Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Iron Wrought in Silk

Thank you, Pierrette, for such a nice comment about Iron Wrought in Silk.

As I wrote in Part 1 of my commentary on Iron, I had started and abandoned the sampler a couple of years ago. Only when I wanted a sampler with a gate did I start to work again on it. All the way through this sampler I struggled, all the way through had my doubts. Only when I took the last dozen stitches did I decide it was perfect for my purposes and now I confess, I am so happy that I decided to continue with it and I love the way it came out.

This morning on my website, I posted Part 2 of its story and a photo of it just after I began work on it again. When I look at the photo of it part way and the photo of the finished sampler, I think indeed, sometimes there is a bit of magic in how these pieces sort themselves out.

As I said earlier, it will become such an important part of my website if I can learn how to do all I wish to do. It is always a struggle, but therein lies much of the reward.

Gay Ann

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Looking forward to 2011

It's the day after Christmas, Boxing Day if you've ever spent a Christmas in the U.K. It's also Sunday, and cold across the U.S. Perfect time to snuggle up and stitch, which is exactly what I plan to do today.

I am finishing a little scissors case to commemorate Callaway's Needle Arts School's 40th anniversary. With any luck I should finish today; I don't have far to go.

I had a lovely time stitching yesterday, didn't even have to feel guilty about running away from Kit Hell and Mail Jail.
Yesterday also I posted on my website three new projects I finished this year: Mary Queen of Scots, Bess of Hardwick -- and a sampler called 'Iron Wrought in Silk'.

Iron Wrought in Silk is so important for my website, for it leads the way to The Future for me and yesterday I started telling its story. So far Part 1. With all this in mind I look forward to the New Year and all it holds. I have so much stitching to do and so much to learn about MacSoph, my computer, and I so greatly look forward to it all!

Time to start planning to 2011. 2011: I hope it is a lucky number.

Gay Ann

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Story on my Website this morning

It has been a sad year in one respect: we have lost too many friends in our stitching world. This year, in January we lost Linda Wilken who had bravely battled cancer for 5 years. My Christmas Story is a tiny vignette of her last Christmas. It is such a small bit of Christmas Magic, but really about the power of a special friendship through our needles.

I just posted "The Twelve Santas" on my website earlier in the morning.

Gay Ann

Thursday, December 09, 2010

It's Snowing on My Website!

This afternoon, with lots of help, I finished decorating Queendom Website for the holidays, and it's snowing on my home page!
Like my first adventure in animation, I got so excited with the first flakes fell across my sewing case.

I look forward to the holidays this year but with some degree of sadness too. We lost too many people this year -- my friend, Linda Wilken, lost her battle to cancer in January. Then Kathleen Rake, such a gentle soul. And a very big part of my life for a while, Ben Grundfast, who was such a seminar and Callaway fixture for many years. And Molly Holt such a short time ago. I will miss them all and I realize only too keenly something I didn't understand when I was young: the ghosts of Christmases past.

All year long I have kept one story about Linda and some Santa Clauses. I saved it for Christmas, and I will publish it sometime within the next week.

In Queendom Website's Chrismtases past, I have always saved a special piece I've stitched and I post it as a small treat on Christmas morning. This year's is framed and waiting, and it is the first piece I have made entirely for my website. When I have learned much more than I know now, this sampler will play a very large role in the future of Queendom Website. But more about that on Christmas Morning.

For now, I have spent some time reorganizing my thimble pages. I now have a page for thimbles for sale now and a page for ended auctions with prices the thimbles fetched. If one looks at auction prices, one can learn a lot about pricing a collectible. As it is the shopping season, I will keep the thimbles, sewing tools and cameos on Queendom Website through the holidays.

Yes, cameos too. At E-Week I had several requests from people for cameos. I am out of the cameo business now -- I bought them only when I was actively teaching my cameo pieces. Instead, I would like to help people find suitable cameos for all my cameo samplers, then next summer I hope to bring the cameo pieces back for a little Cameo Extravaganza.

I had a good time decorating Queendom Website this year. I headed into it without many ideas, then it just came to me as I was searching through my files for a wallpaper. So I hope you will have time to stop by and watch it snow, check out thimble prices and needlework tool prices, and cameo prices as well, stay for my story of Linda Wilken and the Twelve Santas. And if I have a chance, a new Techniques Column too.

Happy Holidays!
Gay Ann

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thimbles and More Thimbles!

Like most collectors I enjoy surfing on eBay. Some time ago I started a page on my website where I mention eBay listings I find and like and think might interest Queendom Website's followers. To date I have posted mostly scissors. I have a true scissors fetish, no doubt at all.

A couple of days ago I found an unusually long list of America's noteworthy thimbles for sale. I haven't seen this many of the famous thimbles for sale for a long while, so I wrote on my website a feature about thimbles. I put them on my home page, I've now done 2 pages of thimble listings from eBay, and I've written a long long column of comments on the vagaries of thimble prices. It was like a stroll down memory lane for me, as I spent the better part of 3 years writing about American Silver Thimbles.

Back in the relative dark ages when I was writing American Silver Thimbles, I knew each one of the thimbles and could tell you who made it. Now? Well, I confess I remember a surprising number of them and who made them, but I don't remember how to spell the names any longer. I had to check my book to see how to spell one of the most noteworthy of the American thimble makers, Ketcham & McDougall. The spelling of their names aside, wow, what great thimbles they made!

