So, I Bought a Horse


Featured Canvas is “Psalm 24” by Diane Ulmer Pedersen, #DP-LS18A, 11×18 on 18m

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since last July! Ugh! Anyway, back then, I promised to tell you about our horse, Dandy:

I was THE original horse crazy girl. When I started my needlepoint design line, I started  saving for a horse with my paid invoice. My goal was always to buy myself that childhood dream; however, Painted Pony Designs got so busy, so fast, that my dream was derailed by ten years. In that time, our daughter, Christina, was born.

Christina was also horse-crazy since she first noticed the big equestrian print that hangs over our piano. John used to carry her over to the painting when she was a baby, and they would talk about the horses and the dogs and make up stories about what was happening in the picture. The painting was an important part of her formative years. Soon, she was collecting stuffed horses and horse figurines and horse coloring books. Like all helicopter moms who project their childhood wishes and desires onto their kids, I put her in riding lessons at age five, and, by second grade, we were leasing horses for her to ride in-between lessons. As time passed, I came up with a second plan: buy that kid the horse I had always longed for! (you can hear those helicopter blades just twirling around in my head!)

When Christina was nine, we leased a four-year-old quarter horse through the barn she was riding at. He had been trained in Western (we live in Texas, so duh), but had thrown his 12-year old owner, who refused to climb back up in the saddle. His parents needed someone to ride the horse, so, with their blessing to re-train him in English, we took him on a six-month lease. His name was Dandi Enterprise, aka, Dandy, and Christina fell in love. In the late fall, the little boy decided riding wasn’t his thing, and his parents asked me if we would like to buy him. I will never forget driving back from the barn, after delivering the check to the previous owners: I cried the whole way home! I mean, like sobbing. It’s a rare gift to see a life-long fantasy come to fruition!

Because we bought Dandy a month out from Christmas, John and I decided he was going to be Christina’s Christmas gift. In order for her to not find out, we told no one. NO ONE! We had to start buying all the tack and equipment, but to keep the secret going, we would tell her that the “nice owners” thought he needed a new saddle one week and a bridle the next, so she never questioned the new equipment showing up in the tack room in his locker.

When we got into mid-December, I told her that the owners didn’t want to lease him anymore. Get it? We, the owners (unbeknownst to her) weren’t going to lease our own horse to ourselves. Leaving the barn each day, she would cry about how unfair life was and I would just smile all the way home. LOL – I AM an Evil Mom! Reveal day was going to be great!

Christmas day finally arrived, with “one week left on the lease”. Of course, that morning all she had on her mind was what Santa brought, with no clue of what Mom & Dad were giving her (Sorry, Santa, you weren’t getting credit for this big a purchase!)

She got all the usual 10-year girl stuff, along with a tack box full of everything you need for a horse. She pulled out each item and told us which each item was for. We suggested that Santa must of thought she could use her own grooming supplies since she was a horseback rider. She bought the story, because, it’s not like we would to lie to her. Ha! That’s when I “noticed”, just like on every cold morning of that winter, she forgot to put on socks. I scolded her about wearing socks and she dashed off to her room to don a pair. I knew she would come straight back to the tack box to admire her cache’ of brushes and hoof pics. What she didn’t know is that I had slipped a little necklace-sized box into the tack box. (Side story: at the barn, each horse gets a name plate with his and the owner’s name and nickname on it. It was always exciting when a new horse came in or changed owners, because a new plate would go up on it’s stall door.) She picked up the box, and on the video you can see her look all confused and say, “that wasn’t there before”. We say “Really? I wonder what it is!) She opens the box, starts to look at the name plate, and then falls to a crying heap on the floor. Complete break down! And, you can hear my mom keep saying “you bought her a horse?”, “you bought her a horse!” (no one knew!). The name plate read:

Dandi Enterprise


owner: Christina Woodard

She had to suffer through my brother and sister and their families arriving for presents and Christmas dinner before we packed up the cars and headed to the barn. And, there he was, wearing a big red Christmas bow that the barn manager had tied to his halter. Of course it was raining, so no victory ride, just petting, for that day. Christina put the tack box in the tack room, the name plate on his stall door, and ended up with the the most magical Christmas Day a little girl could have.

Eighteen years later, Dandy now lives a fat and care-free life in the paddock behind our home. His only job is to be the mascot and inspiration for Painted Pony Designs. And, to still be loved by his little girl.

