Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Creative Christmas In July

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

P.S. (That stands for prescript instead of postscript in this case): There’s a contest with a prize at the end of this post.

Christmas In July Blog Hop

If you Hopped here, welcome! If you’re a regular, or if you got here by any other means, welcome to you, too!

Is your Inbox brimming with Christmas In July sales and events? Mine is.

Christmas In July Bundle SaleIf yours isn’t, maybe I can help: Creative Christmas Bundle is on sale again—ever so briefly—this weekend. You might remember it from last November.

As much as I prefer to shun trends and bandwagons like Christmas In July (“everybody’s doing it” is, for me, a strong reason to not do it), I can’t deny that now might be a good time to give a thought to the holiday that looms just five months away, especially if you hope to have a handmade holiday.

To help you get started, if you haven’t already, you should check out the July–December “Get It All Done” Holiday Checklist. I think it’s billiant—and I am in no way responsible for its existence. It includes a month-by-month checklist of things we can do to knock out the fun, crafty things we always want to do but rarely find the time to do once November and December roll around.

In addition to being a great reminder tool, the checklist has some great ideas, like picking up stocking stuffers during school-supply sales in August and September and making gifts from garden and farmer’s market goodies that are available now.

And then it’s time to get started stitching and crafting. Stitching, especially, because stitching is slow work.

Silent Night and The Night Before Christmas pattern cover


If you’re new to stitching on dark fabrics, or if you’re new to stitching on linen or other evenweave fabrics, or if you’re a scrapper who’s new to embroidery altogether, don’t sweat it! I’ve put together some resources to get you going on the two cross stitch pieces included in the Bundle.

Christmas In July Stitching Resources

Brand new to cross stitching?
A great place to start is our How to Cross Stitch video.
If you aren’t sure how to read the pattern chart, check out How to Read a Cross Stitch Pattern.

Never stitched on linen or another evenweave?
Well, for starters, you can stitch these patterns on Aida or needlepoint canvas.
Or check out our tutorial on Stitching Over Two Threads.
If I lost you at “Aida,” or “canvas,” or “evenweave,” take a peek at Embroidery Fabrics 101 and Embroidery Fabrics 102.

Never stitched on dark fabric?
There are definitely some ways to make it easier. Take a look at How to Stitch on Dark Fabrics.

Never made a French Knot?

I happen to love them. Here’s how I make French knots.

Not sure how to handle isolated stitches?
Yeah, those can be tricky, but I can help; I’ve experimented with different solutions, including a fairly nutty one. Check out our Isolated Stitches tutorial, which is just after the French knot tutorial.

Now what?
Now you frame the things or sew them into a tote or on a jacket. Very soon, we’ll have a DIY Framing class available.

And then you take a photo and scrap that photo of your gorgeous embroidery into your holiday card!

Psst, experienced stitchers! That is the part for you. Up there. That link. Click it. This bundle is full of paper crafting, digital scrapbooking, and non-needleworky things, but they can work well with embroidery, and it might be a fun way to expand your crafty horizons.

If you have any questions about the patterns or stitching them, I’m here to help. Give me a shout at mail AT funkandweber DOT com.

Digi-scrapped embroidery


The Contest

As before, Lisa, the ringmaster of this Christmas In July Bundle circus, is giving away a Bundle to a random Blog Hop commenter. Check out what’s in this Bundle, and then leave a comment here about what class or project you’re eager to dive into first.

Visit the other posts on the Hop and leave comments on them for more chances to win.

SB Bundles Blog – Blog Hop Time!

Melissa Shanhun – Your December Solution

Cara Vincens – Send those Christmas cards this year

Alison Day – Pocket Page December Daily

Lisa Harris – The Christmas in July Bundle Blog Hop

Beth Soler – Get those photos scrapped quickly and easily from your iPhone

Happy Hopping!


Category Deals & Steals, News | Tags:

Bookmark Donations*Huzzah!

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

I put out a call in the Nutsletter for help with bookmark donations, and generous stitchers across the globe got busy.

Stitching for Literacy, hand-stitched bookmarks donated to Mountain View Elementary School

Hand-stitched bookmarks delivered to Mountain View Elementary School in Anchorage, Alaska.

Arctic Needle Karen got the first batch of 70 bookmarks out the door to Mountain View Elementary before I even got to see them! Bummer for me, but hooray for Karen and all you quick stitchers who came through so we could continue this beloved tradition for the sixth year . . . I think. I believe the kids who were kindergarteners when we first started donating bookmarks to Mountain View were this year’s graduating fifth graders. How flipping cool is that?!

