Friday, September 12, 2014

New Design Line Sock Yarn from Kristin Nicholas/Regia + Giveaway

Attn Facebook Blog Readers - To enter this contest you must enter your comment on blog comments, not the Facebook hi-jacked blog post. Go to Thanks!

I have a passion for ethnic handmade fabrics whether they are woven, knit, embroidered or hand-dyed. When I was in college, I learned an intricate dye technique called Ikat Dyeing. For those not familiar with Ikat, the warp is wound for the loom and then the threads are dyed in a particular pattern. The warp is then used to dress the loom and the threads are woven into a beautiful fabric. It is rather painstaking, to say the least. After I dyed and wove a few pieces of ikat fabric, I realized the skill it takes to produce the incredible patterning of these fabrics. 

Above is a photo from the Author Susan Meller's website and newish book Silk and Cotton (which I'm asking for as a birthday gift M & J!) of hand-dyed IKAT fabric on a loom. Isn't it incredible? If you have time and the interest, check out Susan's website full of gorgeous fabrics. There are some beautiful hand-dyed and woven ikat fabrics here

When Regia asked me to design another collection of colors for sock yarn, we began with the idea of ikat fabric. Although this sock yarn is spun and dyed in a factory, it has the shifted, mottled look of ikat. There are 6 colors in this line and you can see them knit into socks below. 

Here is a photo of how the yarn looks in a ball. As you knit, an ikat inspired pattern will appear on your knit fabric. How very cool. Below you can see the 6 colors without the balls bands. I have included the names and numbers too in case you would like to order them.

Check your local yarn store for the new colors. They have been shipping in the US since August. 

To celebrate the world-wide launch of these 6 new shades, I am hosting a giveaway. SIX lucky readers will win 2 skeins of the new Kristin Nicholas Design Line - enough yarn for a pair of socks.

Here's how to enter the contest....

Answer the following question in the comments...... Facebook readers, please go to my blog, don't comment on Facebook. Type in on your browser to get to the blog to comment. Thanks!

What are your upcoming crafting, stitching, knitting or creative plans for this fall?

Contest ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday September 15th. 
US and Canadian addresses only. 

Please leave an easy way to get a hold of you - Rav id, blogger id, or email. Thanks for entering everyone.  Good luck

Don't forget to check out the new Regia Kristin Nicholas Design Line colors at your local yarn store. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Brimfield Inspiration

I had a great day last Friday at the Brimfield Flea Market. It was ridiculously hot and humid and melty. Luckily I got there as the show opened and escaped before the crowds and the heat became unbearable.

Gone are my days of spending money at Brimfield. Mostly, I go for the inspiration. I get lots of ideas from old things for my current work. Today I am going to share photos of what I found inspiring or interesting. There are of course a few sheep related things, farm related, color ideas, and other things I like. I hope you like the virtual Brimfield tour. I've added commentary when appropriate.

This was a lovely embroidered penny rug:


Loved this crazy paisley pattern on a vintage dress:


 I wonder if when I am gone, my oil paints and brushes will end up at a flea market?

Another textile mill bites the dust. The sign for Wyandotte Mill of Pittsfield was for sale at Brimfield. It made me so sad, considering I worked at a mill called Warley Worsted Mills in Lowell, MA.

I am glad I don't have to use this kind of washing machine: 

A gorgeous iron door stop in the shape of a ram:

This oval box with sheep and people on the lid was large, exquisite and expensive:


While we are talking farm animals, I loved this metal chicken cut-out:

I have never noticed ironstone like this with a stippled design. There was a large collection that was quite beautiful. This site has lots of it. No wonder I liked it - very expensive.

I loved this china pattern with the fluted edges and relief:

There was a man from Africa with some gorgeous textiles. This piece is made entirely of beads. The house and checked motif is quite graphic and beautiful:

He also had this beautiful indigo blue and white fabric I think made with a mud resist:

Loved this embroidered gameboard:

This pillowcase was velvet and the wool stitching was tufted and then shaped with scissors. I am working on a piece using a similar embroidery technique so this was fun to see: 

This next series of photos are of the thing I found that was the most stunning and memorable. It was an embroidered single bed quilt. It was glumped in the back of a car. It was a crazy patchwork of embroidery on white fabric. I loved the spontaneous quality of the stitching. I wish I had taken more photos but since I wasn't going to buy it (for sale for $295), I stopped after 5. 