If the thimbles now for sale on eBay don't encourage a thimble collecting fetish amongst my followers, I give up, can't be done.
Whether you want to collect thimbles or not, do take a few minutes to look at them and enjoy one of America's smallest art forms. www.GayAnnRogers.com

Enough chatting here about them. I will leave the details to my website, save for one last comment: will I indulge in one or two of the thimbles for sale? Most definitely! I bought my first one tonight. I thought it was a terrific buy and I will likely be back for a second one and perhaps a third. Which ones? Hmmm, let's see how the auction goes for now....

Fun and games in the thimble world, that's for sure.
Gay Ann

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Remembering Molly Holt

On Thursday evening our needlework world lost one of the bravest people I have known. Molly Holt died peacefully after a near 25-year-long battle with cancer.

I don't remember when I first met Molly but I would guess that Betty Chen Louis introduced us. I don't remember largely because Molly has always been such a big a part of the needlework world as I've known it. She was a regular at most guild seminars and I cannot remember a time I didn't see her at Callaway.

Molly was one of those students who made needlework a better, livelier and more inventive place. Not content to work on designs from others, Molly was a leader in studying design and color and the application of both to needlework. She studied memorably with Wilcke Smith, Jan Beaney, Jean Littlejohn, Pam Godderis and Charlotte Miller. Last year at EGA she applied and was accepted as a member of Fiber Forum, EGA's more experimental group.

Last January at Callaway I saw what I thought was such a worthwhile culmination of Molly's expression in a piece she displayed in the Callaway exhibit. It was her artistic look at her battle with cancer and it so impressed me that I posted a photo and her artist's statement on my website homepage. In honor of Molly I have re-posted the photo of her piece (above) along with her artist's statement (below).

We who knew Molly will greatly miss her and her influence on our embroidery world, although I suspect her spirit will remain close to many of us, urging us to try harder, be more experimental, look at alternatives and stray from the easy. So I won't say good bye to Molly. She will stay and help us all in memory and in spirit.

Gay Ann

Molly's artist's statement follows, below. The photo of Molly sipping coffee was from Callaway last January; the photo of Kate, Rivers, Lee and Molly was from our day at 'The Birth of Impressionism' at the DeYoung in San Francisco when we were all together for the EGA Seminar in September.

From Molly Holt:

In September 2009 my breast cancer was found to have suddenly metastasized into my liver. This piece was begun in early July of that year, a time when the cancer was actively moving, but I was not yet conscious of its presence. However, I believe my inner artist WAS very aware of what was happening in my body and that this piece came out of that awareness.

The first layer of the piece uses plain sheer fabrics to create a geometric design of recto-linear shapes. These represent the underlying strength of my overall health, although if you look closely, some of the edges are beginning to fray here and there. The second, top layer of fabric is created using both plain and printed sheers and some solid cottons as well. These very organic, slightly sinister shapes writhe and mover over the geometric surface beneath and represent the cancer cells. The machine stitching moving around the organic shapes is the chemotherapy I'm currently undergoing engulfing and attacking the cancer cells.

There are two border areas made up of black areas machine-stitched and design without the machine stitching surrounding them. Are the borders prologue, representing the time before I began treatment, the chemotherapy "lurking" and waiting at the edges, the cancer cells not yet as large or full of movement, the underlying health fraying further? Or are they the epilogue, what remains when the chemotherapy is withdrawn? That remains to be seen, but I believe my inner artist knows.

This piece was begun in a class with Maggie Weiss. She challenged us to work in black and white, although in the end I chose to add a bit of color for emphasis -- and perhaps hope. Maggie further "assigned" us to do our underlying layer as a geometric structure and the top layer in organic shapes. The shapes were to be in three sizes and have cut out areas. The design itself was left entirely up to each student.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I have been absent from writing on my blog because I have been steeped in Mail Jail for E-Week's sales.
Now, after a month in Mail Jail, I have reached my last dozen orders and this morning I put out an official call for mistakes in the orders I have filled. Time to start mopping up and soon time to move on.

Next come the kits for my final travel-teaching job at Callaway in January and for my job with Pat Correz in the spring.
And after that? The beginning of my small dream for Queendom Website.

Actually my small dream begins this weekend for I am driving on Saturday morning up to my framer (the noteworthy New Creations Framing in Pasadena) to pick up a sampler called 'Iron Wrought in Silk'. Iron Wrought in Silk marks the beginning of the dream, let's say Part 1, so needless to say I am excited to see how the sampler looks and to begin work on a bit of magic for it.

So when will my followers catch a glimpse of Iron Wrought in Silk?
On Christmas morning, of course. A fitting time for the start of a dream, don't you think?

And when will the dream begin to happen? Well, not tomorrow, that's for sure. I have two more large samplers to stitch first and a long road of computer lessons to travel, so it will be a while. A while filled with a bunch of happy stitching and studying hours.

I am hoping the people who are in my general classroom at Shining Needle Society will keep me company as I stitch stitch stitch toward making a little dream a reality.

