Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Carolina Completed & Just Cross Stitch Feature

Happy New Year!  It is a snowy Christmas on Gracewood and we're quietly celebrating the meaning of the day :)  I hope wherever you are, you'll have a lovely time as well.

Carolina is completed and is now listed for sale.  It was an enjoyable stitch and it really feels like I've created a piece of fabric, which was my aim.  I'm waiting to get Beauvais' model back from the magazine and I think Carolina is going to look nice hung next to it.

The Jan/Feb issue of Just Cross Stitch magazine is out with its feature on Gracewood Stitches.  I'm pleased and honored to have been in such an important needlework publication.  Beauvais' pattern is included in the edition.

 I don't know about you but I get a thrill looking at a new piece of fabric stretched on a frame ready for the next design!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Merry Christmas and a New Freebie!

It is such a busy time of year and I know many are working at a frantic pace to complete your holiday and year end tasks.  So this will be a short post from Gracewood wishing you a Merry Christmas and very Happy New Year!

I've posted a new free pattern,  Click here to download , that I hope you'll find an enjoyable stitch.  It is inspired by an image I came across of some old tiles that had an art nouveau motif with the tiles laid in a masonry brick pattern.  It gave me a smile and I decided to design a similarly styled pattern that I'm making available as my Christmas gift to my readers.

Nouveau Tile
May you have some safe and blessed holidays!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

New Collection and New Pattern

I hope everyone had a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Ours was nice and cozy by the fire and full of good aromas and even the beginning of the snow that forms our season's snowpack.  And of course a new puppy that was a big 'help' with everything, lol

I hope to be done stitching Carolina's model in the next couple of days and as always being afraid of not having the piece to go on the frame when the last is finished, I took a few days to develop the next design.  There are any number of kernels of ideas floating around in my head but as usual one kept coming to the forefront demanding to be next.

In the past I've mentioned that my favorite era of style is the Edwardian age.  While it was officially just one decade from 1901 to 1910, the aesthetics most consider "Edwardian"  began a bit earlier and lasted until the beginning of World War I in 1914 corresponding to the French Belle Epoque period. Despite its brief pre-eminence, the period is characterised by its own unique architectural style, fashion, and lifestyle.  Art Nouveau then Art Deco had particularly strong influences as well as the industrial age and the development of the automobile and electricity.
There is a great Pinterest Edwardiana board if you'd like to see more images.

A time of exuberance that was brought crashing into the reality of world war, this brief period produced some stunning images and I hope to capture at least a bit of their essence in cross stitch patterns. 

The new Collection will be called Edwardiana and the first pattern is called 'Wimsey'

Wimsey  Stitch Count 193 x 228 
Why Wimsey?  I love good detective stories and some of the best were written during the Edwardian age, from Sherlock Holmes to those known as the Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (and I highly recommend the dvds based on those rivals!).  And while they were written a bit later the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries authored by Dorothy Sayers were placed in the Edwardian era and there is no detective I love more than Lord Peter so this is in his honor.  I think it reflects his elegant and irrepressible style.
This is another reason stitching slowed a bit this month, it is hard to stitch with a lap full of Jasper!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Carolina, Jasper & an Enthusiasm

Three more bands to go on Carolina.  Stitching has slowed considerably with the now ten week old Jasper as part of the family.  Anyone who has ever had a puppy knows how much time they consume with the constant loving and teaching they require and the taller they get the more things they can find to get into!

But he's been more than worth the effort :) 

It has been a lot of fun getting to know him, he is a sweet loving and ENERGETIC boy, lol and we're so glad we have enough fenced acreage for him to burn off that energy.

Since I haven't a lot of stitching news right now, I'm trying to finish the Carolina model to coincide with the Just Cross Stitch magazine article - which will be on newsstands New Years Eve - I thought I'd tell you about another enthusiasm of mine.  And that is the work of Japanese woodblock artist, Kawase Hasui (1883-1957)


During his life Hasui was named one of the Living National Treasures of Japan.  One of the chief printmakers in the Shin Hanga (new print) movement, his watercolors and woodblocks move me deeply.  His gift for portraying night scenes as well as snow and rain and the moods they can convey are profoundly beautiful.