I hope you enjoyed your virtual trip through my eyes of Brimfield 2014.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Sunflower Closeups on Embroidered Fabrics

I've been all about the sunflowers ever since they began blooming. I love this time of year. For several years, we grew a field of sunflowers and sold them by the side of the road. Life has gotten busier as our Leyden Glen Lamb biz needs more time. Three years ago, we scaled the sunflower field back replacing the sunflowers with hay. I now grow the sunflowers in my veggie garden. The neighbors can't enjoy them like they used to on the busy road, but I can keep sharing them here with you all.

Today, I bring you close-ups of individual blooms. I hope this series will inspire you to plant your own sunflowers - or paint them, or stitch them, knit them, crochet them, or have a bouquet from the grocery store in your kitchen. Sunflowers bring such joy, don't they?
Several years ago, I did a similar feature photographing single blooms on Indian block-print fabrics. This year, since it is all about embroidery with the release of my book Colorful Stitchery later in the month, I photographed my blooms on embroidered fabrics in my textile collection. (Signed copies of Colorful Stitchery available Sept. 21st in my webshop here.)

These are the sunflowers that are blooming in the garden this week. There will be more varieties to come which I hope to have time to photograph. I have given you the name of each of the flowers, if I can determine them. Some were self-seeded. This year I bought most of my sunflowers from Sunflower Selections out of California. They are the retail arm of NuFlowersLLC which is the lifework of Dr. Tom Heaton. How interesting to spend a lifetime breeding sunflowers! Packages are a little large (100 seeds each) so you could share with a friend. I did fill in with some varieties from Johnny's Selected Seeds - including Autumn Beauty and Sungold (not yet blooming).  

Here we go.... enjoy the close-ups!

Joker - I love this flower because it is very prolific with many flowers on a single plant. Flowers vary in size with first one about 7 inches and smaller side shoots about 4-5". The photograph shows a large top flower as it is beginning to make seeds. Many, many flowers per plant. Photographed on Indian patchwork embroidery.

Orange Ruffles - This is a new one this year for me. It has long slim petals. Around the disk, there are small little petals that are quite frilly. Very pretty and delicate. Branching and multiple flowers per plant. Photographed on a mirrored embroidered piece from India.

Greenburst - Another new one for me. There is a small center of pretty green surrounded by a fluffy large center. On the outside there are long petals. Lots of blooms on one stalk and as with all branching sunflowers, the first top bloom is the largest. Photographed on a suzani embroidery.

Starburst Panache - Another fluffy sunflower but this one is all orange. The center is speckled with rust. Branching habit too so lots of flowers from one plant. Photographed on a piece of Indian embroidery.

Procut BiColor - The Pro Cut series of sunflowers are what professional growers supply to florists and grocery stores. They are available in 11 colors. This one is called BiColor with petals two toned with rust closer to the center disk and yellow on the outside. The disk is brown. Photographed on a piece of embroidery from Uzbekistan.

Autumn Beauty - We have been growing this variety purchased from Johnny's for years and years. It is a longer season variety (over 90 days to bloom) and the colors are varied. If you only want to grow one variety, this would be my choice. They get very tall and branch like crazy. They make a nice hedge or barrier. Colors range from lemon, gold, brown, rust, red and bi-colored. This is the first Autumn Beauty to bloom and it is a light lemon with reddish variegation close to the center disk. Autumn Beauties are not pollenless so expect pollen dripping on your tables if you are a neat freak.  Photographed on a piece of Indian shisha embroidery.


Moulin Rouge - This sunflower is a stunner because no one expects a maroon sunflower, do they? They are a bit delicate so do not travel well. I assume that is why you barely ever see them available at stores. Very tall. Short season, meaning quick to bloom (about 65 days). Branching habit with many blooms per plant. I love this flower. Photographed on another piece of Indian embroidery with mirrors.


Stella Gold - I found this sunflower variety years ago and then it disappeared. I was so happy to find it again last year from Sunflower Selections. I love the quirkiness of this flower - the long slim petals on the dark, large disk. Non-branching meaning only one flower per stalk but worth it because it is so oddly beautiful. 

This last sunflower reminds me of classic sunflowers. It is from a plant that self-seeded in my garden, hence no name. This plant just keeps putting out the flowers. As you can see, there is pollen dripping out of the center outer ring. Photographed on a piece of cross-stitch I found at a yard sale. From the motifs, I assume it is probably from a Slavic country.

I hope I will have time to capture more photos to share with you all as the other varieties I planted bloom. BTW, you can buy PDF's for knit and crochet sunflowers on my on-line store - here and here. My sunflowers even inspired me to write a book called 50 Sunflowers to Knit, Crochet and Felt.