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Sunday Stitch-in: Bright Stripes and Bright Stars

NOTE: this post contains some thread changes. One of the advantages about having someone else stitch the piece and then tell you the fiber and stitch choices she made is that she makes all the mistakes and you get all the benefits! I am what I would term an “organic” stitcher. I start with a basic plan, but I make a lot of changes as I go along.


It’s been a long time since we got together to stitch! Since I wrote last, I’ve been on the road with markets to Las Vegas, Nashville, TN and Cleveland, OH. We did well at market, and I’ve been buried under orders ever since. I finally got my head above ground this last week, and I’ve been stitching up a storm in my off-time. I told my BFF designer-friend, Karen McVean, of Strictly Christmas, that I had stitched two hours on Monday and two hours on Tuesday and that I was now four hours behind on shipping. Ugh. Anyway, I’ve done a lot of stitching on this Mary Charles “Patriotic Barn” since my last post, so this will be a long one.

One of the reasons I haven’t posted in a while is that I had to face, and then do, ripping out all the dark blue in my sky. I finally gathered enough strength to face it while we were in Cleveland. We had a beautiful view of Lake Erie, so after the market, I would


come back to my 27th floor room, pull the desk chair up to the windows and start picking out the Basketweaved sky. The view was the only thing that kept me motivated to taking out over 10 square inches of sky. Why the “retro-stitching”? Back in January, I started stitching the darker sky color in an overdyed pearl from Threadworx that I had picked up while visiting Gina at Stitcher’s Paradise in Vegas. My original sky was a couple of solid wool threads and I had decided they were too thick and I was worried about the abrupt color change, and the harsh line it would create, from the lighter sky near the horizon and the darker sky above. Gina had a gorgeous Threadworx color for the darker sky, but she didn’t have a companion color for the bottom, lighter sky in stock. I figured I would order it when we came home. Big mistake! NEVER, in fact, let me bold that, NEVER, assume there is a companion thread if it’s not hanging right there in front of you! After calling stores for a week, I finally called Tony of Threadworx, and it turns out that the company doesn’t manufacture the pearls in all of the colors that their floss comes in. Geez! Fortunately, Tony was a big help and he sent me the same darker color in a six-strand floss and then found a lighter overdyed floss for the lighter sky. Now that I have the two FLOSS fibers stitched in, I have to admit that the ripping out was worth the wait. I really love the effect of the two colors.

Enough ripping, let’s get back to stitching!

flag and barn

The first thing to notice is that I finished our flag. After stitching the cream background in, I went over the area with five chain-stitched stripes. Joan Lohr suggested this and it was a good choice. The chain stitch allows us to flexibility to keep the stripes flowing freely. It’s also a traditional embroidery stitch that adds to the primitive folk art feel of

flag and field of blue

Mary Charles’ painting. Good choice! We used Rainbow Gallery Silk Lame’ Braid in #SL97. I  continued the glitz by stitching the blue panel in Silk Lame’ #SL159. I did that in Staggard Cross (page 247, The Needlepoint Book by Jo Christensen. BTW, I met Jo and her husband last fall at the Dallas trade show – they are the sweetest couple!).  I choose this stitch because it leaves me with spaces to add white beads in later for the little stars.

Top of pole

For the flagpole, I looked for a stitch that would be both raised and look rounded, so it would stand above the sky background.  I started with the cap by just layering  cross stitches across the cap, starting with the widest first and finishing with the top one in


the middle. I then used Van Dyke (page 337, The Needlepoint Book) paired with Rainbow Gallery’s Rainbow Linen #R457 for the actual pole.

tree trunks

Using Burnelana #3887, I stitched the three tree trunks in Interlocking Gobelin (page 191, The Needlepoint Book), modifying it to fit the curves, especially on the yellow tree.

Ok, let’s move on – there’s more to stitch!

OK, maybe not stitching just yet: (this should have been done BEFORE we put our first stitch in the canvas, but, I didn’t know then what I know now) because I have a basic plan of what I want to do with the decorative stitches in this piece, I have some prep work to do. In order to use certain canvas stitches the way I want, I need to do some “adjusting” by – and let me assure you that this is not needlepoint sacrilege! – painting out some areas. If you do this quick step, it will be so much easier on you down the road. Here’s what I’ve painted out. I want to use a leaf stitch for my grass that is four threads wide. If I stitch what is painted, I will have one awkward thread on the left that i will have to compensate in. Or, I can paint out the entire left thread and not compensate. It’s an easy choice and an easy fix by painting out the left vertical thread. (in full disclosure, I tried to remember not to stitch the left vertical thread, but kept forgetting, so it made sense sanity-wise just to paint out the thread with white acrylic paint.

