Saturday, January 11, 2014
8:00 a.m., Alaska Time
12:00 noon, Eastern
We’ll put together a looooong list of finishing ideas and techniques, from framed pictures to accessories, from lacing to taping to sewing to edge stitching to decoupaging.
Sign up for this event even if you can’t attend live. We’ll post a replay after the event, and for a limited time, anyone registered will be able to watch it.
Win a Seat in a Finishing Class
Sure, it’s been sitting neglected for 22 years, but check it out: It wasn’t folded; it was protected from dust; and the edges are zigzagged. This piece is lu-uh-uh-cky!
Start digging through your stash and pulling out the unfinished embroideries.
Mike remembers me stitching this old New World Map design at Bristol Bay Lodge, our first caretaking gig. That’s from back before we started designing our own embroideries. That means it’s been rolled up in this plastic tube, stashed in an unheated storage space, moved to a heated storage space, carted here to the house, and stuck in a box in a crawl space for over twenty-two years!
All right. How old is your oldest unfinished embroidery? Post your shame in the comments here for a chance to win admission to one of this year’s finishing classes (value $39.97).
I’ll announce the winner at the stitchinar on January 11th. If you have a picture of your oldest unfinished embroidery, please send it to me at mail [AT] funkandweber [DOT] com.
Some days I create games and puzzles. Some days I design embroidery patterns. And some days I get mixed up and embroider puzzles. I love those days—all of them!
Brain games and embroidery are two of my favorite things, and here’s a great way to indulge in both this holiday season.
Use the code FUNKWEBER at www.ThinkFun.com and cross train your brain.
Last year, I had the pleasure of testing three Brain Fitness games for ThinkFun: Chocolate Fix, Rush Hour, and Solitaire Chess. I loved the games, and always played longer than was required. In fact, I’m still playing though the testing period is long over. I just re-played all the Expert-level Chocolate Fix games, and Solitaire Chess continues to kick my butt. I have, however, learned that the horses are called “knights,” not the guys that appear to be wearing armor helmets. The armored guys are “bishops.” But why, I ask you, are bishops wearing helmets instead of miters?
Can you tell I’m not a chess player?
ThinkFun has addictively fun games for all ages—kids, adults, and seniors—that are designed to challenge minds and sharpen skills through logic, deductive reasoning, and creative thinking. Of course I’m a fan, and I suspect you will be, too.
Coupon Code and Free Shipping
I contacted ThinkFun about promoting their games during this holiday season, and they generously offered the coupon code, FUNKWEBER (all caps), for 10% off orders placed on their website. In addition, US orders over $50 get free shipping. Suh-weet!
A Gift For You
But wait—there’s more!
ThinkFun games make awesome gifts, which many of us are looking for this time of year. But is your own name on your gift list? Well, is it?
I didn’t think so.
I want to put your name on your own gift list, and here’s how we’re going to do it.
Tilt the embroidery to read the answer to the question.
Place an order at ThinkFun using the code FUNKWEBER for 10% off
Forward your receipt to me
Get a free Funk & Weber Designs puzzle pattern—or two!
Orders Under $50 Get…
Orders under $50 receive the new Got Questions? pattern ($5 value). One side asks, “Got questions?” The other side answers in a puzzle-y way.
Finish the design as a bookmark, tag, or ornament—instructions included.
This is a digital pattern and will be sent as an email attachment.
Orders Over $50 Get…
What in the World? by Funk & Weber Designs on the cover of Games magazine.
If your ThinkFun order is over $50, in addition to free shipping in the US from ThinkFun, you’ll get the Got Questions? pattern ($5 value) plus the digital version of our What in the World? puzzle pattern ($12 value), from the cover of Games magazine. Nineteen cells provide close-up images of things found in nature. How many can you identify?
This is a digital pattern and will be sent as an email attachment.
Or pearl silk. And a variety of other way-cool pearl-like fibers.
Hand-made, multi-colored pearl cotton.
Do you know that you can make pearl fiber?
And do you know it’s totally easy and big-time fun?
And do you know that once you get the basics down, you can go all kinds of Nuts with it to create some wildly interesting, fully functional fibers?
Well. Now you do.
I’m going to teach you how to do this cool new thing by doing a cool new thing myself: host a live Nutty event. I’ve been attending webinars for ages. A few years ago, I presented at the Bookmark Collectors’ Virtual Bookmark Convention. Last year, I began holding webinars for my Alaska writing group. Now, I’m inviting my stitchy friends to join me (Why? Am I coming apart?) for some real-time, real-useful fun.