Gay Ann

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reflections as E-Week begins to head toward the finish line

It is almost over, only one day to go for my 4th annual E-Week Sale. Some E-Week it has been too, with a record number of people coming to my Early Morning Sales. I kind-of held my breath that I would get it right and that all the windows would open smoothly. We had one hiccup but nothing like last year when Little MacSoph, simply sick of the whole thing, posted an Apple Ad.
(I know Queendom Website's followers remember that ad because one person wrote me this year and asked how much the computer MacSoph was advertising last year cost).

So the windows all opened in a timely fashion and each day lasted about 2 hours. Several people wrote to me and said it was just like Stitchers' Christmas and I wanted to write and say 'thank you' for such a kind thought!

One more day to go, then E-Week will morph into a new feature this year called 'E-Week ANNEX'. By and large Kate Gaunt has done the work and I owe her a big debt. I couldn't have begun to undertake it all. As followers of Queendom Website know, I struggle under the weight of Mail Jail, so it is wonderful for me that Kate has undertaken ANNEX.

We never intended to end up in the kit business, in fact for the first years of E-Week, I avoided it as best I could. But I have heard from so many people that they have struggled to find the supplies for my projects and increasingly I have become concerned.

Last spring in my Shining Needle general classroom I posted a questionnaire. It wasn't a long one, just 5 questions. I had well over 100 people reply and the vast majority asked please, could I offer a kit option. As many have local needlework shops they wish to support (don't we all wish for that), they didn't want kits to be mandatory, but they did want the option. People who live in areas without needlework shops report that they increasingly depend on the internet for all needlework supplies and they very much favored a kit option.

So with Echoes of Elizabeth Sewing Case last summer Kate and I joined forces to see if we could provide a kit option for the students in my Echoes class. It worked out surprisingly well. Most of the mistakes were ones I made, but most got sorted out fairly quickly.

Echoes was successful enough that we decided to try making ANNEX for E-Week this year.

We both would be very interested in your opinion of ANNEX. Neither of us intends to have ANNEX be a full service needlework shop, only to provide the supplies for my E-Week designs.

We will see how it works out.

So E-Week is drawing to a close and what will come next? Time to stitch! I plan to carry on with Stitch Gay Ann Stash in Shining Needle Society. This year I will lead Stitch Gay Ann Stash in my general classroom at SNS for people working on my designs; I also plan to lead '12 Stitches a Day' in Shining Needle Society's 'Student Lounge'. Let's see if we can all have a productive year until E-Week 2011 rolls around. Heaven forbid the thought!

For now I am going to toddle off to Mail Jail where I expect to live for the better part of a month and a half.

Thank you to everybody who came to E-Week 2010. I hope you will stitch along with us now.
Gay Ann

Friday, October 15, 2010

I am set for tomorrow morning

Finally I am finished and my early morning sale on E-Week's Saturday is ready to go.
Tomorrow 8:00 a.m. California time.

Once I finished, I've been stitching and its nice to keep company with my needle.
Nice to kick back for an hour and unwind.

Till tomorrow morning, then.
I hope it all goes well, hope MacSoph does well. Last year little MacSoph derailed and put up an ad for Apple right in the middle of the sale.

We'll see.
Back to stitching.
Gay Ann

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

E-Week Eve

It is E-Week Eve, the day before my E-Week Sale starts and there's a small lull before the frenzy of trying to post everything correctly. It is all set to go, I just have to check it twice more.

Then I will stay up tonight as long as I can and post it all.
This year it took me just 2 days short of a month to make more than 70 pages in total so far. Poor MacSoph (my computer) is groaning under the weight of it all.

Right now MacSoph and I are at work on my Early Morning Sales for Saturday and Sunday mornings, but not in earnest yet. I won't know which designs I will sell until later today when I close my galleries. For now we have started blocking in pages and getting bits of it all set up.

Then guess what: once I go as far as I can, I am off to look at threads and I plan to stitch today for a good hour or two.
Yippee! It has been a long time since I have had a block of stitching time!

Gay Ann almost set to go

Saturday, October 09, 2010

All four of my galleries are posted

This morning I posted the last of the galleries I made for my Pre-Week celebrations. Although they are not comprehensive, the four galleries do offer an idea of what I stitch.

E-Week, my annual sale of patterns from my archives is only a 4 days away now, with early morning specials on Saturday morning and Sunday morning at 8:00 am each day, California time. I will offer in the Saturday and Sunday specials those designs people have requested most frequently. I haven't made the tally yet; I will in a couple of days. I am wondering which ones.

To visit my galleries:
www.GayAnnRogers and click on the yellow navigation bar.

And enjoy!

For me it is a stroll down memory lane, and what I like thinking about most is this: I am thinking of all the ones I will be able to add in the years to come.

Here's to lots of stitching time!
Gay Ann

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A Gallery of Samplers

Late last night I posted a gallery of some of the samplers I have sold at past E-Weeks on my website. I decided to do this because I have some new followers (a happy circumstance) who say they have never seen any of my designs except for the Elizabeth series currently on my website.

In the next few mornings I will continue adding to the gallery. Next up, geometrics, then my girls and last, smalls.
These aren't comprehensive galleries, just a sampling of the designs I have sold in the past.

Gay Ann

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Behind the Scenes of Pre-Week on My Website

The festivities for this year's E-Week are under way now as the Queen's Car arrived yesterday and this morning it turned around so we could see the backside.

