Saturday, December 25, 2021

12th Day of Christmas - Merry Christmas

The last Christmas Giveaway is a wonderful set of postcards of 17th century embroidered gloves.  If you are interested - please send an email to with GLOVES in the subject line.  Put your address in the body of the message.  Send it before midnight on Dec 26th.

I hope your families are able to be together.  Merry Christmas and try to stay healthy.


Friday, December 24, 2021

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway - Day 11

Today's giveaway is a set of Tokens and Trifles Bon Bon shapes and a magazine with a pattern to use them.  If you are interested, send an email with BON BON in the subject line to  Put your address in the body of the message.  Send by midnight on Dec 25th.

Sorry the blog went up late today.  It isn't going to be a good Christmas for us.  


Thursday, December 23, 2021

12-Days of Christmas Giveaway - Day 10

On the 10th day before Christmas ...I was a bit distracted...canceling flights, making new ones, testing a teen for some greek letter - yes just the general chaos that is life these days!  

So in a moment before the next mini-emergency that life throws at us, a lovely giveaway!  A whole bunch of metal threads (faux) from various makers.  Fun to add sparkle to some project you are doing - especially Christmas ornaments.

To get in on the Giveaway - email me at with SPARKLE in the subject line.

Email your address for if you win and send by midnight of Dec 24th!!


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway - Day 9

On the 9th day of Christmas we have two Christmas ornament magazines from Just Cross Stitch.  To get on a chance to have these sent to you - please send an email to with ORNAMENT in the subject line and your address in the message - send by midnight on Dec 23rd to be entered.

Doing this giveaway is a perfect experiment in reading instructions.  I would say 25% of the entries are missing the address!  As stitchers who read my blog tend not to be daily readers of their email and sometimes not even weekly readers of email, I don't chase down winners to get an address as it just isn't practical.  Second most common error is omitting your country if from somewhere other than the US.  :-)  But I do enjoy the 'hellos' that are in those emails as that is the most likely content.  :-)  


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

12 Days of Christmas - Day 8

Sorry I am posting a little late today - I got absorbed in my tasks at hand. Today's giveaway is a set of Kreinik #4 Braid in some jewel tone colors - perfect for some Christmas ornaments for next year.

If you are interested - send me an email at with KREINIK JEWELS in the subject line.

Then add your full address so I can mail it if you win.  Many people forget this step making the odds better for others...

Send it by midnight on the 22nd of December to enter


Monday, December 20, 2021

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway - Day 7

Today's giveaway on the 7th day of Christmas is a set of postcards of samplers.  

If you are interested in the postcard set:

1. Please send me an email to:

2. Put SAMPLER in the subject line

3. Add your name and address because I won't be looking you up.  :-) 

Send by midnight EST Dec 21st.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway - Day 6

If you are a Halloween person, this giveaway will be for you.  Four Just Cross Stitch issues concentrating on the Fall/Halloween holiday.  If you are interested in this scary set - send a email with HALLOWEEN in the subject line to and put your address in the body of the message.  Send the email by midnight Dec 20th EST. 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway - Day 5

 On the fifth day of Christmas we have three lovely colors of Maderia silk floss to giveaway. 

If you are interested in this thread, send an email with MADERIA in the subject line to and your address in the body of the message.  Send it by midnight EST on Dec 19th. 


Friday, December 17, 2021

12-Days of Christmas Giveaway - Day 4

Today's giveaway is a Just Cross Stitch Ornament Issue with the Let-It-Snow design worked on a Trinket's sewing card with the actual sewing card as well.  

If you are interested in this giveaway, send an email to with LET IT SNOW in the subject line and your address in the body of the email by midnight EST on Dec 18th.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway - Day 3

Whitework embroidery is something I really love and have loved since I was a teenager doing Hardanger.  Today's giveaway is a set of cream silks for someone doing something wonderful in whitework!
If you are interested in the four skeins of Soie Cristale, here is how you can get in on the drawing:

1.  Email me at

2. CREAM in the subject line

3. Your address in the body of the message so I know where to send it!

Send it by midnight EST Dec 17th.

This January I am starting a session of my 17th Century Whitework Samplers course for 18-months.  It is a very comprehensive class looking at all the techniques used in these types of band samplers as well as punta in aria works for collars and cuffs of the period.  

