Monday, August 31, 2009

A Finish…and…Starting Friday…

First, let me talk about my latest finish.

Remember this?

DSCN0912It’s now this! 

DSCN0923 My second completed x-stitch! 

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy x-stitching.  I find it both relaxing and challenging at the same time.   On the downside however, it has shown me how bad these old eyes have become.  Not only do I have to use my reading glasses, but my ‘mag-eyes’ as well, otherwise I can’t see where to place the needle.   A small price to pay in exchange for the pleasure derived.  So what if I look like a Martian  granny while I’m stitching!

Now I have to decide whether to frame this sampler or  make it into a pillow.  Any suggestions?

~ *~ * ~ * ~ * ~ 

And now for my other bit of news.

As a teacher of decorative art for 25+ years, I also created and published my own designs during this time as well.  Since my retirement, I have ventured into quilting and needle art and have found many similarities between my past profession and my current

More and more I find myself translating my of designing into my stitching, and that is what I’d like to share with you all.

So, beginning this Friday…which is the first Friday of the month…I will be introducing my first,  First Friday Freebie.

fff button_sml[1]On the first Friday of every month, I will be posting a new design for  you all!  With Robyn’s technical assistance,  you will be able to access a link to a PDF file which will include the line drawing, photo and instructions for each of the projects directly from my FFF post.

All the projects will be original designs and will be copyright protected.  However, they will be free for you to use for your  personal enjoyment.  All I ask is that you do not take credit for the designs nor try to sell them as your own.  You may change the colors and reduce or enlarge the line drawings to suit your needs.   And if you have any questions, I’m always just an email away.

So grab the button, tell your friends and be sure to come back this Friday for the first, First Friday Freebie.  The only hint I’ll give you is…‘Fall is in the Air!’

Happy stitching!

Kaaren ♥

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Confessions of a Scissor Addict

Okay, today’s the day to come clean and to admit that I have a problem.  I’m addicted to S-C-I-S-S-O-R-S!

I scissors…every size, shape, color and purpose.  Whenever I walk into a shop that sells scissors, I have to look at their selection because you just never know…there might be something different there just waiting for a new home.

Let me give you a little peek.

DSCN0916There are big ones, ulility ones and some still in their original packaging.

DSCN0919 There are stork ones, embroidery ones, some with fobs and some without…but that’s another story for another time.  And there’s even one with it’s own matching sheath!

DSCN0920These are my favorite pair which I purchased at the Vermont Quilt Festival this year.    They are Dovo scissors with a gorgeous embossed pattern on the grips.  And admittedly, these are the only pair  for which I paid full price.DSCN0921 And these little beauties I generally pick up at Joann’s whenever I have a discount coupon to give as gifts with one of my scissor  fobs.

There are probably a few more that I’ve forgotten to include, but this is my main collection and I’m sure you get the idea.

Am I the only one with this problem, or are there more of you out there?  Come out, come out…wherever you are!

Happy stitching…and cutting…and snipping!

Kaaren ♥

EDIT:  Head on over to Ranette’s blog because guess what?  She came out too!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Start and a Finish

It’s still hot and humid here and according to the weather forecast, it’s going to remain that way until the weekend.  I tried working in the gardens yesterday but the mosquitoes were brutal because of the high humidity,  so I retreated indoors after a short time.  Now I’m not complaining as that gave me time to finish one project and begin another.

I started on a Cinderberry Stitches pattern about a week ago and I managed to complete it over the weekend.  It is a mini quilt or wall hanging called A Christmas WishDSCN0911I changed some things,  added a few different elements and jazzed it up with some red glass beads.  Just for a change, I hand quilted around the perimeter of the design only rather than travel through the middle as I normally do.  This is going to be a swap gift.

Then Mary from Quilt Hollow sent me this awesome freebie x-stitch sampler that she found in her blog travels.

DSCN0910 You may find the link to the pattern here.

I started stitching this on Sunday night and worked on it yesterday as well.

DSCN0909I think this will compliment my Fall decorating quite well.  I’ll wait til it’s done before I decide whether to frame it or make it into a little pillow.

