Time for Needlework Expo Reveals!

If you haven’t heard, there is an exciting event happening in a week and half (March 6 – 8) – Needlework Expo! This is a virtual wholesale-only market experience, primarily focused on the cross stitch industry. It is like Nashville Needlework Market – which typically takes place at the beginning of March, in person, in Nashville, TN. (Thanks, pandemic, for the cancellation here in 2021.) Knowing that there was a good chance that Nashville might not happen this year (which came to pass), Janis of Noteworthy Needle created this new and exciting experience for the industry. I wrote more about it here.

Just to be clear, the Needlework Expo is NOT a retail shopping opportunity. It is wholesale for stores to interact directly with designers, to purchase directly from them. As many designers usually have some fantastic patterns that come out at the beginning of March (typically for Nashville), there are some AMAZING designs that are being revealed at this time. A great place to see this is to find and follow Needlework_Expo on Instagram. Many designers have been doing “sneak peeks” for the past few weeks and full reveals are now happening in earnest.

I will be participating in Needlework Expo and today I want to start sharing with you my new patterns!

First up is this – Renaissance Band Sampler.

The bands on this are inspired by bands found in a 16th century pattern book. While there is no definite way to say how those designs were used centuries ago (edgings on clothing? on table linen?), such patterns always appeal to my eye. I thought that a band sampler of them would be perfect. I stitched this model using a 24 count 3 1/2 inch linen banding from Zweigart – it also fits nicely on a 16 count Zweigart banding that is 4 inches, a bit wider (if small isn’t your thing). The design calls for only two colors. I used DMC 4240 (a variegated one) and DMC 340. I think the variegated DMC threads don’t get enough publicity. While perhaps not having the catalog of them like Gentle Arts or Weeks Dye Works, or Classic Colorworks, they can be found in many big box stores (I can get them at Michaels), which makes them more accessible to some folks. And some of them have beautiful colors – like this one of blues and purples.

You can check on the Needlework Expo website to see if you local needlework store is registered to attend (and if not, encourage them to do so!). Let them know if you are interested in this pattern!

More Expo reveals coming soon!

A finish that was a long time coming

In my last post, I wrote about finally FFO’ing (fully finishing) a piece that I had designed and stitched last year, but finally got into a frame. Well, this story goes back WAY further than just last year.

At my best guess, about ten years ago I was working on a cross stitch project. I believe that I have shared that I make bobbin lace in addition to stitching. This was a pattern that a fellow lacemaker shared with me – a cross stitch image of a lacemaker. How perfect to combine my two loves. I was able to order it from X-Calibre Cross Stitch Designs and began work. I decided at that time that I wanted it to be small and delicate and so I began stitching it 1 over 1 on 32 count fabric. This design uses only 8 shades of DMC floss and I was amazed that so few colors could produce such stunning results.

I know I worked on it for some time. I know I likely got a little tired of it, despite the fact that I am usually a one-project-at-a-time stitcher. But, I have no memory of exactly why I stopped working on it. Especially given how close I was to a finish.

At some time this fall, a memory popped up on my Instagram – a “on this date three years ago” kind of thing. And there was a picture of me, a thumbnail pic from a Flosstube video at that time, holding up this piece and saying that I really should get it finished. I knew exactly where it was tucked away, stitching, pattern, and thread. The seed got planted in the back of my mind.

I’ve had some projects in the works over the last few months that I haven’t shared publicly as they will be future WorksByABC releases. And, a few weeks ago, I was between projects. Meaning, I had just finished one and was awaiting fabric for the next. What to do with my nightly stitching time? I revisited in my head the very few WIPs I have and then I remembered this lady. It was time to pull her out and finish her.

I am so glad I did.

Finally Framed!

I’m currently in the process of finishing all of my Needlework Expo releases – i.e. everything is done except for the pieces at the framer’s, which I am hoping to pick up soon. While I was assembling these pieces that have been worked on for the last few months, I decided it was time to revisit a previous finish that had languished in the finished-but-not-fully-finish pile.

This is Pomegranate Lace in Blackwork. The pattern was released some time back…a year ago?…and is available in my Etsy store, as a paper copy or as a pdf. I loved stitching on it and had hoped to finish it using a hoop and frame method that I found on Etsy some time back. Unfortunately, I really needed a 12″ hoop and the largest that existed for that frame design was either 11″ or 10″. I know I had done some googling at the time and found some possibilities, but truly didn’t act on it. Until a couple of weeks ago.