November 16, 2013
8:00 a.m. Alaska Time Sign Up Here
That’s 12:00 noon Eastern
5:00 p.m. London
6:00 p.m. Oslo
1:00 a.m. Perth (Sorry, Australia, New Zealand, and other folks who will be sleeping.)
Pearls are great fibers. They’re used for all kinds of stitching, including blackwork, Hardanger, needlepoint, cross stitch, and more.
They’re more twisted and thicker than six-strand floss which makes them stronger, which makes them good for finishing edges, which tend to get more wear, tear, and general abuse.
It can be hard to find pearls to match other fibers. Most hand-dyed, overdyed, and painted six-strand fibers don’t have matching pearls.
It can be hard to find pearls in a wide variety of colors and sizes. You might get white, black, ecru, and red in size 5 at big box stores, but what about medium-light, bright-dark, ultra-very turquoise-red in sizes 3, 8, 12, or 16? What if what you really want is size 10? No one even makes that, do they? But you can. Suh-weet!
When I travel, I don’t take bags and bags of fiber. I take six-strand floss and have it plus every size pearl.
And the most important reason, the only one anyone needs: It’s fun!
From delicate silk pearl to perfect-for-klosters pearl to wild and wonky pearls–you’ll be able to make them all!
What’s This Fabulous Event and Info Going to Cost?
Zip. Zilch. Nada. Bupkiss. This one’s on me, kids. I really, really, really want you to come ’cause it’s going to be fun and this is a great technique we should all know.
How It Works
Here’s the way it’s gonna go down:
You sign up. Even if you can’t attend live—say, because you live in Perth, and it’ll be the middle of the night, and you’ve got two small children or cats who won’t understand that mommy/daddy needs to sleep all day Sunday—even if you can’t attend live, register anyway. I hope to record the spectacle beautifully executed performance and party, and if that works, for a limited time, you’ll be able to check it out at a reasonable hour of your choosing.
Karen, Co-President of Arctic Needleworkers, avid reader, and tireless supporter of Needle and ThREAD: Stitching for Literacy.
While I no longer formally organize shop and guild participation in the Needle and ThREAD: Stitching For Literacy program, the Arctic Needleworkers EGA chapter here in Alaska has been stitching merrily along since the program inception in 2007. Thanks mostly to Karen Bente, co-president of our guild chapter and owner of the Arctic Needle shop, our group has donated hundreds of hand-stitched bookmarks to Anchorage public libraries and Mountain View Elementary School. We’re currently stitching bookmarks for Mountain View fifth graders who will graduate in 2014.
As the current Program Chair of the guild, I’ve implemented a new monthly bookmark program, and I want to invite you all to participate. It’s a heap of fun, and I love the resulting cross stitch and embroidered bookmarks! You can donate your bookmarks locally or send them to us. Our membership is tiny and the graduating class is large—we could use the help!
Send completed bookmarks to Arctic Needleworkers EGA, P.O. Box 240124, Anchorage, AK 99524-0124
Book Thong Stitchalong
Stitching for Literacy Book Thong project for 2013-14. A flexible pattern for exploring new designs, stitches, fabrics, and fibers.
We’re making these book thongs. Through the monthly program we will accomplish the following things:
We’ll explore a variety of new stitches and materials.
We’ll exercise our individual creativity in how we combine stitches and materials.
We’ll learn and/or practice finishing techniques.
We’ll create interesting and beautiful bookmarks for our Stitching for Literacy outreach project.
Stitch the Bookmark Base
This is the bookmark base. No, you don’t have to try to stitch from that itty-bitty image; you can download a pdf pattern.
You can use any fabric whatsoever and any fiber of any color.
Stitch the X in the center and the zigzag lines that radiate from it, dividing the square into four areas. Cross stitch and backstitch may be the obvious choices for these elements, but you can do something else. How about French knots for the X and couched Memory Wire for the zigzags? Oh, yeah…you’ve got options!
The solid line around the outer edge will become the outer edge of the piece when it is finished. Stitch around this edge using a backstitch, stem stitch, Portuguese knotted stem stitch, or border stitch of your choice using a #5 or #8 pearl fiber or something similar.
Do not stitch the yellow 10 x 10 squares. Yet.
