Monday, December 31, 2012

Playing with Patterns

Happy New Year! I hope everyone is having a peaceful and blessed New Year celebration. As always, ours is a quiet one at home by the fire, and this year we've kept the woodstove going pretty regularly since it has been a cold one.

I'm close to finishing the last Log Cabin pattern, hopefully another day of football bowl games tomorrow and I'll finish it. I took some time out to begin drawing a few more designs and began playing with the Log Cabin~Winter pattern's software. Now it was fun to stitch this pattern, but I don't really see myself doing it three more times in order to make one that looks like this, lol. But with the ease of software I wanted to see what doing it four times and putting it into a log cabin quilt formation would look like.

Here are the two variations I put together. I don't expect anyone to actually stitch them, but at least you'll know what they'd look like if you did!

Log Cabin~Winter Variation 1

Variation 2

That was fun, now back to trying to finish just one Log Cabin~Summer!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New Design - Chrysanthemums

Asian Screens~Chrysanthemums

My design,Poppies
hangs on the wall in the dining room and I find as I sit at the table looking across at it, it just makes me smile. I like its size, its open spaces, its colors and the fact it reminds me of its inspiration, Asian screens in my favorite Korean historical dramas.

We are still firmly addicted to KHDs, the current one we're watching on Hulu is the Horse Doctor. Another of director Lee Byung Hoon's wonderful series - Jewel in the Palace, Dong-Yi, Yi-San, Huh-Joon - that always feature a gracious soul whose life is full of trials and tribulations that they quietly and courageously overcome.

The Horse Doctor

Like its predecessors, this series is also inspiring me with its beautiful sets and scenery which always includes some of the most intricate and intriguing screens. So I designed a companion to Asian Screens~Poppies and there may be more such themed patterns in the future. This one features one of the flowers I've always felt to be so naturally elegant and certainly suits the theme. I look forward to stitching it soon.

Something else that makes me smile as I sit at the dining room table and look out the glass doors is this little gal who now comes right up to the porch each morning and waits patiently for us to give her a piece of fruit. I hope we don't run out of fruit!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Log Cabin~Summer Model

I'm finally picking up some speed stitching Log Cabin~Summer's model. I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy stitching a summer piece while looking out the window at the snow falling but I'm happy to say they work together rather well. I'm particularly enjoying the morning glories :)

I am using HDF silk floss and the dmc to hdf conversions are as follows -

DMC 827 Blue-vy lt - HDF Aquamarine 2433
DMC 826 Blue-md - HDF Chryscolla 2253
DMC 825 Blue-dk - HDF Chryscolla 2255
DMC 741 Tangerine-md - HDF Umber 4355
DMC 740 Tangerine - HDF Umber 4353

It is hunting season here and our many local deer know right where to go, lol
Most mornings we find scenes like this right off of our back porch.
Twins born this year seem to be able to read the "No Hunting" signs posted on Gracewood

Friday, November 9, 2012

Three Log Cabins on the Wall

Three down, one to go. And as I'm starting Log Cabin~Summer it begins to snow on Gracewood :)

I'll post the colors and floss I'm using for this one next time.

The stitching has slowed a bit as I took some time to do some Tunisian crochet to make some new lapghans for winter. I found some beautiful wool from Sweden on ebay to make this one.

It so nice and warm and with the temps forecast in the teens the next few days I hope to spend some time under it while I stitch.

Hope that any of you affected by hurricane Sandy are finding some relief from all the hardships it brought with it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The design of my pattern, Sanctuary, coincided with the time of the terrible tsunami in Japan, in March, 2011. At that time I dedicated this design to always be a pattern that is free to anyone making a donation of any size to help victims of such disasters. In light of what so many are experiencing in our northeastern states, I'd like to post it again.

Inspired by a line from an Isaac Watts hymn, #74

"...A little spot enclosed by grace,
Out of the world's wide wilderness.."

The design symbolizes a family gathered together by its hearth, encompassed by a harsher world outside.

If you would like a copy of the pattern, just contact me through this contact form or at and let me know you've made a donation to a charity supporting relief efforts for Sandy victims. If you would like to easily make a donation through the Salvation Army Click here

Our prayers are with all those affected by this storm.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Log Cabin~Spring Model Finished

Log Cabin~Spring

Another one done in the four seasons series! The pdf charts are on sale for $8.00 here

I hope to get it framed and on the wall with the first two soon, though it might look strange until the Summer model can complete them.