white paint our

Voila! Now my overall design-width perfectly accommodates a four-thread wide leaf stitch. When I painted out the white thread, I found that my far left fence post was now on the outside thread. I could have left it there, but it wasn’t that big a deal to grab some blue and some off-white (technical names are Liquitex acrylic paints: Swedish Blue for the sky and Unbleached Titanium  for the off-white). I then decided that I only wanted to stitch two legs on my sheep, so I simplified them by painting out the extra legs. I used

green paint

Liquetix Chromium Oxide Green with a touch of Cadmium Yellow Medium and lightened it all up with white until the color was a perfect match. Although not photographed, I’m also painting out the wagon wheels – I’m going to stitch my wheels over the grass. I prefer Liquitex Acrylic paint, because it is a top-quality paint with consistent colors, but you can use a much cheaper Delta Cremecoat or a similiar brand and probably match the colors without all the mixing.

Now that we’ve done some prep work to get the canvas just right, let’s move on to stitching!

I have plans for some decoratives that we want to use further down the road. I like texture and dimension a lot, but to achieve that, you often need to build upon some basic ground work, which, to me, means Basketweave or another “quiet”, low-keyed stitch.

We need to get this sky stitched in, but before we start, I figured it would be easier to stitch around the fence posts than try to cram them in after the sky was done, so I first


put the fence posts in. I ran two threads of Rainbow Gallery Elegance  Silk Pearl #8 in #E840 parallel to the painted vertical thread. Then I went back and x-stitched over them. This helps to pad the posts enough to visually lift them above the sky level.

Now that that’s done, lets head to the sky. First up, either xerox or snap a picture with  your phone to make a copy of the sky – you’ll need that when it’s time to figure out where to place your stars. (You may see hints of white painted stars under your threads, but the photo/xerox helps you at least find them.)

I have a lot of decorative stitches planned on this canvas, so I needed to designate a couple of “quiet” areas. I had a teacher, when I first started taking classes, that always reminded us that you need Basketweave areas for your eye to rest. In other words, not every stitch needs to be busy, busy, busy. I’ve seen some pieces that are so “overstitched” that you can’t even tell what the original object is supposed to be. Basketweave helps the decorative stitches shine! Basketweave is our friend! Because I wanted to do a decorative star stitch, I chose to Basketweave the entire sky using an overdyed floss from Threadworx (see below). By using the overdyed in a Basketweave stitch, I created some subtle lights and darks to the sky without overpowering the decoratives above and around it.

First, if you haven’t finished stitching your roof, do that before starting the sky; otherwise, you’ll have a heck of a time stitching the edges of the roof against the Basketweave.

Turn your canvas upside down and basketweave (starting at horizon line) and stitch the light blue sky first, going one thread around the top of the trees.Stitch the lighter area of the sky in Threadworx Hand Overdyed Floss in #10160.


As you get around the tree, you will notice that the light blue fades into dark blue. Here’s how to make a smooth transition from light to dark:

Blend your the threads like so:

Working in Continental, stitch your first row over the tree tops using all light thread.

Remove one strand of light blue floss and add one strand of dark blue (4 lights + 1 dark). Stitch across the top of the tree one row in Contintntal. The dark blue is Threadworx Hand Overdyed Floss in #10151 NOTE: you need TWO skeins of the darker fiber.

The second row of blended threads uses three light strands and two dark strands.

Repeat with 2 lights + 3 darks

Repeat with 1 light + 4 darks

Repeat with all dark threads (#10151) using Basketweave  and work your way down to the top of the canvas (remember, I turned my canvas upside down to make it easier to sort out the blending rows).

Note that I carried the arc of the light sky around the tree to the right of the flag pole. On this side, I made two rows of each blend, just to keep the arc from plunging to severely towards the horizon.


Once my sky was stitched in, I went back with Rainbow Gallery Neon Rays #NP10 and made five-pointed stars using RobIn King’ star stitch (found on Pinterest) for the larger stars, 2×2 cross-stitches for the small stars and a cross-stitch for the single dot stars. The only two tricks to this easy stitch are 1) keeping your threads flat coming out of the canvas and back into the canvas, AND, 2) making sure that your stitches are uniform and all crossing in the same direction. This works up quick and feeds my need for practically instant gratification (especially after stitching all that Basketweave!)


