Sunday, November 27, 2016

Shop and Blog Updates

I spent a lot of time today updating information on the Internet.  I started with the on-line book groups that I have neglected through my summer of election podcasts.  I posted a selection of holiday classics at the Literature Study Group and put up preliminary list of books about the United States in 1968 for the first quarter of 2016.  I got the nominations started at the Book Group List as well and got some very prompt responses.

Then I started working through all of the pictures I took yesterday of my finished scarves.  It took quite a bit of time but, all of the URLs work correctly and I have posted updates to my Etsy Store and my own website.  Updates are also posted on Facebook.  It is exciting to have everything up and ready.  Tomorrow morning I will post some links on Facebook for holiday shoppers.  Then on December 10, I have my next show at Hawthorne Middle School.  Sales have been slow but steady, so hopefully they will pick up as it gets closer to Christmas.

After Christmas, I will be able to work on some additional products and on a proposal for teaching.  I have a perfect place to offer small classes but I need to put together a class proposal, determine costs, and put together a marketing plan.  It is exciting to have all of these options.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Etsy Shop Open and cooking with Jacques Pepin for Cookbook Club

My Etsy shop is open and I have a business page set up on Facebook.  I am really in business.  I even ordered business cards for What Jenny Makes and got carried away and ordered a mouse pad and a tote bag with the logo on it.  Now all I need is some customers.  I am going to have to do some marketing to get the word out and study how to publicize the Etsy shop.  I would like to sell on-line and a small shows because there is less travel involved and less time but I need to build some inventory before I can do too much.

In addition to fiber art activities, I have been cooking.  The selection for this month's Cookbook Club at the Fremont Public Library is Essential Pepin by Jacques Pepin.  I started the year by alternating between famous chefs and other cookbooks.  James Beard was one of the earlier selections.  I had hoped to use on of Pepin's more pictorial cookbooks but since he has published so many of them, there weren't enough copies of the same book in the library system.  So I picked the book that had the most available copies.  

It is not an all encompassing book despite the fact that it contains more than 700 recipes.  I couldn't find a dessert recipe that was suitable for the PADS meal, so I ended up making malted blondies using a recipe from one of Baked's cookbooks.  I did find some delicious salad recipes, so far I have tried the Mesclun, Avocado and Tomato Salad and the Composed Salad of Greens, Goat Cheese and Carmelized Pecans.  I plan to make the Grilled Eggplant on Greens next week.  These are simple salads, composed of fresh ingredients that are perfectly combined.  They are dressed with a simple vinaigrette and taste amazing.

The Chicken African-Style with Couscous is also amazing.  I love Pepin's frugality, he recommends removing the fat from the chicken thighs and using it to fry the chicken parts in.  The sauce is simple and full of flavor.  I made Sauteed Haricots Verts and Shallots to accompany the chicken.  It is absolutely delicious and I think I could eat it every single day.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Shibori Dyeing

 I have thought about transforming my textile hobbies into a business for a while but have had trouble coming up with something to sell.  I needed something that I enjoyed making and that could be produced in quantity fairly quickly.  Most of the things that I enjoy doing are small and fiddly and don't lend themselves to production which makes them uneconomical from the sales standpoint since I can't charge a reasonable amount for my labor.  I recently found somethings I love to do and that could translate well into a business when I took a felting and dyeing workshop through North Suburban Needlearts Guild.

After the workshop, I decided to give it a try.  I ordered some scarf blanks from Dharma Trading Company and an assortment of dyes and started to collect supplies for Shibori dying.  I also started the process of setting up a business.  I spent yesterday afternoon dyeing twenty scarves.  You can see the results in the picture above.  Some of them are spectacular, some are just pretty, and a few are duds.  My fingertips are teal and I am ready to order more scarf blanks and try another round of dyeing.

I am also on my way to having a business.  I filed with the Lake County Clerk and my "Doing Business As" legal notice started running today.  I got a graphic artist to help me with a logo, and I hope to have my Etsy shop ready to go at the beginning of May.  I am going to start with a selection of colorful, hand-dyed silk scarves but I would like to expand to include nuno felted items and bags.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Prayer Flags

I agreed to do a workshop for the Unitarian Universalist Women's Connection (UUWC) at their retreat in June at Pilgrim Park, near Princeton, Illinois.  The theme for the weekend is air and my workshop will focus on making Prayer Flags.  When I heard that I would have a little more than an hour for my workshop, I decided that I needed to try making some prototypes.