DSCN0913So these are my latest starts and finishes.   Have you been able to set aside some time to work on your favorite projects?

I’m happiest when my hands are busy and I’ve got some great surprises planned for you all starting in September, so stay tuned!

Happy stitching!

Kaaren ♥

Friday, August 21, 2009

Free Pattern!

In my travel teaching days and prior to my retirement, every October for about six years I used to teach decorative painting at a three day retreat in Ligonier, PA. After lunch on Sunday afternoon when everything had wrapped up for another year, my girlfriend and I used to travel to Lancaster County for two days to unwind and shop.

Lancaster County is particularly beautiful at that time of year. All the shops and houses are decorated for Fall, the leaves have started to change color and there’s a slight crispness to the air, especially in the evening. The last time I was there, amongst my many purchases, was a spray of rudbeckia…or black-eyed susans as they are more commonly known…and a salt glazed pitcher from Eldreth Pottery.

DSCN0905Below is a closeup of the rudbeckia spray and Eldreth pottery pitcher that I used as the set up for my painting.

DSCN0907Not long after returning home, I set them both out which ultimately was my inspiration to paint Memories of Lancaster County.

DSCN0897 That was a few years ago…before I started quilting.

Just last week when I was doing a walk-about in my gardens, I decided to cut some rudbeckia and bring them indoors to enjoy. Almost instantly, I was reminded of my Memories of Lancaster County painting which I immediately unpacked from amongst my Fall decorating items.

When I saw it again, the idea come to me about taking my original line drawing and working it into a stitchery project. Here’s what I came up with.

DSCN0901I used a tone-on-tone, vintage looking 13” x 16” piece of fabric for my background.

I then traced my line drawing onto the right side of the background fabric with a Micron, red ink permanent pen using my light box. If you don’t have a light box, you can trace the design using a window during the daytime.

I then backstitched the design with DMC 115 floss. This is a variegated floss which transitions from a dark crimson to cherry red many times throughout the entire length of the floss thereby creating interesting shading and highlighting. One skein will do.

When the stitching was completed, I trimmed the background fabric to 12” x 15”.

I used a dark red Civil War fabric for the 1” inner border and a brown with red design Civil War fabric for the 2” outer border. I then hand quilted it right through the stitched design as was done with traditional redwork and used a different red fabric for the binding.

Kaaren's line drawing_watermarked[1] Click on the black and white photo above to take you to the line drawing.

It is my intention to use my completed sample either as a swap or PIF gift. I invite you to throw caution to the wind and to use your creativity when you stitch this pattern. Please feel free to change the colors or to enlarge or reduce the pattern as needed.

Enjoy and as always…

Happy Stitching!

Kaaren ♥

Monday, August 17, 2009

Quilted and Bound!

When the modem on my computer went up in smoke about three weeks ago and I was without the internet for seven days, I made a quilt top from a free pattern offered by the Blackbird Design gals on their blog which I wrote about here.  I was really pleased with the way it turned out but I was in no rush to have it quilted.

chrbrdEvery Wednesday afternoon, a bunch of us get together to work on whatever handwork strikes our fancy.  Nancy (no blog) is an amazing quilter and about 6 months ago, purchased a longarm machine and has been practising and taking classes whenever and wherever she can.  Every week she brings in one or two quilts that she has machine quilted and each time she never ceases to amaze us.

chrbrdTwo weeks ago, I brought in my Lemoyne Star pieced top for show and tell and one thing led to another and to make a long story short, Nancy offered to quilt it for me.  She asked me if I had any preferences and all I said was that I envisioned feather wreaths in the connecting blocks and that she had ‘carte blanche’ to do whatever she wanted with the rest.  I told her that I was in no rush which was fine by her as she was leaving for France this past Friday for a ten day vacation.

I actually didn’t expect to even see Nancy this past Wednesday and she took us all by surprise when she walked in with my quilt neatly folded on a hanger and covered with a clear plastic protective sleeve.  I was flabbergasted by what little I could see of it.  Nancy and another gal carefully removed it from the hanger and held it up for all to see.  The tears started streaming down my face.

