• New Designs,  Plum Street Antiques,  Stitching

    A Sprightly Sampler

    When I spotted this old sampler, I was immediately smitten. It was in a very neglected state, but I was able to look past the distractions and see what an animated piece of needlework it truly is. Ten-year-old Miss Oliver must have been a frolicsome young lady with a fondness for puppies (did she own the two that are depicted in her sampler?), as well as small surprises of color, which are scattered about her canvas.

    I love the density of motifs, the compact border, and her sweet verse, stitched over one linen thread:

    This needlework of mine can tell
    When I wose [sic] young I learnt it well
    And by my elders I wose tought
    Not to spend my time in ought

    She then signed it:

    Elizabeth Sarah Oliver
    Aged 10 years 1842


    There is a faded border surrounding the verse, and I believe Miss Oliver realized later that she'd forgotten her double "l" in the line "…I learnt it well," as she added the extra letter "l" outside of the border. (I thought that was rather charming!)

    For those of you who would like to recreate this sweet sampler for your own home, the reproduction will be available at the Nashville market, and your shop owner will be able to pick it up in my room. Thank you so very much, Kathy Krause, for your beautiful work on the model! (I currently have the antique hanging in the "George & Martha Suite" in my home, and the model hanging in my bedroom!)


    The threads I charted this for are an exact match to the unfaded, back side of the original, with this exception: where Elizabeth used her purple thread, I changed the color to Gentle Art's Blueberry. If you're a purist, and prefer your sampler to be as exact as possible, I'd suggest using Gentle Art's Red Plum instead of Blueberry. (There is no specific reason I chose to use Blueberry instead of Red Plum; I simply loved the color Blueberry and wanted to incorporate it into the sampler!)

    Here are the supplies you'll need for completing this sampler:

    Fabric used: 35 ct. Confederate Gray by Weeks Dye Works (Some alternative fabric suggestions: Natural Northern Cross linen, Lakeside Linens' Cedar Plank or Vintage Meadow Rue, R&R Reproductions' Chamomile, or Picture This Plus' Ale)

    Threads used: The Gentle Art in Apple Cider, Cinnamon, Deep Forest (2 skeins suggested), Harvest Basket (2 skeins suggested), Cucumber, Flax, Rhubarb, Blueberry, Old Brick, Baked Clay, and Sable.

    I've made a terrible omission, as I left off the frame information on the chart! (I kept looking and looking at the information page and couldn't figure out why I had extra room to work with, and now I know! Sherri Berkman's pertinents are missing! Sherri, please let me treat you to a Starbucks or three when I see you again!)

    So here is the frame information, if you'd like the gorgeous olive moulding Sherri chose:

    Total Framing
    (Sherri Berkman)
    3775A Pickett Rd.
    Fairfax, VA 22031
    Phone: 703-426-0660
    Website: www.totalframing.biz

    I hope you all have a lovely weekend! Mike's birthday is on Super Bowl Sunday, so we'll be spending it rating the commercials and eating all sorts of junk food. And I don't know about him, but I'm sure I'll be stitching at some point. 😉

  • Market,  New Designs,  Sneak Peeks,  Stitching

    I love bees.

    Gosh, I've loved bees forever! And I especially love the character Queenie on the BBC series Lark Rise to Candleford. The sweet gentleness with how she keeps her bees charms me (I only wish there were more scenes with her in them!), and was the inspiration for this pattern:

    The Beekeeper email w text

    This will be released as a kit at the Nashville Needlework Market in a couple of weeks, exclusive to Norden Crafts. The kit comes packaged in a clear box, and contains 11 skeins of Weeks Dye Works, a piece of Natural Northern Cross linen, and a size 28 embroidery needle. The kits will be available first to shop owners that attend the market, and then any kits that are left will be available to those who were unable to attend. The retail price is $44, and if you'd like your shop owner to reserve one for you, give them a call and let them know! (This is a limited run, and this pattern will not be available in chart-only form.)