I spent this afternoon making prayer flags with two friends.  We used Pebeo Setacolor fabric paints from Dharma Trading Company, some miscellaneous acrylics, fabric markers, and Tulip spray on fabric paints on small nylon flag blanks from Dharma Trading Company.  I had a couple of stencils and we cut out some of our own.  One flag uses a wax crayon resist to create birds.

I think the flags are gorgeous and I am really pleased with how they came out.

Friday, March 18, 2016


Carrots is finished.  I started this project last year after taking Jennifer Reifenberg's class and finsihed it in time for Easter.  I am very pleased with the result.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Old School Forest Preserve

The Lake County Forest Preserves District contains over 40 Forest Preserves with walking trails.  I am going to try and visit them all in 2016.  I started with Old School Forest Preserve and walked the 2.7 mile Fitness Trail with my camera.  I saw a deer who was as interested in me as I was in her.  I saw quite a few other walkers despite the fact that the trail was quite wet.  There were horseback riders, a lot of dogs and a few bicyclists on the road through the preserve.

Most of the scenery was bleak looking since it is still winter but the moss had started to grow, creating fairy tale landscapes visible through my macro lens.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Costumes of Downton Abbey at the Driehaus Museum

I went to the Driehaus Museum to attend a presentation by Carol Wallace, the author of To Marry an English Lord which inspired Downton Abbey.  After the presentation, I toured the museum and looked at the exhibit of costumes from Downton Abbey.  The detail on the costumes is fantastic and it is interesting to learn which pieces were original and which were recreations.

 This wine colored dress that was created to show off the original antique beaded rectangular panel in the center is one of my favorite costumes in the exhibit.  The color and the beading were beautiful.  The combination of the antique with the modern additions created a perfect period dress.

I also liked this blouse.  I like the combination of the sheer floral print with the sold, the small, delicate ruffle and the fact that the floral is repeated in the cuffs.  I may try to recreate it as part of my historical sewing challenge.

 The building itself is fantastic.  It was built as palatial home during the Gilded Age and has been completely renovated.  It currently houses original pieces and selections from the Driehaus collection.  There are some fantastic pieces of stained glass in the house, beautiful Tiffany chandeliers, and beautiful sculptures.  I was fascinated by the tile wall coverings.  The tile from the smoking room walls is pictured to the right, below is a picture of the decorative tiles on the wall of an upstairs bathroom.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Felting and Fiber Workshops

As a birthday present to myself, I went to two workshops with Cynthia Boudreau put on by the North Suburban Needle Arts Guild.  I enjoyed spending two days playing with dyes and colored fabric.  For the first workshop, I created a wool felt hat.

In the second workshop we experimented with Shibori silk dyeing and nuno felting.  I made a lovely scarf and can't wait until I can do some more experimenting with Shibori dyeing techniques.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Finished Needlework - February 2016

I finished some of my challenge pieces in February.  The first was the Big Berry Scissors Companion by Ewe and Eye.

My second finish was Think Summer by Lizzie Kate.

My third finish was A Winter's Night, part of the Remember the Ladies series from Kreinik.

Not the best pictures but it is good to make progress.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Orchid Show - Chicago Botanic Garden

 I love to wander around the Chicago Botanic Garden with my camera.  This time I went to see the Orchid Show.  I also spent some time looking at the succulents in the greenhouses.  Outside there was still quite a bit of snow on the ground and not much new growth.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Challenge Day 28 through 30

I am winding down on my new starts for January 2016.

On Day 28, I started My Quaker House by Blackbird Designs.  This pattern is included in small book and it is a colorful alphabet with Quaker motifs and a house at the top.  The stitching went quickly and I like the colors, it should be fun to finish.

On Day 29, I started Angel's Song by Shepherds Bush.  Tina Richards' designs were my introduction to silk threads, beads, and the addition of decorative stitches to contemporary samplers.  The angel at the top is odd looking, but the sampler is rather pretty and it should be fun to work on.