The 10 x 10 Squares
The 10 x 10 squares indicated by yellow boxes will contain a variety of stitches and patterns. This is where we will do our monthly exploring, testing, and playing. We’ll try new stitches, make up our own patterns, and experiment with new fibers, beads, and whatever else strikes our stitchy fancies.
Make use of stitch guides and published patterns to get ideas and learn new stitches. In addition to your own exploring, I’ll post some 10 x 10 patterns and challenges here on the blog. Stay tuned!
As you’re stitching, feel free to send your thoughts, ideas, and pictures to me at mail AT funkandweber DOT com. I’d love to share them here.
The Thong Bobble
For every bookmark base you complete—and you can stitch as many as your heart desires—stitch a single 10 x 10 square on a scrap of fabric for the “thong bobble.” You can stitch an edge around it or not.
We’ll get to this later, so for the time being, just save your bases and bobbles.
This is a wonderfully portable project. Put a scrap of fabric into a bag with some fiber scraps or a couple of skeins, a needle, the base pattern, and your scissors. My fabric scraps are small, so I tend to skip the hoop and just stitch in hand. Put the bag in your purse or car so you can make use of short bits of time while you’re waiting, attending meetings, or doing anything that allows multi-tasking. If you forget to take a pattern, make something up!
Students at Mountain View Elementary School select a hand-stitched bookmark to go with their brand new books. I see two of my bookmarks in there!
Still Donating Profits
We’re also still donating a portion of profits from our cross stitch bookmark patterns to literacy charities. Orders of printed patterns won’t be filled until November 2013, but digital patterns are available all the time!
Stitching for Literacy cross-stitch bookmark patterns by Funk & Weber Designs.
I am an avid gardener. I grow much of the produce Mike and I eat year-round, and I’ve been collecting and spreading wildflower seeds and transplanting wildflowers for many years in an effort to develop pretty, wild flower beds. Progress on the latter has been painfully slow, but there is progress every year. It can hardly come as a surprise that I’m interested in natural dyes for embroidery fabrics.
Dandelions collected for dyeing embroidery fabric.
I started with dandelions. I admit it: I think dandelions, those villains of manicured grass lawns and tidy flower beds, are pretty. That brilliant yellow color and the lion-toothed leaves (dent-de-lion . . . dandelion . . . get it?) are lovely if you look beyond the insidious pest aspect of the plant. Then I tried blueberries.
Here’s the process I used, which comes from a number of books and websites that I’ve perused.
Make the Dye Bath
After collecting dandelion heads, I boiled them for an hour in a large stainless steel pot using about twice as much water as blossoms. I did the same with the blueberries.
Prepare Fabric for Dyeing
While the dandelions and berries simmered, I prepared the fabric by boiling it in a color fixative. This helps the color set in the fabric. Fixatives for plant dyes are different from fixatives for berry dyes.
For the plant dyes, I used 4 parts water to 1 part white vinegar.
For the berry dye, I used 1/2 cup of salt to 8 cups of cold water.
I simmered squares of cotton and linen fabric in the fixative for the hour that the dandelions and blueberries simmered. (Yes, I keep my vinegar in a gin bottle because I buy it by the gallon. I don’t like gin, but I do like that bottle.)
Add Fabric to Dye Bath
Strain the plant material from the dye bath and return the liquid to the pot.
Rinse the fabric in cool water, squeeze out excess water, and then place the wet fabric in the dye bath. Simmer again for another hour or so, and for a stronger color, let the fabric sit in the dye bath overnight. Note that the color of the fabric will be significantly lighter when it dries.
Allow Dyed Fabric to Dry
I don’t have a clothes line, so I fabricated one with deck chairs, a work light, and large paperclips, and hung my dyed, wet fabrics outside to dry. They’re hard to see in such a tiny image, but there are three blueberry-dyed bits of fabric on the line. They’re much darker here than they are now.
The end results were gray- and butter-colored fabrics, much different (duller) from the colors of the starting materials and the colors of the wet fabric. They are not, however, unlike some commercially available chemically-dyed fabrics.
On one hand, you know I prefer screaming colors, so the colors are less than thrilling to me. On the other hand, you know how much I like doing things myself, and these are kind of cool. There are times when bland muted colors are appropriate for a background. And besides, a dull subtle background can be the base for screaming fibers.
