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 :)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Alsace Available & New Design

'Alsace' Detail
Yea! Alsace is now available for sale on my website and at Creative Poppy and I hope to have it up on ICG in the next few days so that retail shops may purchase it.  The frame for it is on the way and hopefully I'll have a photo of it next post.  It was a long stitch, especially since I had to stop it in order to stitch Winter Daybreak for Just Cross Stitch magazine.

I've just gotten the model off to them and they plan to feature it in their February edition.  That seems like a long time from now, but magazines usually have their editions ready that far in advance.  Sitting here in a heat wave I can't tell you how much I look forward to that time of year, lol

Inspired by some awe inspiring winter sunrises here on Gracewood, here is the finished model.  Those are some pearl seed bead embellishments, the camera didn't catch very well. 

Winter Daybreak

Of course I can't sit here with nothing on my frame or without a needle in my hand, so I've just begun stitching the next pattern in my Vintage Textile Collection.  This time I was inspired by some of the wonderful historical fabrics from Japan.  Watching all those Korean and Japanese dramas I've mentioned, it is impossible not to be awed by their sense of color, texture and design.

There are of course many types of Japanese textile styles to choose from, including their silk kimonos to their peasant style of patchwork called 'Boro'.  But it was the homely feel of their home dyed indigos that I've chosen for the next design, 'Kyoto'.


I think this one is going to be a 'happy' stitch :) 

There have been more wildlife visitors to Gracewood this month, another young bear appeared at our birdfeeders and yesterday I looked up from stitching and just out the window towards the mountains was a large bald eagle lazily flying just a few feet away from the porch.   I hope the heat wave we're having won't be too hard on the critters, it isn't just me that finds it hard to thrive in summer's too hot temps.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Celebrating Creative Stitchers!

How can it be the end of May already?  Time flows so slowly and leisurely in winter and then BAM it is spring and there is so much to be done outside and then there is spring cleaning - any wonder I love winter? lol  Even though there is surely less time for stitching during this time of year I did complete 'Alsace'.

I won't be posting it for sale immediately, I'm waiting to hear from publishers and how and when they want to use it and then I'll have a better idea of when I can make it available on my website.  I'm very happy with how it came out.  It really does look like the type of French ticking fabric that inspired it.

And now I want to show you a wonderful adaptation of my 'Tulip's Praise' pattern.  A friend saw it on facebook and sent a copy of a photo to me.  The creative stitcher is Kay Jones, from the Sticklounge stitching group.  Isn't it lovely?

'Tulip's Praise' done in purples and greens on black fabric by Kay Jones
I am always happy to see someone do their own thing with one of my designs and Kay obviously has a great sense of color and her stitching is beautiful.  Thank you, Kay, for sharing your rendition of this pattern, I love it! :)

I hope to post on the blog in the next few weeks and tell you about a new idea that I hope you will like.  So many inspirations and so little time to produce them right now.

Have a Happy Memorial Day If you are here in the US.  It is the unofficial start of summer holiday season though summer is a few weeks away.  The population of Ione multiplies greatly as people come here to camp, hike, fish, swim and just get away from it all.

Though I do advise them to remember this is mostly wilderness and they may wake up as we did this week to find a 'neighbor' closer than they may find comfortable, especially in a tent!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Gracewood's 'Seville' on Just Cross Stitch Magazine's June Cover

Just Cross Stitch magazine's June edition has just gone on sale and I'm very happy that one of my designs' is featured on it's cover.  The third in the Vintage Textile Collection, 'Seville', is a reflection of my love for Spanish lace. 


Inspired by a dress I wore to a prom a few decades ago, lol.  The essence of feminity, the dress was covered from just under the bust to flounces at the floor in beautiful scallops of a floral lace and since I began designing patterns for needlework it has been something I wanted to translate into cross stitch.

Just Cross Stitch made the model into a pillow and as always, I'm grateful to the editor, Christy Schmitz and her staff, for presenting their designer's work in such a beautiful fashion.

I hope you'll pick up a copy of the magazine which will be on sale through June.

Snowshoe Hare
Spring has definitely arrived on Gracewood.  This is a Snowshoe Hare that has been appearing at the birdfeeding station every morning.  As you can see he is beginning his morph from his snow white winter coat into his summer browns. 

Pussy Willow Catkins
We've had some wonderful wet spring days, here is a shot of the fuzzy catkins just after a rain.

Like the hare, everything seems to be coming out of its winter colors and it won't be long before the apple and pear trees are covered with blossoms and humming with bees.

I need to shake myself out like the new spring covers on the bed and get some tomato seeds started inside if we're going to have some getting to any size in the garden beds before fall comes back.  I hope you're enjoying the new season wherever you are!

Stellar Jay

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hints of Spring & a 'Mother' Develops

Hairy Woodpecker
Some of the first hints of spring are arriving on Gracewood, catkins on the pussy willows, thrushes at our birdfeeders and the suet feeding birds aren't devouring the cakes quite as fast as they did when it was freezing all day.

winter retreating in the forest

I just finished my ornament and sent it off for the 2015 Christmas Ornament edition of the Just Cross Stitch magazine.  It is amazing how far ahead magazines have to plan.  My vintage textile design, 'Seville', is going to be featured in an upcoming issue and it seems like I've mainly been designing and stitching for publications for many months now. 