Cross Stitch Bookmarks, Stitching For Literacy

Cross stitch bookmarks

Got Questions? pattern

Tilt the embroidery to read the answer to the question.

I promised a free digital bookmark pattern to everyone who donated a bookmark or two or twelve. I selected the Got Questions? puzzle bookmark, but if you’d like a different one from our arsenal of digital bookmark patterns, say the word.

I sent those patterns out a week or so ago, so if you haven’t gotten yours, check your SPAM folder or let me know.

Ca’Trena, if you haven’t gotten yours, Karen has it.

Pamela in Japan, I need your email addy! Send it to mail AT funkandweber DOT com.

Cross Stitch Bookmarks, Stitching For Literacy

More cross stitch bookmarks

Yes-yes-yes, we are still collecting bookmarks! And yes-yes-yes, you will still get a free digital bookmark pattern if you donate a bookmark or two or twenty.

Hardanger Bookmarks, Stitching for Literacy

Hardanger bookmarks

If you are a librarian an you would like to receive bookmarks for event prizes, give me a shout. We have awesome stitchers willing to stitch, and I’m more than happy to collect and distribute.

Handmade Fabric Bookmarks, Stitching for Literacy

Handmade fabric bookmarks

We got some cleverly finished bookmarks that I will share separately. Remember, if you want finishing ideas and/or instruction, we have several resources.

Thanks heaps for coming through with bookmarks in our time of need, and please keep ’em coming. It’s exciting to share the joy, beauty, and wonder of both embroidery and reading.


Category News | Tags:

Practically Perfect Planner Class

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Behind the Scenes at Funk & Weber Designs

This isn’t about embroidery; it’s about the Funk & Weber biz, which has been growing and changing. I think it’s a useful subject for many of us, so I thought I’d share this experience.

Are you a good planner or a poor planner? A list maker? A chronically harried and late person? How do you keep yourself organized?

The Problem

I have admitted to being a terrible planner. For the most part, it’s not a problem. I have a good memory, and I’m a list maker. Things get done and get done on time. I claim I don’t like last-minute scrambles, and, for the most part, I rarely have to do them.

In life, that is. In work, the story’s a bit different.

Contract work—that is, work for others—is no problem. I never miss a deadline. My work—Funk & Weber work—however, is the exception to the rule. Any creative or self-employed person will get it: There’s always more to do than one can possibly do; choosing what to do when can be hard; I frequently spread myself too thin because I underestimate how long it takes to do things. And so on and so on.

I find myself scrambling to get things done. I find myself being busy all day but not accomplishing the three most important things on my to-do list. I find myself wasting time spinning my wheels in indecision, searching for lost notes, and switching gears as I attempt and fail at multi-tasking.

Four pieces of paper crammed with lists and notes. A total mess.

My current planner system: lists and notes on scrap paper.

For years, my planner system has been long lists and notes scrawled on scrap paper. Sometimes it can take a while to find the number or note or list I want, but overall, the system works for me. I don’t throw the papers out until everything on them is done, transferred to where it needs to be, or otherwise attended to. I don’t hate this system because it works to some degree, but I’m pretty sure there’s a better system to be had.

Looking For a Solution

I’m looking for a better system. In 2013 and 2014, I downloaded several digital planners to put myself on track. I listened to organization and planning gurus tell me how I should be setting up a promotions calendar, an editorial calendar for my blog, etc. All sorts of things I still don’t do.

I did learn this: Digital doesn’t work for me. I need something printed. One of the reasons my current system works is because it’s written down on paper. I know what’s on those papers. Ask Mike.

I found a planner I kinda liked last year, printed it out, punched holes in the pages, put them in a notebook, and tried to use it. I made a construction-paper holder for the month-view pages so I could see the current month at a glance from my desk. That planner was not a huge success, but it was a start.

Practically Perfect Planner Class

A printable daily planner page that isn't quite right for me.

Nope, this isn’t for me. I want two of the elements on this page but not the other three. Good to know!

This year, I’m trying again. I offered myself up as a beta-tester for the Practically Perfect Planner class. Cara Vincens, creative biz owner at The Hooting Pirate, accepted the challenge of trying to help me replace my current chaotic list and note system with something more organized, helpful, and pretty.

