Friday, December 09, 2011

Christmas Video in Place on Queendom Website

This morning I posted a video I made of sunsets from our window.
I was doing it just for inspiration for myself and DH suggested I turn it into our Christmas card this year.

So I made it into a Christmas card and posted it on my website this morning.
I also posted a link to Vimeo for people who can't get it to play on my website or would like to see it in higher resolution.

So what does a video of sunsets have to do with needlepoint?
Hopefully inspiration and a personal goal for me, and a reminder that the world need not be literal.

I've decided to monkey a bit with the concept of not being so literal and into the New Year will leave the video in place and write a series of small articles called 'A Reminder Not To Be So Literal'. It will make a good follow-up to my series last spring for Beginners for it is the next necessity in the food chain of design.

So what about more traditional Christmas decorations? They'll come too and soon Queendom Website will have all sorts of wallpapers and gifs celebrating the holidays, but I shall leave my video in place on my home page throughout the holidays.

I hope you will take a minute and look at it. It is just a smidgen over a minute long.

Gay Ann

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Unusual Christmas Decorations for a Needlepoint Website

Since October 21 I have been toiling away in what I call Mail Jail from my E-Week Sale in mid October.

I am almost finished! I am down to my last three orders. I can't finish until I hear from three people, so I have parked these orders for the time being and am transitioning into life after E-Week and Mail Jail.

In the immediate future I face two tasks: deciding on Christmas decorations for Queendom Website and stitching and writing instructions for hearts for my small hearts sale in February. They are both tasks I look forward to doing.

Near as I can figure I started writing on this blog 5 years ago. Laura, then my webmistress, designed it for me and taught me how to post on it. I used to write on it regularly, I even conducted my first E-Week on it, but then when I began managing Queendom Website myself, my blog fell into semi-disuse. About a year or so ago I began writing on it again as it seemed like a perfect place to post op eds and behind-the-scenes-of-Queendom-Website musings.

The very first photo I ever posted on my blog was of a sunset from our window. DH gave me my first digital camera and my sister in law taught me how to take a photo. Later on, after an all-day struggle, I figured out how to take the photo out of iPhoto and post it on my blog. Those were the days before the advent of Apple University in my life.

Sunsets have always figured in my musings here and on Queendom Website. For two years I ended E-Week with a photo of a sunset and call it 'The Sun Sets on E-Week'.

A short while ago Sally B. wrote and asked me for a copy of my sunset photo. I don't have an idea which photo Sally wants, but she gave me an idea for how to celebrate Christmas on Queendom Website this year (thank you, Sally).

With my idea of an unusual Christmas celebration this year, MacSoph and I toiled away and produced my favorite bit of computer work from this year. I was so excited that I got it to work, so of course I can't wait to post it. Won't be long now. It is an usual feature for a needlepoint website, but I am hoping I can tie it all into needlework as the season progresses.

Meanwhile, my friend Lee said she thinks my Elizabeth video has been on Queendom Website for long enough now, so I've changed the home page: a sunset. Actually, two sunsets, one for real, one with a little bit of help from PhotoShop. I will publish them tomorrow morning. They should mark the Sunset on E-Week, but not quite. A little premature, but not hopefully by much.

As for the hearts? They are coming along. What a joy to have my central task be stitching right now. A joy indeed!

Gay Ann

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Of Queendoms and Castles in My Needlework World

I have been toiling in what I call Mail Jail for the better part of a month now. Mail Jail is the process of mailing out orders from my once-a-year E-Week Sale.

I am almost finished; I am down to the last dozen orders and then I have to repair all my mistakes. I should imagine it will take me till the end of the week after Thanksgiving and I will be able to fold up my Mail Jail tent and transition into Life After E-Week Mail Jail.

This morning I established an important date on my website: January 15, 2011. It is the date by which everyone must report any errors in their orders. After January 15 I will not make any corrections.

Why am I being so strict about the date this year? Because MacSoph and I have a daunting winter and spring ahead: we have to build a new castle for Queendom Website and then we have to move. Remember what moving and remodeling are like? I believe that moving and remodeling are two of life's most stressful activities, and I am not sure that our e-move won't be almost as stressful.

A new castle for Queendom Website. Stress aside, I am looking forward to a new look and a new program. For a long time now (more than a year) the kids who teach me at the Apple Store have been telling me that Queendom Website has outgrown iWeb and I need to move, so they don't see the demise of iWeb as a tragedy for me.

Still it is a daunting task and I am properly timid and apprehensive about the road ahead.

How will MacSoph and I soothe our nerves? MacSoph can sing now (at a late date I discovered iTunes) and I am hoping she will sing to me while I stitch. My great temptation of course is to stitch a castle as a commemoration of Queendom Website's move.
Hmmm, a castle. Not a bad idea. We'll see.

For now, it is important that my followers help by checking their E-Week orders and making sure they have everything. For details see my postings in Mail Jail on Queendom Website: and click on Mail Jail on the yellow navigation bar. Remember, January 15 is but a little over 2 months away. And maybe by then Adobe will have my prograph out of beta. Maybe.

Gay Ann

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Today is the Final Day of E-Week Annex, so I am looking ahead

It's the last day of E-Week Annex, the part of E-Week where Kate's Corner sells the supplies for the designs I've sold at E-Week this year.

It's the last day of Annex and therefore the last day of E-Week 2011. Kate will be in Mail Jail for some time to come, for that matter so will I. I think it will be a month more before I settle all mistakes etc., but I have made a great start, and whew! Queendom Website will at least in part return to normal.

I always look at the end of E-Week as the beginning of the new year on Queendom Website. That's how it feels, and I am looking forward now. People have already started asking me, could I bring back this or bring back that next year at E-Week, when am I going to sell something else, what will the new mystery be like, etc. etc. Well, I don't know the answers to any of these questions yet. It's in the future, that's what I know. I don't have to decide right now.

Top of the list this year is moving. Remember, Queendom Website has to move into its new castle and I have to start construction very soon. Indeed I have a busy year on Queendom Website, constructing a new home for us.

My target day to move is in June. It will take several days to move, or so the Apple kids tell me. I want to be all ensconced in the new castle by the Summer Solstice so that we can have a 'longest day of the year' party to celebrate the move. And if it all happens well, there will be a couple of surprises along the way.

We'll see how it goes.
meanwhile, farewell to E-Week Annex this afternoon, farewell to E-Week itself, and a big thank you to Kate for doing all of Kate's Corner this year.

Gay Ann

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

My Mailing List for Needlepoint Designs

Isn't it always the way it happens: E-Week hasn't been closed for 2 weeks yet and this morning I received a number of emails asking please could people buy my patterns.

The answer for now is 'no, my sale is closed'. Why don't I open it again? Because right now I am maxed out, I can't handle any more orders.

The best I can offer is to add people to my Mailing List for future sales. If someone is on my mailing list, she hears from me only 3 or 4 times a year, right before or during a sale of my needlepoint patterns.

So, for example, the next time someone will hear from me is in February when I traditionally sell needlepoint hearts right around Valentine's Day. The next time after that will be probably in April, May or June when I have promised a new geometric mystery (similar to Mystery with a Little Bit of Glitz, Glittering Diamonds and Mystery in a Corner).

This June will be a big time for me: I will transfer to a new website on or near the Summer Solstice, as Mobile Me, my current server, goes out of existence and iWeb starts to fade. It will also mark the fourth anniversary of Queendom Website (my website) and I was thinking of having a small celebratory sale then.

