This spring Rod and I had a unique opportunity to visit Ukraine. The next few blog posts will be about this wonderful trip, and most of them will be stitching related!

Rod and Debbie arriving in Ukraine. Our host church greeted us with a concert!

Rod and Debbie arriving in Ukraine. Our host church greeted us with a concert!

I hope it comes as no surprise to those who know me, to know that I’m a Christian. I’m an active church member, singing in my church choir. I also sing with Arkansas Master’Singers, a statewide choir of about 200 members, made up of Baptist church musicians from across the state. We have a mixed chorus, a men’s chorus, a women’s chorus and an instrumental ensemble. We sing several times a year in several venues in Arkansas, and take mission trips when the opportunity arises. Two years ago we were approached by Michael Gott International, a Christian evangelistic ministry operating primarily in Ukraine, to undertake a singing mission trip to east Ukraine. We were to be based in Donestk, and sing in several locations from there. About half of our group, including Rod and I, agreed to go, started raising funds (we all paid our own air fare, lodging and food costs) and the trip was on!

Arkansas Master'Singers in Ukraine

Arkansas Master’Singers in Ukraine

Then things got really dicey in the Donestk area, and the trip looked like a horrible idea in February of 2014. We were to leave April 21, 2014. The pastors in west Ukraine asked us to come there instead, venues got changed, concert halls booked, lodging rearranged, air travel reticketed (do you know how hard that was – for 82 people!?), and our plans changed! Instead of Donestk, we went to Zhytomir and Kiev in west Ukraine and sang 8 concerts. It was the trip of a lifetime! I’ve traveled internationally before, lived in Germany when Rod was in the Army a long long time ago. But Ukraine is completely different from anything I’ve ever experienced, in terms of language structure, architecture, food, just about everything. The people are lovely, warm and friendly. I’d go back in a minute!

Standing room only every one of our 8 concerts

Standing room only every one of our 8 concerts

Everywhere we went we sang to standing room only crowds. The concerts were free. We raised money to pay for the venues and the associated expenses before we left. We also had power points to translate our English language songs to Ukrainian. We discovered that our American-style of church music, with a lot of emotion and facial expression, was fascinating to the Ukrainian people. After each concert we met as many people as we could, and even though we didn’t speak Ukrainian, smiles were universal!

I was in the center of the back row, every night, but tried to smile to the back row of the hall!

I was in the center of the back row, every night, but tried to smile to the back row of the hall!

I’ve been in Master’Singers for about 15 years, but when the trip came up I told Rod he had to join too – I wasn’t going out of the country without him! I’m so glad he did. We had a wonderful shared experience, one we’ll remember forever. And he’s staying with the group!

Rod in the group!

Rod in the group!

We learned so much about the Ukrainian people, about the conflict that is raging. Everything kind of blew up just a couple of weeks after we left the country. Understandable we have very strong feelings about what is happening there, due to our experiences, but we won’t go into it here. But our prayers are with the Ukrainian people, and if the opportunity comes to return, we will.

In the next few posts I’ll share about the embroidery we saw – which was everywhere!

 

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Some Happy News!

Debbie with Misty

Debbie with Misty

About a year ago I departed from stitching posts to share the news of the loss of our pet Sheltie Mandy. Today as I write my post I’m happy to announce the arrival of Misty, our new Sheltie puppy!

I know how important our fur babies are, because so many of you have shared with me your own stories. And I’ve seen your pictures of your stitching companions, and know about the accent fiber that decorates so many of our pieces! So I hope you’ll indulge me just a bit today – next week it will be back to stitching topics!

Misty

Misty

Misty is a 12 week old Shetland Sheep Dog, from Bella Rose Shelties in Ozark, MO. Her parents are champions, but she will not be a  show dog; she’s a pure pet. Her only job will be to keep us company, travel with us, play with us, talk to us (and Shelties do talk!), and live a life of luxury, at least by dog standards.  She’s sable in coloring, with a lot of “flash” – four white paws, a white tipped tail, and white collar. Even though she’s the same breed as our previous dogs, she looks nothing like them and is already exhibiting some personality!

Some will ask why we went to a breeder, and not a rescue or shelter dog. It’s quite simple – we love Shelties. My family got our first Sheltie when I was in high school, and members of my family have had 7 Shelties between us. We wanted a puppy, and breed rescues typically don’t have puppies. The breed rescue closest to us couldn’t do the site inspection they require, and only had senior dogs at this time. That’s not to say that at some time in the future we wouldn’t consider a rescue, but at this time this was right for us.

So we are delighted to welcome Misty home. We know where the “cute as a speckled pup” saying comes from! She’s quite feisty, but also very sweet. Shelties are typically very obedient, so we will see when the training begins. We’ve been going around town meeting friends, and she seems to be outgoing and friendly. We are thrilled, and ready to open our hearts to our third Sheltie love.

Next week – more stitching stuff!

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Down Time

Double Crossed

Double Crossed

What does a designer do in the long stretches of time between trade shows? Do we take that time off? I wish! Sometimes, the “down time” between trade shows is our busiest time, because that’s when we work on new designs, focus on things that we can’t when we’re pushed for trade show new releases and generally retool the business.