For Day 30, I selected a crewel kit by Elsa Williams.  I have been reading Mary Corbet's blog Needle'n Thread for some time and admiring her crewel work and use of color.  Working on this piece will give me a chance to try some of that embroidery myself and to play with shading.  It took me forever to separate all the colors of wool in the kit and then to get the fabric set up in the hoop on a stand that I acquired from another stitcher.  Once it was all set up, it was easy to work on.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Challenge Day 24 through 27

I swapped out some more of my original challenge selections for other pieces.  A couple of the rejected projects just didn't have the right fabric or threads with, others were too similar to other pieces I had already started, and a few were things I didn't like and could not image spending time stitching.

Start 24 is A Knot Garden by Catherine Jordan.  This piece was a ANG Cyber Workshop.  I love the way it looks and I enjoyed working on it.  The blackwork background is endless but it is also relaxing to work on and I got a lot accomplished in an hour.

Start 25 is Autumn Leaves by Prairie Schooler with a thread conversion from Shakespeare's Peddler.  It is a companion to Spring has Come.  I have enough fabric to work both of the designs in the leaflet if I am careful.  These are cute and I think that they will work up pretty quickly.

Start 26 is One Starry Christmas by With Thy Needle and Thread.  I bought the chart, threads and fabric in October because I liked the colors and design.  I am stitching it over one thread on 30 count and the bright colors of silk glow on the fabric.

Start 27 is The Village of Hawk Run Hollow by Carriage House Sampling.  I kitted this up to join a stitch a long in 2015 and never started it.  Now it is started, but I am one thread off either on the initial or the border around it.  I think it will be easier to take out the border when I pick it up again.  This is a big piece, but not a particularly difficult one.  Maybe this year will be its year.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Challenge Day 20 through 23

One of the reasons I participated in this challenge is to force me to look at the needlework projects I have collected over the years and to decide which ones I want to stitch and which ones I do not.  I have decided that I really don't want to stitch all of the Mill Hill kits that I have, the idea of stitching and beading on perforated paper does not appeal to me.  So I have changed my list of projects a bit and added some Ewe and Eye scissor companion kits.

My day 20 challenge piece is the St. Nick Scissor Companion from Ewe and Eye.  The stitching is hard to see but I made good progress in my hour of stitching and when he is done he should look quite jolly attached to a red pair of scissors.

Day 21 is another Ewe and Eye Scissor Companion, this one is Big Berry.  It is accompanied by a pair of embroidery scissors with a pink handle.  It is working up very quickly.

Day 22 is another one over one piece, the 1996 Annual Ornament from The Heart's Content.  I quite like the outer border with its bright colors and simple motifs.  A fir tree covered with snow will occupy the center when it is completed.

I started another sampler on Day 23, The Betsy Davis Sampler by Joanne Harvey of The Exemplarery.  This is a pretty sampler with some free embroidery on it and it is not overly large.  It was a Lake Michigan Sampler Guild workshop.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Challenge Days 16 through 19

My Day 16 challenge piece is the calendar and initial tag that I stitched for my 2016 Secret Stitcher from EAC Virtual Threads.  For Day 17, I started a Gay Ann Rogers piece called Sampler with a Pearl.  I got it mounted on a scroll frame and the basting done.  This is an old teaching piece.  I didn't attend the class myself, I purchased the kit from the estate of another stitcher.  Quite a few of the instructions are hand drawn, but they are as complete as any of Gay Ann Rogers current pieces.  The piece is full of different types of open work which will be fun to stitch.

My Day 18 start is Halloween at Hollyberry Farm by Notforgotten Farms.  As I was stitching, I realized that I don't have close to enough thread to complete the project, I didn't notice that the materials list includes different size skeins of the threads.  I like the piece and so I will have to go shopping to ensure that I have enough thread to finish it.  Since the fabric is overdyed and there are quite a few separate large motifs, I should be able to make skeins of different dye lots work.