I love the sense of stillness and peace they portray.

The harmony and balance Hasui achieved inspires me, I could spend hours lost in his remarkable work.

If you hadn't met him before, I hope anyone else similarly moved by Hasui's work will enjoy the introduction.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Carolina, Coverlets & Computers

Carolina's model is half stitched and it is meeting my aim of creating an image reminiscent of an early American coverlet.

Carolina Model Halfway

These coverlets have such an interesting history. If you aren't familiar with the story, visit this link to see how the early coverlets were made on looms whose patterns were created by punch cards. Punch cards were created as far back as the early 1700's and were perfected for the loom in 1800 by Joseph-Marie Jacquard. 

The coverlets were woven in bands of color, often using white for the actual motifs, that is why using the Assissi technique of leaving the design unstitched on a white or off white background can achieve a similar effect.
1842 Coverlet from Ohio
1852 American Coverlet

Anyone else old enough to remember when computers were programmed with essentially the same type of cards?  Here are some that were actually used on early looms to create some of the first Jacquard woven coverlets.

Early punch cards for Jacquard looms

For me it contributes to the charm of this particular category of Vintage Textiles.

And now for something completely different :)  We are really looking forward to bringing this guy home in two weeks, meet the newest addition to Gracewood 


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Finally, FALL!

Gracewood Apples

Wherever you are you may be able to hear the hurrahs from Gracewood this weekend for Fall has arrived!  Our time of year begins and we are surely ready for it.  The woodstove has been cleaned, the pile of firewood is growing and the mornings are crisply cold.  As we go to bed on these moonlit nights we hear the elk bugling to his harem in our meadow and the fruit in the orchard is bending the branches to breaking.  Can't wait till I step outside, exhale and see the whisps of colder air.

We're picking apples and pears and have baskets like the one above full of apples all around the kitchen/dining room and the aroma is ravishing!  The ones in the photo are from our tree of Ellison's Orange, a cross between Cox's Orange & Calville Blanc, it has a sweet tart, anise like, crisp, juicy and aromatic flavor.

It is definitely Apple Kuchen time and as soon as one is consumed another must be made!  It is a very simple recipe and I thought I'd share it with you.

Apple Kuchen
  • 2 Teaspoons yeast
  • 1/4 cup room temp water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • Approximaely 3 1/2 cups Flour
Place milk, butter, sugar and salt in a large measuring cup or bowl and heat in microwave until butter melts, let cool to room temp.  Whisk yeast into the 1/4 cup water and then add it and the egg to the milk mixture and then add enough flour to make a firm dough, turn out on floured board and knead for a few minutes or if using mixture knead with dough hook till it cleans the sides of the bowl, turn into lightly oiled or buttered bowl, cover with cling wrap and put in warm place for about 2 hours.
Dough patted out and topped with Apples

  • 5 Large Apples (combining a few types works best)
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar (1/2 white & brown works well too)
  • 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 4 Tablespoons Flour
  • 4 Tablespoons cold Butter
Peel and slice apples (thin slices, about 1/4")
Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and flour together, cut in butter (food processor works great)
Ready for the oven, this one looks lighter since I was low on brown sugar and used more white
Assembling Kuchen
After dough is risen, heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly oil a sheet pan (I often use parchment paper instead) and pat the dough out in the pan (don't use rolling pin) leaving the edges slightly thicker.
Spread the apples over the dough pressing lightly. Spread the flour and sugar mixture over the apples and bake for 30 minutes.
Serve this warm with a big mug of tea or coffee and enjoy! or let it cool, slice it into serving sizes and put in freezer bags and freeze.  Take out amount you want to serve and let  come to room temp or lightly microwave, great either way. 
Just out of the oven, wish you could smell it!
Just add steaming cup of coffee or tea!
Though harvest time is leaving a little less time for stitching, Carolina is progressing and I think it is going to look nice hung next to Beauvais.  I hope to have it finished by the time the magazine returns the model.  
Enjoy your Fall if you are on our side of the equator! :)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Stitches in Time", a Sad Goodbye & a Happy Hello


Since I'm in the midst of designing and stitching patterns that reflect my interest in vintage textiles, I  was happy to come upon a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about an exhibition at the Met featuring such fabrics.

