Saturday, January 30, 2016

January Begone! & Belfast Pattern Grows


Yes, even I, one who loves winter is this January glad to see it ending.  You see, it started out with a big challenge.  On Christmas Eve, our wedding anniversary too, our electrical power to our well house began to sputter and eventually failed.  Living where we do it isn't possible to just pick up a phone and call for a service person or for that matter to run out to a store for parts.  Add to it the fact that it was a big holiday weekend (two big holiday weekends in fact ) and I knew we were going to be without water for some time.

I didn't know it would be two weeks till the problem was solved!  Thanks to neighbors we were able to fill up containers of water to see us through, but Mr. B spent a lot of hours in a freezing cold well house to put in new wiring and a new pump that took extra days to be sent to us.  So all holiday cooking was postponed since all water had to be heated on the stove and daily chores became a lot more difficult when that precious water wasn't flowing out of the taps!

Now I didn't think I needed anything to make me appreciate running water more than I already do, but I can guarantee that I do indeed say my daily,' thank you, Lord', for it even more frequently after two weeks in the midst of winter without it, lol
Belfast Pattern
One might think I had extra time to stitch since all holiday 'merrymaking' came to a halt, however, it seemed as if everything necessary for daily living became vastly more difficult without running water and by the time they were accomplished I had no desire to do anything but collapse on the couch.

But February is around the corner and hopefully I'll regain momentum and get to stitching like I should and get Belfast's model completed - btw, this may be one of my very favorites!

However, I will have a bit of a pause since Just Cross Stitch has asked for another Christmas Ornament for the 2016 special edition.  Yes, they do that this far ahead!  I've made a design but need to lay Belfast aside till I can stitch the ornament and get it off to the magazine soon.

Orphaned fawn known as 'Baby'
One lovely 'gift' we had this season was an orphaned fawn that has got to be the cutest fawn we've ever seen.  We've named her 'Baby' and though she trails along behind the herd that makes Gracewood their home, she is most often found on her own up under the trees by our bird feeding station.  She comes right up to the back porch and blinks those big eyes at us and waits for the inevitable apple or pear, or her favorite celery or carrot.

Hoping your January was a good one!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas! & 'Winter Daybreak' Pattern in JCS Magazine

Winter Daybreak
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year dear stitchers!  I hope it will be a very happy and blessed holiday for you all!  

We are so thankful for all the snow we've gotten so far and the promise of much more on its way.  After our dry and dangerous summer this has really been an answer to prayer.

The current issue of Just Cross Stitch magazine is out and features my design 'Winter Daybreak', the pattern is of course included in the issue.  It is inspired by some of our winter mornings when frost covers our windows and daybreak's soft hued colors begin to suffuse the view.  I hope you'll enjoy it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Snow Begins, Kyoto Finished & New Design Introduced

What a difference a month makes!  I'm so happy and thankful to be able to supersede photos of wildfire skies with snowy ones.

Jasper Loves Snow!

 Kyoto's model, the latest in the Vintage Textile Collection of patterns,  is complete and will be up for sale at Creative PoppyICG Crafts and my website by this weekend.


I'm now stitching the model for a new design that is another textile and this time in a damask. This is 'Belfast' named for the area of Ireland well known for its damask linens.  I'm stitching it on a 16 count Wichelt Aida evenweave called 'touch of yellow' in a Kreinik Silk Mori thread called Dark Butter.

I must admit I have a particular fondness for damasks, I use them on our table as runner, napkins or tablecloth as often as possible and I believe this will be the first in a new line of damask designs.


It is definitely stitching weather on Gracewood and I'm so enjoying it.  Despite the very hot dry summer our apple and pear trees gave us an abundant crop and the house is almost always redolent of pies, kuchens, and in general great baking aromas.

It is as if the whole area, forest, lakes, wildlife and we residents of the inland northwest have breathed a sign of relief and are rejoicing in our blessedly wet weather.

Hope things are well wherever you are!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Lots of Gracewood Stitches N E W S

It is finally October and it does indeed feel like Autumn here on Gracewood.  While it is still way too dry weather wise, we did have enough rain in the last weeks of September to help with all the wildfires and we are so thankful for every drop of it.  Thank the Lord, the fires nearest us are almost all contained and only the fires that are in the steepest and most difficult to get to areas are still having to be monitored.

So with a great deal of relief I can turn my attention back to stitching and designing and I have lots of happy things to report.  First, the 2015 edition of Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornaments is now available and I'm honored to again be invited to participate.