During my “down time”, I’m working on class projects and designs for publications. Just a tiny word about publication work – every year I’m approached by several publications for designs, and I try to do as many as I can. It’s not always possible to work these in, but I’m trying to arrange my schedule to allow for this. So on my horizon I have design work for 3 publications, which I’ll release here when I’m able. But, I can let you know that I have an ornament in the Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue, which is already out and available now in your local needlework shop and a lot of book stores, and a design in A Cross-Stitch Christmas A Heartwarming Holiday book, published by Craftways. This hard-bound book is also available now as well; my design of counted canvas gift boxes is on page 98.

This year we decided to add some exclusive teaching projects into our line. What this means is we will have projects that are only available as teaching projects, not available for sale as stand alone charts. You may see these as a cyberclass, or offered through a chapter or guild. We haven’t quite decided what we will do with these projects, just that I will be developing these as an addition to our line of charts that we sell through needlework shops.

Shell Game 2

Shell Game 2

I’ve already taught Shell Game 2 for the Cyberpointers chapter of ANG, and will be teaching Double Crossed for a local chapter in just a couple of weeks. I’m nearing completion on a third project, Explorations, and will share details about that soon. Of course we’ll keep our retailers informed about these, and I hope to be teaching these myself in one form or another during the coming year. More classes will be joining the line-up as I get them ready.

We’re excited about the possibilities of adding an exclusive teaching line to our offerings, while continuing to add new designs that we hope stitchers will love and want to stitch.

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Fall Is In The Air!

 

Falling LeavesI live in an area where we have a definite change of seasons. We have a cold winter – well, not as cold as some, and usually only a little snow, but it’s cold enough for a coat sometimes. We have a hot summer – usually, although this summer we missed most of the days over 100 degrees. We have glorious spring with beautiful budding out and flowers – and thunderstorms and tornadoes, can’t forget to mention those. But we also have a wonderful fall, with a nip in the air, blustery winds, and beautiful fall color in changing leaves.

Laurel Park in our town is rimmed with trees that just burst with color in the fall – gold, orange and even scarlet. It’s absolutely glorious! I can drive down just about street in my town and see one tree after another, trying to outdo each other with their display. It’s a needlework designer’s dream – how to capture all this color?

Well, I tried! Falling Leaves is a little project of just leaf stitches, stitched with vibrant fall colors. I’ve seen all of these colors in the fall just in my town – no need to take a fall foliage viewing trip! When I pulled the threads and was showing them to someone, the red-orange was questioned, but we have several trees in our town that explode into just this color – I wish you all could see it!

Falling Leaves is also very quick to stitch. I stitched it in about 3 days, and wrote the instructions at the same time, so I know it can be done in time for your fall decorating. And, the finishing couldn’t be easier. Just pop it into the darling tray from Patches ‘n Planks, or a wooden tray or box from another purveyor, and you’re done!

I chose only DMC cotton flosses, DMC #8 pearl cottons and 1 DMC Color Variations for this project on 18 ct. white canvas, all of which should be readily available at your local needlework shop. This design joins Tricky Treats, Lovey Dovey, Hippity Hoppity, Wave The Flag and Ho! Ho! Ho! in the line up of seasonal and holiday tray designs; you can see those designs on the website.

Enjoy the turn of seasons as summer gives way to fall! Dig out those sweaters and boots, rake the leaves into a pile, and enjoy some time outside before it gets too cold!

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Only 106 Days to Christmas!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

But who’s counting? Probably even more pressing for stitchers – finishing deadlines are looming large on the calendar! Perhaps some of you have favorite finishers and their holiday deadline has already passed! Oh no!

Finishing, and easy finishing, is one of the reasons I developed the tray series that features seasonal and holiday colors. As soon as you finish stitching, you can pop it in the tray – easy peasy finishing you can do yourself. I know because I have finished every one of the designs myself, and if I can do it, you can do it.

Ho! Ho! Ho! features traditional red, white, green and gold colors, designed to go with your other holiday decorating. I chose textured stitches for two of the corners, and satin stitches for the other two corners, with waffle stitches running through the center. As an added bonus, any of the corners can be stitched by itself as an ornament!

Many years ago I began stitching projects that were interchangeable for the seasons, or that could share one frame and be switched out. It’s an economical way to display projects, and keep a fresh look for holidays and seasons. And I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying, “stitch when you’re young and poor, frame when you’re old and rich!” Many times finishing our pieces is one of the costliest parts of our hobby.

That’s why I love these little projects that stitch up fast, and share the same tray. I got my tray from Patches n’ Planks, but there are other trays and boxes that will suit the 6″ x 6″ square design. And I can just see this little tray filled with holiday goodies or candies, or holding holiday cards, small ornaments. Although it would be a shame to cover up the design! You could also do your own finishing to create a stand-up, or even in a small frame in an easel.

I hope you enjoy Ho! Ho! Ho! It’s never too early to start planning for the holidays, and maybe this will spur your stitching efforts. I won’t start humming holiday songs, just yet!

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