In the summer I will teach my Elizabeth 1, a Portrait, in the summer, and then it will be time again for E-Week 2012.

If you are on my mailing list, you will hear from me about each of these events. Otherwise I will be silent and not clog your inbox.

If you would like to be on my mailing list, write to me at

Gay Ann

Saturday, October 22, 2011

E-Week Annex is on my website!

We have a special treat again this year: E-week Annex, with all sorts of Supplies Packets and goodies to go with my designs from E-Week.

Kate's Corner has put this all together and it is an impressive array of offerings. Kate really did her homework and she has even found some of the threads no longer in production, for example the Medici wool for Golden Acorns and the Marlitt for Tuxedo Heart. The supplies aren't unlimited but indeed there are many Supplies packets available.

This is the second year that Kate has constructed E-Week Annex for me and I am grateful. I don't think I could have done the work, yet people have always asked about the convenience of one-stop shopping for my designs.

So thank you, Kate, for coming back again and helping me!

Gay Ann

Friday, October 21, 2011

Stitching Elizabeth: a video about my needlepoint Elizabeth 1

Yesterday E-Week, my annual sale of patterns from my archives, ended. Whew! Finished for another year! I made it through!

I like to end E-Week each year with a small treat and this year I made a small video of slides of my needlepoint design of Elizabeth 1. I used photos of my Elizabeth and the Elizabeths of my students from Callaway Gardens School of Needle Arts last January, along with photos of Carole Lake, Michael Boren and me and portraits of Carole and me masquerading in portraits of Elizabeth.

A fitting way to end E-Week this year., to see it.

My portrait of Elizabeth 1 made a mystery appearance at E-Week this year. When she was unveiled, it turned out that she will become a class at Shining Needle Society next summer. Kate, director of Shining Needle Society, our online school, will open a room very soon and we will hang out in that room until the class starts.

Why so long? To acclimatize and ready ourselves for the class. We can chat and stitch and enjoy all things Elizabeth and stitching in there. I am looking forward to it. A place to relax.

Meanwhile, I face Mail Jail, that is, mailing the orders from E-Week.

I sent off the first batches of patterns to the print shop on Wednesday afternoon. I expected to have them back yesterday, but the print shop hasn't called me yet to say they've finished printing them. Soon as they finish and I pick them up, I will start mailing them. I imagine it will take me close to 6 weeks, maybe even 2 months, to mail them all.

So farewell to E-Week for another year.

Gay Ann

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

E-Week, my annual needlepoint sale, is almost over

Only a few hours till E-Week, the annual sale of needlepoint designs from my archives ends.

This is my 5th E-Week Sale. It doesn't seem possible that five years has passed since I first thought up the idea and sold patterns on my blog. It was before the birth of Queendom Website.

This year's sale had its very smooth moments (my Early Morning Sales went off like clockwork) and its rocky moments.
The rockiest was when MacSoph, my trusty little MacBookPro crashed. I think she'd had enough of it all and just decided not to boot up.

After about an hour she'd had enough rest and she was back, but she didn't want to connect with our online network.

About a year ago one of my Apple tutors had told me that he thought I needed a second computer to back up my whole system, and he was so right! Little MacSoph, my other laptop came into service. It's a bit disjointed but I'm surviving.

A man arrives this afternoon to see to MacSoph and try to convince her she needs to go back online.
If he succeeds, then I will end E-Week with a treat. I hope people will stop by and see it tomorrow morning. It is just a small treat, complete with music and all. A fitting end and a bit of calm to a sometimes frantic week.

Is it really all over?

No, for Annex will start in a couple of days, but this time the hassle is Kate's as she begins to live in Kit Hell and Mail Jail. She has been such a huge help to me and I hope to lend a bit of help and support back. Kate is gathering together supplies packets for many of the projects I've sold at E-Week.

And after Annex?

Time to stitch all the stuff! I plan a rigorous year of stitching in my general classroom at Shining Needle Society. If you would like to join us, membership is free, just write to

Be prepared to wield your needle in the next year, till it is time again for E-Week. Yikes! I have to tell you that I have already received a number of requests for next year's sale! Happily I am not thinking about it yet. I have a whole year till then!

Gay Ann

Friday, October 14, 2011

E-Week's Early Morning Sales

Tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday mornings, at 8:00 a.m. California time, Early Morning Sales begin on my website, in connection with my annual sale of designs from my archives.

It is exciting! On my website are 8 windows for each morning. If you click on them now, nothing happens.
If you click on the first one at 8:00, it will open and a special offering will be behind it.

A different window will open every 15 minutes till all 8 windows are open.
Some of the offerings are for limited numbers, some for everybody. Some are returning designs, some are new designs, and new this year: a small twist on a very popular sewing case.

It is lively and quick paced and it stirs up life on E-Week's Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Only once a year; I hope you will come and join us.

Gay Ann
Remember, 8:00 a.m. prompt, tomorrow morning!

Friday, October 07, 2011

My Needlepoint Mysteries, their variations and colors, and E-Week

So many of you have asked for me to bring my geometric mysteries back in my E-Week Sale.

This morning a person ( I don't know her name, she didn't sign her email) wrote to me and asked if the patterns contained all of the colorways I show in my galleries on my website,

The answer is no.

Those examples were from stitchers who stitched the mystery when it was first new.
Sadly I have lost the stitchers' names. If I don't have their names, I certainly don't have their threads and colors.

When these mysteries were new, they arrived on stitchers' doorsteps without any color or line guides.
The pattern includes instructions like this:

Choose a Watercolours or other overdyed thread suitable for 18-mesh canvas.
Choose a canvas to coordinate with the Watercolours.
Choose a pearl cotton approximately the same color as the canvas.
Choose a light value that harmonizes with the Watercolours.
Choose a dark value that harmonizes with the Watercolours.
Choose a Kreinik braid that contrasts.

I just made these up to give an example of how I write mysteries.

This is a long roundabout way of saying, the many examples on my website are for inspiration but the stitcher will have to decide on her own colors.

One of the good parts of my classroom at Shining Needle Society is that stitchers may have help from their fellow stitchers in the classroom . For example, if several of you are working on the same mystery, you might help one another. Or you might ask advice of the other members of the classroom. If you would like to join Shining Needle Society and my classroom there, membership is free.

Just write to Kate is the director.

OK, why would I do this to you? Why do I want you to grapple with colors instead of my giving them to you and letting you zone out and stitch.

I'll answer the question in my next post.
Gay Ann

Notes on My Needlepoint Colorizations

I am beginning to receive quite a few queries about my colorizations and whether all Colorways are included in my patterns.

When I include the colorways, I specify in the description of the pattern, for example I included with Summer Solstice Geometric the original colors and the blue-green colors and the light blue and silver.

I do not include the ones for the examples I posted on my website this morning.

I have two comments to say about them:
first, I think you could email the colorization to your favorite shop and ask them to pull the colors.
Once you have the pattern, you could send them the threads and numbers in the pattern so that they would have a guide to go by.
I am sure that Pat Duggan, for example, would be happy to help you with the task.

Second, I am rather hoping that you will use the colorizations as inspiration and grapple with pulling them yourself.
It is a bit of learning and a bit of a stretch and a bit of growth well worth your while.

