Sunday, August 30, 2009

A day off

The new web site is finished and uploaded. The new kits are neatly stacked in bins in the shipping room. I'm heading out to the Yampa Core Trail with my best friend for a hike. After that ... a bit of stitching, chicken piccata, I think, with some sliced home grown tomatoes, "Hung" and a tiny glass of Limoncello before bed.

La vita è bella!

Best Friend

See you soon, ci vediamo a presto, à tout à l'heure, gauw tot ziens,

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A quiet Sunday

Maybe a little too quiet. My daughter left Friday to move back to Denver. She's a senior at the University of Colorado and starts classes tomorrow.

It has always been our habit to spend at least a part of our Sundays together and this Sunday feels a little empty somehow. Besides being my daughter, she is one of my best friends, a helpful, kind, delightful person and always there for me. Best of all, she keeps me young at heart.

I took her to Italy with me in June and I did things I never would have done if she hadn't been there to make me do them ... including renting a tiny, manual Fiat and driving it all over Tuscany, even on the autostrada which I highly recommend if you're looking for a heart-stopping experience. I hadn't driven a stick in 20 years so she was very understanding when she had to push it out of the parking lot because I was having a little trouble finding reverse. Figured out how to get the Italian GPS lady to speak English and stop screaming "gelati, gelati" at us (which turned out to be girare or "turn"). We thought she wanted us to stop for a gelato, which we were happy to do but it was getting difficult to consume all that gelato and still fit into the Fiat. Talked me into splurging on that Gucci purse I've always wanted and didn't get too embarrassed in Dolce and Gabanna when I bought some totally inappropriate (for someone over 50) lingere. Insisted I drive into Florence and PARK there. If you've ever been to Florence you'll understand the sheer lunacy of that endeavor. I only avoided the disaster of doing the same thing in Rome because an Italian friend advised her that it wasn't such a good idea to drive into Rome. Planned a day trip to the Ligurian sea ... just when we needed a "nature" day. She was never afraid to go anywhere or do anything that seemed like it might be an adventure. I don't think that trip would have been quite the same without her.

At any rate, it is very quiet here today. I think I might have to drive down to Denver one of these weekends very soon.

Julie and Julia was wonderful. Go see it. Funny, upbeat, inspirational. Just the kind of movie we need these days.

Still on target for two new releases at the end of the month.

This week yet another package arrived from France. Thank you, merci, my dear French friend Evelyne. It is lovely and now on my "stitching" table beside my "stitching" chair ... holding my favorite project of the moment. Lovely birthday gifts from lovely friends. La vie est belle. I have corrected the blog reference. I must have been in "le p'tit monde de la blonde". In this country we have the same concept but we call them "blonde moments". Not being blonde, I should have never made this kind of mistake :-)

Off to clean up the studio. Since I can't play with my daughter today, I might as well get some work done. Later, when the house is too clean and too quiet :-( I will probably work on my "Heart Song" ... which seems appropriate ... a good project to lift my mood.

See you soon, ci vediamo a presto, à tout à l'heure, gauw tot ziens,

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The dreaded stem stitch ....

finally mastered! All these years designing and stitching and I could never master the stem stitch. A wonderful chart by Un chat dans L'aiguille (Histoire de coeurs), some very nice stitch diagrams and one cool, quiet evening on the front deck and I finally did it. I am quite proud of them:

My stem stitches (I need to get a life. I really do.)

For the past year I have been fascinated with free-style (sometimes known as "traditional") embroidery. Some of it has been quite a challenge since I'm used to all those little "squares" to keep my stitches in line. But I've fallen in love with the "look" of it and with the teeny tiny linen you use. You can't count those threads. Forget it. No magnifier in the world is going to make it possible to count those threads. Really sets you free in a needlewonky kind of way.

And these lovelies just arrived today in the mail. A birthday gift from my friend Anne-Catherine. Je les aime, Anne Catherine! Merci!