The course is a mix of learning techniques, projects and designing your own whitework band sampler. You are given enough materials to work one to three small pieces of linen with trial stitches so you can feel confident with techniques and material choices. Then there are two sampler projects, each with one band of reticella to explore a mixed colored counted work band sampler with the cutwork. One is based on a sampler from the Winterthur Museum collection and the second is inspired from a favorite piece of mine in the collection of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. This piece is a unique example of colored silk threads being used for reticella and I think it is a unique project that combines ease of sight because of the colored threads but also technical challenges to hide the color changes and thus it provides a master class in this reticella technique on the whole.

The third project is a punta-in-aria length of lace.  A fourth project can be worked, a band sampler of your own design based on all the materials we will be looking at, provided patterns, and the real 16th-17th century pattern books.  In order to do this, the course is taking on the unique challenge that presented the 17th century teacher/embroiderer - the geometry and math of this type of work. When looking at band samplers, we will find that often the pattern didn’t quite fit the chosen width of the sampler the person had chosen to make and that had consequences that had to be filled in or not. It could make for awkward spots in an otherwise stunning piece. I wanted to solve that and answer the questions of how to scale the patterns, how wide to work the bands, over what count and if you were working all these bands with disparate scales of withdrawn threads, how to make them all fit exactly in the boundaries of the sampler without excess room left over in the band.

The course includes detailed photographs of at least five samplers to illustrate techniques. This will be augmented by Pintrest boards to go with the course as both a general reference and specific references in the course text to illustrate points.  

Each technique will be accompanied by many patterns which can be cut and arranged and used directly as patterns for your personal sampler. I will also be giving guidance on how to convert many of the patterns found in the 16th-17th century pattern books to the correct scale so you can use them as well as how to look at a pattern and determine the best stitch choices and progression of working the pattern.

Choices of materials is a big part of this course. You have three linen counts that the course has been designed to use. A 30ct, 40ct, and a 53/55ct linen have been provided with enough of each to be used for two projects - the one I intended and your choice of which for the personal sampler. So the ambitious will have extra linen for other projects of this type or can repurpose it.  Both silk and linen threads will be used for the samplers matching the thread to the original pieces.

The kits will include all three linens mentioned, silk threads, linen threads, needles, and special blue contact paper


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

12-Days of Christmas Giveaway - Day 2

I have a pair of postcards of our favorite embroidered jacket from the V&A Museum.  The Margaret Layton jacket is an amazing piece of embroidery which hasn't been altered.  More wonderful is the portrait of her wearing the piece.  

If you are interested in the postcard set:

1. Please send me an email to:

2. Put LAYTON in the subject line

3. Add your name and address because I won't be looking you up.  :-) Send by midnight EST Dec 16th.

So today I thought I would also tell you about the Read-Only version of the Cabinet of Curiosities online course.  I have roughly now 100 spots in it and it starts January 1st.  The course is pretty comprehensive.  Originally it came with two kits of threads in the historic color line and the materials for five small projects.  As the supply chain makes that impossible to get large numbers of everything together all at once right now, I decided to put the course out there without the kits.  Many people are taking one of my casket project classes and would like the historic background to the cabinets which is included in this


So what is in the course?

- Each month a topic regarding the history of the cabinets is explored very fully.  That could be the small toys inside, the stories on the caskets, the background of the girls, the history of cabinets made before, etc.

- Every month is accompanied by weblinks to additional material that supports the historic discussion.  We may be talking about the allegories and how to read them, so being directed to the same allegorical prints at the time would help recognize the devices used to signify that a woman on a side is "Touch" as an example.  You become an expert in reading these 17th century pieces

- Each month has dozens of close pictures of historic cabinets from museum and private collections.  More than 30 caskets are presented in this way - its like being there in the room and studying the embroidery and then opening the pieces and seeing inside.

- There are motif sets copied from unembroidered satins that were to be used for stumpwork, mirrors or caskets.  You can use these to do your own designs.  Then there are templates for the casket sets, full casket designs and sides.  So if you have a home-wood worker and wanted the measurements to make a simple box and needed designs or wanted to design your own - there is plenty of helpful material here.  Some people know they will never do a box but would love to have a design to stitch - say of a mermaid in a grotto.  It's there.