I spent too many hours building the trunk for The Queen's Car in PhotoShop because I had only a photo of part of the trunk to work with. Although too too many hours, I had such a great time doing it! The Queen's Car plays such a big role in E-Week this year because it will announce all the happenings day by day. But that will come later.

For now the part I worked on the longest happens tomorrow morning and will stay up for Friday and Saturday.
The kids at the Apple Store helped me each step of the way and when we finally tried it, they laughed and laughed at it!
Of course I was excited to see it all become a reality, so I came home the day I knew it would work and DH cracked up at it too.

So tomorrow morning the next step in 'The Future' of Queendom Website makes its debut on my home page.
It isn't perfect, but I will get better at it all in the next year.

I love all this computer stuff. I love it not as an end in itself but for two reasons linked to my far greater love, my needle.
It gives me a chance to make Queendom Website playful and it gives me a chance to teach a bit of color and design in a playful way. Hopefully as I grow and learn more, I will help my followers expand their own horizons. I know this: it certainly expands mine.

Gay Ann, excited that E-Week is coming together

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Behind the scenes on my website

It is almost autumn, I have noticed that the nights are chilly and the mist is creeping in in the early a.m. Time for fun and games on my website as I wind up to E-Merchandise Week, my fall sale.

This is the fourth anniversary of the time I first discovered I could post a photo on my blog and the idea of an 'E-Merchandise Week' was born. My fourth annual E-Week Sale of patterns and kits is just around the corner.

It has become a bit of a tradition that small mysteries happen on my website right before E-Week and this year is no exception. The small mysteries have become a way for me to incorporate my lessons at Apple.

Much as I have enjoyed my lessons, I have to say that some of it is so difficult for me that I leave class with a big headache and a need for a nap. Such is the world of adjustment layer masks, tweening, symbols, lossy, pen tools and paint buckets for this old lady.

So what intrigues me so much about MacSoph's kind when I could spend more hours dreaming up new designs for needlepoint? I see MacSoph as a wonderful tool for tinkering with color, line and texture in needlework, a way to bring a wider vision and perspective to a craft I have loved my whole adult life.

And along the way indulge in a little foolishness and fantasy.

Gay Ann

Sunday, September 12, 2010

San Francisco EGA, An OpEd Piece about the Seminar

I am newly home from San Francisco where I taught classes for 6 days EGA's National Seminar. I had a great time, but isn't it always true that the best part of a trip is coming home again.

This year I tried something novel: I taught Echoes of Elizabeth Sampler at the seminar while I also taught Echoes of Elizabeth Sewing Case online. Simultaneously. Each morning before I went to my face-to-face class at seminar, I posted a lesson for my online students. Each I posted photos both on my website and in my secret classroom for my online group with the hopes of givinf my online students a taste of what it was like to attend a seminar.

On the last day of my four-day face-to-face class at seminar, I snapped a photo of each of my students and the progress she had made in four days of class and I posted the photos for my online group. It made me realize, class at seminar is over, but my online class continues.

As I said goodbye to my seminar students, I thought: there is much to be gained by teacher and students meeting face to face, but I also began to recognize that online students have advantages also.

Face to face at seminars, teachers and students have the obvious advantage of meeting and spending time together.
In online classes we do miss the face to face friendships and explanations, but we do gain something too. That something is time.

In an online class we have the luxury of extended time. Running the two classes simultaneously, I realize how compact my face to face seminar class was. Instead of posting my online lessons each day to match my face-to-face class, I normally would have posted my online lessons once a week.

Now, as I said, my face to face seminar class is over, but my online class stretches on. It continues for the rest of September. Then it will go on hiatus for two months so that people have a chance to complete the stitching. In early December, my online class will resume and we will cover the finishing.

When considering face-to-face classes vs online classes, it seems we swap the great advantage of seeing each other in person for the luxury of extended class time.

Gay Ann

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

EGA Seminar in San Francisco is Just around the Corner

I realized midway through today that I leave for EGA's San Francisco Seminar a week from tomorrow. I am going a day early so that I can go to the Impressionist exhibition from the Musee d'Orsay, in fact several of us are going.

Friday I will have time to look around and get my sealegs and classes for me start on Saturday. I am teaching Saturday/Sunday, then Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday.

I am greatly looking forward to this seminar and am toting MacSoph (my computer), my camera and my video cam to see if I can take and post photos of the seminar on my website during the week I am there.

Am I ready to go? Nooo, but hopefully I will be by next Thursday. Important things like kits for my class are already there, even a couple of extra kits. All I have to do is find my models, both for the things I am teaching at the seminar and my models of Echoes of Elizabeth Sewing Case and my little Townhouse Sewing Case.

I have high hopes that I will see many Echoes and Townhouses in progress and even finished; high hopes because people have been writing to me saying they are bringing their pieces. It is always such fun to see what people do with my designs. I love it when they use my patterns as a starting point and adapt the design to suit themselves. Needlework is such a personal hobby and it should reflect the stitcher, her colors and stitches, and her tastes and her environment.

