Sunday Stitch-in: We’re Painting the Barn Red

Hi, and welcome to my stitching party! I had a busy last week trying to get Painted Pony caught back up after devoting most of my August life to putting on the Destination Dallas Needlework Market. I’ll be back on market planning soon enough, but right now I’ve got a couple of months free and clear to hang out with my stitching gal pals.

So, I’ve pulled on some PJs after coming home from church followed afterwards with a trip to Walmart to only pick up two boxes of Atkins m&ms, which ended up costing me $185.00, so let’s grab our stitching projects and get started!

While we’re hanging out, we’re finishing up my West Wing marathon on Netflix. I intended to watch PBS all day, but I couldn’t pull myself away from finding out whether Rep Santos was going to win the Presidency for the third time I’ve binged on this series. In a few minutes, we’re going to listen in to the Fiber Talk podcast. This week’s interview is with stitch guide author, Mary Legalett. Next week is me! Keep your fingers crossed I don’t say anything too goofy! Ugh!

I’m stitching on the barn on this Mary Charles Patriotic Barn canvas (#MC-BN07).

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I started with the barn itself. I chose a simple 2×2 Slanted Gobelin to mimic wood slats. I wanted a simple stitch because I’m planning  some busy stitches in other areas.  One of my early instructors preached having  some ‘quiet’ areas on your canvas. Your eye needs resting spots, otherwise, you will overwhelm the canvas design.

I’m wondering if I should have made up and down rows to better portray vertical barn wood. Yep, that’s probably what I should have done, but I don’t have enough thread, so I’m going to live with it. You may want to go with vertical slats on yours. I Basketweaved the windows and doors because I’m going to come in over it with a big cross-stitch for a classic barn window and door look…which is why I’m not worried about the white paint showing through the stitching.

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Note that I reversed the BW on the left door. I tend to do mirror images on areas that have a defined center, like I’ve done on the vest on this Petei rabbit:

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I was really hoping to do all the trim on the barn, but the Silk and Ivory thread is just too heavy to make the cross-stitches I want to do. I’ve ordered a flatter thread from The Needle Works in Austin and I’ll stitch this area sometime this week.

A couple of notes about the Needle Works: I worked at the original 38th Street location back in the middle ’80s. Two owners later, the store was moved to a new custom built space. This is probably one of the most beautiful needlepoint shops in the country.

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Back in the ’80s, Austin probably had five places to buy Needlepoint. Today, only the Needle Works remains,  but current owner, Colleen Church has built Austin’s only LNS into a mega-store, a virtual Needlepoint Wonderland! When I called, the phone was answered by Ginger Edwards, who used to own a nice cross stitch and quilting shop that closed a few years back. Colleen snapped her up and that makes me happy: I’m glad to see her knowledge and skills live on at NWKs. You know this is a big time operation when she passed me on to the ‘Thread Expert” employee, who helped with a couple of thread selections, and then she passed me on to their resident “Bead Expert”, when I asked about bugle beads!

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I was hoping to get the package in time for this post, but it didn’t make it, so now I’ve got my subject lined up for next week. Do note: if you order from the Needle Works, there’s a $10.00 minimum. Here’s their phone # (512) 451-6931. (I still remember it 30 years later!)

Back to my barn:

I went through several stitch books for the roof until I landed on this Flemish Bond stitch out of More Stitches for Effect by Suzanne Howren and Beth Robertson. I like the way it looks like shingles. I’m using the Threadworx thread with all 6 plies. Because it’s made up of straight stitches, the canvas may show through, which I like because the painted shading may come through.

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Funny story: Beth and Suzanne used to stop by my booth when they attended our National Trade Shows. One year I was showing them my newest angels, saying something along the lines of “Here’s a new dance angel, here’s a beach theme, etc”, when Beth suddenly asks “And, is this your new follicly-challenged angel?” and delightfully pointed out a new angel that I had forgotten to paint hair on. That angel had been hanging bald on my wall for two days! They gave me trouble about that for years.

Back to the roof: I love books like the Stitching for Effects series that make suggestions like “good for roofs” or “perfect for tree bark”, and they are even better when they pair the stitch with a thread suggestion. I think the perfect stitch book would include two more pieces of info: how to anchor the start and tail threads with long stitches like Flemish Bond, and, secondly, compensating the stitch.

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After I photographed my roof stitch, I realized I had it off center. This would keep me up all night if I don’t fix that, so I’m going to sign off here and rip out my roof. Sigh.

And, I’m still rethinking those horizontal red boards.

I’m off to the kitchen for some chocolate therapy, first.