While these aren’t exactly the results I hoped for, the process was fun, and I’m ready to have another go with a different approach and/or different materials. Maybe a different fixative would work better. Maybe different plant materials (beets!) would yield brighter colors.
In the meantime, I’ve got some stitching to do!
Have any of you tried natural dyes? Do you have tips or advice? What were your results?
Update: Ellen provides this link to a plant dye color list in the comments. She points out that we don’t always get what we expect from a dye, and I confess I’m curious about this and want to be surprised by some result. The list says that blueberries may yield a blue-gray color. Yep, that’s what I got!
This e-book contains all eleven of the Let There Be Night Stitchlings.
Our first big digi-pat conversion! You’ve been asking, and now you’ve got it: the Let There Be Night Stitchlings in digital download form.
Save the patterns on your hard drive or a thumb drive and print only the pages you need. Use scrap paper then fold the pages, write on them, let the kids play with them; you can always print another copy if you lose or destroy the first.
Even better, we’ve put all eleven patterns together in a single file. How convenient!
Better still, buying the whole collection is cheaper than buying the patterns individually.
And best of all, we’re joining the Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday hoopla and putting the whole package on sale! We’ll call it our
From Black (and White) Friday through Cyber Monday, November 26, you can get the complete Let There Be Night Collection for more than 50% off. Individually, the eleven patterns are normally $66, this weekend you can get them all in the e-book for $30.
No standing in line at midnight. No racing for a limited quantity. And no shipping charge. No puzzle to solve. No secret back-door entrances. No convoluted steps to take.
Nope, it’s all pretty black and white.
If you’ve ever wanted some or all of these patterns, now’s a great time to go get ‘em.
Last week, we resurrected the Clownfish Puzzle pattern. I told you it was intended to be the first in a series of patterns. Does Puzzle Pisces come to mind? Well, that’s not it. Nope, Puzzle Pisces was already in print when we designed the clownfish.
The Story Behind the Stitchery
The Colorful Critters tree frog stitched as a puzzle with two pieces missing.
In the beginning, the clownfish pattern was to be the first of the Colorful Critters collection, which initially was intended to be a series of puzzle patterns. Indeed, I stitched the frog and butterfly as puzzles before deciding to scrap the puzzle angle.
One reason for dropping the puzzle aspect was that we didn’t like missing pieces being stitched in white because the raised texture seemed all wrong for what should be a hole. But we didn’t like leaving those pieces un-stitched, either; something about the fabric color—which I loved—just wasn’t working with the idea that there was supposed to be a hole there. We wanted it to be white or some color different from the fabric.
Also, perhaps more importantly, with the butterfly, we lost the puzzle pieces in the black pattern of the wings. I could imagine the complaints, “All that backstitching and it doesn’t even show up???”
The black lines of the puzzle pieces get lost in the black patterns of the wing.
So we decided to try the animals without the puzzle lines, and ultimately decided we preferred them that way. We cut the clownfish out of the mix and added an angelfish instead. Goodness knows there’s no shortage of cool colorful fish to choose from, right? (Someday, I’m going to stitch a parrotfish. I love parrotfish!)
These two models continue to sit in my collection of rejects waiting their turn to be useful. Don’t be sad: My reject collection is a lovely, hopeful, and cherished thing.
My Partridge Family Critter Pillow!
Recalling the origin of the Colorful Critters collection inspires me to have some fun with them. We’re going to bundle them all together and offer the collection at a special rate. The normal price is $6.00 per pattern or $30 for the collection of five patterns. Now, when you purchase the bundle, you can get 33% off: that’s all six patterns for $20.
I thought the phrase “It’s two, two, two treats in one” was from an old Tootsie Pop marketing campaign, hence the title of this post and our own campaign. However, a quick search suggests it might have been a Certs thing instead: two mints in one, a candy and a breath mint.
If that’s the case, this title is a smidge less clever and relevant, but still within the reaches of my tricksy brain. I will not call this “A Certs Treat.” It doesn’t trip off the tongue as gaily, and Certs are almost never a Halloween treat, as Tootsie Pops and this treat are.
Here’s the Deal
Our treat is two, two, two treats in one: a picture e-book and a pattern.
You do NOT need a Kindle to purchase or read this e-book. There are free apps that allow you to read it on your computer or smart phone. I know. I have the app on my computer.
The Story Behind the Stitchery
From sketch to stitched.