DSCN0875Look at the quilting.  Isn’t it amazing?  Nancy has been doing this for only 6 months and this is all done free hand.  Yes, she ‘drives’ the machine but all the designs are of her own creation.  None are computer generated.

DSCN0876Nancy told me that it took her 4 days to complete the quilting.  I can believe it because there’s not one square inch that doesn’t have some form of quilting on it.

DSCN0871This is the reverse side nearest the binding.  Click on the photo to enlarge it.  Amazing, huh?

DSCN0870 Every point on each star has a feather quilted in it!

I finished sewing the binding on it last night then washed and dried it.  Nancy used a very low loft wool batting and it came out of the washer and dryer as soft as butter.  She was a bit concerned that it might be a little stiff from all the quilting but I believe the answer was the wool batting.  From here on in, I’ll never use anything but wool.

I am thrilled to bits and I just can’t wait to see what she does with my next one!

Happy stitching!

Kaaren ♥


Friday, August 14, 2009

Best of Show!

Is there anything more synonymous with small town living than the local fair?  Well the town where we live is no different and it’s fair time!

I love walking through the grounds and listening to the sounds of laughter and screams from the children on the rides and the sights of the livestock all brushed and clean just waiting their turn to be shown in the ring.  Saturday night is the highlight of the fair with the demolition derby which just packs the grandstand with fans and onlookers.  We live about a mile away from the fairgrounds but we can still hear the raucous noise once things get going on Saturday night.  

Please believe me when I say that I had no intention of entering anything in our local fair this year but because of Mr. Painted Quilt’s continued ‘nagging’ over the last couple of days, I finally gave in.  So yesterday morning I brought over some of my things.

This afternoon, we visited the fair and the exhibition hall.  There are about 30 different categories but all I can do is paint, stitch and sew.

In the ‘Miscellaneous Sewing’ category, I entered one of my needlecases…

DSCN0863which won a second place ribbon.

I also entered two of my painted items, the first one in the ‘Painting on Wood’ category.

DSCN0864My American Eagle won first prize.

The second painting category was ‘Painting on Tin’.

DSCN0865It too won first prize.

There are several categories in the quilting section and I elected to enter a quilt in the ‘Hand-Pieced, Machine Quilted’ category.

DSCN0860  Not only did it win first prize…

DSCN0861 It won ‘Best of Show’ for all categories! 


Happy stitching!

Kaaren  ♥


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It’s Done!

I’m in love!  No, not ‘that’ mushy kind but this kind…

DSCN0859I can’t believe I finished my very first sampler and second ever x-stitch! 

everything about it…the design, the color, the simplicity and I’m tickled with the way it turned out.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever be able to stitch a sampler.  I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with it but I have a few ideas.

berrydividerxThis sampler is dedicated to my Mom who passed away in June of 2006 after a brief but courageous battle with cancer.  She never really had the passion for hand work but she always loved whatever I painted or made for her.  I know she would love this as well.  This one’s for you, Mom.

berrydividerxI thoroughly enjoyed stitching this project and I’m looking forward to starting another.  The beauty about x-stitch is that it’s very portable and it’s something that can be picked up at any time, even while working on other projects.

I know that there is still a lot I have to learn but I did find that it did get easier as I went along.  It seemed like I actually started to develop a rhythm and that the needle found it’s place almost by itself.  I was ‘almost’ sad when I completed the last stitch…like reading the last word of a good book….happy that it’s over but in the same breath, not wanting it to end.

Happy stitching!

Kaaren ♥

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Linda, one of the gals who I met at my guild has opened a quilt shop next to her home which is located about 10 miles from where I live.  Although she’s been open for about 6 months, I’ve always forgotten to bring my camera along whenever I visited her shop, probably because of my preoccupation about shopping.  On my last visit, I did manage to take some photos.

img63Heartworks is not a large shop but the inventory that Linda carries is wonderful and varied.  It is bright, cheery and well organized.

mom'sshop001Many antiques and old quilts are used as props which add a lot of character and ambiance to the shop.

mom'sshop003Linda is always open to suggestions about what to add to her shop in the way of books, notions and fabric.  She also has started to bring in wool for those of us who are nuts about it.

mom'sshop002Not only am I fortunate to have Linda as a friend, but to have a LQS in such short proximity to where I live is a bonus…or in Mr. Painted Quilt’s eyes…a liability…ho hum.

