch back-rest and seems a bit antsy, so it is time to get him back to his cage for some night snacks, I think.

Well, since Henny is already in bed, I guess that I don't have any choice but to end this post with some bunny pictures.
Bubba says "Do not touch my carrot!!!"
It is a hard life being this cute. Better take a nap...
Looking at Bubba napping makes me tired too. Time to get to bed!
Good night and sweet stitching dreams to everyone!