Monday, September 01, 2014

September First + Book Release News!

Wow! September 1! Where did the summer go? I hope you all are enjoying Labor Day here in the US. I myself am looking forward to autumn weather but for now, we are all enjoying the beauty that the late summer garden brings. Here are a few shots just outside my yellow studio door. 

There is a stone walkway just outside the door which heats up all day long as it faces south. These sunflowers are blooming a few days ahead of those in my garden. I credit it to the hot stones. 

Here's one of the pretty blooms called Orange Ruffles....

This is a new one called Greenburst.


Here's what the garden looks like right now. So lush, including the weeds! But the sunflowers tower above them. 

Pop back in later this week when I will be doing a Sunflower Variety Round-Up for all you gardeners out there. 

Now for the big news. My book - COLORFUL STITCHERY - is being re-published on September 21st. You see, it was put out of print by the original publisher Storey Books. My new publisher Roost Books, jumped at the chance to re-design it and bring it to a new audience. Here is the new cover - how pretty!

Embroidery is growing in popularity and I am thrilled that this beautiful book is available to the new embroiderers who missed it last time. You can purchase a signed copy in my webshop here. Note that if you have the original book published in 2005, there is nothing different - except the design and the cover and my acknowledgements. The cool thing is that now my webshop supplies many of the fabrics and threads that are used in the book. And it coordinates with the on-line Craftsy class Stitch It With Wool: Crewel Embroidery (link to it on my sidebar). 

How about you.... what are you looking forward to this fall? 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sunflowers Beginning to Bloom and New Things Around Here

It's been quiet here, hasn't it? No, I haven't disappeared..... I've just been enjoying the last days of summer. Julia went back to school today. She is beginning a new school and we have our fingers and toes crossed that it will work out okay. 

Now it is time for me to play catch-up - here on the blog and in real life. I've got so many ideas simmering in my head and I hope I can accomplish just some of them. That is the good thing about taking time off - the ideas percolate and when you begin again, you are fresh and new.

We have had an unusually cool summer. My garden tomatoes got the "blight" and I think I may not even plant any next year. It is so disappointing - the 4th year in a row. Otherwise my garden has done really well. The zinnias recovered from the black spot (thank you copper fungicide). It is about to be stunningly beautiful with the arrival of all colors and shapes of sunflowers. 

I've been doing a lot of crewel embroidery this summer - at the Farmers Markets, in the evenings and when traveling. Here is a project I am almost done with - it is an off-shoot of my summer Crewel Embroidery class and my Craftsy on-line "Stitch It with Wool" class. Link for the class on my left sidebar.

Here is a close-up of some of the motifs and stitches. I am thinking of turning this into a "pattern/pdf." Would anyone be interested? 

What do you think? It was a very fun project to do - playing with stitches and colors and making up all kinds of variations. This piece will be sewn into a pillow for the porch.

How is everyone handling the bounty of late summer? Pickling anyone? Baking? Preserving? Would love to hear. 

I love a good "fruit crisp" and I am always trying new recipes looking for the perfect combo of crunch and fruit. This one looks intriguing.

While we are talking about fruit - I'm going to break out the tart pan and make this peach tart. I made it a few years ago and it was very tasty.

Anyone going to the Brimfield Antique Market next week? I will be although still not sure what day. Here's the info you need

I'll be back with more regular posts in September. To end today, here's a few photos of the kittens we raised which have moved onto new homes. I know you all love a kitty photo or two. 

Mama Petunia and kitten snoozing

Snuggling on my felted wool coasters

Pile of three

In deep sleep

Sneak peeking

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fabric Print Class Photos

I taught my first fabric printing class last Saturday. It was a beautiful late summer day - not at all hot - just gorgeous. We spent the day in my studio making art and printing fabric. What a fabulous way to spend a day.

I am not known for fabric printing - my following is knitters mostly. It is difficult to develop a new following. How do I get the word out there? It is a problem that I will have to work on and try to figure out. 

I had one student named Louise for the day and the day was a good one. I have had Louise in a knitting class and so I knew that we would have fun. She is incredibly creative and colorful and a very talented knitter and embroiderer. I could have cancelled the class for lack of interest but instead I chose to see how the class went so that if I did run it again, it would be better. The first time with any class is difficult.

The photos below show some of the progress Louise made. I learned how I should adapt the class for more students and how to time everything better. It was a day full of learning for me and Louise! 

Thank you Louise for coming to the farm. I can't wait to see the finished tablecloth you began. I will look forward to teaching others this technique.