Happy stitching!

Kaaren  ♥

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sampler Progress

On Friday night I bit the bullet and decided to start the BBD  Petites Lettres Rouges sampler.  I was a little apprehensive at the outset as this was only my second x-stitch project.  Thank goodness for the internet as that’s where I basically picked up what little knowledge I have about x-stitching.

berrydividerxI read a few conflicting ideas as to where to begin the stitching.  Some said to find the center and start there while others said to complete the outer border first and work from the perimeter in as it’s easier to count this way.

Well, that made more sense to me so that’s where I started.  By Saturday evening, this is what I had done…

DSCN0855and by Sunday evening, I’d gotten this far…

DSCN0857I’m having so much fun because never in a million years did I think that I could ever stitch a sampler.  I find it very relaxing although I do have to concentrate on making sure that my stitches all go in one direction and at times, the counting can be a little tricky.

Isn’t the floss so cool?  It’s a red variegated floss from DMC, #115.  I love the gradation of color from a deep crimson to almost a cherry red.  I think I’m past the half way point and I hope to have this little guy wrapped up by mid week.

berrydividerxX-stitch is not as difficult as I thought it would be but completing the Prairie Schooler Santa first definitely gave me the confidence to give the sampler a try…not to mention all your words of encouragement as well.

You should see the next one I’ve got picked out!

Happy stitching!

Kaaren ♥

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summer Gardens & Santa

Finally…a day without rain!

Yesterday morning we were greeted by blue skies and sunshine.  Eureka!  With teacup in hand, I did a tour of my poor water-logged and neglected perennial gardens.  We have had record amounts of rainfall during the month of July and this year, I just haven’t been able to spend the time that I normally devote to to my gardens, which are also a passion of mine.

Come and join me on my early morning walk about.


DSCN0840 DSCN0843













DSCN0845And last evening, I completed my first ever x-stitch!

DSCN0848The 2002 Prairie Schooler Santa.  I thoroughly enjoyed stitching him and I think for my next effort, I’m going to bite the bullet and try to stitch a sampler.

I’m going to start with something small.  The Blackbird Design gals offered this little sampler as a free pattern on their blog back in April.  I printed it back then with the hope that someday I’d give it a try.  I think that day has finally arrived…so wish me luck!

Happy stitching!

Kaaren ♥


Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I ♥ samplers…sampler quilts, samplers of new foods that the product demonstrators allow you to taste in the supermarkets.  Oh wait!  Those are samples…and I ♥ them too. 

But I absolutely ♥ x-stitch samplers!

berrydividerx It has always been a dream of mine to have my very own antique x-stitch sampler but the ones I’ve seen are way too rich for my budget.  A long time ago I came to the realization that if I’m ever going to own a sampler, I’d have to make it myself.  Easier said than done since I don’t know the first thing about x-stitching.

berrydividerx In my travel teaching days, I ventured into a needleshop in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio back in 2003 where I picked up two Prairie Schooler Santa x-stitch patterns.  I also bought all the supplies I needed…floss, fabric and needles.  Somewhere in my travels, I picked up a third pattern in the series.DSCN0832It goes without saying that I never did get around to stitching them.

A few weeks ago, after blog hopping and seeing some incredible x-stitching projects, I decided to unearth my supplies and take the plunge.  I read as much as I could find on line about the basics and dove in.DSCN0830I’m pleased with my progress thus far but I don’t think I’m ready to tackle a sampler just yet.

DSCN0831There are a few gals in my quilting guild who invited me to join their stitching guild when they reconvene in September.  I’m looking forward to joining them in order to learn more in my quest to stitch a sampler.

It looks like it’s going to be a long and enjoyable journey.  Want to hitch a ride?

Happy stitching!

Kaaren ♥