Finally, I added the fence railings using one strand of our Elegance Silk Pearl #8 in E840 and long stitches from rail to rail. Quick and easy!


Note that in order to insure that you, or my cat, Diva, can’t pull out the long-stitches, use this trick to anchor your thread to the back: run your tail up the vertical barn board about five stitches, loop the needle back through the last thread and run it under another five or six threads. Snip off excess. Note: and don’t show Juli Poitras of JP Needlepoint this pic of the back of my canvas! I said something on Facebook last week about someone’s back looking as good as their front, and she said she didn’t know our backs needed to be as good as our fronts and I said that of course they should and that she should stop stitching her really cute canvas immediately if she wasn’t doing that – LOL. Basically, I was just trying to get her to quit stitching up so many models and making me look bad because it takes me six months between stitches when I’m working on models.

That catches us up! Sorry for the long post, but now we are all back up to speed. Next week, we’ll have more time to chat and work on a specific area instead of stitching all over the place.

Bring popcorn and I’ll find us a good Netflix marathon to stitch by!



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Sunday Stitch-in: Barn Raising

Welcome back! I just threw on some yoga pants and a baggy shirt and crawled under the covers. If someone will bring some chocolate to share, I think we can get started!

Instead of watching PBS, I’m listening to my interview on the Fiber Talk podcast. I don’t sound too goofy, so I’m gonna call it a win!

Here’s a link if you want to listen in:

I got a lot done on the barn, in part because I spent Wednesday at Hanging By a Thread in Shreveport, LA with a one-day angel trunk show. I make it over to Stacy’s a couple of times a year. An eclectic group of stitchers gather around the center table and someone new is always coming through the door. It’s a fun time each time I go, plus Stacy always feeds me, which is the best part of any road trip!


I used the time to re-stitch the roof, this time centering the pattern. My thread for the window trim from the Needle Works/Austin came in but I didn’t like the weight of it either, so I’m back to the original one (Grandeur Silk Pearl #5 by Rainbow Gallery, color #G840). None of my threads I’ve tried lent themselves to a nice cross stitch for the window outlines, so I ended up doing the outlining in Continental, while putting a large crossed stitch across each block to simulate the classic white X’s on barn windows and doors.

For the 2-thread side boards, I used a new-to-me stitch out of Jo Christensen’s The Needlepoint Book called Slanted Cross (page 254). I really liked it. It may become one of my go-to stitches for 2-thread borders and outlines.


While I have met Jo a couple of times, I got to know her better at the Dallas trade show. She was gracious enough to teach a technique class at the show. Jo and her very nice husband have recently moved to Texas, so once again, I am proven right that everything is bigger and better in the Lone Star State. Yehaw!

I almost have the roof done, but I wanted to show you my before and after paint out:


Above shows a star that is in the way of making my roof asymmetrical to the left side. Plus, the star shows through when I stitch over it. I dabbed a little blue-violet paint over it, and, Voila!, problem gone. You could also use a blue Sharpie. Don’t be afraid to “perfect” your canvas with paint or a Sharpie to suit your stitching plan.



I finished the barn trim with a horizontal row of Continental. The Bugle beads i ordered are too long, so I’m going to order some im 1.5mm, which should do the trick.


You can catch a glimpse on the top right corner of how the roof stitch will play out, but I am going to finish it during the week so that we can move on to the flag.

In last week’s comments, Joan Lohr suggested that I fill in the flag with white and then chain stitch the red stripes. It should keep the waves “flowy”, so let’s give it a try.

Per Joan’s advice, I am Basketweaving the entire flag. I am using two colors of Silk Lame’ Braid by Rainbow Gallery #SL100 & #SL101.


Looks like I’ve got my homework for the week: finish basketweaving the flag and finish the roof.

See you next Sunday when we raise the flag!

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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).


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.


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:


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.


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!


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.


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.


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;


Sky: Silk & Ivory #70 and #236   changed to Threadworx Overdyed Floss # 10160 and 10151

Stars: Glisten #G03 Neon Rays #NP10

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

Flag Pole: Burmilana #3887 Rainbow Linen #R457


Barn: Silk & Ivory: #81, Rainbow Gallery Elegance Silk Pearl #8, Planet Earth #Fury005

Roof: Threadworx #11214

Fence: Elegance #E840


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.


Tree Trunks: Burmilana #3441

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   Rainbow Gallery Splendor 12-ply silk #S992


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.

 *         *         *

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…


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.


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.


*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.


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.


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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