With this in mind, I am packing so much thread, overdyed thread in particular from Thread Gatherer, Gloriana and Dinky Dyes, colors that would look good on my big Echoes of Elizabeth Sampler. I am also taking all sorts of beads to coordinate with the threads, so I should have a good time trying to convince people to try something a wee bit different. You never know.

And all along the way I plan to have MacSoph and cameras recording the experiences of the in-seminar student as she grapples with the techniques and with design and color choices. Fun times ahead as we approach autumn. I realize that I have been teaching at autumn seminars so often that it seems like a ritual now. I have taught at one or two autumn national seminars for more than 25 years now and this is my final one.

So if you come to the seminar, do come by 'Meet the Teachers' on Sunday afternoon or 'Teachers' Showcase' on Thursday evening to say hello. Not going to the seminar? Then stay tuned and I will see you online. Online, my home from now on.

Gay Ann

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Colors for Echoes of Elizabeth

For a long time now I have believed that a needlework class, even one for a 'fixed design' like Echoes of Elizabeth should always have a design and color component as a reminder that a piece of needlework is more than the sum total of a bunch of stitches.

Earlier this month I offered Echoes of Elizabeth Sewing Case on my website in three different color combinations. One color combination, with red accents, is straight from Echoes of Elizabeth Sampler, one a taupe variation, one a green variation. I borrowed the colors from these variations and played with my overdyed threads to make some new combinations.

In the next few days, leading up to seminar, I will post a new color combination for Echoes Sampler each morning on my website. I am hoping my students will take the opportunity to visit my website and check them out. I will then take the silks to class and give people a chance to swap the threads and beads in their 'fixed' kits for one of the variations, or even a combination of the variations and the original.

Even if people end up with my original color combination, I hope they will take the opportunity to consider the others and therefore stretch a bit beyond 'up at one, down at two'.

To follow the color combinations in the next week, visit my website starting tomorrow morning bright and early:

Gay Ann

Friday, July 30, 2010

Jennifer's Photo of Flora and My Cameos

As a tribute to Jennifer, I wanted to post the composite photo she did of Flora and my cameos at Callaway. This is my favorite photo of my work and the one I use in my classroom at Shining Needle Society. Makes me sad and happy all rolled into one when I look at this. I still love the photo and probably always will.
Gay Ann

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jennifer Taylor

This past week marked a sad week in my life and a sad occasion for needlework as well: we lost Jennifer Taylor.

Jennifer was a small finely-drawn person who loomed so large in needlework. She had dual loves, embroidery and the computer, and she excelled at both. I met Jennifer at Callaway where for many years she assisted Shay Pendray in teaching Japanese Embroidery. It was the heyday of Japanese Embroidery and classes in those days were full to overflowing with students eager to take on the rigors and discipline of that embroidery form. In later years, after Shay Pendray retired, Jennifer took over teaching Shay's classes at Callaway and she in turn had a new assistant.

I knew Jennifer from our days together at Callaway and I always enjoyed her company. Like me, she was a very early morning person and every year we were there together, we shared a number of very early morning breakfasts, then off Jennifer would go to the rigors of her Japanese Embroidery classes.

For many years before I learned to do it myself, Jennifer took the photographs of my work. In fact, she took my favorite photo ever of my work, the composite of Flora and my cameo pieces now on my classroom homepage for Shining Needle Society.

It was in 2004 and 2005 that I worked closely with Jennifer on EGA's booklet of Audrey Francini's work. Audrey had asked me to write about her for Needle Arts (EGA's magazine) and it grew into a whole event to celebrate Audrey: an article, a book and a one-woman show of Audrey's work at EGA headquarters in the autumn of 2005. Jennifer took all the photographs of Audrey's work, no small task in itself, then she did the layout of the book and saw it through to publication. In addition she composed a totally memorable power-point presentation of Audrey's work which ran consistently through Audrey's show and has been on view many times at embroidery functions over the years.

Of the years I knew Jennifer my favorite time with her the night she showed the power point presentation of Audrey's work at the final banquet at Callaway. She had asked me if I would do a 2-minute introduction. I remember, when the time came, I stood up from the banquet table where I was sitting beside Dorothy Lesher. As I stood up to walk to the podium, Dorothy said to me, 'if you make this too long it will be off with your head!'

I said my 2 minutes worth, then sat beside Jennifer as she showed Audrey's work. A hush fell over the room as moment after moment came up of Audrey's beautiful embroidery enhanced by Jennifer's unrivaled skill with a camera. I don't think there was even a cough in the room. At one moment I looked across at Dorothy Lesher who was totally captivated.

When it was over, Dorothy, long forgetting her threat to behead me, said she could have watched the presentation over and over again hour upon hour. And so could we all.

Good bye, Jennifer, we shall greatly miss you!

Gay Ann

Photograph I took of Jennifer Taylor and a piece of her Japanese Embroidery at Callaway in 2008.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My New World: a Work in Progress

MacSoph is my computer, a little Apple MacBook Pro. MacSoph is a genius and the kids at the Apple Store help me learn how to communicate with her.

For some time how I have had a long term vision of where I want to go and what I want to do with my website and my general classroom at Shining Needle Society. It has to do with creativity in needlework and it will take me a long while to learn, but I am plugging away at it each week. It is all a bit like learning to do a difficult stitch: in the beginning it is a wobbly experience, then gradually it gets easier, or at least one always hopes so.