All summer and fall long (as long as fall has been, ie not long) I have been trotting down to our local needlework shop and pulling the colors to match my colorizations. Sometimes I can't find exactly what I did, but I find something close enough. If I can't find anything in a particular line of threads, say in Vineyard silk, I try pearl cotton or silk (figuring I will use multiple ply) or floss, or some other thread that catches my fancy.

Rarely is a design such that ONLY one thread in ONLY one color will work.

One of the reasons for studying color this way is to gain the confidence to find alternatives.

After all, needlepoint is our way of slipping into a imaginative world and playing with visually satisfying colors and textures.
Part of the joy is finding the exact way you see it in your mind. To do that you have to be a bit flexible and flexibility comes with confidence.

That's one of my purposes in leading my Shining Needle Society classroom. I want people to gain the confidence to try.
If you would like to join Shining Needle Society in general and my classroom specifically, membership is free.
Just write to Kate is the director of Shining Needle Society.

If you have any opinions about my colorizations, good or bad, I would welcome them, either posted publicly here or directed to me personally in an email.

This post is long enough.

I have a couple of other issues about colorizations and my mysteries. I'll be back in a while and write another post.
Otherwise these will become so long nobody will ever read all the way through them.

Gay Ann

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

MacSoph is in Mourning

One day many years ago DH said to me that we had been invited to hear a presentation about a new computer system called Next.

At the time we were two of probably 15 people who watched and listened for a couple of hours as Steve Jobs told us about his new ideas and system called 'Next'.

Little did I ever dream that day of the impact that Next would have on my life. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, Apple incorporated the ideas of Next and today MacSoph, my little MacBook pro, is really a Next MacBook.

Today MacSoph is in mourning because her father has died.

The impact that Steve Jobs has had on my own life is incredible. I have gone, in the last year, from traveling and teaching needlework, at my height on the road a week or two out of every month, to life creating a website and teaching online.

Instead of time on an airplane, I now spend so many of my hours learning to use MacSoph and working on Queendom Website. What a change it has been, none of it possible for someone like me, had Apple not made a computer so easy to learn to use, and had it not made a program like One to One lessons to teach me how MacSoph works.

Thank you, Steve Jobs, and thank you, Apple. I will do my best to study harder, learn more and carry on loving Apple.

Gay Ann

Monday, October 03, 2011

Monday, 9 Days Till E-Week

This morning on my website I posted the third of three galleries of my work.

My first gallery is of all the mysteries I've designed and stitched over the years.
They aren't mysteries any longer because people can see what they look like, but originally people bought them with little idea what the pattern would be and took me on faith as the pattern unfolded.

I discovered early on that a mystery was a great chance to offer small options to encourage a bit of creativity, and that's what happened. If you look at various examples of my geometric mysteries, they vary greatly, particularly 'Glittering Diamonds'. Over the years I have seen examples I don't recognize because of the way the color interacts with the pattern. It delights me and I am hoping to do more of them.

The second of my galleries features all 10 of the designs I have made incorporating cameos, from a very large sampler to small ornaments and hearts. I think cameos are so pretty and romantic that for a long time I was very caught up in making needlework to display them. Before now I have never gathered together all of them in one place. It was fun to see.

The third of my galleries displays six of the large samplers I have made over time and sold at previous E-Weeks. All of them were projects I taught at National Seminars for EGA and ANG and of course for a favorite job at Callaway School of Needle Arts.
These samplers include some of my most industrious work.

Aside from these three galleries, I have a large gallery displaying my Elizabeth 1 Portrait and the portraits of Elizabeth from my students at Callaway last January. I am amazed at how much each Elizabeth has her own personality, reflecting of course each student who stitched her.

I plan to keep these up for a couple more days as I prepare for E-Week, my annual sale of patterns from my archives.
E-Week begins bright and early this year on October 12.

This year's E-Week is a trifle different. In the past the patterns have always been from my guild days, projects I had taught at past seminars. This year I have stitched 11 new designs just for E-Week, a first for me, but a harbinger of E-Weeks to come, I hope.

I see more samplers in my future, both large and small, lots more sewing cases, some new figures (I still have Bess and Mary to write) and who knows what else. As the spirit moves me. It is the genuinely best part of life right now, that I can stitch as I wish.

Hope you will stop by Queendom Website to see all these galleries:
For quick reference:

Gay Ann

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Elizabeth 1, a Portrait: my needlepoint design

This morning Queendom Website came alive with portraits of Elizabeth 1.

On my home page is my own version of Elizabeth 1; 'inside' are portraits worked by Carole Lake's and my students at Callaway School of Needle Arts last January.

When I first thought of making an exhibition of Elizabeth 1 portraits, I worried they might all look the same, but surprisingly (considering they were worked from my pattern) they each have their own personalities. I have had a great time clicking through the exhibition and seeing all the variations of them -- it has been a delight!

To see the Elizabeths, travel to my website:
and click on 'Elizabeth Exhibition'.
And enjoy!

Gay Ann

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Book for Thimble Collectors: American Silver Thimbles for sale

For a long time I've been promising to post a sale of my book, American Silver Thimbles.

I did so this morning on my website.

Quite often people write to me with all sorts of thimble queries and I try to answer them as time allows. Over the years, at the top of the list has come the question: 'do you have any copies of your book at a reasonable amount of money?' Finally I decided I have read this too often, so I typed 'American Silver Thimbles' into a book query on and had quite a shock.

The cheapest copy I found was $255.00, the most expensive $350.00.

It was then I decided I had better sell some copies, so I posted them at the book's original price of $47.95 plus $6.00 priority shipping. I am hoping that fledgling thimble collectors to whom I have long promised copies will be able to have a copy now.

American Silver Thimbles is valuable in this sense: it is a record of American silver thimbles from 53 collections at what I think of as the height of thimble-collecting frenzy more than 20 years ago. At just about the height of the frenzy, I visited many remarkable collections, shot so many rolls of film, then stood in a dark-room converted from a bathroom and processed and printed all the photos for the book.

So many of the collections have since been broken up that I look back and think to myself it was a great time to shoot so many thimbles. I doubt I could assemble the collection today.


After I wrote American Silver Thimbles, thimbles were at their height. Good ones were scarce and fetching all-the-time higher and higher prices.

I had never been a singularly devoted thimble collector; I had bought them, but only as one of many needlework tools, and when they continued to fetch higher and higher prices, I gave up looking for them.

For the 20 years that followed my book, I transitioned into teaching needlework full time, and I more or less forgot about collecting thimbles.

Then last November, when I was surfing eBay for interesting auctions to post on my website, I came across some remarkably wonderful American thimbles for auction. I followed along through the Christmas season and was amazed to see the high quality and relatively low prices of the thimbles that 20 years ago had been so sky high in price.

And guess what: I became interested in thimbles all over again. I am at heart a contrarian when it comes to shopping for antiques. I don't believe in shopping for things when they are at the height of fashion.

Last Christmas I began looking back through American Silver Thimbles and just for fun, I began ticking off the thimbles I'd found on eBay. I had a great time! It was just like visiting old friends who has slipped out of my life for a while.

Of course I bought a few of them. I think my favorite finds were two: I bought the Liberty Bell thimble at a fraction of its former price and I bought a very rare Untermyer Robbins thimble of two lions. Finding any UR thimble was, in the old days, a happy occasion; finding a highly decorative one a joy indeed.

An old hobby renewed. Now I look every week to see if some interesting thimbles turn up.

And now I am hoping maybe a new generation of thimble collectors will be inspired to enjoy these tiny little treasures.