Today I hope to get the fabric on the frame to begin Log Cabin~Summer, I can't stand not having a working piece on it. It just doesn't seem right to sit down for a bit and not have something to be stitching :)

Though it will be strange doing something with summer themes as winter is nearing. We've had our first 'winter storm' warnings and the snow on the mountains is working its way lower and lower with each storm. It won't be too much longer till it is white here as well. All the fruit trees are harvested, fertilized and are giving us some lovely fall colors.

Every weekend in the month of October the local Lions Club sponsors train rides through the area and people come from many miles to take the rides and see all the fall colors. Here is one lady's description of her visit to take the train.

You tube also has some videos of the rides

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Challenge of Designing the Log Cabin Series

Log Cabin~Spring

I have made some progress on the model for Log Cabin~Spring. It isn't nearly as far along as I thought it would be by now, but I under estimated this last foot surgery and am still having to take pain meds which definitely don't lend themselves to doing anything too precise! lol

I thought this might be a good time to share the challenges this series of designs presented. Two things came together to give me the inspiration for this series. I was looking at a cross stitch pattern I had stitched a few years ago before I started designing my own, and it was a four seasons pattern made up of four sections each with a word - "Autumn", "Winter" - broadly declaring each season it represented. And like most people probably feel, I found the concept of something for each season appealing. Though I wondered why each season would have to be labeled? The colors and motifs should make me feel the seasons they portrayed.

Playing with the idea of using the shapes found in quilt patterns, I thought about how a quilter takes a piece of fabric and cuts it into strips, squares, circles or triangles and then combines them into something new and if it is a good design it will feature contrasts in scale, color, intensity, texture, and most importantly it will have motion.

So I drew in a motif pattern on the software and since I'd decided to start with the iconic log cabin pattern, 'cut' the design into strips and then put the strips together to create the 'quilt block'. Since these would be four individual patterns that could be framed and hung in a group, they had to come close to a standard size which affected the scale of the motifs that could be used. I wanted the outer strips of each block to have an open background that would look somewhat like a toile fabric had been used and I wanted the inner strips to be more densely detailed. It was important to use similarly sized and styled squares for each block's center.

Choosing the right colors for their seasonal tonality was essential and yet they had to compliment each other to make the four patterns work as a group.

Overall I'm happy with how they came out.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Two Log Cabin Patterns Framed

Log Cabin~Autumn & Winter

I'm a little behind on my usually fast stitching on my patterns, because I had rather extensive surgery on my foot this week and having to take some pain meds I don't trust myself to follow even my own pattern, lol.

It will be a great time to do some work on a Tunisian crochet scarf, but crossing stitches will have to wait a few days :)

My DH, Terry, is not only taking good care of my 'honey, please could you get me this' needs, but also framed the first two Log Cabin patterns and got them up on the wall. I think they look awfully good and I'm just looking forward to finishing Spring and Summer to see all four of them hanging up there.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

"Niche" it's Joys & Sorrows

Log Cabin~Spring

"Niche" from an old French verb "nicher" meaning to "nest", or from Latin "nidus" again to nest. It can be a nook in the wall for placing object d'art, or it can be something for which someone is particularly suited - 'she finally found her niche in the world'. And of course it can be used as a specialized market, which is what this post is about.

The internet has been a great boon to specialized markets. The world of niche parfum has taken off like a rocket, giving the big 'houses' like Chanel and Guerlain a run for their money. Before the internet bringing a fragrance to market took a huge investment in advertising. Now, thanks to the internet, enthusiasts who blog and post on forums about the latest creations of independent 'noses' allows those perfumers to invest the majority of their efforts and money into top quality ingredients instead of advertising campaigns and the fragrance industry has been revolutionized. This is certainly one of the joys of niche fragrance.

But 'niche' isn't without its risks. No matter how good a product might be if it doesn't catch enough 'buzz' and if there aren't enough customers out there who are delighted enough to part with some cash to purchase those products then the sorrow of that word "discontinued" haunts the world of niche anything. This is why if you find a new niche fragrance that works absolute magic with your chemistry, you had better buy one and a back-up!

In the world of needlework design the internet has also been a great asset to those of us who want to create and share our work with those with similar ideas of beauty and taste without having to go through all the hoops and expense to have them produced as commercial kits. One niche market will also spring up to extend and compliment other niche markets. The problems arise though when we become dependent upon a niche provider whose appeal, as good as it is, doesn't provide enough income to continue making their product. Case in point, Vikki Clayton's HDF silk floss.
HDF Acts of Violets

I began using silk floss in my cross stitching a few years ago and have tried several brands but shouted 'eureka' when I found Vikki's floss. It was such a pleasure to stitch with and then when I began designing patterns it has given me a wonderful pallette of shades to use in creating the effects I was after. Over the years Vikki has had her share of challenges since she marketed directly to stitchers at very good prices, the brick and mortar shops could not compete with her so she has been more or less boycotted by not only the shops but the designers who design for them.

So now comes the sorrow of this niche market, she has announced that she is raising the price of her floss and will eventually be phasing out her floss. To those of us who have used her silk floss and tried to promote it to keep it in production this is sad news indeed. She still has floss in stock and will be producing some for a period of time so if you particularly like some I've used in a design you should still be able to get it for awhile. But I'm now faced with having to find a new silk line for my models. If you have a favorite I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Log Cabin~Spring Progress & Colors

First day of Autumn, yea!! And here I am stitching spring, lol

Log Cabin~Spring is proving to be a pretty quick and enjoyable stitch. The count on this piece is 190 x 190 stitches and the 5 DMC colors with the conversion to the HDF silk floss I'm using is below. Only 5 colors, you can't say I make you go broke on floss!! :)

DMC 907, Parrot Green-lt - HDF Popinjay 3303

DMC 906, Parrot Green-md - HDF Popinjay 3307

DMC 905, Parrot Green-dk - HDF Popinjay 3311

DMC 726, Topaz-lt - HDF Gold Rush 4227

DMC 725, Topaz - HDF Gold Rush 4229

Friday, September 14, 2012

All Four Season Log Cabins & A Free Pattern

The Counted Wishes Festival, an online festival featuring independent pattern designers, begins on the 15th and while the two Log Cabin seasonal patterns I've stitched will be presented in the show I wanted to let everyone see that all four patterns have been designed and are being stitched.

And here they are.





The festival will feature sales, like buy 2 get 1 free, prize drawings, and also free patterns donated by the designers.

This is the one I've donated and you can download it through the festival site or here on the blog or my website under the tab at the top of the page, 'Free Patterns'. It features my personal motto on music :)

I hope you'll enjoy visiting the festival!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sneak Peek - Log Cabin~Summer

I'll be posting all four seasons together later this week so that those visiting the Counted Wishes Festival that begins next Saturday, the 15th, will be able to see the whole set together.

But I thought I'd share the Summer 'edition' with you first.

I chose blues and tangerines for this one, hope you like it :)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Log Cabin~Spring & a Recipe

Introducing Log Cabin~Spring! In shades of yellow and green with images of a primrose path, stylized florals, and dragonflies, I think it captures the spirit of spring.

And here is my recipe for Blueberry Raspberry Coffee Cake. It is in US measures and temps, hopefully our friends in other parts of the world can convert these online. It may have a few layers but it really is pretty easy to put together. It stores well and stays moist. I hope you'll enjoy it too!

Blueberry Raspberry Coffee Cake

preheat oven to 350 degrees F

spray 9" springform cake pan with non-stick spray (I also cut a piece of parchment paper for bottom of pan and put it in the pan and spray the paper)

Cake Layer ingredients -

2 cups unbleached flour

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 stick butter

Mix dry ingredients and cut in butter (I use a food processor and pulse in butter then transfer to mixing bowl and add the wet ingredients and blueberries)

3/4 cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon almond extract

Combine the wet ingredients and then add to dry until blended.

1 cup blueberries (toss with a tablespoon of flour) fold into the batter and then pour into springform pan.

Ricotta Layer ingredients -

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 egg

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or 1 teaspoon lemon extract)

Combine ingredients and then pour over the cake layer.

1 cup raspberries

I just drop these randomly on the ricotta layer.

Streusel Layer ingredients -

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 stick butter

Pulse in food processor and sprinkle on top of cake. (I always have some of this on hand in the freezer for topping all sorts of baked goods)

Sprinkle with cinnamon and if you like some nuts - I usually use sliced almonds.

Bake approximately 50 to 60 minutes until the center doesn't jiggle, you can also test with a skewer. Let it cool on rack for about ten minutes, remove the side of the pan and let continue to cool before serving.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Log Cabin~Winter Model Finished

You know, it really is a good idea to stitch winter themed things during the heat of summer :)

Thankfully, we've had a very cool summer so far, but even a few hot days are too many for me and it was nice to be stitching snowflakes and reindeer and remembering 'my' time of year isn't too very far away. I'm not wishing my life away, mind you, I'm grateful for every day the good Lord gives me, but it is easier for me to be thankful when it is cooler, lol.

This cooler wetter spring and summer have given us a bumper crop of blueberries this year and in between stitching and designing I've been freezing berries and making a few much requested recipes. If you've never tried it I highly recommend filling your next batch of cinnamon rolls with some blueberries, fresh or frozen. They can make getting up and having breakfast something to really look forward to. I also make a blueberry/raspberry coffee cake that is easy, beautiful and pretty delicious if I say so myself. If there is any interest I'll happily post the recipe :)

I hope to introduce Log Cabin~Spring in a few days. Log Cabin~Winter will go on sale during the Counted Wishes Festival which begins Sept 15th. During the festival I'll also be offering buy two patterns get a third of your choice for free and I'll have a new free pattern available. Right now I can only tell you that it contains my favorite motto about music!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Color and What I Think of Those Who Change My Patterns

Recently I've had several people ask me what I think when someone changes the colors of my designs. I think this question has come up, because some group stitchers have completed Heart Note Alley and posted photos on various sites.

I can see why they might ask since some stitchers chose to drastically change the colors I used in this pattern and so I thought it might be a good idea to answer on the blog.

One of the reasons I began making my own designs and started this blog is to encourage others to be creative, so how could I complain when someone exercises some creativity and make changes in a pattern? When someone buys one of my patterns it is theirs. The only thing they can't do is sell it. I don't mind if they share it with someone else, for free. And what colors or changes they make is completely their business.

I've seen some finished Heart Note Alleys that were beautifully and uniquely someone else's interpretation, while some were frankly unattractive, but if the stitcher is happy with it, I'm happy with it.

The only thing I would ask is that they understand that I choose the colors I do for specific reasons. Color greatly inspires me and the images I create won't 'say' the same thing I meant them to say if the colors change. But maybe the stitcher wants to say something different and the colors they choose may do that for them. More power to them ;)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Log Cabin~Winter Colors

This one has been fun to stitch! :) Hopefully I'll get it done in time for the online festival next month.

I'm going to be stitching all of the seasonal Log Cabin designs on the same Zweigart 18 count pale cream Aida. This one is slightly larger than the Autumn Log Cabin, with a stitch count of 190 x 190 and on 18 count it measures approximately 10 1/2" square.

I'm using HDF's silk floss for the model and this is the DMC conversion I'm using -

DMC 800 delft blue pl - HDF Fugue Blue #2239

DMC 799 delft blue md - HDF Fugue Blue #2241

DMC 798 delft blue dk - HDF Fugue Blue #2243

DMC 743 yellow md - HDF Koi Gold #4215

DMC 728 golden yellow - HDF Koie Gold #4217

I chose this blue because it really has a cool feeling to it and this yellow due to its having a warmth like firelight. Hope you like it :) Here are the first two seasonal log cabin blocks. I think they look well together.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Log Cabin~Autumn Finished & For Sale

I hope you like Log Cabin~Autumn, I have to say it was a fun stitch.

It is for sale for $8.00 at my website. It will also be featured in the upcoming online Counted Wishes festival.

I've begun stitching Log Cabin~Winter and next post I'll list the colors I'm using for it.

Why is it every summer I feel like stitching winter themes? LOL

Friday, July 20, 2012

Gracewood's New Additions

I just finished stitching Log Cabin~Autumn and hope to post a photo in a few days, but I wanted to share something that makes Gracewood a blessed place.

We had a doe who was very pregnant this spring and yesterday she brought her fawns down to show them off. I hope you'll enjoy this as much as we did.

Friday, July 13, 2012

New Design! Log Cabin~Winter

It is already time for designers to begin submitting our patterns for the upcoming Counted Wishes Festival and I really wanted to have the second seasonal log cabin design included in the Gracewood Stitches 'booth'. I hope to have it stitched before the show when it will go on sale.

I chose blue and gold shades for this one. At least where we live those are the colors I most associate with winter. The cold blues of the snowy landscapes contrasted with the warm golds of firelight. It is close to the same size as the Autumn Log Cabin design and I think they'll work well hung together. I rotated the dark colors to the top right in this one and will continue to move them in the spring and summer designs so when all four are completed they can be hung with the light shades towards the center creating an overall 'log cabin' quilt effect.

Though of course they could be hung in any grouping to give differing impressions.

Log Cabin~Autumn is close to completion.

Summer finally arrived on Gracewoods and the spotted fawns of spring are now appearing at the feeders with their moms. Their legs are much steadier now and I don't know what is quite as delightful as seeing their wonder at all the new things they are encountering. It is a lot of fun to see one when it meets a squirrel for the first time!

Our roses are putting on quite a show, they loved our wet cool spring and now the warmer weather is kicking their blooming into high gear. This is our Constance Spry in it's pink fragrant glory.

Wish I could post how great a fragrance these are wafting out to us!

And someone who is really enjoying lazy porch days is our Zoe.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Log Cabin~Autumn, Progress & Colors

I'm stitching Log Cabin~Autumn on an 18 count pale cream Zweigart aida and using HDF silk floss.

The pattern is charted in DMC and here are the conversions to HDF -

DMC 743 Yello-md to HDF Gold Rush 4229

DMC 740 Tangerine to HDF Gold Rush 4233

DMC 741 Tangerine-md to HDF Gold Rush 4231

DMC 921 Copper to HDF Terra Potta 4321

DMC 919 Red Copper to HDF Terra Potta 4325

As you can see it is going pretty quickly and I'm happy with the feeling it is evoking.

I'm about to begin drawing the next Log Cagin design which will be Winter since I'm going to be featuring these in the online fall Counted Wishes Festival. The festival has a new 'owner' and some new designers from around the world and from some of the ideas being put forth by the group I think it is going to have some new and exciting formats and features. I'm looking forward to it!

While much of the east coast of the US is having record breaking heat, there are a lot of places experiencing record breaking cool temps though you rarely hear about them. I'm thankful to say we've been one of them. Wherever you are, I hope you're having an enjoyable summer and having some happy stitching time! :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

"Poppies" Framed and for Sale

My "Poppies" pattern is now framed, loved this bamboo frame for it, and is now for sale on the website.

It will also soon be for sale through Creative Poppy who is featuring Gracewood Stitches designs in their current edition and in leaflet format through ICG.

Log Cabin Autumn is coming along quickly and I hope to post a photo of progress on it and more on the colors I chose for it later this week.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

What Do You Get When You Bend a Band?

Band samplers are iconic in cross stitch history and still popular subjects for today's patterns and I admit I certainly love them as much as the next stitcher. But I've wondered what would the effect be if the standard band took a new shape? Might it give the image some new interest?

I began playing with the next design and 'bent' the bands to make what is essentially a log cabin quilt pattern. I've wanted to design a series of seasonal patterns that could be done individually or grouped together and so I'm happy to introduce the first in the series, "Log Cabin - Autumn".

I'll post specific info on size and colors soon.

Here is a photo of the stitched "Poppies".

Saturday, June 9, 2012


It is hard to tell just what season it is here on Gracewoods this June. There was a winter Storm warning in June! LOL

We had several inches of snow on our mountain tops this week. If you've read the blog for any amount of time you know I love our seasons and especially cool or cold wet weather, so this has been a great spring for me, not so much for growing tomatoes!!

I'm getting close to finishing Poppies. We had the pleasure of some friends visiting and stitching time was reduced but in exchange for some great times of sharing good food and great conversation.

Today's 'high' is only 48 degrees and the heavy rains are continuing that means inside time and hopefully, by later this week I'll finish Poppies and introduce the next design. Time to put the kettle on, maybe even light the woodstove :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Poppies Pattern Half Way

I've completed a little more than half of stitching for the Poppies model. It is a large piece, though of course the number of 'squares' used is up to the stitcher, I think the original four are a good representation of the effect of Asian screens i was after.

This is a photo of 'Dong-Yi', the story that inspired this design.

A story of a remarkable woman in a fascinating time and place in history. I hope others will be inspired by it as well.