This morning a wee piece of the puzzle arrived on my website doorstep in the form of a Surprise.
For quick reference:
Click on 'Surprise' at the top of my homepage.

A small step in a long journey.

Gay Ann

Friday, July 09, 2010

Goop Be Gone, coming in the spring

When I found myself in a day-long conversation about Goop a few days ago, I wanted sooo badly to pursue the concept and what to do about it right now but Reality reared her ugly head. My work load is maxed out.

In the spring!

In the spring I will do it and I can't wait! A class called 'Goop be Gone'. I want to tackle the subject of painted canvases, how to buy them, plan for them and what to do with them.

Here's what Goop be Gone won't be: I won't write a stitch guide for someone. What would be the point? I want to show people how to look at a painted canvas, understand its structure and what it asks for. I want people to explore what kinds of stitchers they are and learn to choose appropriate canvases for themselves. I want to take a close look at how and why one chooses threads and stitches.

I would like people to understand the idea that stitches and threads don't live in isolation; they live in a community and you have to consider the whole community before you add a new member. Choosing threads and stitches is not arbitrary; there has to be a reason and each has to serve the purpose of advancing the design.

So in the spring Goop be Gone will arrive and I will see if I can make a bit of a difference.

Gay Ann

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Goop and My Techniques Column

My goodness, but I inspired a flurry of notes to me about 'Goop', my term for needlepoint that is all gooped up with too many stitches and threads. As I pointed out, this usually happens on painted canvases.

After I received a flurry of notes and some guilty consciences, I decided I should pursue the avoidance of Goop further.
So Tuesday morning, I will post another Techniques Column about painted canvases. Tuesday morning, bright and early.

Gay Ann

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pretty Scissors

I love scissors! In fact, I have a passion for them and own far too many pairs. Some of them are wonderful because they are so good at my needlework chores: I have a favorite pair of Dovos with blades so slender that they make the chore of ripping easier; I have traditional Ginghers for cutting meshes when I do Ruskin. And I have all sorts of others poised for snipping threads at all kinds of destinations around my house, in short wherever I might light with a canvas in my hand.

In addition I have collected scissors for, well, forever.

In the last few years I have been making sewing cases and using some of my scissors in them. Now I have started making scissors fobs. Stitched ones, beaded ones. They're fun to do and decorative too.

When my students started asking about scissors for sewing cases, I also started surfing on eBay for pretty scissors and posting the listings on my website. A way of chasing scissors without having to own them all myself. My website followers have reported that they have bought many of the pairs I have found on eBay and it is always exciting to hear that a sweet pair has found a nice home.

So I surf. Often when I should be doing other needlework chores, like more kits, more packets of beads, corrections to my instructions masters, and of course Mail Jail (which is forever, even when I am not having a sale).

On my website I post the listings, sometimes with a bit of editorializing, sometimes with the progress of the auction, always with the auction results. Lately I have found some wonderful pairs! In fact there are a couple of memorable pairs on my eBay page right now.

Ahhh, temptation!

Enough about scissors for the morning; back to work on chores. Faint panic sets in this morning as I watch the dawn of the final day of June. Half the year is over.
Gay Ann

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Technique Called Goop

This morning I posted a new Techniques Column.
Essentially it is on what I call 'Goop' and my column suggests one way we might all avoid the concept.
For quick reference:

Click on 'Techniques' then scroll down and click on Techniques 11.

Gay Ann

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tomorrow: A New Techniques Column on My Website

One time I was having breakfast with a number of needlework friends at our very favorite breakfast haunt (best Eggs Benedict in all its variations around, but that's another story).

Much of the discussion was about painted canvases for needlepoint, and one friend turned to me and made a comment that I didn't do painted canvases, therefore was rather left out of the discussion. I realized then something I hadn't thought about before: my friend sees a dichotomy.

I don't see the dichotomy. Painted canvas or counted canvas, it is basically all the same to me.

I suppose that's from my designer point of view. I suppose the difference comes in that the stitcher has more obvious latitude on a painted canvas to choose stitches and threads, and it is precisely that latitude that is the subject of my Techniques 11 column.

Tomorrow morning: www.GayAnnRogers.com and click on Techniques, then on Techniques 11.

Gay Ann

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A New Techniques Column on My Website

It has been nearly half a year since I have written a Techniques Column on my website. I think it has been so long because I have been mired down in writing instructions booklets and didn't feel like writing any more than I had to. But this morning I woke up in the mood to catch up on Techniques.

My new Techniques Column is on the weight of thread. As I look at needlework past and present, I think much of technical success depends on the weight of the thread the stitcher chooses. We all recognize when thread is too thin, but too often we miss noticing when thread is too heavy. My column this morning is on assessing thread weight and constant testing. Like most of life, there isn't any magic answer, just toil and practice.

I have found over the years that very little is set in needlework. I know any number of needlework teachers who think up formulae and pronounce on their perfection, but the best of the needlework teachers I know say the opposite: most of good needlework is a matter of trial and error and a lot of tinkering, and so it is with thread weight. A couple of my experiences with thread weight and why I find it very important is the subject of my new Techniques Column this morning.

For quick reference: www.GayAnnRogers.com, click on 'Techniques', then scroll down to 'Techniques 10'.