My Day 19 start is another Halloween piece, Jack-a-rachnid by Tempting Tangles.  This is an ornament pattern that was published in the September/October 2013 issue of Just Cross Stitch Magazine.  I think it is cute and will be fun to stitch.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Secret Stitcher 2016

The Embroiderer's Association of Canada has a lot of cool teaching projects and is very affordable to join.  They have an on-line chapter called Virtual Threads which is very active and plans lots of activities and events.  This year, I have decided to participate in them and joined the two Secret Stitcher programs.

I received a very cute bookmark calendar that can be embellished with stitching and a Rosewood Manor thread bobbin.  The bookmarks are cute and the stitching embellishment is a fun additional touch.  The thread bobbin is also cute and since I love tools of all kinds, it is a great gift for me.

I decided that I would stitch some things for my Secret Stitcher and picked some charts out of the February 2016 issue of The CrossStitcher.  I stitched a cute black cat curled up on a black chair and an alphabet with a threaded needle attached to each letter.  I backstitched around the cat and then cut a couple threads away from the stitching, removing the loose threads to create a short fringe, and then inserted the fabric between the cover and front page of a small calendar.  I finished the initials in a similar fashion and then glued them to a small chalkboard tag.  Both the calendar and the tag came from Target.  I think they are cute and I hope that my partner likes them.  I am counting them as my 16th start and second finish for the 2016 challenge.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Challenge Day 12 through 15

During the week, I had some evening commitments so I picked out some simpler, less involved projects for weeknight starts.

Start number 12 is Full Winter Moon.  It was a free Wichelt pattern designed by Katherine Moser for Brown House Studio.   The design included a skinny snow man dressed in scarf and hat with two scrawny evergreen trees on either side, a bird, and a full moon.  It is stitched in a combination of overdyed cotton floss from Stranded by the Sea and DMC floss.  I am stitching it on a piece of pale lavender evenweave fabric.

Start number 13 is Peppermint Pig by Tempting Tangles.  I bought this and kitted it up to make for Perry a few years ago, thinking that it would be a good addition to her pig collection.  Like so many things, I never started it and it has languished in my stash.  Now it is started.  I am not enthralled with Quaker medallions so this may take a wile to finish.

Start number 14, and finish number 1, is another Silver Needle Secret Needle Night piece called Autumn Awes Me.  I had plans to finish all four of these seasonal pieces and put them into a wall quilt but one of the kids or a pet spilled lamp oil all over the first one that I finished.  I may have had to throw it away.  I am not sure what I will do with just three of the seasons, but they are cute and quick to stitch.

Start number 15 is Harvest by Mill Hill.  These small bead and button pieces are stitched on perforated paper.  They are cute and look good when they are completed but they are a surprising amount of work to complete.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Challenge Day 8 through 11

Starting a new project every day is turning out to be a lot of fun.  It gives me an excuse to sit down and stitch almost every day.  It has also forced me to take a look at my stash of kitted projects and charts and to start thinking about which ones I will actually stitch and which I will not.

On Day 8, I started the Elizabeth Derby Sampler which is in the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum.  It was charted by Joanne Harvey for The Exemplarery.  I like the free embroidery flowers and leaves in the border and the floral band.  I was able to spend enough time stitching to finish two rows across the top of the inner portion of the sampler.

On Day 9, I started Think Summer by Lizzie Kate.  This is a fairly small, fun piece full of bright summery colors.  A great piece to work on in the middle of an Illinois winter.  I think this piece will be a quick finish when I go back to working on it.

On Day 10, I started working on Catherine Jordan's Jamestown sampler.  She enhances her stitched pieces with paint which will be added to this one when it is completed.  I took this as a class with the Lake Michigan Sampler Guild and initially was more excited about her method of stitching than I was about having a map of the James River.  Several years and a lot of genealogical research later, I know that my Baugh ancestors had settled on the James River in the 1630s and that I am descended from the Boons who settled in Isle of Wight, Virginia.  I think I will mark the locations of their original homes on my map when it is completed.  So far, I have only stitched a small amount of the coastline.

On Day 11, I started the Jacobean Berry Weight, a small over one project from The Heart's Content.  I had difficulty counting the sawtooth vine correctly and unstitched as much as I stitched.  I think I am going to need a combination of better light, and either better glasses or a magnifier to finish this piece.