Gay Ann

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Busy Busy Busy

Up front I have kept my website going with eBay listings I like and hope will be of interest to my followers.
I've now stripped down my navigation bar to only 2 lines in preparation for new postings.

Behind the scenes MacSoph (my computer) and I are scrambling scrambling. MacSoph's worn out her keys and I've worn out my fingers typing on those keys. iWeb is now swollen to a dangerously large level and MacSoph crosses her keys and I my fingers that everything won't crash.

Up front it looks like nothing's happening.

But things will start to happen soon.

I have a wonderful exhibition coming soon. I can't wait!
And I have some galleries of my own work coming soon.
And soon, too soon, it will be time for Pre-Week.
And then for E-Week itself.
And then for Early Morning Sales.
And E-Week Annex where people can order supplies from Kate.

Yikes! Come on, MacSoph, we have to go back to work!

But up front it all still looks so leisurely.

Gay Ann

Monday, September 05, 2011

A New Adventure

Here it is, in my busiest season (with E-Week just around the corner) and I've started a new adventure:
I am tackling stitching on linen ground.

I've been at it for about 3 or 4 days now and I've learned a lot, with help from my Shining Needle Society Classroom.

Today I had a note from Jane-Ellen Balzuweit offering me a suggestion or two and suddenly into my mind jumped: Idea for an online class at Shining Needle Society, called 'Linen Technique Clinic' and I am hoping Jane-Ellen will lead it.

Jane-Ellen, if you have ever followed her embroidery career, is one of those amazing needlework whizzes who can do anything with a needle and thread and get it to work. She reminds me a little of Carol Algie who has the same talents. They both seem to be able to tackle anything, easy or difficult, and have it come out well.

For those of you who don't know them, you should! Both have taught for EGA for years and years and they are both people I look up to.

Here I am, on a new adventure, and I look forward to help from Jane-Ellen and from other members of the class.

Does this mean I am giving up needlepoint? No, absolutely not. I just have a vision of a sampler I would love to make and it deserves to be on a linen ground. I will write more about it as time permits. For now I am content to doodle on different types of linen and see how I do.

And of course I have too much work to do for E-Week, so I really shouldn't be doing any stitching at all.
But who can live without a needle in her hand at least some time during the day? Not me, that's for sure.

If you'd be interested in taking this class along with me, write to She is the director of Shining Needle Society and she and Jane-Ellen are starting to plan the class.

I can't wait!
Gay Ann

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reflections on Designing and Stitching in 2011

This morning I posted on my website my own personal favorite of the Summer Solstice designs I doodled this summer.

For a long while the Flower was my favorite and I would still like to try and convert it into a thistle. I don't think it would be a difficult conversion and as I love purple, green and white together, I would enjoy working on it. Maybe early next year. Till then I fear my days are filled to capacity and I would like to know, does anybody know how to stretch the days?

Right now an elephant is standing very near me in my work room. The Elephant is E-Week, my yearly sale. A month and a half to go and I am working away every moment at it.

Some time ago an acquaintance remarked quite authoritatively at a meeting that I had stopped stitching entirely and I spent ALL my time on my computer.

I do spend a lot of time on my computer, most of it writing instructions for the nearly 30 pieces of needlepoint that I have designed and stitched since January 1 this year.

5 hearts, the Royal Wedding pieces and the Summer Solstice designs have all turned up on my website so far but they account for only a part of 2011 for me. Most of my new pieces are for E-Week and I have indeed been busy writing instructions on the computer.

I have not given up stitching. I don't think I ever will. Quite simply I love my time with my needle. It feeds my soul.

And besides, I have far too much stash to give up stitching. Far too much!

This brings me back to Summer Solstice and my favorite of the designs in the series. In the end I like my original Sun-like Geometric the best. It looks like the Summer Sun to me and after all, that is the most appropriate of the designs from a Summer of busy stitching time.

Gay Ann

Monday, August 22, 2011

Plans for My Summer Solstice Designs

I had a great weekend, a bit of everything I spend my time doing.

I stitched quite a while on both Saturday and Sunday evenings.
On Saturday I went bead shopping (yes more beads, it seems an endless addiction).
On Sunday I went to the Apple Store for lessons. I face the long task of redoing my website in the next year.
In between I wrote about my plans for Summer Solstice, my designs from a summer of doodle-stitching.

I just posted my plans on my website in Summary 4 of my Summer Solstice experience, but here is a bit more about my plan.

I had not been working for long on Summer Solstice when I noticed that I was using a single center motif and building up patterns around it. It surprised me how much the various patterns changed what was essentially the same design. By the time I started colorizing the parts, I thought all the designs took on such a different appearance, even though as I said they were essentially the same design.

In the Summer Solstice Banner I made up a series of new squares and each could easily function in the role of my original center design. If someone took one of these little center squares, she could gently and non-threateningly build herself a new design.
She could juggle my patterns and add her favorites to them; she could experiment almost endlessly with different colors.

In short, I could turn Summer Solstice into a simple little design experience with anybody willing to try.

Of course anybody who wishes to can stitch any one of the designs just as I did, but I am hoping they will join me in a Study Room at Shining Needle Society and watch what happens. I even have a prize, a yummy cake shipped, for the stitcher who makes the most creative adaptation of Summer Solstice.

I am hoping to start the Study Room for Summer Solstice the first week of the new year and have it up until April 1.

More details on my website, and still more will show up at E-Week, my sale in mid-October.

Gay Ann

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Forty-Six Cheers for Adobe!

This summer my life got a lot worse: Apple took away the program I use to create my website. Yes, iWeb is disappearing and MacSoph, Queendom Website and I have become iWeb Orphans.

All summer long my angst has been, what do we do?

Now almost every sophisticated computer person has looked askance at iWeb as 'not sophisticated' 'a very bad web design program' 'not for serious people' 'only for amateurs' etc. OK, I've learned enough to know that some of the complaints are well founded.

Still, iWeb gave me a very simple format and a great deal of freedom to stitch together my bit of magic.

As I've looked around for a program to replace iWeb, I've 'auditioned' several and found that the simple ones slot me in a box and force me to stay in the confines of the box. They may be more sophisticated in terms of web stuff, but for design possibilities they don't live up to iWeb.

The only way around the dilemma was the long arduous task of learning code, so I spent a considerable amount of time learning a bit about html and css. I found I actually enjoy it, but I was not at all certain I wanted to spend each day using it to make daily changes to Queendom Website. I could see my treasured stitching time evaporating in a mist of angle brackets.

Still I soldiered on, each day feeling more and more like sending a stream of darts toward Apple's management for its decision to kill iWeb.

All along DH has told me, there are too many iWeb users and someone will step up to the plate and do something that will help all the iWeb Orphans.

Who knew that the someone stepping up to the plate would be the almighty Adobe itself.

Forty-Six Cheers for Adobe! It is as if they heard my own personal cry and brought me the perfect solution for Queendom Website!

MacSoph, Queendom Website and I will live on for another day after all. Thank you, Adobe! Thank you thank you thank you!

Gay Ann

Sunday, August 14, 2011

An Unseasonal Christmas Banner on Queendom Website

Today is the second day I have a Christmas version of Summer Solstice Banner on the homepage of my website. I just finished updating my website for the day and as I clicked on it, all the red and green looks so strange as we wind into the third week of August.

Tomorrow morning the fourth and last design will magically appear on my home page and I will convert back to the sunny summer colors.

I have whiled away my summer doodle-stitching the series and I've had a great time with it. I've enjoyed not having to plan where I am headed, but just kick back and see where my needle leads me. Although I have doodle-stitched many times, this is the first time I've documented and published my day-by-day progress and it has been a journey full of surprises for me.

So what have I learned in this journey? And what have I hoped my followers have learned? And what am I going to do with it all?

After I post the fourth design, I will write about my nearly 2 months of Summer Solstice and hopefully answer the above questions.
I didn't start with a plan but gradually one evolved as I stitched the pieces.

Gay Ann

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Summer Solstice is Coming to a Close

After a whole summer of doodle-stitching, I am finally to the end of my Summer Solstice Project.
I will reveal the last two designs over the next couple of days.

So what am I going to do with these four designs?
I have a plan and I will write about it very soon.

In fact I wasn't very far along with the first of the designs when the goal occurred to me and I have been stitching with it in mind ever since. The only hint at this point? It involves a bit of creativity, and it involves a Cake.

To read about the Cake (yes, CAKE) check out my website, and click on 'CAKE' on the navigation bar.

I haven't finished the cake yet, but boy is it delicious! I am guessing that the cake will add all 6 lbs I've just lost. What I've never figured out is how a cake that weighs less than 1 pound can add 6 lbs to me. Don't tell me it doesn't happen, because I have countless experiences countering your argument.

Oh well, who can resist a delicious cake.
Gay Ann

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On Designing for Needlepoint

Yesterday I received the following post which was the end of a long comment about Summer Solstice, my summer project.
I've posted all comments on my website, but this one seems to ask that I answer it more thoroughly, since it hits squarely on the reason I've been stitching Summer Solstice.

Here’s the end of terryb's long post:
This is a fun exercise, but I hope your intentions were not to convince us that designing is easy. Rather it points out the complicated aspects that are involved and how important it is that they all mesh to create a beautiful and successful end product.

And here's my answer:
No, the purpose of Summer Solstice has not been to convince anyone that designing is easy. I've been designing needlepoint projects for a long time now and I've never found it easy.

My idea was to develop a small design by picking up my needle and starting, without any idea where I was headed. I was hoping to take my followers through the various stages of developing a small design so that they could see the process and begin to evaluate along with me each of the stages Summer Solstice goes through.

Sometimes it is easy to think in black and white and forget about the gray areas between the two extremes. In this case, at one end is a design by someone else and the stitcher simply reproduces what the designer did. At the other end is a blank piece of canvas in need of a design. There are a lot of possibilities between these two extremes, and that's what I am after.

I am not asking everybody to pick up blank canvases and fill them. I am hoping that people will learn to watch more carefully what they are stitching and bring a little of themselves to their needlework by making small personal changes. To make the changes well, someone has to grapple a bit with the design process and think about where she's headed.

When someone stitches a design that is all worked out ahead of time, it is a safe and easy choice. As the stitcher hits the awkward stages that all designs go through, she can overlook them and focus instead on the pretty color photo of the design as it will become. Once she starts to deviate even a little bit from the pattern, she will have to learn to look at what is actually happening on the canvas and evaluate where she is and where she is headed.

With my Summer Solstice project, that's exactly what I am trying to demonstrate. I don't know where I am headed or whether it will work out. What I have to do is stitch a bit, then stop and evaluate where I am and where I want to go, then try out my ideas and see if they work, rip a lot when they don't, evaluate again and stitch again.

So why grapple with these problems at all when the world is full of beautiful designs just waiting to be stitched?

Over my years as a needlework teacher, I have heard so many times the excitement in someone's voice when she takes a small step toward personalizing her needlework by trying a choice of her own and discovering that it works. There is a sense of engagement that doesn't exist with rote reproduction of a design. Yes, it is more difficult, but it is often very rewarding.

I am hoping that Summer Solstice will help people see a myriad of possibilities and the differences that small changes can make; I am hoping people will begin to look at their own needlework projects and say, 'I wonder what would happen if...."

Gay Ann

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Summer Project

On the Summer Solstice I took the whole day and stitched.

I began stitching a project in an unconventional way: I gathered together a variety of threads in colors I like and a square of 18 mesh canvas and I began stitching without a plan or a drawing to guide me.

My idea is to start with one color and one stitch and then make the next decision based on that color and that stitch, then the next decision once I see the first and second choices, and so forth, and watch where it all leads.

I have stitched this way on several occasions In the past, and sometimes the designs work out and sometimes not. Even if the designs don't work out, I always come away with some interesting patterns or color combinations which I have incorporated into other designs. In the best of circumstances, I come up with a design that stands on its own. My past design called 'Twilight Garden Square' was one of these experiments.

This time is a bit different because I decided to document each step and make it a summer project on my website. I have been snapping photos along the way and making notes about the process as I go. This morning I posted the first of the series on my website: a photo of the threads and canvas I started with and some notes about my choices. I plan to write about my decisions along the way, why I did this, why I chose that, etc., as I go.

The thing about this way of working is, I never know where I am headed, so I am hoping it will be lively, a bit of suspense and a bit of living on the edge in terms of needlepoint. We'll see how it turns out.

To follow along: and click on 'Summer' on my navigation bar.

Gay Ann

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Solstice Stitch In

It is the eve of one of my favorite days of the year: tomorrow we have more daylight hours than any other day of the year and that's why it is one of my favorite days.

In my classroom at Shining Needle Society I planned a Summer Solstice Stitch In. My original plan was to start stitching after dinner and stitch till the last light of the day fades.

Now I've revised my plan. I decided I deserve one of my favorite days all to myself, so with notable exceptions for errands and to-do tasks and of course food breaks, I plan to pick up my needle at first light tomorrow morning and stitch all day long till the final bit of light in the evening. I have invited all of Shining Needle Society, at least all of the members I can reach, to e-drop in and join me for whatever time they can, then tell us how much they accomplished.

My idea for myself is to start a new project.

Lately, out in my guest room, I have had squares of 18 mesh canvas in all colors spread out with chunks of favorite threads in favorite colors on top of the canvas squares. Today I plan to choose one of those squares and its colors, mount the square on stretcher bars and set it aside along with two shiny new tapestry needles for tomorrow morning.

So what do I plan to stitch? That's what's unusual about this project of mine: I don't know, I don't have any drawings or any plans. I will just pick up my needle and start, then see what I come up with. I plan to start at the center of the canvas and watch what evolves.

I've done this before and it is great fun. I have to watch what is happening and I often have to rip a lot, but I usually do a lot of ripping anyway. I love not knowing where I am heading, just interacting with the canvas to see what evolves.

This time I plan to take photos each step of the way and post the results on my website, bad or good, through the next month.

We'll see how it all turns out.

Happy Summer Solstice Eve. Enjoy the wonderful long hours of daylight.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Lace: Hand-made vs. Machine-Made

Because of the Royal Wedding and Kate Middleton's dress, I have been featuring examples of Carrickmacross lace on my website. This is the style of lace on Kate Middleton's dress.

This morning I began a journey of study when I posted closeups of hand-made Carrickmacross and machine-made Carrickmacross. I have posted arrows noting certain areas where the stitches are easier to see and If you look carefully at them you will begin to recognize stitches made by hand vs. stitches made by machine.

To see the closeups go to, click on Lace Box, then on Lace Box 8.

Why learn about this? If you like to shop in flea markets and you go armed with a bit of knowledge, you are likely to find some real treasures for a few pennies. Many dealers buy quantity of laces, but many of them don't know the difference between hand and machine.

For example, at Covent Garden market in London, I once bought 3 strips of lace for the equivalent of $2.50 for the three. I bought them as samples to illustrate hand vs. machine in my needlework classes and they were great for that. Two were machine-made, but the third one was a great little strip of hand-made Venetian lace.

Besides studying them, what else can you do with these things? In the next couple of years I hope to figure out ways to incorporate bits of lace into some needlepoint patterns. In the meantime I am hoping my followers will learn a tad bit about the lace they may one day incorporate into their needlework,

Gay Ann

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Frustration on a Sunday Afternoon

This past week I started a new program for myself and for members of my Shining Needle Society Class. Last Sunday I looked ahead at the week to be and I set up some stitching goals for myself.

Happily I kept to my goals all week long. I even started a new design and spent several days consumed by it, but in the end, sadly it didn't work and I just tossed it.

I don't mind the time I spent on it -- it is a part of any creative work. I got myself backed into a place I couldn't deal with. The part I mind is, I've been there a dozen times before and I forget about it.

It all has to do with Zweigart and the colors of congress cloth.

I find Zweigart congress cloth colors too strong and too true to their colors. Even the ecru (I always forget the real name of the color), the light blue and the gray. The ecru is too yellow for my tastes, the light blue is so light blue and the gray to my eye is more like a middle gray.

I would prefer a series of grounds with 'barely there' colors, with just enough color to take the Scream out of Screaming White. I have wished for this as long as I have used congress cloth which is a long long time.

Last year I rejoiced when Zweigart announced 4 new congress cloth colors and I ordered them sight unseen. Then they arrived on my doorstep. All four were strong strong colors. Couldn't just one of them be a soft barely-there ground? I'm not asking for all four, just one. Ahh, my soul for an antique white (a genuine antique white), or a pale (I do mean pale) gray or probably what would be my favorite choice: a barely-there gray blue. Or how about a barely there gray green. Actually the color doesn't matter, just an almost-neutral color to take the Scream out of Screaming White.

I live with Screaming White. I have adjusted my whole career to Screaming White: I use pale colors so that the contrast keeps the Scream at bay.

From time to time I forget and I start a design calling for strong colors, and that's what I did last week.

I got part way into it, liked very much what I had done, then I started choosing more colors and stopped cold. The Screaming White was screaming overtime. Knowing the lessons from the past I simply bundled it all up and tossed it -- and wished for the umpteenth time for a barely there color.

The frustration leads me to write about it every once in a while and the frustration is looming large this afternoon. Very large. So I am writing about it on my blog. Writing about it makes me feel better, I guess. Gets it off my chest.

So now I've written about it again.

Back to the drawing board. Hmmm, let's see what design of mine will harmonize with the soft colors necessary to keep the scream in white down to a dull roar. The wish list tabled for yet another year or two.

Gay Ann

Friday, May 27, 2011

Carrickmacross Lace

After my Royal Wedding Extravaganza on Queendom Website, I decided to dig into my Lace Box and find samples of Carrickmacross Lace, primarily because that was the lace on Kate Middleton's wedding dress.

I found several pieces and have displayed them on my website. I began with such a poor example of the craft, a sad hankie with amateur appliques. Carrickmacross is a lace made of applying fabric bits onto net. Whereas the more difficult laces have solid areas created by Buttonhole Stitch, Carrickmacross solid areas are applied fabric. The best part of my coarsely made hankie is that it is easy to understand the technique.

This morning I posted my favorite piece of Carrickmacross, a beautiful 19th century handkerchief of Carrickmacross Guipure. All Guipure indicates is that there's no net. This hankie is such a beautiful example and I have always loved it. I found it years and years ago in a basket on the rainy ground of a large flea market outside London. I had gone there with an antiques dealer friend of mine who was shopping for her own stock.

In future days I am hoping people will find hankies from their moms and aunts and grandmothers and we will look at photos and see what people have. Tomorrow morning or Sunday morning, I am not sure which, I will post a couple of 1950's machine-made lace hankies that borrow patterns from the handmade Carrickmacross Lace.

Gay Ann Rogers and click on 'Lace Box' on the yellow navigation bar

Thursday, May 05, 2011

A Small Slice of London from Betty Chen Louis

The best part of my Springtime Extravaganza is its end: a new and small piece, a slice of London's skyline, from Betty Chen Louis. I have posted the piece on my website's home page:

For so long now I have been writing about restraint from gooping up pieces of needlepoint and here is a prime example of how restraint has paid off big time. Betty hasn't used many stitches or threads to stitch her small skyline; her skill is the manipulation of color and scale to show the construction of the buildings and the lights and shadows across them. To my way of thinking Betty is the master of manipulating color and scale.

The piece is brand new. Betty finished stitching it less than a month ago. Because it makes so many of the points I would love to see reinforced, I am hoping it will become an online class sometime early next year through Shining Needle Society. For interest in the class, contact For now she is compiling an interest room.

For my own part, I am delighted to see Betty stitching again and it is lovely to see a new piece of her elegant work.

Gay Ann

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding Eve and My Celebrations

All month long on my website I've been celebrating the Royal Wedding with the best tidbits I can think of, and today I posted my latest: Needlework Royalty and a beautiful wedding dress worn by one of Needlework's Royal Princesses.

My Needlework Posting is the latest of my attempts to move into the future and to date I think it is my tutors' favorite. It is probably a toss up between me rising up out of the back of my personal e-Rolls and this one. In time I am hoping I can do even more with this one, but for now it makes me smile. I enjoyed making it to celebrate my Queenship and the Royal Status of a few of my friends.

So it is the Eve of the Royal Wedding and tomorrow is the Big Day. I suspect many of us will have a great day-long or, depending on how industrious you are, an all-night stitch in in front of the television. I suspect, because of a very bad cold, that I will sleep tonight and Tivo it for tomorrow, so now my final decision: which station do I want to record?

Enjoy the eve and the day.
Gay Ann

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Week till the Royal Wedding

All month long on my website I have been celebrating the upcoming Royal Wedding.
I confess, it isn't so much for the 'royal' part as it is for the wacky commemoratives and souvenirs that everybody comes up with on such occasions and I have been posting links and photos of them on my website since last January. What people can come up with! Now I see that Dunkin' Donuts has a Royal Wedding Donut in the shape of a heart.

I even made up my own Royal Commemoratives, a sewing case, a geometric, a heart and a series of fobs potentially with 'Diana Rings' at the end of the fobs. The rings are available at very reasonable prices on eBay, but I don't think they are real sapphires and diamonds. At first I was disappointed I didn't get a multi-carat sapphire for $17.95 including postage. Then I thought, mnever mind, as the beads I used in the fobs weren't real sapphires and diamonds either.

During the month I have had three quizzes, one on Famous Wedding Dresses, one on Famous Brides and one on Famous Couples and people have been guessing the answers. An amazing number have guessed most of them. The least known of the celebrities was Couple #1 in the 'Famous Couples' quiz; as an aside, everybody knew Couple #3.

Now I have started gathering Favorite Wedding Dresses. I actually think this exercise has some worth as a design exercise. This morning I started writing a tiny bit about Style. Not High Style or Fashionista Style but a bit of Vintage/Historical Style. Along with others I have been surfing Wedding Dresses for the one I like best. After viewing everybody's selections so far, I must say that my choices aren't very conventional, but that's fine. I will post my choices at the very end.

I still want to do a feature on 'Royal Commemoratives' from the past. I don't have a huge collection of them but as a long time collector of sewing tools, I do have a few and I think they are great fun. I will start posting photos early next week.

In a windup to the wedding, I've saved my favorite bit for the last. MacSoph and I just finished it (it was a joint effort), with much help from my favorite kids at Apple. They all liked it and laughed pretty hard, so I have high hopes it will amuse my website followers. I will post it sometime toward the end of next next week, likely on Wednesday or Thursday.

So there's still a busy time ahead on Queendom Website, followed by an all-nighter. Perhaps. I am thinking, should I stay up all night, or get lots of zzz's and use Tivo. I keep telling myself that's why they invented Tivo.

But then there's the lure of seeing it all in 'Real Time'.

Which? Don't know yet.

Gay Ann

Friday, April 08, 2011

In the Springtime: an Extravaganza.

I have been looking forward to a Springtime Extravaganza on my website since last November. Through the doldrums of winter and into my favorite time of year.

Why my favorite time of year? Because the days grow longer and it is time for strawberries and asparagus. Yummy foods to eat that aren't even bad for you, and longer times to stitch in the natural daylight. Two good reasons, don't you think?

I began my Springtime Extravaganza with a quote: In the Springtime, the only pretty ring time, the birds do sing, hey ding a ding ding, sweet lovers love the spring.

The quote was full of hints about my Springtime Extravaganza, and now the cat is out of the bag.
Yes, the Lord Chamberlain himself has invited Queendom Website and its followers to put on our best tiaras and spiffy pyjamas, set our alarm clocks and watch the Royal Wedding together. If you travel to my website you will find a replica of the actual invitation, just a little reworked for all of us, and a page of crowns, coronets and tiaras appropriate for the occasion, even if the bride herself decides to wear flowers, not a tiara.

The only thing missing from our Extravaganza so far: some special mementos to stitch through the night and into the day as we celebrate with a night-and-day stitch-in on Shining Needle Society. So, behind the scenes I have been stitching stitching away small patterns to commemorate the day. Now it is the eve of my posting them for the first time and I am anxious to see how Queendom Website looks when it all goes live tomorrow morning.

I have been stitching and MacSoph and I have been working away, and I have a couple of proud moments to crow about:
I have a little geometric and guess what: it sparkles! And when it stops sparkling, the viewer can click on it and it will sparkle again.

I have a little sewing case that opens and closes, and on demand opens and closes again.
And my best effort so far: a little heart that revolves and does a bit of magic.

Last month I celebrated my third anniversary of life with both MacSophs (Little MacSoph and MacP.Soph), my two computers. I didn't have time then to celebrate (toooo many deadlines!) but I will take time this month to reflect on how far I've come and how far I still have to go.

Springtime. The season of growth. Time for me to grow and grow. Now, on the eve of my Springtime Extravaganza, I look forward to taking the next step. All day Sunday I go to school again at the Apple Store and I hope to do a bit more. Building blocks they are, one step more toward my fantasy.

So I hope you will visit Queendom Website and see my new building blocks: the geometric that twinkles, the sewing case that opens and closes and the heart that revolves.
They will be up tomorrow morning first thing.

And I hope too that you will join Queendom Website for the Royal Wedding and the celebration in general of the spring.

Gay Ann

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wrapping Up My Month-Long Series, 'For Beginners'

As March comes to a close, I am wrapping up my month-long series of suggestions for beginners. A number of people have written asking if I would leave up the series on my website. I will leave it up for a while, but ultimately I will take it down because of Website Real Estate. Not enough to keep up everything.

However, the month doesn't mark the end of the series, and I will, from time to time revisit the themes, particularly the themes of the last three posts which weren't truly beginner subjects. They apply to all of us in needlework. The themes of a little restraint, of judicious choices in thread and stitch to enhance the design, that sort of topic.

My big needlepoint Springtime Extravaganza started today with a sort of 'Pre-Start' which will tide me over till I am back from teaching and I have a chance to start in earnest. This Springtime Extravaganza will last for the whole of April and when it finishes, I have a genuine treat, a photo of a new piece from one of the iconic needlework teachers who has indeed taken up her needle again.

Surely as soon as I post the photo of her newest piece, I will have to revisit the themes I mention above, for she is a master of choice of thread and stitch to service the design. So soon as I take down my series for beginners, I will have to re-post some of it all over again.

See what I mean, it may not be there all the time, but it will definitely return, time and again, as the occasion suits.

Meanwhile, I planned to write a wrap-up for the month and I ran out of time.
I will write it when I am home again.

Gay Ann and click on 'For Beginners' to visit my series.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Compensation: not in money but in needlepoint

For all of March I have been writing posts on my website for beginners. Day before yesterday I tackled the basics of compensation, then decided I couldn't stop with only a definition. Yesterday I wrote more on compensation and touched on the subject of how compensation and stitch choice are inextricably bound together.

Compensation is basically using parts of a stitch to fill in a design element when the whole stitch unit won't fit. Stitchers get all caught up in the art of compensation and sometimes it seems to me, one compensates just for the sake of making it difficult.

Alas, I have seen bad stitch choices where 50% of the stitches are compensating stitches. I know many stitchers think this is a sign of expertise, but all it does essentially is goop up the piece.

I was pleased with my post yesterday because I used illustrations to define compensation, then I changed the compensation and eventually I changed the stitch choice. In the illustration of my final stitch choice, there was hardly any compensation, mainly because the stitch fit the shape so well.

Stitch selection is all important in all ways including compensation. If you have to do too much rigorous compensation, my guess is you are using the wrong stitch. Start working on another choice.

When you look at a design, look at the shapes involved and try to figure out stitch patterns that reflect the shapes. A shape isn't something to be filled with any old stitch pattern just because you like the stitch pattern. The stitch choice should play into the shape and enhance its line. More often than not, if you find a stitch that mirrors the shape in scale and in line, you will find you don't have to struggle much with compensation.

Gay Ann

For my articles on compensation: www.GayAnnRogers and click on "For Beginners".

Thursday, March 10, 2011

About My Series of Posts for Needlepoint Beginners

On the first of March I began writing a series I have always meant to write: my own guidelines for beginners.
This morning I just posted my fifth post.

I knew it would be difficult to do, in a large part because I haven't taught beginners for at least 30 years.
Whenever we are in a field for a long time, we use too much jargon, so one of the jobs of writing for beginners becomes the definition of terms we avid stitchers take for granted. It isn't difficult to define the terms; it is just surprisingly difficult to recognize that they are indeed the jargon of needlework.

I have had a good time thinking about beginners and how I would advise them to start. I am hoping, as I continue writing posts, that I am able to incorporate the elements of design and color right from the start. Even though people always say 'learn the rules' then you can break the rules. I am not certain that I agree with this; in a creative field I am not certain that 'the rules' are a good thing.

Recently friends came to visit and we spent a considerable amount of time stitching. My own personal style of stitching is very idiosyncratic, and for the umpteenth time in my long needlework tenure, my friends called my attention to several of my idiosyncrasies. I look on my idiosyncrasies as a part of my style, a part that evolves hand in hand with my sense of what to stitch and how to stitch. Take away those idiosyncrasies and I will not be the same stitcher at all.

This week I feel the issue even more strongly, as I learned about the death of Judy Harper. I never met Judy in person, but I 'met' her online and we had some wonderful conversations. When I wrote a post about 'Goop' on painted canvases, Judy wrote to me and cheered me on. When I first started exchanging emails with her I didn't realize she was an iconic canvas painter from my youth: she did a painting line called 'Creative Needle' and I remember in particular her beautiful Imari plates.

As I have been writing posts for beginners, I have been thinking about Judy and all that she wrote to me about design in needlepoint. I am trying to find a way to incorporate the ideas we discussed into my series, so that fledgling needlepointers learn there is more to needlepoint than the sum of a stitch library.

It isn't how many stitches you know how to do; it is all about what you do with the stitches that really matters. So the most important challenge in a series for beginners becomes, how do I incorporate the importance of personal choices right from the start? How do I explain the basics to beginners, yet reserve and preserve the importance of developing a personal style? How do I hit a balance between technical skill and artistic judgments?

So far I am five posts into the series; it remains to be seen if I can indeed do the job.

Gay Ann

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Collecting Thimbles

On my website I have a page where I post eBay listings for thimbles. I started this page right after Thanksgiving because I watched some of the best examples of American thimbles come up for sale and I was enjoying following the auctions. I have no financial interest in the listings I post, but I love to collect and like most collectors, I love a bargain.

There was a time when I spent untold hours shooting photos and writing about thimbles and the effort resulted in my book, American Silver Thimbles. At the time the book was published, thimbles were substantially more expensive than they are today. Thimble collecting reached a feverish pitch for some of the iconic American silver thimbles and prices then were sometimes more than 4-6 times what I saw them fetch this past Christmas season (with some notable exceptions of course).

Yesterday I saw a prime example of fallen glory: a little Columbian Exposition thimble sold for $89.89. Under $100.00. An unheard of low price back in the 1980's-1990'a.

I also remember well the days the Simons Bros. 'Stitch in Time' thimble fetched over $700.00; this past Christmas one went for $128.00.

Why have thimble prices fallen? I would guess a series of reasons.

Several substantial thimble collections have come back on the market and eBay has made comparisons more efficient; we know, for example that 3 or 4 Stitch in Time thimbles came on the market all in a month's time and we could compare the prices they fetched. We also found out there were likely more of them than we thought.

At the height of a collector fad, the prices soar beyond expectation, then when the fad dies off, the prices fall lower than we might imagine.

Sometimes a poorly photographed and written eBay listing results in a bargain price. I took advantage of this factor within the last month: I found a thimble I have always wanted, at a bargain price because the photo was terrible and the write up very vague. I almost missed the listing altogether, clicked my heels when I found it and it is proudly sitting in my thimble case now.

For years after I wrote American Silver Thimbles I didn't pursue thimbles. I don't like to search for collectibles in the midst of a fad; I would rather look for something not in favor. So when, quite by accident I rediscovered thimbles at much more reasonable prices all these years later, I thought the time had come to see if I could fill in some holes in my collection.

I have had a great time posting thimble auctions on my website and indulging in a few of the thimbles for myself.

Will thimbles ever reach their highest prices again? I have no way of knowing and I don't think it matters. I am not buying these thimbles as an investment, just for the pleasure they bring. Thimbles have a rich and interesting history and the workmanship and quality of the designs are often wonderful. I marvel at how much the thimble-makers managed to fit on the band of a thimble. I have always loved needlework tools in general because they are working tools, often with beautiful designs.

And right now another attractive feature about a thimble collection: it doesn't take much room.

Gay Ann

P.S. On my website I have kept photos of past thimble auctions and the prices they fetched as a record of comparison. I will continue to add to the photos as the auctions finish.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

February continues....

February, one of my favorite months, continues, and I am celebrating this evening! I am celebrating because I just finished writing the last of the instructions for my hearts sale which will start as soon as I get it all together.

I usually post everything at one time, but this year I've been doing it differently. For several days I have been posting a heart or two from my past. I have been stitching lots of hearts for a long time now, and tomorrow morning the 9th and 10th will find their ways to my website.

This year I succeeded in stitching 5 new hearts and those are the instructions I have been working on since I returned from Callaway School of Needlearts on January 19. Finally (FINALLY!) I just put the last of the graphs into place and the last heart is set to go.

The last heart, which is really the first heart, was a bit of an adventure. I intended it to be one sort of heart and it just cried out to be another sort of heart. One cannot deny its place, so I let this heart follow its bliss (thank you, Joseph Campbell, even when it comes to needlepoint hearts).

So the heart won, and I am thinking of breaking tradition and posting it all on its own so that I can write about it. I am considering giving it pride of place for a couple of days before I introduce the other four new hearts. The odd thing is, for years I intended to make the heart that this one turned into, I just didn't intend this heart to become the one it did. Convoluted, isn't it, and I am not sure I am making good sense.

What does make sense to me is the idea that a design tells me where it wants to go. I have said for so long: the skill doesn't come in predicting what will work, which thread will work or which stitch will work. The skill comes in learning to watch a design and see where it wants to take me. I say this all the time and that's why the little heart won.

I've snapped a few photos; I just haven't had time to stuff them into MacSoph and have a look at them. If they turned out well, watch for my first new heart in a couple of days. After I finish posting my old hearts.

I guess the frames on my home page have been empty long enough now.
It is almost time to fill them.

Gay Ann

Saturday, February 05, 2011

February 2011

I hadn't realized how much time had passed since I last posted on my blog: the whole month of January has gone by and here it is, nearly the end of the first week in February 2011. As I have said many times, I am still back in 1999 afraid about Y2K. Do you know there are 10-year-olds who weren't born yet in Y2K? Oh my, old age has set in....

I love February. I love it because it is the most GirlieGirl month on the calendar. In addition to being a GirlieGirl month, I see the days are getting a bit longer now and by the end of February they will be that much longer and spring is just around the corner. I know, I know, the country is freezing cold, but hope of spring is just awakening.

Back to GirlieGirl. What is more GirlieGirl than lace and hearts and a yummy box of chocolates and a bouquet of favorite flowers.
When I think of these things, I think of February and Valentine's Day.

I hadn't realized how many hearts I have stitched until I started looking for them and through them on February 1. I have a drawer full of them, and all intentions of making more of them. In fact, I have made 5 new ones for my Hearts Sale on my website and I am scurrying now to finish the instructions for them. In addition I am just starting a gallery of 10 of my hearts from the past.

MacSoph (my computer) and I have been pounding away, building the gallery and the first of My Hearts from the Past will show up on my website tomorrow morning.

I will start my sale as soon as I have finished writing instructions. I do have one small problem: I didn't finish in time to have Ann&Co proof the instructions, so I had a choice: cancel the sale or ask people to report mistakes as they find them and I'll post them on my website. I put the choice to several of my friends and 100% they voted to have the sale and report mistakes.

So I am game to try this, albeit with some hesitations. I will have an extra go through the instructions but I am not good at proofing my own work. I learned this years ago when I was writing books. I'd pour over and over the ts but not find anything.
I never could believe what the copyeditor found!

We'll see how it goes.

In any event, I am pleased with the new crop of hearts, in fact I am ready for more! I want to take the opportunity to start the first one for next year's hearts sale tonight at Date Night.

Yes, Saturday Night is Date Night: a Date with my Needle. Perfect time in this GirlieGirl month to start something over the top Girlie Girl. I think something with pulled thread would be just the ticket!

Gay Ann