When plans go awry

Sometimes things our plans don’t materialize in the ways we think. I’ve had just such a plan go off the rails. But in this case, it’s a good thing!

I do a lot of work for various publications. Over the years I’d say I’ve done at least 40 designs intended not for release by DebBee’s Designs, but in other outlets. The reasons are various. Sometimes a publication wants something a little different to include with their other offerings. I’ve done a fair number of designs for hard bound book collections; most of the other designs in the books are cross stitch, and then mine, either canvas work or Hardanger. I participate in the Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue every year for the last 12 years, and now I’m being included in the Halloween issue as well. I’ve done designs for Needlepoint Now and Needlepointers. Sometimes the designs are buy outs – the publication purchases all the rights to the design, and it’s theirs. Sometimes the publication has a limited right, for about 6 months or so, and then I can do other things with it.

I like to keep a hand in these various publications, especially the ones that are mostly cross stitch, to hopefully expose other people to counted canvas work and get them interested. I was recently asked to create a colorful design for a catalogue company, so I got to work on it and designed this:

spectacular-spectrumThis is Spectacular Spectrum. It’s 8″ x 8″, and stitched with mostly floss, a couple of #8 pearl cottons, and a few metallics. I finished stitching it this weekend, then contacted the catalogue company. Alas, their plans have changed, so good news – I have a new design almost ready for release!

Nothing is ever wasted. Sometimes I start a design, and don’t like it, but use elements that I do like elsewhere. Sometimes what I intended for one thing doesn’t work out, and I use it another place. So that’s the case with this design, coming soon to a local needlework shop near you!

I’ll continue working on designs for other publications, and hopefully they’ll work out. But if they don’t, I almost always have another place I can use it!


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Starting a new project

Is anything more exciting than starting a new project? And is anything more tedious than mounting the canvas? A little extra preparation to mount the canvas will make for a more pleasant stitching experience, though, so I thought I’d share today how I prepare a canvas for stitching.

A note: I use Evertites stretcher bars, so my process may be a little bitt different, but the principles are still the same.

The first thing I do is to bind the edges of the canvas. This prevents threads snagging on the rough edges of the canvas. I’m fortunate to have an edge binding machine, but I have also taped by hand. I use white 3/4″ wide artists tape, that I buy through Amazon.

Next I assemble my stretcher bars. With Evertites, the name should be on the inside of the bars, with the little screws on the inside of the joints.

mounting-canvas-3aThis gives you room to tighten the screws after the canvas is mounted.

Next, lay the canvas on top of the assembled stretcher bars. I place one tack in the center of each bar:


Begin in the center even with regular stretcher bars. I’ve seen several people begin mounting by tacking at the corners first, and this doesn’t allow the canvas to be adequately stretched as you tack.

Next, work all four sides at the same time by placing tacks on either side of the center tacks.


Pull and stretch the canvas as you place the tacks. I work opposite sides, first the top and bottom, then the sides, placing tacks on each side of the center and working toward the corners.

Notice that the tacks are very close together. This allows for an even stretch of the canvas without strain at specific places. I had a framer tell me that this is the best way to place tacks – almost touching, and certainly never more than 1/4″ to 1/2″ apart.

I place tacks almost to the corners for the Evertites. The corners must remain free so the screws can do their job of expanding the canvas until it’s tight. With regular stretcher bars you place tacks at the corners.

Now the Evertites do their magic. I work one corner at a time, turning the screw 5 to 6 times at each corner then moving to the next. If more is needed I come back to it, turning the screws at each corner an equal number of times.

mounting-canvas-4This picture shows the screw extended so it pushes the frame apart. A note: always retract the screws before disassembling the stretcher bars when the project is complete, to prevent damaging the screw assembly.

Now my canvas is all mounted and ready to stitch:


Why to go to all this trouble? First, it only takes about 20 minutes to get the canvas taped and mounted properly. Second, a tight canvas is easier to stitch; you aren’t pulling the canvas each time you pull the needle through. Third, a tight canvas supports the stitches better, and it’s easier to lay the threads.

I won’t get into stitching in the well or with the canvas on top; that’s strictly a personal preference (I prefer with my canvas on top). So I hope I’ve shared a few tips with you that will make your stitching easier.