'Alsace' has had to be put on hold twice in order to meet deadlines but I hope to finish it soon and I don't plan on taking any more magazine projects for awhile so I can focus on getting more designs accomplished. 

And I'm happy to say that our attempt at making our own pear vinegar have been very successful!

Pear Vinegar
In order to make a true 'vinegar' a 'mother' has to form and thankfully our experiment in turning all of the pear peelings and cores into gourmet pear vinegar has been very successful.  In the above photo you can see a milky white line that is this jar of vinegar's 'mother' that I caught as it was sliding from the top of the jar to the bottom.  This is the sign that it has reached the appropriate stage of development. 

Next you strain the vinegar through cheesecloth and you are left with this alien looking thing at the bottom of the jar that is the mother and you can either add some of it to jars that haven't formed a mother yet or you can freeze it until you are ready to start new vinegar and add a tablespoon to a new batch to ensure you'll develop a good mother.

'vinegar mother'
I've already used almost a quart of pear vinegar in various recipes, it is great for making a sauce with drippings from roasts or added to salad dressings and stir fries.  The pear flavor and aroma make the dishes so delicious.  I hope you'll give the process a try, it has turned out to be a lot of fun to make our own vinegars.

Now back to 'Alsace', hope you're enjoying spring in your neck of the woods, or fall if you are south of the equator :)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Progress, Pickles & a Serious Delight

Still snowy on Gracewoods.

Snow off of porch few feet higher than porch!

Alsace's stitching is progressing though not as fast as I would like and since Just Cross Stitch magazine has kindly invited me to participate in their 2015 special Christmas Ornament edition I'm having to take a stitching break to design and stitch the ornament. 

Alsace ticking fabric design

When the typically heavier fare of winter gets us down we make some quick pickles to keep in the fridge and what a blast of the garden greets us when we go to these jars, which is frequently!  So easy to make if you can get some good cucumbers and since Terry had to make a trip to Colville last week, he was able to go to a much larger store than we have near Gracewoods and he brought home the 'treasure' of several beautiful cucumbers and some daikon radish for pickles.

Cucumbers in their pickle brine

So easy to make, just slice the cucumbers and daikon into the thickness you like (a mandolin really helps) then follow this simple recipe.

·       1 cup rice wine vinegar
·       1 cup water
·       3/4 cup sugar
·       1 tablespoon Kosher salt
·       4 cups thinly sliced Japanese or English cucumbers (about 3 Japanese or 1 English)
.        Optional - 1 tablespoon pepper flakes (we use gochugaru flakes we buy through Amazon)
Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat. Add cucumber slices and stir. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or a double layer of heavy duty paper towels, pressing down until towel is saturated with liquid and in direct contact with the cucumbers. Let rest 10 minutes, then transfer cucumbers to a sealable container. Top up with liquid and discard the rest. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

And can you imagine a dog that loves pickles????  Well here he is, Jasper waits patiently to see if his clumsy Mom will drop one he can nab.

Jasper waiting for a pickle

Now for a Serious Delight we came across - which is definitely a higher level than a Passing Fancy - it is a Japanese series we've been streaming that is a real treasure.  Originally a manga that has run for more than 17 years,  Kodoku no Gurume (Solitary Gourmet) is four seasons of a series of half hour episodes that tells the story of Goro-San, a salesman whose job takes him all over Tokyo's precincts which gives him the opportunity to explore the many little restaurants that populate them.

Kodoku no Gurume

Solitary Gourmet

Each episode has its own story with Goro-San having interesting and usually funny encounters with customers for his business and then his search for just the right day's 'food for his tummy'.  If you are interested in sharing  our Serious Delight you can view it online for free at  but WARNING do NOT watch this series if you are hungry it is torture!!!!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Alsace Stitching & January Colors

The new year has begun and it is looking a lot like winter on Gracewood.

Looking east towards the mountains you can see the well house and how much snow we've gotten and we are under a winter storm warning for another 10+ inches from tonight through Monday.  Anyone who knows me know this is a 'good thing', lol 

Definitely stitching weather, and 'Alsace' is proving a pretty fast and fun stitch.   I do have a fondness for red and white patterns and that was part of why I chose to do the ticking fabric for the Vintage Textile collection using the red ticking that the Alsace region is known for.  Hopefully, I'll get more done during the coming snowstorm!


We have some more beautiful 'red' on Gracewood at our bird feeding station.  We've never had them before but this year we have had several White Winged Crossbills.


We know they migrate in our area but had never had any come to the feeders.  It is so pretty to see them alongside our gorgeous blue Stellar Jays.  The bird feeders are in a sheltered area and with the approaching storm it is a very busy area at the moment.  Terry stocked it up with suet and seed early this morning and as usual, the birds know when a storm is coming and are frantically 'filling up' before retreating under the snow covered boughs.

And an update on our pear vinegar making. 

Here are a few half gallon jars with varying stages of vinegar development.  We've strained out the fruit peelings after several days of bubbling away and these are now getting darker and stronger as the 'mother' develops.

Vinegar 'Mother' Developing
I wish I could send along how fabulous they smell!  We're looking forward to using the vinegar in everything from salads to sauces.

Hoping your New Year will be a blessed one!  Feel free to post comments about what is going on in your 'neck of the woods' :)