I met Anne-Catherine and her friend (and now also mine) Evelyne when I traveled to France for the first time. Since many of you have asked about the lovely "sewing dish" that is on my website on the "events" page, and some of you even wanted to purchase the pattern, I can now blog that it was made by these two talented ladies and, no, you can't buy the pattern from me but perhaps Anne-Catherine and Evelyne would be willing to share it. Their creativity and finishing skills never cease to amaze me. For those of you who missed it on the site:

You can visit their blogs to see more of the lovely stitching and finishing they do and a few photos of a delightful afternoon that I will never forget spent stitching, eating and drinking in a little apartment in the Monmartre.

Why are we not smiling? This was before we opened the wine.

BTW, Anne-Catherine, Lavender DOES grow in Colorado. I have tons of it in my garden sooooooo, I'm going to need directions for making those lavender reels. In English :-)

I stand corrected by Mathilda, who stitched Toccata Number Five. She is NOT from Arnhem, Netherlands. She is from Zevenhuizen. Perhaps she will forgive me for not knowing this city. I now remember it by thinking "Mathilda is from seventh heaven". Certainly her stitching speed and skills make me think she is from "seventh heaven". My apologies Mathilda. You are one of my favorite people right now. You and Karin (Kersten, my dear friend and hard working distributor in Europe) for introducing us. Beautiful job on Toccata Number Five.

This week, in the kitchen ... yes we are now moving into the kitchen. Sorry. I warned you:-) Since I turned my first hobby (needlework) into a profession, I've had to find something without a deadline to keep me entertained. This is "the month of the lemon" around here. Last week it was homemade lemon chocolate chip biscotti and lemon sorbet. And now, Limoncello! My daughter's comment: "God help us. She's distilling liquor!" The zest of 25 lemons are steeping in 90 proof alcohol on the back shelf of my pantry and will be for another week .... or 40 days. I'm not sure which. No one seems to agree on that part. What they do agree on is that later, after you add some sugar, water, bottle it, and put it away again for a while, you drink it very, very cold, in very, very small glasses con molto ghiaccio ... I'm thinking maybe with a little cream floating on top? It's a wonderful thing. I'll keep you posted ... or maybe you'll just be able to figure out, by the free-spirited tone of my blogs, when the Limoncello is finished:-)

I'm growing tomatoes on my front deck this summer. After noticing that every spare speck of dirt anyone could rake up is used to grow "il pomodoro" (or olives, or grapes) in Italy, I thought, why not? I was having a heck of a time getting them to turn red but someone finally told me to STOP watering them and they will turn. Now there is one rather enormous, organic, homegrown, very RED tomato on the vine that I'm looking forward to doing "something" with this weekend, though I don't know how much can be done with one tomato no matter how enormous it is.

In the meantime, I'm having much fun working on my "Pumpkin Pocket" and "Heart Song". They are supposed to ship out to Europe for the fall shows next month and it's going to be hard to say goodbye. I'm not good at goodbyes. Dear little heart song. Sweet pumpkin pocket. I guess I'll have to stitch another one ... and another ... and another, just so I can always have one around to keep me company. Heart pocket? Button pocket? Pocket full of stitches? Swan song? :-) I could keep going but ....

It's getting late and I must be really tired. How can I tell? I'm not one of those people who gets grumpy when they're tired .... just really silly and stupid. Time to sign off.

See you soon, ci vediamo a presto, à tout à l'heure, gauw tot ziens,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Another day, another ....

... twenty-five cents according to my retirement account statement that arrived this week. Yikes! Going to have to work a little harder the next 20 years if I want to retire by 85.

We are moving right along on the stitching and photography of the new designs. The Carnelian Rose Biscornu and Cottage Garden Scissors case have now passed through photography and we will start printing next week. We're hoping for a late August release for these two designs. I decided I finally had to try the Biscornu thing. Better late than never. I think it turned out pretty well.

Then, moving into late September, we will be releasing Toccata Number Five, which you might guess from the little sneak peak on the right-hand side of this blog, is a darning sampler. I need to thank the model stitcher, Mathilda Liebregt in Arnhem, Netherlands, who did a spectacular job of whipping out that piece in just a few weeks. Amazing really and a lovely job. My thanks to Mathilda. If she hadn't been available, Toccata Five could have sat on the back burner a lot longer than it did.