Gay Ann

Monday, June 14, 2010

Townhouses on View

I am newly home from EGA's South Central Region Seminar in Dallas. I had a super time there and one of the best treats for me: I saw some FINISHED Townhouses from my recent class at Shining Needle Society. The townhouses and their stitchers are on my website's home page; on 'Townhouses' I have just posted more photos of the insides and backs of the Townhouses too.

I enjoyed seeing the Townhouses in particular because of the color changes. I suspect the changes were inspired by my colorizations of doors and windows, a little added bonus to the class.

It has been a bit of a journey, learning PhotoShop. I have been working at it for just about a year and a half now and the learning curve has been a bit steep but very worthwhile. What I love best about the potential of PhotoShop for me: I can now colorize my designs in a way I could only dream of in the past. I hoped if I colorized my designs, that my students will see all the potential for creative use of color and be brave and inspired to try the changes.

And now, with the Townhouses in Dallas, I saw the fruits of my labors. It was all so rewarding!

Now I have some new colorizations coming shortly to my website: I colorized Echoes of Elizabeth and soon will post the colorizations along with the original. I like the colorizations so well that I am going to buy more thread, take it to class with me and see if I can talk a student or two into trying the changes. I will let them swap threads and enjoy watching the results.

So here's to PhotoShop, many more lessons and more and more uses for this great program!

And new for me? Illustrator has arrived in my life. Illustrator is leg 2 of my dreams for my website, and along the way, guess what: 25 years of hand-written instructions have come to an end. I've produced my first set of instructions on MacSoph, my computer. Illustrator rocks in the life of this aging designer.

Always goes to show you: new tricks for old dogs are possible.

Gay Ann

Monday, May 31, 2010

Some of my proudest moments in Stitching Elizabeth 1

For a couple of weeks I have been writing about my experiences stitching a portrait of Elizabeth 1 (currently on my website's home page).

Tomorrow morning I plan to continue my series on stitching Elizabeth 1 by writing about my proudest stitching moments.

So often my proudest stitching moments happen not when I use a difficult stitch but when I manage to convey a certain effect by choosing a stitch well. Sometimes this happens with the simplest stitches I know, and such is the case with one of my favorite parts of Elizabeth 1.

I have long said, it isn't the number of stitches or the level of difficulty that sets apart a piece of needlework; it is the skill in using the stitches to achieve certain effects. I wish I could say it is all skill, but it is usually the result of a lot of experimentation and a measure of good luck. Actually more than a measure of good luck.

For my series, visit www.GayAnnRogers.com and click on Elizabeth 1.

Gay Ann

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Looking Ahead and Dreaming

The Queen is in place on my website homepage now, and the small story of my surprise is in News&Views.

I am looking forward to our class at Callaway where Carole Lake and I are teaching the Queen. I hope we have a rousing good class for it is my final 'travel and teach' job at a seminar. Yes, after Callaway in January I am retiring from 'face to face' classes and turning to the internet.

I am a great believer that fantasy is the first component of creativity, and in the last couple of years I have found in the computer all sorts of fantastic opportunities for fantasy. I want to pursue them! I look forward to staying home with DH and MacSoph (my computer); I look forward to lots more classes at the Apple store and lots more ideas for my website.

Yes, I will miss seeing people face to face, but the computer has some great advantages. Face-to-face classes last 2 or 3 or 4 days; cyber-classes last for months. The months allow time to try a technique, think about a color, ask a question, solve a problem. Maybe, on down the line, there will be a way to combine the two. Who knows.

So here's to time to dream and see what I can do, both with needle and with computer, and hopefully a combination of the two.
Here's to more PhotoShop, some Illustrator and maybe some Flash. Here's to a magic gate, a poem, a castle and an alternative world.

I can't wait!

Gay Ann

If you would like information about Callaway Needle Arts School, here are some links.

To see all of Callaway’s offerings for January, click on the link below:

Or contact Pat Callihan at pccalli@callawaygardens.com

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Big Surprise indeed for me -- tomorrow morning

A short while ago I had a terrific surprise and I will post the story of my surprise on my website tomorrow morning.
It has to do with a piece I stitched last year.

More about it in a couple of days.
Gay Ann

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Taking a Class from Betty Chen Louis

Today is the last day to enroll in Betty Chen Louis’ first online class.

For some time I have been urging people to take Betty’s online class, in fact I have been strongly urging them to do so. The project is small and therefore stitch-able, and the lessons are so important.

So important for in Betty’s lessons lies a shift of emphasis, a way of reorienting how her students see needlework. While stitch and thread are important parts of a successful piece of embroidery, they are not the only parts. They aren’t an end in themselves, they are the tools. It isn’t about the stitches and threads; it’s what you do with the stitches and threads that matters. And nobody currently working in my needlework world is more aware of it nor more able to access it than Betty Chen Louis.

That’s why I have been beating the drums and urging people to take a class from her.

And once again:
I should have said in the beginning: I have no financial interest in Betty’s projects; I just think they are extraordinary.

Gay Ann
(posted also on my website today).

Monday, April 26, 2010

More of Betty Chen Louis on my Website

This morning I added another page of needlework designs from Betty.
For quick reference: www.GayAnnRogers.com and click on 'elegant embroidery' on the yellow navigation bar.