Here is an excerpt -

Stitches in Time: A History of Fabric

An exhibit opening Sept. 16 tells the story of history and economics through three centuries of fabric.  By Stephanie Cohen
In 2005, during a Matisse exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Decorative Arts curator Amelia Peck was asked to help explain the origins of a particular piece of blue printed fabric depicted in many of the master painter's works.
[image] The Metropolitan Museum of Art
A cotton Wentke coat from mid-18th century Netherlands.

The fabric swatch had long been a mystery to textile scholars. All the known pieces of its type—variations of a blue and white printed-floral design—were in museums in America, and scholars had for years assumed it was an early example of American printed fabric. When a British excise label was found on one such fabric swatch in the 1950s, scholars decided it had been made in England and exported, although no piece had ever been found in the U.K. Now a swatch had turned up in France, where Matisse had bought it, and she was intrigued.

Ms. Peck began researching the fabric. In the Met's library, she found a book about Indian fabrics brought to Europe by the Dutch East India Company and realized that the blue and white pattern had been made in India for a European or American consumer.
"I'd been an American textile specialist for 30 years, and I'd never thought about them in the context of the bigger world," she says. Most scholars had assumed colonial American textiles had come from England. ....
the rest of the article can be read through the Wall Street Journal's online site, sorry it won't link, just google Stitches in Time: A History in Fabric.  There is also an online exhibit at the Met, featuring floral patterned textiles.

And now a sad goodbye.  We recently lost our eleven year old German Shepherd, Zoe, to age and illness.  This was the third such heart wrenching farewell we'd experienced in the last three years and that day I thought, that's it, no more dogs.  My heart can't take such things any more.

Our Zoe

However, the next morning dawned and all around the house were the memories of happy dog times and the lack of a dog bed by the woodstove and a dog dish in the laundry room was even harder to bear so we began our search for the next Gracewood dog to love.  It turns out he was born just two days before we lost our Zoe.  He is a Chesapeake Bay Retreiver and is somewhere in the heap of puppies in the photo below.

Somewhere in this pile of puppies is 'Jasper'

We can't wait to take the five hour drive over to Wenatchee, just this side of the Cascade mountains, to pick up 'Jasper'.  It is going to be a challenge to go from years with three older dogs to a brand new puppy with all of his enthusiasm and energy, but thankfully with this addition to the family Terry is home full time now and will have the joy of being a much bigger part of  'puppy life'.

Zoe would not have actually liked having a young puppy in the house, but we're sure she would be happy that our hearts will find some ease in loving another dog.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Design - 'Carolina'


I try to have the next project ready to go as soon as the current model is completed, but due to time constraints on getting Beauvais done I wasn't able to do that this time and was going through withdrawal having no fabric on my frame and next design ready to stitch.  Thankfully, I'm now happily stitching the next pattern, a companion piece to Beauvais, and second in the Vintage Textiles collection - 'Carolina'.

The inspiration for Carolina are the coverlets that were made in Colonial America by the descendants of Huguenots who settled in the Carolinas, primarily in the area of Charleston.  Historic Huguenot Street has some wonderful photos of their work.  Some of my ancestors were Huguenots and I've always been interested in learning about their abilities as artisans, particularly as weavers.

This piece is the same size as Beauvais - though both of the patterns could easily be reduced if you wanted something smaller, just take an even amount of rows and columns away from each side.    My colors for it are in two shades of mauve, using Rainbow Gallery's Splenor silk floss again, the model will be stitched with their shades of rose #S14 & 813 on 18 count antique white aida.

I really am stressed if there isn't a needle in my hand and a pattern next to me to stitch, hopefully I'll plan ahead better next time.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Beauvais Completed & Taking Photos of your Work


The Beauvais model is completed and framed and off to Just Cross Stitch magazine for their February 2014 edition.  Stitching mainly evenings while watching something streaming or on dvd, it took eleven weeks to complete and was an enjoyable project.  I hope others will also find it a fun stitch.