Along with Toccata Five will come two smaller and less serious designs (since we've been getting many request to do a few smaller, quicker items), "The Pumpkin Pocket" and "Heart Song". And that's all I'll commit to at this point. We have many, many things in the works and on the drawing board but the release dates always depend on stitching time and printing time and finishing time and all the other little things that need to be tied up before they can actually be put on the schedule. When it looks like a project is ready to be printed, I'll move it from the "Under the Needle" column to the "On the Press" column and give it a release date.

It's official. I will be teaching at Celebration of Needlework again this year in the Spring. I'm very pleased since the Celebration is always just that .... a celebration. I look forward to seeing old friends and, of course, making some new ones and I'm very excited about the projects I have on the drawing board. I have decided to focus on specific techniques since, truth be told, I really loath finishing little "smalls" and am not exceptionally good at it. My passion has always been learning new stitches and new techniques so I have decided on reticello lace, pulled thread work and hemstitching as the focus for this year. Three separate classes, three little learning samplers, but have some ideas about mounting them all on one piece of linen with decorative motifs to showcase them (see sidebar drawing at right).

Meanwhile, back to work. Shoulder to the plow. I need to build up that retirement fund :-) Today was my birthday. I won't mention how old I am, but it's getting to be a pretty big number. Older than my dog, younger than the Parthenon. Bigger than a breadbox, smaller than a planet.

Till next time, ci vediamo a presto, à tout à l'heure, gauw tot ziens,

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Buzzy, buzzy, buzzy ...

I've given this blog thing a lot of thought. At first I was against having one. For one thing, I always seem to bite off more than I can chew and I was worried that it would be another one of those things I struggle to keep up with ... which may prove to be the case. We'll have to wait and see. For another, the whole concept of a blog seemed a bit weird to me. Posting a journal on the internet for everyone to read? What a concept. I couldn't quite get past feeling that it was a bit egocentric to make the assumption that people would be interested in the minute details of my life. But after following many of your blogs for some time I realized that blogs really aren't just another "virtual" self-promotional tool. They are actually a very nice, efficient and fun, albeit a bit impersonal, way to keep in touch. They are a 21st century letter to a friend ... a way to connect with those you know ... and some you don't.

So this blog will be my attempt to "keep in touch" with you, keep you up to date on what is going on at The Drawn Thread, get your feedback and input and exchange ideas and thoughts about this fine craft we all love so much. I promise I'll try not to bore you with my day-to-day stuff. I won't discuss what I had for dinner last night or analyze what's happening on "Hung", though my passion for food, wine and cooking (and "Hung") may make that promise difficult to keep. Okay, okay so I WILL discuss food and wine and cooking and "Julia and Julia" (but not "Hung") and our new farmer's market and sustainable eating and Italian pizza and gelato and the locally made sheep cheese every once in a while along with stitching and design. I love to eat, I love to cook and I love to drink almost as much as I love designing and stitching. These things are not the minute details of my life. They are my life.

(And BTW, don't you just LOVE that guy on "Hung"? :-)

The past four months have been an amazing source of inspiration for me. A delightful week in May at the Celebration of Needlework in New Hampshire (thank you "sisters"), an amazing trip to Italy for Casa Cenina's annual "Festa del Ricamo" (mille grazie Casa Cenina) and the incredible enthusiasm, passion and talent of the people I encountered (not to mention the all beautiful things I got to see and touch .... and purchase :-) really fired up the old creative furnace.

So, stay tuned. Right now we are doing a major overhaul of the web site while still finding time to stitch all the new things we are planning to release in the next quarter. The site should be ready to upload about the same time the new designs are ready to be released. At least that's the plan. It has been a very busy Spring and Summer and it looks like we're going to have a very ambitious new release schedule starting in late August and continuing through the new year and into next Spring. We're going to be buzzy, buzzy, buzzy. I love it.

See you soon, ci vediamo a presto, à tout à l'heure, gauw tot ziens,