Cara won me over immediately by telling me that my planner failures in the past weren’t my fault; rather, they were the fault of the one-size-fits-all planners. What I needed, she said, was a planner customized for my particular needs. Du-uh, right? That seems so obvious, but I confess it wasn’t something I had considered much.

So where does one get a customized planner, and—the Big Question—how do I know what I need?

Herein lies the magic of Cara’s class for me. Cara’s planner class did something none of the other how-to-use-this-planner instructions has done: It asked probing questions about my needs and habits so that I can identify what might be useful to me. It didn’t tell me how to use a given planner, but how to create a planner that’s useful for me. It’s the opposite of what the other planners and gurus do. My messy, wall-to-wall-chicken-scratch papers do something for me that a customized, Funk & Weber planner could do better. My own unique needs and habits—these papers!—are the key to the kind of planner that will best serve me, which, really, is the purpose of a planner.

No one has pointed that out to me before. No one has ever suggested that I evaluate my current practices and use those to create a planner system that works for me.

To Find, Alter, or Create

Printable monthly calendar page.

Yep. I use this. I love that I can use this page of boxes forever.

Cara provides advice about what to look for in a planner you can buy off the shelf; she offers papercrafting tips for altering one you have that needs some tweaks to be more useful; and she provides printable templates for the likes of me, someone who wants and needs to build from scratch. I don’t want a lot of frou-frou, and I don’t need a planner for my personal, family, or social life; I just want to my to-do lists to be more organized and tidier. I want a minimalist’s planner. I want my desk free of clutter. I want to stop scrambling and feeling overwhelmed.

It’s too soon to know if this will take hold for me, but I’m optimistic. I will have Cara’s help as I continue to shape my Practically Perfect Planner.

Win a Spot in the Practically Perfect Planner Class

Because I was a beta-tester, and because I was pleased with the class and found it useful, Cara has offered free class enrollment to one of our readers here.

This class is for you if you are interested in either of the following:

  • papercrafting and making/altering a planner for yourself, your family, a vacation, whatever
  • getting and staying organized

Cara also uses planners as memory keepers, which may be interesting and useful for some of you. It could be a way to keep track of WIPs, finishes, gifts to make, guild meetings and events . . . you get the idea.

We’re going to make the contest super simple: To enter, leave a comment telling me how you stay organized and on track. Have you ever used a planner for embroidery? Can you think of a way that might be useful? How about for keeping track of supplies? I’d never do that, but I can imagine it being helpful! The winner will be randomly selected from commenters on Thursday, January 29th.

The Class

February 9 to March 22, 2015

Registration is open right now for the Practically Perfect Planners class. Check out the sales page for more detailed info about class content. I glommed on to what I needed and gave short shrift to other parts, I’m afraid.

Note: There’s an Early Bird discount until January 29th, which is the day we announce the winner.

See? If I had had a PLAN, I would have been on top of this and had the drawing earlier, but I didn’t. However, Cara does have a plan, which is to give a refund if the winner happens to be someone who booked early to take advantage of the discount. Thank you, Cara!

The regular price for the class is $47. If you take advantage of the Early Bird discount, it’s $35.

Mark. Set. Go!


Category News | Tags:

What Will We Stitch In Alaska?

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Are you thinking about joining us for the Stitch in Alaska tour, August 5–11, 2015? If so, hooray!

Are you wondering what we’ll stitch during the tour?

Well, I’ll tell you.

Two hemstitched pieces.

We’ll hemstitch a fabric or canvas pocket to hold treasures on our souvenir sampler.

The Theme

The theme will be An Alaskan Stitchy Adventure.

Makes sense, no? Alaska is full of adventure and adventurers. The trip is an adventure. Heck, the company organizing it has the word “adventure” in its name (Alaska Wildland Adventures). I think it would be disappointing if our needlework weren’t also an adventure.

“But what is a stitchy adventure, exactly?” you ask.

It is an exciting or very unusual stitching experience and a bold, perhaps risky, undertaking. That means we’re going to risk trying some exciting and/or unusual stitching techniques.

To make it an Alaskan Stitchy Adventure, we’re going to approach the adventure as Alaskans would: independently. You will receive the materials, some patterns, and some instruction, and then you’ll be given free reign to do your own thing. You’ll be given lots of choices to make a unique souvenir sampler, one that memorializes your trip while expressing your personal style.

Souvenir Sampler

Photo attached to embroidery

Attach a photo to an embroidery sampler.