    I can't wait for market! Besides The Beekeeper (which will be in Norden's room), I'll have five new designs in my room, one of which is a reproduction called Elizabeth Sarah Oliver 1842. It's absolutely full of the most charming motifs, including two sweet little dogs. I can't wait to show you! I'll be back this week with a preview of it, along with one or two more next week. 🙂

    Have a lovely evening! And if you have Netflix or Amazon Prime, grab your stitching and a cup of coffee or tea and see about watching Lark Rise to Candleford! It's a lovely, meandering series, and you'll fall in love with all of the residents of both the towns of Lark Rise and of Candleford.

    P.S. Here's a little something for those of you already familiar with the series: Coffee is my one weakness. 😉

  • A Colonial Gathering Club,  Stitching

    The First Club Kit

    Many of you are starting to receive your first kits for A Colonial Gathering, and I'm very hopeful that you're pleased! It's very nerve-wracking to try to come up with something that one hopes club members will like, but let me assure you that the next shipment (which is Tanya's design) is going to knock your colonial knickers off. Oh my goodness, I can hardly wait!

    In the mean time, there is still room for a few more sign-ups, if you've decided to give the club a try. I hope you'll join in the fun! This is what the first kit looks like:

    ACCP tp

    A Colonial Candle Pocket

    Included in your kit is everything to create the pocket (including
    the rusty pins), as well as a tutorial with images for doing so.

    (To join, visit www.dyeing2stitch.com or call 757-366-8740.)

    Like I mentioned above, Tanya's kit will come out next, then another one by me, and then a second one by Tanya. The final kit for the club, shipping in the fall, will be a collaboration between Tanya and I, and I'm excited to get to work on it!

    I hope you all are having an exciting week so far! I'm busy getting things in order for market, and I just started on a new model. Egads – me, stitching my own model? I'm afraid so.. it seems I've chosen to use colors I don't normally use, so I've got to work on the model myself to see how they work together. 🙂 It's a little on the larger side, so I'm planning a spring or summer release.

    Enjoy your day! And thank you for stopping by!

  • Critters

    Summer Frenemies

    Earlier in the summer, I noticed Tilly caught in a stare at something outside of the porch window. I didn't pay much attention to it, but after a few minutes, baby Effy had joined her, and they were both just staring… and staring… Turns out they were quite enchanted with Fritz, the ground squirrel that hides in our downspout.


    Hello, Fritz! My, my, my, how thin you are! I'm sorry I didn't plant any pumpkins for you to engorge yourself on this year, you varminty gourd-glutton. Oh how sad that day was… late September, and my pumpkins were growing up to be bountiful tablescape decorations…  One morning, I made my walkabout to admire them in the early dew, and there they were, in all their drawn-and-quartered doom:

    Death by Fritzing.

    I was very tempted just then to let the girls out to play.




    But of course, I didn't.

    Goodbye, little Fritz. We'll see you again in the spring, I'm sure, nibbling on all of my new green shoots, you ingluvious flower-fiend.


    (Despite his destructive tendencies, he is an awfully cute little thing, and I do smile every time I hear him scurrying up the downspout to hide when I walk by.)

    ETA: I've gotten quite a few emails and comments about this little guy! He is technically a Thirteen Stripe Ground Squirrel, and is also called a Striped Gopher. 🙂

  • Family,  Holidays


    This past Thanksgiving brought with it the usual craziness that our small family can muster, but as usual, it was a lot of fun. Josh and Bre and Kaia came into town too, and it was so nice getting to visit them! What a surprise to see Kaia all grown up! Here's what she looked like the last time she was here:

    IMG_6824 tp

    And here's how she looked at Thanksgiving:


    And what a sweet big girl she's become!

    We all headed over to my parents' house that afternoon, and Mom gave each of the girls some beautiful scarves she had crocheted for them. This is Bre, trying to get it folded correctly over her head…


    After dinner, we played a game called Likewise. If you've never played this, it's a fun, fast-paced "party game" in which each player has a greaseboard-paddle and pen, and when a phrase is given, each person writes down (or draws) something that they feel fits the phrase. After a set time, all the players simultaneously reveal what they've written on their boards, and the players with like answers gain points, while those who had odd answers get nothing, and so the game goes on.