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Back to work!

After a busy summer traveling here and there, and a new grandbaby, I’m back into a more normal routine. This time of year means a lot of planning – new designs, stitching models, thinking of class proposals (deadlines are approaching!). So I’m in the planning stages for several things, but I’m also stitching a design that will be released as soon as I get it finished.


Winter Blues is the latest in the series I’ve designed as inserts for trays from Patches n’ Planks. I love blue, and very seldom get to design a whole entire project in just blue!

I’m making good progress on this design and hope to get it finished in the next day or two, so it will be released in plenty of time for winter decorating. Not quite a holiday piece, unless you have a blue color palette, but it should be a nice touch for after the holidays. The house always looks somewhat empty after the Christmas decorations come down, and something new to take us into the winter months should be a good thing.

The design is small, 6″ x 6″, and symmetrical. Of course the colors I’ve selected are easily changed to other colors if you prefer. So far I’m mostly using floss, with a couple of other threads to make it interesting. Nothing too complicated like Jessicas or walnetos in this one, just some nice satin stitch patterns.

I’ll let you know when it’s finished and available. Thanks for looking!

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ANG National Seminar report!

I’m back from the American Needlepoint Guild National Seminar in New Orleans. I always love going to seminar, and this year was awesome!

First of all, New Orleans! I absolutely love NOLA, even the heat and humidity this time of year. I visited Cafe Du Monde 3 times for beignets and cafe au lait – my fav! I ate some spectacular food, including a muffaletto in the French Quarter, and a memorable visit to Emeril’s restaurant. I ate shrimp more times than I can count. My husband joined me for the last part of the week, and we spent some time at the beach in Gulfport, MS, including a stop to the John Stennis Space Center. The Stennis Center is where they test fire the rockets for NASA, and although they weren’t test firing when we were there we saw where they do it. We also viewed the exhibit of embroidered mission patches, one for each NASA mission, all stitched by member of ANG. I had a great time looking for names of stitchers I know, and found quite a few. We wrapped it up with a visit to the World War II Museum, an awesome museum with fabulous displays.

Second, this was my first time to teach for ANG National. I taught Building Blocks for one day, and Angles for four days. Great classes, wonderful students, and I learned lots about how to teach these classes the next time I teach. It’s always great to have feedback and ways to tweak my presentation, so I really appreciated that.

Third, I won ribbons in the exhibit! I’ve exhibited before, but this is the first time I’ve won ribbons. I got a First Place for my 2015 Needle Arts Mystery Retreat piece, and Honorable Mention for Glitz & Glamour Citrine!


Lastly, I have friends from all over the stitching world, and it’s so much fun to reconnect, share a meal, chat in person. I made some new friends, spent time with long-time friends and just generally had a great time.

So here’s my plug for stitching seminars – if you have opportunity to go, GO! You will learn more than you think possible in just a few days, make a lot of friends, and have a great time!

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Last new release, Touch of Spring

Touch of Spring Final

OK, I know this is totally off for this time of year. I designed this way back in the spring but didn’t get to stitch it until June. So I decided to go ahead and release it now rather than wait until spring.

This is another in the tray series, that all fit in the same size tray for easy holiday and seasonal decorating. And like all geometric designs, the colors are very easily changed if you want. And Touch of Spring has a very limited thread list, which makes it even easier to change the colors.

I love these soft green colors, like early spring when we start seeing green after the drabness of winter. I used cotton and rayon floss, #8 pearl cotton and #8 braid, so nothing too out of the ordinary. I also use a DMC variegated thread for the first time, and I liked it, so I’ll probably be using DMC variegateds in more designs as I deem appropriate.

The tray is from Patches n’ Planks, and is available in 3 finishes, oak as shown here, walnut and cherry. These are beautifully made trays, very easy to change the designs for decorating. The tray is deep enough to hold the piece mounted on foamcore, which comes with the tray, and the acrylic to protect the stitching, also included. Dennis Mulhearn, maker of the trays, even includes a little screw driver for the mounting, perfectly easy!

That’s all of my new releases for now, but I do have new pieces in the pipeline, including Winter Blues for the tray series. Hopefully I’ll be able to get it stitched and released before next summer!

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