The magazine will make the pattern available after publication and I'll be able to sell it from the website and blog, as well as through Creative Poppy and ICG beginning June, 2014. 

I have another design in the Vintage Textile collection ready and will introduce it next week.

And now, I'd like to share a few tips for taking photos of your work.  Frankly it has been the hardest part of designing!  I've tried many techniques and finally found one that works and that is using a light box and a grey card. 

Based on instructions from this site I purchased foam boards at walmart and some clip on lamps.  I found I didn't need the light from the top, just one on each side of the box worked great.  However, without the grey card the photos were way too dark, even with all that light.  Below are photos of the light box and a brief video that shows how to use the grey card. 

Homemade Light Box

How to use a Gray Card

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Stitchin' N Streamin'

Summer has arrived on Gracewood and while I love the roses in bloom and the delicious fruits it brings, on the whole I just don't 'do' heat well.  I'm like a reverse bear I hibernate but not in the winter. 

And while our little part of the world is humming with tourists come to camp and hike and partake of this weekend's Down River Days celebration, I'm only putting a foot out of air conditioning to enjoy the sublime mountain breezes in the early mornings and evenings. 

So, while many do less stitching this time of year due to being out enjoying themselves in the sun, I get a lot of stitching done as I hibernate inside waiting for that first nip in the air that says fall has come.  This year this has been a good thing since I'm working hard on finishing stitching Beauvais' model to get it framed and sent off to Just Cross Stitch magazine by the end of August.

These days I'm finding that nothing facilitates intense stitching like streaming some epic films.  And while I am still obsessed with South Korean sageuks I have also been enjoying watching some BBC productions streaming on Acorn TV. 

This week I enjoyed the newest production of one of my favorite novels, Tolstoy's War & Peace.  Though I admit that this one is War & Peace Lite and while I hate how much it leaves out if there is no other way you'd ever know something of the story and you like lavishly produced period dramas then by all means watch and enjoy this one.

However, watching this one left me wanting the 'real thing' and so I dug through our dvds and found our copy of what has to be the best, as in most complete, filming of this masterpiece, the 1972 version the BBC made starring a very young Anthony Hopkins as Pierre.

I am so very glad that I read this novel when I was younger, no film can do it justice.  They can't portray all of the inner thoughts of the characters that fill this story to the brim, but at least this version made the attempt and it is what helps to make this one truer than any other.  Please don't be satisfied with the laughably brief movie Hollywood attempted with Henry Fonda and Audrey Hepburn, it isn't even the Cliff Notes of this epic novel.

So if you too are a summer hibernator and are seeking something to accompany some serious stitching, give this one a try - I'm happy to find that the complete production is available on You Tube.

Now, off to refill the iced tea glass and get back to stitchin'

Friday, July 5, 2013

Beauvais, an Enthusiasm, & a Bit of News

Beauvais is progressing and thankfully, it has enough variation to keep my interest and with each stitch I am 'seeing' the design I wanted to create that has the feel of a vintage textile.
I have some news that affects the sale of Beauvais.  Just Cross Stitch magazine has asked to feature Gracewood Stitches in its February 2014 issue and in accepting their request I needed to provide an unpublished pattern that could be presented with the feature.  So, I'm sorry you'll have to wait for this design but if you subscribe to the magazine or can pick up the February issue you'll have the pattern included.

I won't be able to sell it through my website or publishers until the end of May 2014, but it will be nice to have the exposure the magazine will bring.

I'll hopefully have some similar designs in the Vintage Textile Collection out and available this fall.


As the photos show, this is definitely the time to share this enthusiasm, Heirloom Roses!  What is an heirloom rose?  It is generally used to refer to roses that existed prior to 1867 prior to the introduction of the tea rose.  Also called 'Antique or Old Garden' roses their habit - more of a shrub or climber - their fragrance and shapes - centifolia, cabbage or cupped - are quite different from 'modern' tea roses.