    It was Bre's turn to roll the dice, to find out of we were to draw or write our answer…


    Josh was a very focused player…


    (By the way, my mother keeps a very clean house, but once the Stewarts descend on the Kwaak home, there isn't usually a clean countertop or a closed cabinet door to be found. 😉 We do love to have a lot of commotion at our get-togethers!)

    Here was one of the phrases played:


    And here were some of the answers:


    Mike always enjoys a bit of game drama…


    And here was another phrase:


    Again, Bre was not amused with Josh's gameplay, although Josh appeared to be enjoying himself…


    (I think his idea of a fun game is seeing how easily he can get Bre rankled! Ha!)

    I think my favorite part of our family holidays, however, is when we sit and relax and talk at the table. One never knows what the topic will be.. the latest headlines, chatter about past holidays, ideas, or even how one would interpret a certain Bible verse. It's always lively conversation, and mostly everyone seems to hang on to what my dad will say; he's a man of few words, but when he does speak, everyone listens.


    I wish my brother and sister and her family could have been here this time! Sabrina and Sophie were there also, but somehow they managed to duck the camera, along with my Mom. I hope your holidays with your family are as enjoyable as ours always are. I look forward to the time together this year as well… I'm so thankful for these moments together!

  • Family,  Holidays

    Winter Sampler Exchange 2013

    Finally! I just got around to uploading the photos I took all the way back in late November from the annual sampler exchange Mom and I do. Things were a little more hurried this year than in years past.. we pretty much blew past and tossed each other our samplers in jubilant exchange before I was back in the car, hurrying back to Plum Street in Cruella DeVille-esque mode. It was a very busy season for both of us.

    Last year we didn't open our boxes from Jill until we were together, but when I called Mom to see if she had time for me to run over, she said, "Yes! Hurry! I can't wait for you to see your piece!!! Jill did an outstanding job!!"

    "Wait. You opened the box?" I asked.


    "Yes!" She gleefully replied. "I couldn't stand to wait another minute!"


    So after I hung up, I went ahead and opened the box from Jill, wrapped it in some sort of pretend wrapping paper, and headed over to Chez Mom.

    We both agreed to scale back this year on what we were stitching for each other because of time constraints. (That was her idea, so I went ahead and tossed the almost-finished Ann Medd Sampler I had been stitching for her for several months and opted for something much smaller.)

    (I'm only kidding.)

    Getting our picture proved to be very tough because we both kept laughing at how awful they were turning out. As soon as I'd get one that I'd think was passable, she'd see it and exclaim, "My hair! Oh no, my hair! What happened??"

    And that's when I'd look at the photo again, and notice suddenly that I'd forgotten to do anything with my hair.

    For now, I'll bypass showing our photo, and just get straight to the point: what we stitched for each other.

    I was so thrilled with what my mom chose to do for me, especially because it's one I had never seen before! I love love love it! Thank you again, Mom. 🙂 It's perfect!

    IMG_9139 tp

    My mom found out from The Primitive Hare that this isn't an exact reproduction, but rather several parts of different antiques, all brought together to form this beautiful sampler. It's wonderful, and I love the soft browns and blues, which Jill brought out beautifully in the moulding!

    Here is what I did for Mom:


    This is a chart that is no longer in print, but if you do happen to have the chart, you'll notice I left off the "Elizabeth Whipp" portion from the top, and stitched my initials instead. I chose it for Mom because I just felt like it was so her, especially with the deer motif in the center. And again, Jill's taste in frames is outstanding. I couldn't be happier with it!

    As for our photo together, we settled on one that we thought was decent enough…


    …It was Mom who realized the glaring problem. (I was still marveling at our hair.)

    So we hurriedly turned our samplers around before the timer on the camera clicked off, and called it good.


     I hope if ayone else out there exchanged stitched pieces with someone, you had just as much fun as we did, even if we did manage to get the whole event done in 7 1/2 minutes! We've decided that for next year, we'll have a theme: Christmas! And I think I've already got Mom's chosen… 🙂