There are not that many 12″ circular frames out there, in comparison to some smaller circles. I found this one on Amazon and it worked perfectly. On the left and right, I did not have much fabric margin – only about 1 1/2 inches on each side. I was able to lace the back decently enough, however, even with those small margins, and the finished piece came out perfect.

In addition to this version in blackwork, I also have this pattern in a cross stitch version, again both in paper and pdf.

Hardanger Finish

I have a few finishes to share from the last month or so and it is time that I do so.

A couple of months back, I wrote about the Hardanger piece that I was working on. It was a much needed project, just a break from my own designs and cross stitch for a bit. And here is is finished, on New Year’s Day. This is Garden Delights by Satin Stitches on 25 count white linen with perle #8 in white.

Typically with Hardanger, or at least what I have seen, a stitcher would use two weights of threads. One, slightly thicker and often perle #8 for a lot of the basic stitching and then a finer one, often perle #12, for the work of wrapping bars and putting in decorative stitches. I was intrigued by the instructions of this piece in that it said that everything would be done using perle #8. I did indeed try weaving my first few bars with the #12 to decide how it looked. And while it looked okay, when I then wove some other bars with perle #8, I decided, yea, that #8 looks best here.

The edge is done with a buttonhole stitch and then all excess fabric is cut away. That edge seemed to take forever…but of course it was worth the effort.

Really please with how this turned out!

Needlework Expo in March!

Well, I have once again let too much time pass between posts. Ah, well – such is life.

At the beginning of January, there was an announcement about the Nashville Needlework Market, the once-a-year in-person wholesale shopping experience for needlework stores, with the specific focus on cross stitch. (There are other markets that are geared toward needlepoint world.) Usually taking place the first weekend in March in Nashville, it had already been postponed until May. But, as we all flipped our calendars to 2021 and began thinking about the months ahead – and in particular large scale events – the decision was made to cancel it. Even with the hopes of the world making positive steps over the next few months, with vaccines and all, it was/is really hard to believe that hundreds and hundreds of people could gather safely in one hotel in May, just a few months from now.

Nashville Market is sponsored by YarnTree/Needlework Retailer. They made the decision that they were not going to take on a virtual version of it. For some businesses, organizations, and industries, this switch from in-person conventions and events to virtual ones is what has simply needed to be done over this past year. For others, they simply don’t have the capacity to take on something so very new.

Back in the fall, with the concern that something like this might happen, Janis Note of Noteworthy Needle (her website seems to be down as I am writing this, so I can’t link, but if you google her, you will find it) proposed to a group of designers the idea of having the virtual Market experience, after confirming that this was a direction that Yarn Tree/Needlework Retailer was not going to go. She took this on and has been creating an impressive experience plan for all stitching stores come March. It is called Needlework Expo.

Like Nashville, this is a wholesale market, limited to registered stores. The idea is to mimic the experience of Nashville as closely as possible: stores will get a chance to purchase designs – many new releases – directly from the designers. This may not be the experience of being in the same room and interacting in the way that is usual. However, there have been companies around and new ones that popped up that are experts at putting on such things – a virtual shopping experience. A note: as it was explained to me, an online market would be where there is a main page with links to all designer pages and there is just straight forward clicking and ordering, really not that different from ordering from, say, Amazon. A virtual market, as we will be having, is different in that all designers will be in their “booths” and store owners will enter and have the opportunity to interact and talk with those designers using video. Yes, that means designers and store owners sitting in front of their computers for hours and popping in and out of each others video feeds, but it will allow for some element of conversation and connection.

And, yes, I’ll be participating :-). I was signed up to be at Nashville this year, my first Market experience. (If you recall, I went last year as a visitor – learned lots and came away feeling confident about being an exhibitor for 2021.) Instead, I will have Needlework Expo as my first wholesale market experience.

Like many designers, I have been planning March releases for months. Instead of them premiering in Nashville, TN, they will have their premiere at Needlework Expo. I am looking forward to interacting with many store owners and having my patterns hopefully gain a greater audience.

Look here and on my Instagram in the coming weeks for some sneak peeks and then full reveals!

And, make sure to ask your LNS if they are registered for Needlework Expo! All instructions for doing so can be found on the website.

