And So He Came

I saw a commercial this morning on the In Touch Ministries website that showed a dad calling each one of his family members down to the living room. They had no idea why he wanted them all together, but they soon found that the reason he took the time to interrupt their routines was so that they could all rediscover why we celebrate such a beautiful holiday… he said "Last year I woke up the day after Christmas, feeling like I'd missed something."

I'm ashamed to confess that I've felt that very thing before.

So before the season is once again past, I'm going to take the time to remember and celebrate what I should have been dwelling on all along: not frenzied shopping and repetitive list-making and seeing to it that all the sticks of butter are at room temperature so I can bake all those cookies, but rather the One whose birth was the first Christmas gift to us all.

Please enjoy this complimentary chart from my heart to yours. And Merry Christmas!

Click here for the printable chart, and not on the images: Download Christmas Ornament 2014 PRINTOUT

(Pictured below are some different fabric options, just to give you an idea of what you may want to work with.)

Christmas 2014 Examplar

Christmas 2014 Black

Christmas 2014 Conf Gray

Christmas 2014 Olde Towne

And if you haven't taken the time yet to read the "story" of Christmas, here is something else you may want to either pull up on your tablet/laptop/computer, or print out. The link to print is at the bottom of the image.

This is Christmas

Download This is Christmas

Winter Sampler Exchange 2014!

Those of you who have been reading my blog (what little of it there is) for the past several years, know that each year my mother and I exchange samplers for our annual Winter Sampler Exchange. It's the most fun time of the year for us, and each year we've had different ways of doing it, all while trying to keep what we're stitching a secret.

The only rules to this exchange are:

1. The stitch counts need to be similar. (This rule came into effect when one of us was highly embarrassed one year when her stitch count was a bit on the lean side after her mother presented her with the densely-stitched Garden Glade.)

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2. The piece must be framed by the enormously-talented Jill Rensel of frame fame. (Jill knows that she will be hearing from us around the end of each summer, begging her to please-please-please hurry because Mom and I have ants in our sampler pants once the pieces have been dropped off at the post office.)

This year my mother suggested we have a theme to our exchange, and she decided that the theme would be Christmas. I agreed, after which she exclaimed excitedly, "Oh this will be so fun, and I already know what I'm going to stitch for you!" Then I heard her say with coyly-downcast eyes, "If only you would design something for your mother.. that would be so nice."

I knew then that I wouldn't have much say in the matter, especially when she looked directly at me and added the two words she knows will make my knees buckle:

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Yes, those two G-words have the ability to shrink me back down to a child in my mind…

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But I'm a grown woman now, and grown women do what they must…

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One more thing that those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know: I am completely joking when I portray my mother this way. She is truly the most loving mom in the world, and our exchange was just as fun and exciting as it's always been! My mom stitched the most beautiful sampler in red for me, and I am so in love with it! And as usual, Jill couldn't have been more spot-on with her choice of moulding for it!

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I did, in fact, design something for my mother. It's called Merry Brew, and when it was finished, I felt that it could use some of Jill's legendary hand-painted mats! Jill didn't disappoint, and I was so happy with the beautiful work she did on it!

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Here's a closer look at the gorgeous details on the frame, mats, and fillet…

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I wish I had a picture to show you of my mom's reaction.. it truly was priceless, and we both had so much fun laughing and chatting about how we chose to stitch what we did for each other.

I may not ever make up for the Great Garden Glade Debacle (at least in my mind), but I do know my mother was very, very pleased, and so was I!

Next year's theme was my suggestion, but it's not in stone just yet: Houses.

Merry Christmas, and thank you for tuning in to this year's episode of our Winter Sampler Exchange! 😉

P.S. For those of you who saw our exchange pieces on Instagram and asked about Merry Brew's release, I will most likely release it next autumn. Thank you so much for your kind words and lovely compliments! They made my day!

Autumn Gifts

Sweet Rindy Richards told me that she saw my Shepherd's Bush class piece on the net today, as Sue Ream (Hi, Sue!) had stitched it… and that's when I realized that I've never shown what my class piece was!

My friend-and-framer Sherri Berkman was the model stitcher for this one (hence, the SB initials at the bottom, which several people thought stood for "Shepherd's Bush"), and once again, she surprised me with the moulding. I could not have asked for a more beautiful frame to go with this piece, which features a rabbit dashing through the woods, and crossing over a narrow thread of river. 🙂 The retreat's theme, as you may remember, was "Over the River and Through the Woods," and I loved how each of the teachers interpreted it.. what a warm and cozy theme it was to work with!

