an overview of the process

Sometimes an idea will swim around in my head for months before it’s ready to be released and sometimes ideas leap right out at me before I’m ready for them. There are several different ways that I approach bringing an image to life in a cross stitch chart. This design,”it’s nice to be me”, began life as a simple painted doodle which I did one day because I was feeling at peace with myself and wanted to capture the mood on paper:
At the time, I didn’t intend to convert it into cross stitch; in fact, it wasn’t until about 6 months after I painted it that I began to think of it in terms of a potential chart.

In order to translate the painted image into thread, I found it necessary to condense the design a bit. I began by hand drawing the image directly into my charting software, staying pretty close to the original. Once everything was on screen, I began to clean up the edges and consolidate the stitching area. At this point in the design process, I typically don’t worry about color selection and sometimes use just the symbol view, which is what I did here. ( I use a bold font for darker colors and a very light font for lighter colors- just to help with value proportions)

Once the design was charted, I chose the threads that I wanted to use, and then chose a fabric that would compliment the fibers. In this case, thread color was more important to me than background color… sometimes I feel the background color is more important to the feel of a piece and will chose fibers second. After I had gathered my thread & fabric, I sent it off to a model stitcher. I didn’t do a test patch of colors because I could just “see” this one in my mind very clearly. The end result:
So how’d the “me” wind up a “be”? Well, the original design was highly personal, and one I felt represented “me” at a particular point in time. I thought that in order to increase universal appeal, the “me” should be left off. However, I did want a single word that summed up the mood of the design, and I chose “be”. The title reflects the feeling and original intent of the piece (“it’s nice to be me”) and the statement on the back cover helps to tie it all together:

Life is a celebration! Every one of us has soared through some ups and struggled through some downs… it’s those unique experiences that make us who we are. As you stitch this design, take a few moments to reflect on where you have been and how far you’ve traveled in Life’s Journey. Focus on all those fantastic qualities you posess. Count your blessings. Embrace yourself. Be creative. Be proud. Be happy. Be who you are. Be.

Note: This is a recycled post from Feb. 2007, but the information is still good ;)

floss storage

The question, “how do you store your floss?” pops up on message boards from time to time… here’s my answer. The DMC floss goes into ArtBin containers, which are *exactly* the same width as a skein of floss. I can keep them sorted by colors and I have yet to find anything better! And isn’t it pretty to look at?!

I do keep the classic bobbin box on hand, and when the DMC gets too tangly or just won’t hold it’s wrapper anymore, I’ll wind the pitiful lump onto a bobbin.

The closet is where I store my flosses used for designing. They are on metal binder rings, organized by color & manufacturer, silks separated out, and I love them all! (you can click that picture to make it bigger)

Then I have a drawer full of random fibers which I use in art projects. It looks a mess, but I do know what all is in there. OK, I admit it… I love fibers of any type!

For WIPs or for kitting up projects, I like to use the threadholders that I make and (if you’ll excuse a little sales pitch) offer for sale on my website:

there’s a clump in my funnel


OK, so here’s how my creativity works: I get an idea in my head (could be very vague) and I let it rattle around a bit, either befriending it or kicking it to the curb… If I judge it to be a good idea, I pop it into my creativity funnel. (figuratively speaking, of course) As it gets more detailed and more precise, it moves down towards the neck of the funnel and readies itself for tangible expression. Generally there are several ideas traveling through the funnel at the same time… they are patient and wait for for their turn and don’t cause a bit of trouble. But if too many ideas enter the funnel or if I’m lax about expressing them, they cause a traffic jam of sorts and their trip to the neck of the funnel is slowed down… they get impatient and start bumping into each other and before I can turn around there’s a clump in my funnel.

And then nothing comes out.

The remedy? I have to do something so non-creative, so mind-numbingly boring, that the ideas have a chance to relax and stop struggling to get out. It’s as though they realize that there’s no chance they’ll make it out of the funnel anytime soon so they just back off. (sadly, some float backwards out of the funnel entirely and are lost forever) And so I better get started on some intense housework… cleaning the baseboards, dusting off the top of the kitchen cabinets, vacuuming lint from the refrigerator grate, and so on. The boring stuff :)

Here’s hoping I’m unclumped soon.

my fabric storage


I keep my stitching fabric in one of 2 places: inside hat boxes on top of my computer armoire and inside sewing boxes stacked on the floor by my window. The top (smallest) hat box is where I keep my Tula and Heatherfield, the middle hat box holds my Aida (in a variety of counts of colors) and the largest hat box is where I keep my fabric stitchables like huck towels, tuckaway pillows, damask facings and so on. (The hard stitchables like mugs, trivets, coasters, etc. are somewhere else entirely.) The good stuff lives in the sewing baskets. BTW, that bunny up there is one that Frank (of Mosey n Me & Trading Spaces fame) made and gave to me. Cute, eh?



Everything on the floor (except for the cat) gets smished into the medium sewing basket. That’s where I keep my scrap fabrics… anything smaller than about 9 X 12, but at least big enough for a little ornament goes in there. This is a pretty good visual history of the fabrics I’ve been stitching on… it acts as kind of an ort jar only with fabric instead of thread and in a box instead of a jar.



The big sewing basket holds all of my good fabric… it’s all labeled and still available, so I can use any of it for My Mark stuff. I like to keep yardage of Belfast and Cashel neutrals on hand, as well as Lambswool Jobelan and Antique White Lugana. I have a few of the Graziano checks in different sizes (though I haven’t designed with any of them yet), as well as FQs and Eights of some of the different Jobelan, Belfast, Cashel, and Lugana solid colors. And of course, no fabric stash would be complete without some hand-dyed fabrics! I love the bright,crazy colors although I also use more muted hand-dyes,too. In the basket, I keep hand dyed fabrics from Wichelt, R&R, Lakeside Linens, Sassy’s Fabbys, Silkweaver, JAR Designs, and Picture This Plus.

My all time favorite fabric is 32 ct. Country French linen… I just love the softness of it and the way the surface is so smooth… yum! On the other end of the spectrum, I do pretty much hate all 25 count fabrics. I wonder: what is your favorite stitching fabric? Are there any that you just hate? Know of any cool hand-dyes I *must* try?? I’ve been feeling a bit odd this week. I have a health concern that keeps popping into my thoughts when I least expect it… I’m hoping you’ll share some fabric thoughts with me in the comments so I’ll have a bit of a pleasant diversion :)

Oh, and how fierce was the Project Runway finale last night?!

making color decisions

Choosing what colors to use in a design is one of my favorite steps in the production process. Could be because I’m a fiber junkie and love an excuse to fondle my threads! This is a test patch created for an upcoming release, 5 colors of GAST are shown. I settled on the 2 greens right away but I’m still playing with the browns…
I never begin charting with colors already in mind, other than in a vague sense–yellow for the moon, brown for the dog, etc. I’ll load my pallette with a generic rainbow and it’s only after charting is complete that I move on to the specifics. This particular design was born *screaming* for Crossed Wing’s hand painted Sky, so I based my thread selection on that. I also view the thread & fabric combination under my Daylight lamp, in natural light by the window, and at night by the living room lamp to make sure they are going to work in every situation.

Note: This is a recycled post from way back in early 2006, but I’m fairly certain no one ever read it and the technique still applies. BTW, the design that this color patch is for? It’s only about 3/4 stitched. I get so sidetracked

Today’s simple pleasure: good coffee and a good book