Full of lots of lovely ornaments, you can find the Gracewood Stitches contribution on page 100.  It is Log Cabin~Noel and it was a lot of fun to stitch.

And in other news, my publisher, Creative Poppy, has a new tutorial online that takes last year's ornament, Twilight, that was in the 2014 Christmas Ornament edition of the magazine and creates a really lovely whole new ornament using beads and beautiful ribbon.

The instructions for the tutorial are available Here

Creative Poppy has also introduced the new collection of  'Swatchables' that will be exclusively available through their site.

The first pattern is Rondo and can be found Here

The design is presented with 3 variations and the collection is created to give stitchers small patterns, or 'swatches' of a motif that can then be stitched in many combinations.

Rondo Swatch

Some of Rondo's Variations

I've also almost finished stitching the Kyoto model and have a new design I'll introduce next blog post.  So as they say, 'watch this space' :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cross Stitch as Therapy & Another Kind of Cabin Fever

Here in the US the west and northwest are still in the midst of unimaginable wildfire conditions.  Truly, the reports on the evening news are incapable of transmitting what is happening here this summer.  

After so many years of restrictions on the healthy harvesting of timber which weakened them and made them susceptible to all sorts of insects and also simply were allowed to die and fill the forest with fuels, combined with very dry conditions, what we feared would happen has happened and we find ourselves in a 'perfect storm' of wildfires.

This is what our normal view from Gracewood looks like and oh how grateful I will be when it returns.

Normal View from Gracewood
And this is what our sunrises look like now, day after day the sky is filled with smoke turning the sun and the moon blood red.

Smokey Sunrise

Every morning we check the sites reporting the fires and often find they've doubled overnight.  We are praying for rain but also that the lightning that comes with it won't start new fires.

So many have found themselves in worse conditions than we have, the fire just 5 miles from us started a month ago and being one of the first we had immediate response from the professional fire fighting teams and we're very thankful to say that it is 80% contained and not expected to grow.  Those whose fires started after that often found that there was no one to come when they called for help.

8 miles southeast of us a much larger fire complex has grown to 11,000 acres with just 5% contained.  Finally some military personnel arrived this week as well as some fire fighters from Australia and New Zealand and even though this particular fire has a lot of potential for growth, now at least we have more resources to fight it.

The air has been exceedingly bad, they are measuring levels in Spokane more hazardous than they've ever recorded.  Having asthma I have been confined to the house with air conditioner, air purifiers and humidifiers running around the clock.

And that is why I said that cross stitch can be very therapeutic!

I never have 'cabin fever' in winter since even if it is a little stroll I love to be out in the cold and snow, but now we are experiencing another kind of 'trapped' feeling as we sit inside surrounded by choking smokey skies.

Stitching the model of 'Kyoto' has been a great way to get my mind on something else and I've found cross stitch really can take you to another better 'place' while you are working a project.


I wasn't able to get a good outside photo of Kyoto, the background is much lighter and brighter than this photo shows, but I am very happy with these three shades of blue which are close to correct in this pic.

Jasper's 2nd Birthday

One of the sad things in all of this has been the animals who can't get in out of the smoke or who have fled one area of fire to find only more fire.  We've seen an increase in deer and bear visitors to our bird feeding area and we've been stripping our apple trees to pile them up for whatever animal comes by needing a bite.  The birds are cleaning our feeders out daily since they are finding it difficult to find their usual food in the forest.

It has also been a challenge to keep our Chessie, Jasper, in the house and out of the smoke when he is a rambunctious two year old who needs lots of exercise.

This has definitely been a stressful time, with suitcases packed if we have to evacuate and the challenges each day is bringing, but I'm reminded of the most oft mentioned phrase in the Bible - 'and it came to pass' - and am grateful that this too 'shall pass'.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Wildfire Near & a Beautiful Reminder of 'Things Unseen'

One of the great concerns of living in the mountainous west is wildfire.  After almost 30 years living here in northeast Washington state we've had some lovely wet and relatively cool summers and others that were dry and hot and this year has been one of the hottest and driest and that concern about the possibility of wildfires that are too near has come to pass.

A fire now named 'Baldy Fire' since it is on Mount Baldy began on Saturday and is now about 5 miles from Ione and we are about 1 mile south of Ione.  All weekend the helicopters and small planes flew over Gracewood and dipped into the Pend Oreille river to try and pour enough water on the fire to contain it.  It hasn't worked and quickly has grown from 50 acres to 300 yesterday and this morning the teams of special wildfire fighters are arriving and setting up a command post to determine how to fight the fire.  We're waiting for the next update this morning to tell us how much it has grown and if it is still continuing its path towards us.