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The little scissors fob to the bottom left corner of the model was also stitched by Sherri as a surprise to me. I was so thrilled to receive it, and will always remember her kindness and generosity, as she was going through a very difficult time in her personal life when this model was being stitched. I'm so touched that she would do that extra thing for me.. both sides of the fob are stitched over one linen thread (the reverse side has an acorn and leaves taken from the design). Thank you so much, Sherri. It meant so much to me.

The scissors attached to the fob are the gorgeous work of Paula Sibbald from Kelmscott Designs.. I begged her to come up with something special for my class kits, and her response to me was, "Well I was just working on a new pair of scissors, and wasn't sure what I'd put on them!" This was certainly good news for me, and she took my "OH PLEASE DO ACORNS, PLEASE DO ACORNS" to heart. Thank you again, sweet Paula! They turned out beautifully, and I was thrilled to be able to include them in my class kits!

I suppose the rabbit is now crossing a frozen river through barren trees at this point, as fall has moved on to another year. And as usual for me these past couple of years, I'm running behind it, hollering, "Wait! Wait! I've been so busy, I never got to say goodbye!" Because of this busy-ness, I decided last month that I wouldn't release any new designs for the remainder of 2014, but rather I would take some time and enjoy the season for a while. My next releases will be in Nashville in February. I truly hope to see lots of you there, and I hope it will feel like Christmas all over again, only with spring colors!

Now, I think I'll go ask God for some snow, because that truly is one of His winter gifts to us – especially when topped with a red cardinal.

Wait… Did someone say winter gifts? I see a new sampler in my mind…

Fall Back

I have no idea why I don't post photos when they're freshly-taken, but I tend to stay away from my computer for long periods of time. Every day I think to myself, "I really should post the Shepherd's Bush retreat pictures," and every day I put it off… again, my hip issues hamper my enthusiasm for blogging!

But I've culled the retreat photos and edited them in batches, and here they all are, finally! Well, not all… I seem to be missing some important folders that contain the other designers' teaching pieces in their entirety, and I'm completely missing the Just Another Button Company's pumpkin project they taught! (I sincerely hope you've been able to see it elsewhere online, because it's so sweet!)

I'll just start posting in no particular order… you've most likely seen all of the projects and boutique designs presented here, but just in case you suddenly get the urge to add one or two to your Christmas Wish List, then I will be thrilled that I posted them!

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The famous sisters… one can't help but be very happy around these two!

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I wanted to know what these girls were laughing so hard at…

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… but when I saw who was sitting across from them, I immediately knew. Anywhere these amigos are, there is bound to be a lot of laughing!

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Aren't these miniature versions of the His & Hers Thanksgiving Stockings amazing? Three adorable friends made them and wore them, and of course, I was very impressed (and honored!)…

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Here they are, and such lovely friends! I had so much fun being around them! Their stories and tattle-tale adventures are quite hysterical.

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Another close-up of Chessie and Me's class piece… stunning!

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 The Giving Season pinkeep (pictured above) was part of R&R's class.. here are some closer looks at their main sampler. Again, I've got several photos missing that show these outstanding class pieces in all their glory! I'm so disappointed!

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From around the boutique, set up in one of the resort's large meeting rooms…

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Okay, I have to admit that I was sorely tempted to stitch this using Shepherd's Bush's conversion and the JABC buttons – not to mention the outstanding frame job that Jill Rensel did on it!

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More class piece close-ups…

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The pincushion exchange for the heifer project was a huge success! What fabulous little works of art!

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On the last night, Tina and Teri organized the most bountiful banquet for all the attendees! The fun included a delicious dinner and dessert, Thanksgiving Bingo, prizes, and a whole lot of laughter and friendship…

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I love this picture.. she found something awfully surprising!

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One of the prizes was an entire frame and mat set from Rensel Studios for the Shepherd's Bush class piece! What an outstanding prize, and the recipient of this generous gift from Jill was more than thrilled…

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One of the attendees stitched one of the mini pieces from my class while she was there (so fast!) and had some of the teachers sign it with a Sharpie, which I thought was such a fun idea! We were all nervous about putting permanent marker to linen, but it all worked out beautifully!

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The kit for this beautiful project was a parting gift from Tina and Teri to all the attendees…

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The 2014 Shepherd's Bush retreat was a highlight of my year! It was such a wonderful time spent with old friends, new friends, lots of stitching projects, and the beautiful scenery, all at the Canyons Resort in Park City. My hope is that Tina and Teri will continue this every-other-year tradition, as it wouldn't be an every-other-year without it. 🙂 I'm so thankful for the time I spent there.

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