- Four sets of project instructions for pincushions and scissors cases.  And a full trinket box set of instructions.  I still have about 50 trinket boxes for sale if you wanted to do the one in the course with your own threads.

- Finishing instructions/videos for caskets.  If you make your own, you might not know how to mount the embroidery.  There are full instructional videos for that.

If you don't have a cabinet and want to do one, I periodically get one back from a stitcher who has decided not to work hers.  They are listed in the drop down menu for the course and can be purchased with the course for those who want to design their own.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

1st Day of Christmas Giveaway

It is time for my annual Christmas giveaway blogs!  The rules are simple, you send me an email by a certain cutoff date with a word in the subject line that allows me to easily sort my email and your full address in it - and then you are put in the drawing for that day.  

To kick off the giveaway - I have a full kit for the alphabet bunny ensemble, including all the silk and velvet finishing materials.  

To get into the drawing - send me an email at with BUNNY in the subject line.  Emails for this drawing will be accepted until Dec 15th at midnight EST.  Include your full mailing address.  I won't be chasing people down for their mailing instructions later as I like to only spend a day getting these giveaways out the door.  

Good luck!!

If you haven't been to the blog lately, scroll down for an amazing double casket finished by a student, Rebecca Pearson, in The Cabinet of Curiosities.  Tomorrow I will talk about what is in that course which is now being rerun without a kit as a read-only course.  

In the post previous, I talk about how we have let others sap the fun out of our embroidery and how we need to take that back by ignoring the nay-sayers.  This was the subject of a Fiber-Talk podcast this fall.  It is funny - after that Fiber-Talk podcast, I have noted an increase in students going back to their big projects with a new enthusiasm, realizing that they have let a feeling that others are judging them to interfere with their fun.  Take a read and listen and shed the weights that keep us from loving what we love to do.

Monday, December 13, 2021

An Amazing Casket Finish!

Rebecca Pearson has finished her uniquely designed and highly creative vision for a double casket.  I asked her if I could post the pictures to the community as I just thought it was so inspired.  You have to look for the magnificent butterflies in each arrangement like a modern Where's Waldo!  Each one is unique and so beautifully done. 

Her piece is worked on silk satin, which takes the difficulty level up as it isn't the most forgiving material and used wonderful silk shading on each of the petals and leaves of her stumpwork flowers.  An imaginative use of trims to highlight the vases and internal panels follows.  

I love the dimensional spray of flowers on the top.  Many of us have thought or worked something raised on the top but I have never thought of a spray of flowers like this and I love the idea.  

I wanted to excerpt part of what Rebecca said about her journey in making the casket as it is so much of what I wanted to happen when people choose to work their own pieces:

I have admired these cabinets for many years but never dreamed I would ever make one until you developed your class.  From the very start of the class, I was propelled into quite a journey of discovery.  The online classes were a journey through history as I learned who made these boxes and the historical significance of them.  It was a journey of luxurious fabrics and unique threads and trims of all colors and types that will always be a thrill to the serious needleworker.  Once I actually started to embroider the panels, it was a journey of sleepless nights wondering what the heck was I doing and why did I even think I could do this.  It was a journey into creativity as new ideas, ones that I never thought of at the start, kept developing along the way.  And lastly, I even amazed myself that I could actually see a discernible advancement of my technical skills by the end of this journey. 

Rebecca added something to the inside of her casket that was so touching and such a gift to the future.  She uniquely chose to embroider her full name, the date, location and the names of her husband and children - ensuring that future generations would absolutely be able to identify HER work in space and time unlike all the women whose creativity goes by anonymous.  But even more she decided to embroider the name of the course and teacher as well as a thought on the opposite door.  I was extremely honored and humbled to find myself inside her casket.  But as I have been spending months deep in the primary sources doing genealogy trying to identify the who and how of the 17th century makers - Rebecca just left an enormous message to the future.  Her casket is the equilivent of Hannah Smith's piece with its important letter inside - except that we still can't find Hannah anywhere.  I hope Rebecca will inspire many of our other casketeers to place more clues to their identity in their boxes as well.  

Congratulations Rebecca on the culmination of this journey with a piece that is now going to be a family treasure for generations.  

Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Front

Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Back

Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Left Side

Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Top

Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Inside

Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Inside with Sliding Panel Removed

Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Inside with Inscriptions

Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Right Side

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Fiber Talk Episode - Should we be "Perfect" or "Enjoy our Embroidery"?