We're hoping we won't have to evacuate but of course all day it runs through your head how to go about such a problematic event.  In the midst of this I read something this morning that just seemed to suit my needs at this moment and I wanted to share it.

From a new book, Things Not seen, by Jon Bloom, I found this excerpt and the whole book is available in paperback or can be downloaded as a pdf for free from this link ~

I once heard of a man who split black ash and wove baskets.
And he wove prayer through every basket.
The man wore faded plaid and old denim and lived alone high up in the Appalachians where the dirt didn’t grow crops, but it could grow basket trees.
He lived such a distance up in the hills that he really didn’t think the profits from selling his baskets would exceed the cost of transportation to some Saturday morning market. Nevertheless, each day he cut trees and sawed them into logs and then pounded the logs with a mallet, to free all the splint ribbons from those trees. Splint slapped the floor.
And the basket-making man, he simply worked unhurried and unseen by the world, his eyes and heart fixed on things unseen.
“When the heart is at rest in Jesus — unseen, unheard by the world — the Spirit comes, and softly fills the believing soul, quickening all, renewing all within,” writes Robert Murray McCheyne.
Day after day, the man cut ash, pulled splint, stacked baskets. He said that as he held the damp splint and he braided — under and over, under and over — that God was simply teaching him to weave prayers into every basket, to fill the empty baskets, all the emptiness, with eternal, unseen things.
It was as if, under all the branches of those basket growing trees, he knew what that clergyman James Aughey wrote, “As a weak limb grows stronger by exercise, so will your faith be strengthened by the very efforts you make in stretching it out toward things unseen.”
Come the end of the year, after long months of bending over baskets, bending in prayer, when his stacks of baskets threatened to topple over, the man kneeled down under those trees that grew baskets — and lit those baskets with a match.
The flames devoured and rose higher and cackled long into the night.
Then, come morning, when the heat died away, satiated, the basket-making man stood long in the quiet. He watched how the wind blew away the ashes of all his work.
To the naked eye, it would appear that the man had nothing to show for the work. All the product of his hands was made papery ash — but his prayers had survived fire.
The prayers we weave into the matching of the socks, the working of our hands, the toiling of the hours, they survive fire. It’s the things unseen that survive fire. Love. Relationship. Worship. Prayer. Communion. All Things Unseen — and centered in Christ.
It doesn’t matter so much what we leave unaccomplished — but that our priority was things unseen.
Again, today, that’s always the call: Slay the idol of the seen. Slay the idol of focusing on only what can be seen, lauded, noticed. Today, a thousand times again today, I will preach his truth to this soul prone to wander, that wants nothing more than the gracious smile of our Father: “Unseen. Things Unseen. Invest in Things Unseen. The Unexpected Priority is always Things Unseen.”
“Pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret . . .” (Matthew 6:6)
“The things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
It’s the things unseen that are the most important things.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Kyoto Begun, a New Collection Started & Weather Moans

I'll start with the moans, it has been way too hot and dry in the US's Pacific Northwest for this gal.  It just goes that way some years, we've had lots of cool wet summers for which I am most thankful, now I'm working, hard, on being thankful for hot and dry :(  I'm not getting very far with it though, I'm afraid, I just keep greeting each new day as 'oh boy' one less day in July, lol

One good thing about such weather is I become housebound in the air conditioning and so I do get some stitching done.  Truly, I suffer more from 'cabin fever' in summer than winter.

But 'Kyoto' is progressing and it is indeed a 'happy' stitch.  After the first few bands are done I hardly have to look at the pattern, I just glance above on all but a few of the bands.

I'm using Kreinik's Mori silk thread on this in three shades of blue.  It is really a lovely floss and easy to work with.

I've also been working on a new collection that will be called 'Swatchables'.  The concept is a single motif that can then be made into various patterns by either multiplying the motif, taking it apart and putting it back together in another form, or using it in something like a sampler.  Here are a few pics of the first pattern, 'Rondo'. 

From this swatch size motif you can jump off in a few different directions -

Swatch Motif and Diamond shape made by cutting swatch into triangles

Motif tiled to as many repeats as you like to fit your project

An alphabet will be included so you can make the sampler your own as well.
Here is the 'swatch' stitched in a blue and mocha color.

'Rondo' will soon be on sale through my publisher, Creative Poppy

Hope everyone's projects are progressing well!  For those who love summer, enjoy!  For those like me longing for Fall, hang in there, this too shall pass :)