Thoughts on Designing

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about cross stitch designer “styles” and how I might describe or categorize my work. For example, I am NOT a “reproduction sampler designer” or a “cutesy smalls designer” or a “whimsical and primitive designer” – I think you get the idea. When trying to describe my work, I’ll say that I’m eclectic. I create designs made of lace, I created designs from historical patterns, I create designs from geometrical sources, and I also create designs from anything that inspires me. While I know there are PLENTY of designers that would not put themself in one category or another – i.e. someone that does many reproduction samplers might also do some other designs -, I get a little stuck in feeling that my style is not “typical” in the cross stitch world.

This had me posting a question to a group of designers: “Do you design what you yourself would want to stitch (whether or not you stitch it yourself or use model stitchers)? Or do you design with an eye towards what might be “in” in the cross stitch world or what might be more likely to become a ‘best seller’? ” The response was overwhelming the former rather than the latter. Most designers create what they themselves want to stitch. By looking at the depth and breadth of patterns out there, this translates to many many styles and interests.

So, while I sometimes feel “off-beat” or not quite “in” in the cross stitch world, I figure that my work might appeal to some stitchers out there and that’s why I keep doing what I am doing. While there may be some popular designs/designers/styles – patterns and designers that many, many people enjoy stitching – there are also stitchers like myself, just looking for something a little different. I just hope those people can find me 🙂

Some Hardanger

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve taken a little break from my normal cross stitching life to work on a Hardanger piece. This is not my own design – it is called Garden Highlights by Satin Stitches, worked on 25 count linen with Perle #8. Sometimes, you just need to change things up, you know? While there is designing and planning going on behind the scenes for my next cross stitch pattern releases, I was just feeling the need to work on something *different*. It has been a long time since I did a Hardanger piece. I bought a couple of patterns from Donna Olson of Satin Stitches last year at Market because her work is just so beautiful. They’ve been sitting in a place that has taunted me from time to time over these months. And so it was time to work on one.

From this picture you can see that I have finished the main stitching on the top half and need to now work on finishing the bottom half. The main diamond shape is already stitched; I just need to do the left and right parts that make it into a square. When this main stitching is done, it will be time to take out my good scissors and begin the cutting part. The part that always makes people nervous to do, but with care and focus, it can all be right. Definitely not the part of Hardanger you work on when you are tired and nearly ready to turn in for the night! After the snipping of threads will come the wrapping of the bars

If you’ve never seen Hardanger before, it is well worth a google search to see all the loveliness out there. While it is traditional to work white on white, there are also beautiful pieces in color to be found.

EGA Online Studio Class

I am thrilled to share with all of you that my piece was accepted to be an Online Studio course with EGA! Online Studio courses are what you think they might be – an online class that is offered by the national EGA organization. No travel, no extra expenses of taking an in-person class, just stitch at home and have some discussion with the teacher and other classmates online. My Rosette piece is scheduled for late 2021 (about a year from now).

I love the challenge I set for myself in designing this piece. It is stitched on 32 count linen using what most cross stitchers would refer to as “specialty stitches.” Unlike the use of those stitches in a typical sampler, where they often show up sporadically as an “accent” to the cross stitches, here I’ve stitched a piece that is completely specialty stitches. If you do any sort of canvas work (painted or charted), it is a concept you are very familiar with. Not as common when stitching on fabric, so I am hoping this course will appeal to different stitchers: the canvas people who usually don’t stitch on fabric and the fabric people who usually don’t do solid stitches other than cross stitch.

I will definitely be sharing more about this when the time gets closer!

Two More Patterns to Share

This is the third post about my newly released October patterns. Previous posts included my two Hanukkah designs and my two Arid patterns.

There are two more patterns to share with all of you. First up is Floral Delight:

This pattern was inspired by a page from a book printed in 1666. As has been mentioned before, I love old (as in centuries old) pattern books and am constantly finding them online, scanned in now for the world to see. I brought this design into the 21st century with the use of color and some modifications of what was created over 450 years ago.

And finally, here is my pattern called Interwoven:

Also been mentioned before is my love of geometric designs. I was playing around with ideas about making a knot, which is to say one long continuous loop. This didn’t happen for this design, but I’m rather pleased with what did come out: four figure 8 paths that intertwined, with some floral motifs thrown in as well. You may be able to see the connection between this and my Hanukkah Star design.

Overall, I am pleased with what I’ve shared with you this month and am already working on the next set of patterns, to be released in a few months!

Floral Delight as a paper pattern can be found here

Floral Delight as a pdf download can be found here

Interwoven as a paper pattern can be found here

Interwoven as a pdf download can be found here