My friend and Ari’s Garden business partner, Linda Stanek, is the author and illustrator of this book. The story went through our critique group a number of times, so I contributed my two cents to the text.
For years, I’ve encouraged Linda to illustrate—she’s always considered herself primarily a writer—and she has finally done it! Personally, I think her illustrating talents are as strong as her writing talents.
I wanted to help promote her book and asked if I might convert one of her illustrations to a cross stitch chart. She agreed. Unfortunately, because of the details and curves of the illustrations, the resulting design was bigger than I had in mind to do.
So I gave Linda a sheet of graph paper and limitations on curves and asked her to chart a Jack O’ Lantern just two inches or so wide. We decided the finished product would be a tag for a treat bag or a necklace with a Jack face that glows in the dark, like the Jack tree in the story.
Linda follows instructions as well as I do. She freelanced and added the bat, assuring me that I could disregard it if it didn’t mesh with what I had in mind.
Since I love the art and surprise of collaboration and didn’t really have anything in mind anyway, it meshed just fine, and I proceeded to add my two cents with some loop-de-loops and (my beloved) wonky-eyelet spider webs. As always with embroidery, the combination of simple elements yields an interesting piece of needlework. We’re both tickled with it!
About the Book
When Old Jack feels the chilly air, he knows it’s time to create the Jack O’ Lantern Tree. Calling on his fellow pumpkins to participate, their first attempt fails. But wise Old Jack urges cooperation and kindness, and the next attempt yields the desired result: a tree filled with light and good wishes for all. Inspired by the “Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular” at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Rhode Island, Stanek’s pastels on textured paper lend a misty mood to the rhyming text.
Check out this great video Melissa made about our webinar, Best Photo Forward: Refining Photos of Fine Embroidery.
I’ve gotten some questions about Photoshop Elements, and I thought I’d share answers here.
What is Photoshop Elements 10?
Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 is the software Melissa uses to fix photos in this webinar. It is the #1 consumer image-editing software. It is not the same as Adobe Photoshop, which is used by professional photographers and graphic designers. Photoshop Elements is significantly cheaper than Photoshop ($99 US as opposed to $699 US), and it offers shortcuts for both learning and using. It is powerful but easy to use.
Read Adobe’s Top 10 Reasons to Buy Photoshop Elements 10.
How Do I Buy Photoshop Elements 10?
If you are interested in buying Photoshop Elements 10 or upgrading from an earlier version, you can do so directly from the Adobe website. All the options seem to indicate they are upgrades, but once you click “buy,” you are given a drop-down box with the option to buy the full version or the upgrade.
If you access the Adobe website through Melissa’s Adobe affiliate link on this page, she will receive a (very) small commission from your purchase. Your purchase price does not change. Plus, the page she links to shows the full version right off the bat.
Alternatively, if you want to order through Amazon, I have an affiliate link on the sidebar here.
You do not need the software to follow along with the webinar, but Adobe offers a trial period for the software, too. You can download the trial software to use during and/or after the webinar to see if you like it.
Melissa and I asked what your biggest image-editing problems are, and you told us. Thank you! In exchange, we offer a free ticket to the Best Photo Forward Webinar to a random commenter.
I consulted the Random Number Generator today, and the winner is
Kerry is an excellent crazy quilter. Take a look at her work on the KerryKatieCakes blog and be inspired.
Kerry made a commitment on January 1 to stitch for 15 minutes every day. Her reason?
If I stitch for 15 minutes, I am likely to keep going and stitch longer. If I don’t stitch at all today, I likely won’t stitch tomorrow either and inertia sets in. Next thing you know, your muse has flown the coop again… So, 15 minutes a day minimum! (Try it – this works!)
Excellent advice, Kerry! I think I’ll join Kerry in her commitment this summer when gardening tends to bump stitching down on my priority list. I need to make time for both.
Congratulations, Kerry! We’ll see you on March 20th for the Best Photo Forward webinar, and together we’ll learn to make digital images of our needlework look (almost) as awesome as the real thing.
News and nonsense about needlework, reading, writing, life in Alaska, and any other ding-dong thing that strikes my fancy. From project tutorials to books on my nightstand to gardening to travel to sourdough bread and waffles to wildlife and photography--it's all fair game. "Focus Schmocus" are the magic words here.
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Join us as we stitch bookmarks and encourage kids to read.
Jan teaches Riley to stitch a bookmark during a Stitching for Literacy outreach program at an Anchorage Public Library.