The sampler will consist of as many as six sections, how many you use will be up to you:

  • A photo: Learn and devise ways to combine photos with embroidery.
  • A pocket: Learn to finish and attach a pocket (expect some hemstitching), perfect for holding moose hair, feathers, flowers, a poem, or something else.
  • A stitched picture: Choose your favorite Alaska image to cross stitch, needlepoint, or otherwise embroider.
  • Text: Have your say, and stitch it, too: a word, a phrase, a date, a favorite quote. You decide. You design.
  • Tracks: Explore freeform embroidery and negative space.
  • Found objects: Learn and devise ways to attach found objects (read: treasures) to embroidery.

A Guided Adventure

Sketch of moose tracks in seed stitches

Hoof tracks using negative space. We can fill the rest of the space with oh-so-many things!

Does any part of that worry you? Relax! That’s why you’re coming with me: I will guide you through the process just as I’ll guide you on hikes. It won’t be too hard, and it will be great fun. I promise!

What if you’re simply not into pockets or found objects? Then you’ll skip those bits. Remember, you’re free to make your own choices.

You will also be able to choose how much time you spend embroidering vs hiking, kayaking, sightseeing, etc. After all, it’s your Stitch In Alaska adventure!

Make Your Reservation Now

Learn more about the trip and make your reservation today.

Call: 800-334-8730


Fill out the form: AWA Reservation Form

Remember, space is limited. The summer season in Alaska is short, and trips fill early and fast.

Scrapping Stitches

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

While awaiting my flight at Dulles International Airport in D.C., I had time to open and play with the Little Feet Digital Designs contribution to the Creative Christmas Bundle. It’s a digital kit for scrapbooking—my first one!

I confess I’ve wanted to see and play with a scrapbooking kit, either digital or paper, for a while now, what with hanging out with scrappers and paper crafters. The kit contains a number of file folders with a gazillion “papers” and “embellishments” and “masks.”

Digi-scrapped embroidery

The Funk & Weber Silent Night pattern embellished with digital scrapbooking bits.

“What are those?” you ask.

They’re images in PNG format so they can have transparent backgrounds. This enables users to layer them on each other and personal photos to create interesting and sometimes complex pictures. This is digital scrapbooking, and I’m using it to make interesting digital images of my needlework that I can then use in holiday cards, letters, video, and to share online, etc.

I can also print the scrapped embroidery I create, embellish the printed paper with stitches, and use them as ornaments. There’s something crazy that appeals to me about going from embroidery to paper and then back to embroidery. In the picture above, I envision the flower and leaves in the lower right corner embellished with stitches and beads.

Janet Carr is the designer behind Little Feet Digital Designs. In addition to image goodies, she offers some great photography tips including the following:

  • Top 10 tips for better holiday photos
  • 13 Tips for using angles to add impact to your photos
  • Photo prompts

These are intended for scrappers and general crafters, but many of the tips can be applied to photographing embroidery, tips like shooting close up, at angles, and without a flash indoors, if you can swing it.

“That’s lovely, Jen,” you say, “but you lost me at ‘PNG format’ and ‘layer.’”

Digi-scrapped embroidery

Silent Night again embellished with digital scrapbooking. Can you imagine this as a Christmas card? I can!

I hear you. While I’m not a scrapper, I have been playing with digital images for years and know my way around PhotoShop. But if you aren’t familiar with image editing, this is where Melissa Shanhun comes in. Melissa is the Queen of Digital Scrapbooking HQ, where she teaches digi-scrapping with PhotoShop Elements, a smaller, easier, cheaper version of PhotoShop.

Melissa’s contribution to the Bundle is a collection of 31 layouts along with another digital kit (we know what those are now, right?) as well as samples to look at for ideas and inspiration and video tutorials to help us use them. Ding-ding-ding! That’s the ticket right there!

“Again, Jen, that’s lovely,” you say (you are so polite and patient), “but I don’t have PhotoShop Elements.”

That’s okay. Adobe offers a 30-day free trial of the software. Melissa will tell you how to access it. This way, you can try it out, put together some cool holiday images, and see if it’s something you’d like to buy. I recently saw that Costco had the PSE program for sale for $50, which is the lowest I’ve ever seen.

And that’s my latest adventure with the Creative Christmas Bundle, on sale now through December 1.

Janet’s kits and tips and Melissa’s kit and video workshop are just two of the fifteen products in the Bundle. You can see the complete contents and get your own Bundle here.

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Category News | Tags: