Category Archives: Recommended Reading

I am back from…

…the wild and wooley east coast.  While we had a wonderful visit with family at my brother’s home in Washington, DC, I am glad to be home.  We had good weather, something for which I am thankful, since Thanksgiving week can be problematic.  But apart from traffic and some snow in the mountains, the drive wasn’t bad, even towing a trailer behind my Taurus (a small six cylinder engine).  I am doubly grateful the weather held through our time there, because DH drove back to Minnesota by himself while I visited friends up near Philadelphia.  (At his suggestion!)  But we are both home safely…with just a few weeks before Christmas. We are busy, well and looking forward to another time with family.

I didn’t stitch or knit much while on vacation, but I do have a finish to report. I completed the ‘Edgar’ scarf…knitted with Noro Silk Garden yarn.  I will post a photo soon, I promise. I am just too tired tonight. I have started a second one with another Noro yarn…and…you guessed it, these are both gifts. 🙂

I also want to include a little bit of ‘recommended reading’.  Monica Ferris’ newest book, Thai Die, is out. I’ve already read it twice.  This is, I believe the 12th installment of the Betsy Devonshire needlework series. It’s fun and very quick to read. Enjoy!

Well, I am off to bed right now. I hope this finds each of you well, happy and at peace.




It was not the…

…world’s best week here in the north country–at least for this particular northerner.  But it had it bright spots like a surprise visit from a dear friend, a good prognosis for another friend and even some stitching time.  It just goes to show that silver lining thing is NOT a myth! And if you’re in need of a silver lining or just a morning smile, take yourself to Liv ‘n Laf to read about the adventures of Ms. Gabby- a mischievous, somewhat naughty and very lucky kitty. This is a blog well worth reading on a daily basis, but today that smile was a special  treasure–thank you Gabby’s mommy for sharing!

Since I am heading for work shortly I will share what I’ve been working on this week. Remember that post a few weeks back about picking up some canvaswork again? Well, I dug in my closet (which bears remarkable similarities to Mr. McGee’s (Fibber) of some fame) and found another one of my Kimonos by Jinice. These come as a line drawn canvas.  Work starts by picking a colorway in Caron Watercolours then selecting all the other fibers based on that color.  The fibers are totally fun, a lot of Rainbow Gallery, some Medici Wool (shows this canvas is far from new), some ribbon floss and a couple of glitzy metallics.  This was one of my first classes in needlepoint and it has been in the closet lo these many intervening years. I decided it’s high time it got done. I do find myself pulling out already worked sections because my skills have improved, but I still love the colors and the stitching.  I have finished one of these kimonos which now graces my mom’s house, and have two others in the stash pile.  It’s a good thing I like them 🙂

Here is my progress through yesterday morning:

Full body

Full body

And a couple of detail shots:

Detail 1

Detail 1

Detail 2

Detail 2

I think the part I enjoy the most about these pieces is watching the colors come together. The one that’s finished uses ‘Flame’ Watercolours and is done in reds. If anyone is interested in seeing a photo, I believe there is one on my webshots albums. I will also post one here next week when I am out east for T-Day!  I do  plan to take this canvas with me on vacation so stay tuned for updates.

I also got a lot done (3 movies and one football game’s worth) on my Colinette Meadow afghan. This last repeat is taking FOREVER, but I am soooo close! I will post a photo when I’m done. That way I have something to work towards.

Lastly, another segment of ‘Recommended Reading‘:  I was at the knitting shop last weekend with aforementioned visiting friend. She held me down on the floor and twisted my arm until I was forced to buy Nicky Epstein’s new book ‘Knitting on Top of the World’ This book is eye candy pure and simple, but the photos and instructions are so good, I might yet venture one of her master knitter patterns even though I can lay no claim to that lofty title. I also need to keep working on a ‘slightly’ altered body to wear some of her beautiful creations…either that or one of my nieces is going to be a VERY lucky young lady. The text is clear and informative, the photos are glorious and this is definitely one for any knitter’s library. I am really glad I was ‘forced’ into this purchase! 🙂

For me it is off to work, so in the words of the immortal Jim Reeves–‘may your troubles all be small ones and your fortune ten times ten, may the Good Lord bless and keep you, ’til we meet again! (Actually, he’s the one who recorded it, I”m not sure who wrote it, but the sentiment is beautiful.

Have a wonderful and stitch-filled day!



My First ‘Recommended Reading’ Post…

…in a long, long time.  And it’s not because I lack material or a love for the written word.  One of the great regrets of my life is I can’t stitch and read at the same time. I do the next best thing…stitch and listen to books on CD…but it’s not the same. I love the feel of a book in my hand and the thrill when I discover one that is so compellingly written I can’t put it down. And when such a book involves needlework, well…it is worth a post to suggest it to this stitching community.

The Tenth Gift’ by Jane Johnson is a fabulous read, so much so in fact, I even grudged the time I spent watching football yesterday (GASP!).  As it was, I finished its 385 pages in slightly more than a day and now find myself at a loss…because there’s not a sequel or even another novel by this author on the horizon.

‘The Tenth Gift‘ follows two women who’s lives are joined across time by a small 17th century book of embroidery designs.  The commonalities between Julia and Catherine are striking and their stories  compelling. The writing is powerful and woven through the pages of ‘The Tenth Gift‘  run magnificent descriptions of life, love, tragedy, struggle and strength in two different centuries.

If I were to borrow from Heather’s Jiff Note approach I would summarize:  Romance, Pirates, a Ghost(?), Needlework! A MUST READ. 🙂 (thank you, Heather!)


Blessings, Julie


..two posts in one day!

I have updated my library listings.  The newer additions are italicized and the headings are in bold. I’m afraid I’m still not fabulous with how to format here on WordPress. It is frustrating, because this list is all formatted in Word yet when I copy it here, poof, I’m back to square one. Oh well, live and learn.

(Please don’t take the preceding paragraph to be in any way, shape or form a criticism of WordPress. This is fantastic, user-friendly tool and where there is a problem it is with my level of expertise, not the program.)

If anyone has any suggestions for books I absolutely must add to my collection, please leave a comment or send me an email.



Where, oh where…

…did July, August and September go? At least from a stitching standpoint…well, it was pretty much a bust.  But in those ninety days I had a wonderful visit with my mom here in Minnesota, Dan and I moved into a new home (new to us), celebrated 25 years married and went on an adventure weekend together, I designed, wrote and brought up a new website for the store, I unpacked aforementioned new house…well mostly unpacked, don’t look too closely :-), I hosted two stitching get togethers and in the process discovered the best margarita in town, I went to two knitting gatherings at the local store (fun, fun, fun!), had a very dear friend visiting for a few days, went to Needlework Guild retreat and had a great class with Kay Stanis, went to the State Fair, found a new church and started Bible study. So…all in all it was eventful three months if not terribly stitchy.

I think the thing I find most disappointing is my failure to update here more than I have, something I now intend to remedy with a…gasp…stitching related post.  I plan to start updating my hours stitched again, I will set goals for October and generally get back down to business.

In accordance with that goal I have been stitching a bit in the last couple weeks…well, stitching and knitting.  So without further ado, let me post progress photos on a couple of pieces:

First of all, I started knitting a dishcloth.  Yes, I know I can buy them for a dollar or so on sale, but this such a pretty cotton yarn and it’s a great way for me to try some pattern stitches to augment my novice skills.  I am about 2/3rds of the way through this project.  I will be keeping this one because it does have one fairly big mistake, but my hope is to make several for gifts to give along with a pretty hand-made soaps.  That idea was NOT original with me…thank you, Janet. 🙂

Ravelry dish cloth

Ravelry dish cloth

I put the scissors on the cloth to give a sense of scale and also to show off my BEE-UUU-TIFF-FULLL new scissor fob and point protector.  What can I say…a moment of weakness at the Guild retreat market.

Since I started with knitting, I will continue with knitting.  I am still working on my Meadow Afghan by Collinette.  I have finished the second repeat and am on to the third, which is the last full repeat of the pattern.  I plan to have this done in October apart from the fringing. Are you laughing??????? I wish the photos could more accurately convey the colors and textures of the yarns. They are fabulous.  I want to do another one of these someday in a different colorway and using the mitered block pattern. These kits are an investment, but they are beautiful.

Meadow afghan

Meadow afghan

…and a close up:

Close up of Meadown afghan

Close up of Meadown afghan

Now, please don’t think I’ve deserted my first needlework love…stitching.  I’ve been plugging away on ‘A Quilter’s Garden‘ by Emie Bishop.  I finished the kloster block outline and have begun the cross stitching.  I have substituted purples for the pinks of the orginal.  Here’s my most recent in progress photo:

In progress garden

In progress garden

I know it’s awfully light, but it is hard to get a good photograph of a tone-on-tone piece.  The fabric is Belfast platinum.  I love the piece and I really want to do her Christmas version of this as one of my next hardanger projects. I hope it won’t languish as long as this one did.

And lastly…at least for today…is a small experimental piece I did one morning just to keep my hand in on some freestyle surface embroidery skills.  I’ve been drawn more and more to stitching pieces that are not on a counted ground and am starting Japanese Embroidery lessons a week from today. (Yes, I’m excited and a bit nervous!) so this was just a practice piece I worked on a small square of organdy.  As the title says, it’s comprised of shadow work and stem stitches.  I actually like the way it turned out and am toying with doing a small album of designs in different stitches.  The pattern is from the Waverly Honor book.

shadow work and stem stitch

shadow work and stem stitch

I also got one piece back from my framer.  This is Western Skies by Laura Perin (alternate colorway) I love how it turned out!

So…as promised a stitchy post.  My projects for the weekend are to start recording my stitching hours again and also to set goals for October, especially since Christmas and year end are coming up.

In addition, as I look to Julie’s near term needlework future, I still want to work on some Christmas Ornaments (just got my new JCS Ornie Issue-:-))) and I need to get cracking on the next phase of my ANG Master Needle Artist submission.  I need to get materials pulled together preparatory to doing my paper and developing a design for a needlework piece appropriate to my chosen era.  Apart from those things, I have a little shopping to do so I have all the materials I need to bring to my Japanese Embroidery class which is Friday through the following Monday of next week. Also, in October, I plan to work my way through the Artist’s Way curriculum by Julia Cameron. I have the workbook and have started reading the book which has some really interesting notions about creativity and how to put it to work in your life.  So far, I’d say it’s a worthwhile read.

And, less fun but also very important, I work on Saturday (and both Dan and I are so very grateful for the continued blessing of employment we both enjoy) and, of course, I hope to cheer my Vikings on to victory on Sunday after church.

So…that’s my world for today.

I’m hoping that this post finds everyone who reads it happy, healthy and in stitches.



…It doesn’t take monumental feats to make the world a better place.  It can be as simple as letting someone go ahead of you in a grocery line. –Barbara Johnson

Happy Dance time…

well, um…no, I haven’t finished anything. Not exactly. Finishing something would imply I’ve done some needlework. Unhappily, that’s not the case. However, just picture good ole Snoopy dog, wavin’ his arms (paws?) in the air, feet a-tappin’…and that will give you a good picture of what I was doing two days ago. Why?

Because it’s arrived!

What’s arrived, you may ask…


Monica Ferris ‘Knitting Bones’

Monica’s new book is out…this is the tenth or eleventh (I can’t remember which) in the series of Betsy Devonshire novels. How could I possibly resist stories where a needleworker and knitter is the protagonist?

I wait eagerly for her books to come out, buy them, spend 2-3 hours in a fun, easy read, then have to wait a whole ‘nother year. My only wish? I wish Monica Ferris (her pen name) would write a little faster. 🙂

‘Knitting Bones’ is a fun addition to the series. Lots of Betsy, Jill and Godwin time, plus a fun sub-plot about a crow. (yes, I said a crow :-))) No mention of Morrie or Irene, but a surprise appearance is made by a member of the Monday bunch who’s been um…involuntarily…absent for a number of years.

For those who just want to spend a couple of hours enjoying a fictional world set in a suburb of Minneapolis, this is a fine choice. I really enjoyed it.



Sources of Inspiration…

…although sometimes it seems I have more inspiration than I can handle in one lifetime…unless I live to be 927. And even then I think I might just keep finding things I want to stitch and ways I want to improve my art.

This is the first of two planned posts today. The second will be to share my current stitching…yes, I have been plying my needle as well as my keyboard! 🙂

But, as the title of this post implies, right now I wanted to take a few minutes to share some current sources of inspiration.

First up is the Plimoth Plantation project. Their current textile project is to recreate a GORGEOUS and rather famous 17th century embroidered jacket. This project will take an estimated 3000 hours of work…yes, you read that correctly. 3000!!!! hours. Tricia Wilson Nguyen of Thistle Threads and Tokens and Trifles is one of the driving forces behind this recreation. They have sample kits available which can be worked and returned if one is interested in actually stitching part of this masterpiece. The kit is $45.00 which includes shipping and a donation to the Plantation. I believe this is a wonderful bargain, if only to hold a little piece of needlework history in your hands.

The website for the project is: and is listed on my sidebar.

From there, click on ‘The Embroiderer’s Story for a weblog of information and on-going progress reports. The labor involved in this project is immense (hence the need for stitchers), but the result is going to be amazing.

Secondly, I want to share the new class I’m taking. In my sidebar you will see a link to the weblog “In A Minute Ago”. The author, Sharon Boggin, is an educator as well as a very talented needlewoman. Her blog and website are rich in resources for both the embroiderer and the crazy quilter (those two disciplines are NOT mutually exclusive :-))) I have stash to prove it!). But beyond those pages, Sharon also teaches classes through Joggles, a wonderful on-line store…or should I say an adventure in obtaining creative needlework supplies. 🙂

Sharon’s newest on-line class, Sumptuous Surfaces, started just about a week ago and sign ups are still being taken. The class is $60.00 for six weeks of lessons. I have also taken Sharon’s Encrusted Crazy Quilting on-line course and I can testify you will get far more material than you can digest in six months, much less six weeks. Her presentations are coherent, comprehensive and fun! And, best of all, she makes the creative process something approachable instead of scary. I would HIGHLY recommend her courses to anyone interested in embarking on a creative journey with needle and thread. (I also highly recommend Joggles. I’ve ordered from them for several years and the service is excellent!)

Finally, I added another website to my sidebar. Mayte of MagicXstitch is truly amazing. Her blog has the option to be read in English and my oh my, what she gets done puts me in awe! Take the time to look at her photos. Talk about inspiration. Thank you, Mayte.

I guess one of the (good) side effects of recovering from surgery is time to explore. I hope you will enjoy the results of my time on line. I have…and it has given me a fresh love for the wonderful and diverse art of needlework.



Recommended reading & stash from ‘down under’

This Friday evening is going by far too quickly. I have a lot both stitching wise and life-wise I want and need to get accomplished. It has been a lovely spring day here and I’m glad to say I was out and about and able to enjoy some of it.

One thing the beautiful weather means is I was able to make my weekly WtR goal (see sidebar). And that doesn’t even include the walk we’ve planned for tomorrow (My week runs Sun-Sat). Wooo-weee!

Next up…another ‘recommended reading’ segment. I love books that are as much a treat for the eyes as they are good teaching material. This new (to me and to the market) book qualifies as a favorite in both catagories.


A Beginner’s Guide to Goldwork by Ruth Chamberlin (pub. 2006, Search Press Needlecrafts) is both an overview of the art of goldwork and a gallery of the author’s exquisite finished work. In tacit acknowledgement of the instructional nature of the book, Ms. Chamberlin not only shares her own pieces but concisely covers the basics needed to get started on a first project.

Progressing through the first few chapters, there are sections on the materials used in goldwork, the equipment needed and a small discussion of design. In addition, she takes the reader through the intricies of framing up, transferring the artwork to the ground cloth, and even techniques for beginning and ending stitches.

And she doesn’t stop there. She covers in some detail the basic goldwork techniques and stitches. The photography is both stunning and detailed. The book includes several projects, including a sampler for anyone who is a fairly independent and adventurous stitcher. (I don’t believe the projects suitable for a novice in needlework. Her instructions assume a basic knowledge of stitchery and allow a great deal of latitude for artistic interpretation.)

I think this book is a wise purchase for any needleworker interested in adding goldwork to their skill set or for anyone who just wants a peek at some beautiful examples of this art.

If anyone has questions about this book, feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me.

Another wonderful part of today was mail call. I received two kits from Colour Streams (see my sidebar for the link) both designed by Helan Pearce.

I ordered a Persian Teardrop, which I intend to use as a scissor fob and a Persian Slipper which is intended as a gift if I can bear to part with it. 🙂 The colors are absolutely beautiful. It makes me anxious to see the rest of Robyn’s line of silks in person. (She does weights equivalent to #5 and # 8 Pearl Cotton, a six stranded silk floss and wonderful silk ribbons!) I can just picture a garden scene done in her colors. Anybody up for a trip to Australia?

I need a patron…sigh………………………..

Here’s a peek at my goodies. The scanner won’t do them justice, but I’ve included both the front of the packaging with the picture of the finished piece and the back, so you can see the materials.




As you can well imagine, I want to start this RIGHT NOW! And…I may give in as soon as my church is done. Yes, I’m still working the church. Those rice-stitched trees take forever (but boy-oh-boy do they look cool)! I will post an update soon.

In the meanwhile, if any of you are so inclined, I’d strongly recommend a trip to the Colour Streams website. Enjoy!

I will leave you with my best wishes for a wonderful and stitchy weekend with no froggy-froggy blues.



Glorious Color!

Kaffee Fassett is one of my FAVORITE artists and authors. This man is a serious genius where color is concerned. Working in media as diverse as ceramic, paint, yarn and fabric, he has been and continues to be one of the most prolific designers of our time.

Glorious Color is about…what else? Color. Focusing primarly on yarn and its applications to knitting and needlepoint, this book goes far beyond a project guide and is at its best when used as an inspiring springboard for the imagination.


If you ever wanted insight into the creative process or to see artistic adaptation at its best, this is a book you should spend time enjoying. Your inner artist will thank you. 🙂
In addition, for those of you interested in knitting or needlepoint, there are all sorts of ideas and fun projects. Everything from needlepoint mosaic to a knitted great coat worthy of Romeo and Juliet.

I love this book and this author….ENJOY!



Recommended Reading

Each week I will share a book from my needlework library that I’ve enjoyed. Some of them focus on technique, others on the history of the art and some are best enjoyed simply for the inspiration they provide. All relate in some way to the needlearts.

First up: ‘The Embroiderer’s Story’ by Thomisina Beck. The Embroiderer’s Story by Thomisina Beck

This wonderful book is a history of needlework from the Renaissance to the present day. It is not a collection of techniques so much as a compilation of needlework down through the centuries. Works come to life, illuminated by the context of the era in which they were created.
The Embroiderer’s story is very well researched and the illustrations/photos, many of them in color, are fabulous.

What I love when I read portions of The Embroiderer’s Story is the connection I feel with women (and men) throughout history. I also love the inspiration that can be found on each page. Inspiration to teach others (to preserve for future generations the gift of handwork) and inspiration to expand my own boundaries with new techniques and new uses for already mastered techniques.

In my opinion, this is a pattern source book at its finest and wonderful reading.My edition was published by David & Charles and has a copyright date of 1999.