Heirloom varieties fall into several categories; Albas, Centifolias, Damasks, Gallicas and Moss roses.

There are some famous rose breeders such as David Austin whose roses are bred by crossing old garden roses with more modern roses to achieve the superb fragrance, delicacy and charm of the old-style blooms combined with the repeat flowering characteristics and wide color range of modern roses.

These types of roses are easy to grow and many are much hardier than modern roses.   They have to survive below zero temperatures and heavy snow here on Gracewood.

This gorgeous climber is the first rose David Austin developed, Constance Spry.  It only blooms once but as you can see it gives you lots of beautiful roses.  The fragrance is a soft myrrh which wafts far and wide and the bees love it!  Wish I could find that honey.
Constance Spry

Constance Spry
The next rose is one of the oldest Antique roses, Great Maiden's Blush is a classic with nothing short of magnificent fragrance.  An alba with soft pink/white flowers that are semi-double, it is also a once bloomer, and has a vigorous arched shape that is truly elegant.

Great Maiden's Blush

Another of David Austin's wonderful roses, this is Teasing Georgia and a complete joy to grow and behold.  This one blooms continuously and has a lovely cupped centifolia form with a beautiful citrusy peach fragrance.

Teasing Georgia
Thanks for letting me share another enthusiasm, wish I could transport you here to enjoy a cup of tea among them :)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Beauvais and a Bear

I knew that Beauvais was an ambitious project, but I'm pleasantly surprised that it is stitching as easily as it is.  I hope to complete the top row of what is essentially a nine patch pattern by this weekend.

Vintage Textiles ~ Beauvais

I've decided this will be the first in a collection that will be entitled 'Vintage Textiles'.  I have so many more in mind that it is an impetus to finish Beauvais so I can introduce the next one.

It has been a blessedly wet and cool spring into summer here on Gracewood.  The fawns are being born and I hope to post some photos of all the roses in bloom soon.  Another sign of late spring showed up this week and I was able to grab the camera and get a brief video of a visitor to our deer feeder.  A block of deer feed was leftover from winter and he made himself welcome to it - I mean who is going to argue with him? lol

Friday, June 7, 2013

Celebrating Creative Stitchers!

I love it when a stitcher takes one of my designs and makes something 'more' out of it!  A great example is what Ursel from the Sticklounge group created using my Tulip's Praise pattern.

Not only did she make a lovely pillow, she also translated the pattern into her own adaptation and made this gorgeous table runner.  Thank you for sharing it, Ursel! 

Vintage Textiles~Beauvais begins and it has been a surprisingly easy stitch.  I have soooo many more ideas for similar vintage textile patterns, I'd better try and step up the pace!

I'm using Splendor silk floss on this one, my first time trying it and I'm really delighted with how it stitches, feels and looks. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Iris Celadon Model Complete

Iris Celadon
Iris Celadon was a fun stitch.

I found it was one of those patterns that I could get into an easy rhythm with and could readily stitch as I watched something on tv.  I'm pleased with the effect that alternating threads of darker and lighter shades in the background achieved.  As I sit looking at it on the wall it really did give it dimension that makes it look like a piece of porcelain.  Though I'm sure that using just one shade would also work well.

The pdf charts for Iris Celadon are now for sale on the Gracewood Stitches website for $8.

Do you find that you associate a piece with the programs you watched while you stitched it?  I surely do and for Iris Celadon I'll always think of two wonderful series I stitched it to called The Victorian Kitchen Garden and the Victorian Flower Garden.  They are available on Dailymotion and some are on you tube - here is a taste!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Updated Version of 'Sanctuary' Free Pattern for Charity

Stitch count 191 x 250

I originally created my pattern, Sanctuary, at the time of the terrible tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 and dedicated it as a pattern that would be sent to anyone who requested it for free, though I do ask that a contribution be made of any size to the charity of your choice to benefit whatever disaster is currently taking place.

That pattern was made on the first software I used when I began designing and it needed to be redrawn into my new software.  Since I've been working on new designs I've kept putting off taking the time to move Sanctuary.  But viewing the terrible devastation of the tornado that hit Oklahoma this week I decided it was definitely time to make the effort.

I did change the colors for the design to three shades of delft blue and added a title and the verse that inspired the pattern.  If anyone has the original Sanctuary and would like the newer one as well, just send a request to me at

We moved here to the inland northwest from Oklahoma and knowing what wonderful people they are and how terrible their ordeal is right now, I hope everyone will keep them in their prayers and if possible make a donation for their relief.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

New Design! - 'Beauvais'

I must be nutz!!!  Truly, I'm afraid to introduce this next design since it means there is no turning back I HAVE to do it!  Lol, thankfully I believe it will be worth the effort in the end, but OY! the time it is going to take, please don't expect to see as many patterns from Gracewood Stitches as I introduced in the last two years.  I stitch my own models and I don't go on to the next design until the one I'm working on is almost done.

I guess I shouldn't be so intimidated though, I thought Iris Celadon would be a killer, but here I am almost done - pictures next weekend, Lord willing! - and it went much faster and easier than I had anticipated.  So I'm hoping that 'Beauvais', which is just slightly larger will also pleasantly surprise me, I HOPE!

See what I mean? LOL

My inspiration for Beauvais comes from my love of textiles.  From far Eastern intricately woven silks to vintage utilitarian cottons, linens and wool fabrics, I am mesmerized by the patterns that can be achieved.  I wish I was a sewer, quilter or weaver so that I could have the joy of diving into textiles from modern to vintage and creating some remarkable items, but I'm afraid I never learned those things in my youth and all attempts since have left me more than frustrated and annoyed at my lack of such abilities. 

But!  Thankfully, I can create them in the way I know best by designing my own 'fabrics' for cross stitch or needlepoint.  I love vintage French fabric so for my first 'cross stitch textile' I created one with a French flavor and chose the name, Beauvais, for the lovely city in northern France.  I also like the fact that 'beau vais' translates to Goodwill.

This design uses the Assissi technique of stitching the background and leaving the design area open.  On an 18 count aida fabric the pattern will measure 14.5" square, stitch count 263 x 263, in two colors of floss, a dark delft blue and a lighter sky blue. 

I need to seriously take a break now, glad it is a weekend, hope all of the mothers among you will have a lovely Mothers Day tomorrow!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Springtime in the Rockies & Winner of Drawing

All of our seasons here in the northern Rocky mountains tend to be dramatic, but spring can be especially so.  Maybe because it is our briefest season it is cherished.  Weather can change not just in a week or day but hour to hour as systems come in from the Pacific and this last week was a perfect example of 'typical spring' weather in the Rockies.

This particular day we had rain, hail and snow and the sky was full of colors, from deep violet shades to bright pinks.  When these clouds finally lifted the mountain tops they were hiding were white with deep new snows.

Struggling against all the elements new growth is coming on everything from roses and fruit trees to explosions of color from bulbs we've scattered in the forest over the years.  And one who is enjoying all of this with us is our waif from the winter, 'Buddy' whose story I told you about in January.  The poor half dead, half frozen tabby cat who wandered down our drive is now, thankfully, well enough to begin enjoying exploring Gracewood.

The vet thought he might have a number of health problems, but he certainly is flourishing at the moment and has begun bringing 'gifts' of mice to express his thanks, lol  Lately his favorite pastime has been annoying squirrels as they chatter at him for limiting their access to the firewood.

This weekend is the Lilac Festival in Spokane and while theirs bloom far earlier than ours do, I can already get whifful hints of their heady fragrance. 

Speaking of fragrance :)  The winner of the drawing for a 5 ml decant of Sous le Toit de Paris is Carolyn!  But since only three people commented asking to be included, I'd like to send Pat and Christine a sample of the fragrance as well.  If you three ladies would send me your address at I'll get them mailed off to you.

Spring also means more time required outside and a little less stitching time but Iris Celadon is further along and I hope to be able to devote some time to the next design soon.  Until them, here is this week's progress.

If it is spring where you live, I hope you are enjoying it as much as we are!