 

 

 

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Sunday Stitch-in

IMG_20170917_014520664~2.jpgPatriotic Barn by Mary Charles

#MC-BN07 on13m, 8″x8″ design image

Welcome to my new ‘Sunday project’ post!

The plan: Almost any Sunday afternoon finds me curled up on my bed with one or two of the cats sleeping in the corner. It’s my unwinding day – I watch PBS or Netflix or pop in a DVD or read and chill out for hours. It’s my favorite part of my week. Today, I thought I would invite you over for to stitch and chat and eat chocolate and watch PBS with me!

Skill level – totally unimportant: I’m actually a pretty good stitcher, but I don’t get to stitch too much, since I often work 60+ hours/week with my Painted Pony Designs line. Because its been ages since I have taken a class, I’m weak in the ‘uber-powered’ decorative stitch techniques that are all the rage today. So, basically, we’re going to call me a rusty stitcher who has a lot of new techniques to learn. If you have a suggestion on stitches for this work-in-progress, speak up! I don’t mind at all if this becomes a community project.

What we are stitching: Mary Charles’ Patriotic Barn, 18m, image size 8×8. Who doesn’t love red barns, flags and fluffy sheep?! I’m thinking this will be finished as boxed stand up, but that could change. We’ll see.

IMG_20170612_125022632~2The process: I sent this canvas to Needlepoint This! in Dallas, TX, who threaded it up for me. The shop is a thread hoarder’s dream! NPT This! is owned by mother/daughter Sherry and Bonnie Cody. I had planned to start the canvas during the slow times at Destination Dallas market in early September. Fortunately, I was way too busy to even take the project out of the bag! Since I had Sherry put the piece on stretcher bars, I need to go ahead and get this stitched. Thus, I’m gatering all my gal-pals for a Sunday Stitch-in. Okay, guys can come, too, but no showing up us girls with your perfect stitches!

The thread list: In case you want to stitch along with me, or I have a thread that you want to know more about, I’ll include the thread list below. Needlepoint This! was kind enough to include a list of what threads went where, so I’ll include that info, too;

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Sky: Silk & Ivory #70 and #236

Stars: Glisten #G03

Flag: Silk Lame’ #SL97, #SL100, #SL101, #SL159

Flag Pole: Burmilana #3887

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Barn: Silk & Ivory: #81, Planet Earth #Fury005

Roof: Threadworx #11214 (depending on the stitch I choose, I may add a second, lighter shade)

Fence: Elegance #E840

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Sheep: Alpaca 18 #AL51, #AL89

Hay: Silk Road Straw Silk #0310 Amber Waves

*We’re also going to need some black, but let’s decide later what we can use out of our stashes.

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Tree Trunks: use the rest of your skein of Burmilana #3441 that you used on the flag pole

Apple Tree: Threadworx #W77, Beads from & more, size 11 #141 Ruby

Yellow Tree: Planet Earth 6 ply Silk #1031 Sandstorm

Grass: Pepper Pot 100% Silk # 087 Watercress

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Stone Wall: Burmilana #3306, #3845, #3887

* * * * *

That’s our threads. Now, I’m going to pick out some stitches and get started.

Did someone say they brought chocolate?!

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I Can See for Miles and Miles

ME-BN14 with logo

Shown is the official Mary Engelbreit Studios, Inc. 40th Anniversary Design. All ME vendors have been asked to create products with it. Our version,  #ME-BN14, “Journey of 1000 Miles” is on 18m, has an image size of 12″x 10″ and will be available to ship around May 1st.

I’m often asked about Painted Pony’s journey – how we got started and the like. We were born in the summer of 1989. My husband and I had moved to the Texas Gulf Coast region after spending our early marriage years in Austin, where I had worked part time at The Needle Works, while I dabbled in arts and crafts (I have a graphics arts degree, so it was legit dabbling!) Because I did custom work for the shop, the owners asked me if I would come up with a few new pieces for a Christmas in July event. After designing some mini-socks and coyotes, I needed to come up with a name. I really had no ambitions as to starting a business and figured what little money I made would go to my “horse” fund. The name Painted Pony was born because I was literally “painting for a pony”.

I traveled up to Austin with copies of about a dozen designs in hand and sold everything in one afternoon (less two coyotes, I think). I continued to fill orders for the store and one day decided to spread my wings, and, while meeting my sister-in-law for lunch in Houston, I stopped by the Needle House to drop off my card. The former owner, Susan, wasn’t there, so I left my card, asked directions to a popular German deli lunch spot close to the store, and went on my way. Here’s where it gets interesting: my SIL and I were ordering lunch, when a lady comes up to my table and asks me if I am Debbie of Painted Pony. OK, that’s weird. But it wasn’t! Susan had made it back to her store, saw my card, grabbed her purse and hunted me down to the German deli. She had been trying to find me for months because her customers kept bringing my canvases into her shop after their trips to Austin. Talk about an ego-trip!

So, the journey really began to map itself out. In February, I traveled to a regional show in Texas, where I sold so much, I felt like THE most popular girl in the room. (who doesn’t love that?! (By the way, this is where I met Kathy Wallace, who’s line, Needle Graphics, we distribute today). After discussing my sales tally with my Austin shop, the partners told me they had never heard of a first-timer doing that well! From that time on, our journey has been at full gallop!

This post is getting long, so I will save telling you about buying my horse for another day.

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Mary Engelbreit Studios, Inc is celebrating their 40th year and we are celebrating our second year of this journey as her licensed vendor for hand-painted needlepoint. What a trip it has been! Our stitches were so excited to see her designs on canvas again and we have been busy, busy, busy since we signed our agreement with her in May of 2015. We have built the canvas line to 130+ canvases and even have a Mary Engelbreit Trunk Show that ships out once a month. Here’s our ME schedule for the rest of 2017:

  • April – Chandail/Houston, TX
  • June – AVAILABLE – have your LNS call to grab the date!
  • July – Fiddlesticks/Hawaii
  • August – Expressions in NArt/Condadaigua, NY
  • September – Stitch Boutique/Boston, MA
  • October – Needlepoint Clubhouse/St. Louis, MO
  • November – tentatively in Ohio
  • December – Needle Nook of La Jolla/La Jolla, CA

 

 

 

 

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She Looks Like an Angel…

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We are back from market! Keep checking on us and our Facebook page for market photos. The day of set-up, my phone died and John, on the first day of market, instead of spending time helping me in the booth, was at Verizon trying to get my phone fixed and, later that day, picking out a new phone for me. I don’t have the cord I need to upload my booth pics from the cell to the computer, so I have a good excuse to invite you back to my blog and Facebook pages for “booth tour” pics later this week!

I thought I would write about this cool finishing idea that we discovered at San Francisco’s Luv2Stitch Needlepoint shop, owned by former TNNA president Dale Lency. Back in September, my daugher, Christina,  discovered this finishing idea on Pinterest, when she was searching the web for pics of our customers’ finished PPDs (yes, we “troll” y’all!). We immediately sent three of our unfinished models (stitched by my Austin friend, Susan Burris) to Dale’s. His finisher not only puts our angels on stands but she embellishes the pieces with little trinkets she finds at the base. Go to Luv2Stitch’s finisher’s Pinterest page (Debbie Castro “It’s Done”) to see more versions of angels on sticks. The Over the Rooftop angel has Putz houses on its base, the Pony Print angel sports western embellishments and the Witchy Woman angel has a pumpkin threaded on its stick. Compared to the Easter angel, finished maybe ten years ago, why go with a plain base when you can go crazy!

Thanks to Dale for delivering these to me at the show!

Now, I’m off to buy a new cord for my cell phone so I can load those booth photos!

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Pride and Prejudice

Heading to market in two days! Still painting. Still printing. Still packing. We (my daughter, Christina, and I) get to California late on Thursday. We’ll grab a really late dinner, an even earlier breakfast and head to the convention center by 8:00 am to start setting up our – count ’em – six booths. It will take all day and we usually don’t leave until the after-setup security guard passes by our booth a couple of times. Then we eat another really late dinner and crash in our beds, only to head back to the convention center at 8:00 am the next morning to finish all the last minute fluffing and straightening before your shop owners start showing up at 10:00. I’ll try to blog a couple of times once the market opens and show you some pics of the happenings around the show and in our booth. Be sure to follow up on my Facebook page – I will post a new chapter of our Booth Walls series, pointing out what’s new for January.

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I wanted to give my readers a “Sneak Peek” about a new Petei series that will be unveiled at the show. Normally, I wait until after the show to start posting pics, but this one is just to good to not let you in on it! Petei has developed a new series based on Jane Austen’s greatest-chick novel of all time: Pride & Predudice. I AM IN LOVE with this new set of canvases. We are bringing the first twelve characters to the show: Lizzie, Mr. Darcy, Jane, Mr. Bingley, Mary, Kitty, Lydia, Mr. Wickhem, Mr. & Mrs. Bennett, Charlotte and Mr. Collins. Because I have so much “Pride” introducing this series, I asked my friend, Susan Burris, to develop stitch guides for Lizzie & Mr. D.  We will have 20 Lizzie Bennett & Mr. Darcy canvases with stitch guides kitted and available for sale at the show. I’m not “Prejudice”d or anything, but I think this new series from Petei is going to be a hot item. If you want to be one of the first P&P lovers to stitch this series, ask your LNS to stop in our booth this weekend and pick up the Liz & Darcy two-canvas pack.

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*I am more of a Spy/Political Thriller and Harry Potter/LOTR Fantasy kind of reader, but Jane Austen is my one go-to in the Romantic Drama department. I simply adore her characters and I read P&P and Sense & Sensibility every couple of years. The writing is brilliant – the last edition I bought, I underlined all the great quotes in the book! My daughter is also a huge JA fan. We’ll take it anyway it comes – books, movies, TV mini-series and, of course, in needlepoint!

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Winter is Coming

Dreaded words if you insert the word “Market” between the “Winter” and the “is”.Getting ready for a show is just plain torture. I dread every bit of it – the late nights designing those very last angels, the physical aches from packing my booth for the trucking company to fetch (only to have them call on D-day, after I stayed up till 5:30am getting the last of it together, just to hear them say they aren’t coming until tomorrow – grrrr), the invasion of my art space by additional workers trying to get the show stock all together, the xerox machine that is always breaking down or running out of toner), the search for missing masters that we don’t know how or why they escaped from the market boxes from the last show we were at, the lack of sleep, not knowing that Madame Secretary was back on, the messy house, the fact that I still have my entire home decorated for Christmas (because honestly, what day was I going to set aside to take care of that)! I consider the week of getting ready for a show as my personal punishment for pursuing the American dream (i.e.; owning my own business). Why do I do this to myself? I do it because after this week, something happy is coming.

Spring.

Market will have finally arrived – I will see  my needle buddies, we’ll catch up, we’ll go out to eat, I’ll visit with our shop owners and show off our new pretties, I will autograph an occasional canvas (true!) , I’ll spend half a day solving the world’s problems in my friend’s booth, my daughter is flying in to help us, someone makes my bed and leaves fresh towels while I’m at work (really love that!), I’ll get inspired to create new ideas and work on new projects, and, I even get to needlepoint in the down times!

So, you could say, I’ve got my eye on the Spring of Accomplishment that follows the Winter of My Discontent.

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Speaking of Spring: when I opened a package and found this absolutely gorgeous stitched piece in it, it was like a spring breeze flitted into the studio yesterday. It looks like how I’m going to feel after the trucking company shows up and takes my booth away! Birds will be singing, flowers will be blooming and everything will feel fresh and new. Spring will soon be here!

Design note: the featured design is Diane Ulmer Pedersen’s Topiary Birds (#DP-FL08) and was stitched by my friend Kathy Kulesza of Austin, TX. We will have a stitch guide available later this spring.

 

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After Midnight

pp-996iv-crazy-quiltNote – Here’s a sneak peek of one of the angels premiering at the TNNA show in three weeks. She’s not quite finished and I haven’t picked the charms for her yet, but you get the idea!

If you are a needlepoint designer, than New Year’s weekend is not spent holding flutes of champagne while dancing to midnight at some swanky party, but rather with a bowl of dirty paint water, sitting at our art tables while we burn the midnight oil as we get ready for our January Winter Market. For me, getting designs done for the show is even worse than that: I am such a last minute/under the gun type of designer that I have (for real) painted a new canvas in the front seat of our SUV as my husband drives me to the show. I’ve always been this way – when I was an art student in college, it was nothing for me to do my semester project the night before the deadline. It is not that I’m lazy – it’s that I need that panicked, frantic adrenaline rush to pop out my best work. If I started that semester project back when it was first assigned, I would spend 12 weeks “tweeking it” until it was overworked and making a Baroque church from medieval days look undecorated. My best work comes when the chips are down and I have to slap something out and there is no time to rethink about it. It is a stressful way to design, but so it goes. This go-round, I actually have given myself a couple of weeks earlier start, but the panic is still there as I’ve got several pieces that need to go to my Texas-based painters, Dana and Dian, so that they can make panic-painted copies and send one each on to my model stitcher, Susan Burris (of Austin, TX) to frantically work up stitch guides for, all to sell in pre-packed kits for the cash & carry component of the Winter Market. My next few blogs will be about all the new pieces we are working on to premier at the upcoming show. See you back here when the clock strikes 12:00!

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