Teaching such large projects and having students who I converse with for about a decade over a series of projects, it is easy to note trends among stitchers that keep us from doing what we state we want to do.  I have been having a long running conversation about this with Gary Parr from Fiber Talk and we decided to just 'go for it' and have the conversation as a podcast.

Listen to the Podcast

Brining Joy Back into Your Stitching by Banishing the Stitching Police

You know the comments.  They are the self-defeating things we dig out of some dark place reflecting someone else's twisted idea of what should be.  They range from the following:

  • My embroidery isn't good enough yet
  • I might ruin the expensive (insert here - threads, linen, casket)
  • It's not perfect
  • It has to be (insert here - historically accurate, professionally designed, super creative, match the teachers vision, etc)
  • I don't have long stretches of time to work on it
  • I am saving it for retirement
  • My (eyes/hands) aren't as good as they used to be
  • I already have so many projects and my husband reminds me
  • I have to finish this first
  • I need to finish a master craftsman/royal school certificate first
It is a dark place these come from and often if you dig at the roots it comes from ideas rooted in the image that a woman has to be 'perfect' to be worth anything.   Men's work is valued, women's is not.  The devaluing of our own accomplishments because of this general cultural ethos.  We can't enjoy something for ourselves because to do so is selfish.  It all comes back to someone telling you that you aren't worth it.

Truthfully it was very enlightening to have this conversation with a male stitcher as one immediately finds out they don't have any of these hang-ups.  I have a number of men stitching caskets at the moment and boy do they live in the "damn it - I am worth it and this is what I am going to do" mindset.  They are chugging away in fact.  

So Gary, Beth and I had a wide ranging conversation about the stitching police, our internal fears of not being good enough, and why has the joy been ripped out of our embroidery.  

A major theme is how girls are asked if they 'did it right' the first time and boys are encouraged to try and fail to learn and everyone around them accepts this skinned knee way of learning but scolds a girl who tries to do it that way.  I live this in teaching STEM and it boils my blood (as you will hear).  It is a major reason women are held back in careers - the weight of this culture pulls us down.  

Another theme discussed is how one of the major drivers of embroidery 'community' for the pre-internet set of stitchers are organizations which are dedicated to perfection.  For many of them that is due to a business interest regarding professionalism which should be understood to be distinct from personal embroidery but has become intermixed to really devastating effect on the confidence and willingness of people to move ahead with either doing anything or stretching themselves.  I hear it all the time with people who want to stitch a casket and will contact me with an honest-to-god resume of embroidery experience.  (Yes, a listing of Royal School Classes, the year of Master Craftsman this and that, etc. etc).  I take a deep breath before writing back as I really want to respond with either a 12-step program to get her out of the cult or a flip response that my requirement to take the course is if their check clears.  But instead I embark on what is usually a dozen emails cajoling them into taking a course they really want to by combating their fears that after a decade of preparation they might not be 'good enough'.  Yes - they often send me photos to prove themselves as well.  My god - the originals were done by 12-year olds!!!!!!!  And if you have ever been in front of some - you will note that the majority of them sucked at embroidery.  

But those 12-year olds had fun - which is why we like their caskets, it exudes out of the oversized caterpillar about to eat the lady.  I really like it when I get a new student who is in her 20s or 30s.  She is of the internet-teach-myself-just-try-it generation.  Gone are the shackles of the gatekeepers to knowledge and embroidery police.  They are fun to work with - they soak up information and try things and experiment.  We need to learn from their example and I hope we, the older generation, don't impose our rigid thinking on them.  

I was once given a birthday card (in my 20's) from a close friend.  It looked like the image below.  Inside she said that this is how she envisioned me in my 80's.  I take that as a point of pride.  I wish stitchers saw themselves this way - then I wouldn't get anymore resume-emails asking permission to take a class to make a casket.  They would just DO IT.   

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

30-Days of Embroidering in Ernest

In previous blogs I mentioned that I had put together a daily schedule of embroidery motifs to get done to keep me on track.  Because of another project, I had a need to document that progress as well and so I put together a little hacked photo studio (not the best light..) to place my frame up and take a picture every day before I worked so a time lapse could be made of the progress.  

Thought it might be interesting to see how these types of panels grow and also give a sneak peak of how the next two panels are turning out.