Here is another opportunity to see more work by the person I think is the best designer/teacher now working in my world of needlework, so don't miss the opportunity to study her sense of line and color.

As you look at her work please take a few minutes to notice the following: the transitions of line and color in her work, the flow of the design elements, the relationships of the elements one to another and her unequaled sense of the interaction of positive-negative space. All of these are things that help make her work so elegant and graceful. Put another way: the elements of Betty's designs live so comfortably in their space.

Please take some time and visit and revisit, learn and study her work. Most of all, enjoy.

Gay Ann

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Betty Chen Louis on my website

Late last night I posted some of Betty Chen Louis' needlework including the Cityscapes she will teach of the Embroiderers' Guild (EGA) at their national seminar in San Francisco in September.

Seeing the collection of Betty's Cityscapes is a must, as IMHO they are some of the best contemporary embroidery. She is the mistress of line and color in our needlework world and if you look at her work you will instantly understand why.

Betty has taught at almost every national seminar for the past gazillion years and now for the first time, she is offering a class online through Shining Needle Society. Her classes aren't like the majority of needlework classes where we show people how to recreate our projects stitch by stitch. Betty's classes always go a step further by incorporating work on design even when students are recreating what she has made.

I am excited to see the opportunity come to Shining Needle Society and our online needlework community.

Gay Ann

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Op Ed: The Power of a Photograph

In the past couple of weeks I have posted photos of work by three people who are teaching at EGA's seminar in San Francisco this September. The idea began because a friend of mine pointed out that some of the photographs in the seminar issue of Needle Arts were unclear to say the least. The problem is, many people planning to attend the seminar choose their classes by the photographs of the projects, and how likely would a person opt for a class that looked like a yellow glob instead of a delicate piece of whitework?

I chose three teachers whose projects looked less than sparkling in EGA's online and printed seminar brochures; I asked if they would like to send me photographs, let me try to fix a few and then post them on my website. I was hoping to help a bit.

To correct the color cast of one of the worst photos, that is take away the yellow cast of the photo, I literally clicked on three buttons -- it took less than a minute. Such is the power of a digital camera and a computer with photographs these days.

So why aren't the seminar photographs aren't better quality? I haven't a clue. I just know that after untold amounts of work on the part of a teacher who designs and stitches a project in the best faith her work will be presented well, a photograph can do real harm to a seminar class.

I hope you who read this column will go and have a look at Jane Ellen's, Carolyn's and Sara's work on my website. Their work is wonderful and deserves nothing less than a sparkling presentation. My renditions of the photographs are far from perfect, but they do get the point across that the work is beautiful and delicate, and after all, that's what the photographs need to convey.

To see the photographs go to www.GayAnnRogers.com and click on 'Jane Ellen' and 'Carolyn'. Sara's beadwork is on my homepage.

Gay Ann

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My New Heart and Colors

For four days now I have been posting colors for a new heart I finished stitching a short while ago. I have posted a new version on my home page each day, then after a day on my home page I move the heart to a page called "My New Hearts". On this page is the whole collection.

So how many colors are there? I am afraid to count.

I used this heart to learn about a color changing aspect of PhotoShop which I found difficult, so I had to practice and practice. Each practice I made a new heart.

It has been a long haul, learning PhotoShop, but I hope it will prove worthwhile for my students and followers. If I can use it well, it will be the best tool I have found for showing alternative ways of looking at a piece of needlework.

All too often in needlework, we get fixed on a single way to do a design, as if the mistakes we make have to be ripped immediately and corrected to look just like the model; in reality, there are as many ways to do a design as there are people stitching the design. We just have to convince our little needlework world that bringing a bit of yourself to your needlework world is a worthy goal.

So onward and upward with PhotoShop, and onward with more and more heart colors, as I hope it all makes a valid point.

Gay Ann

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A New Hearts Project: Undertaking a New Design

Several days ago I started a new project on my website and in my general classroom at Shining Needle Society: 2 new heart designs.

One of these new heart designs will have a twist: I will ask the people in my Shining Needle Society to help me design it.

Our first undertaking: I asked people to suggest themes for the new hearts. After a small bit of editing, the list is now 26 themes long and is posted on my website, www.GayAnnRogers.com, click on Stitch Gay Ann Stash. Now the people in my classroom are voting to narrow the list to 5 subjects.

So how is it going? I have 2 leaders who emerged quickly, but after yesterday's vote, 4 of the subjects are now nipping at the heels of the leaders. Today should be interesting.

Once I narrow the list, I will ask people to vote again and choose the topic of the heart I will design.

Then all along the way I will ask for advice. For example, I may do two drawings and let the group choose which one they like better. Then I will seek advice on choices of threads and stitches and we will see how it comes out.

I must admit, I look forward each day to seeing how the vote is going. Tomorrow I will know the answer.

So what is the purpose of all of this? Too many people think a design emerges complete and finished and ready to stitch. I am hoping people will see that the design process is the opposite: not just one single correct choice, then a bunch of wrong choices, but many choices of merit. Choices all along the way. The choices aren't over till one takes the final stitch.

If people begin to see this process perhaps they will bring some of the freedom of choice to their own needlework. I can always hope.

I hope this is an adventure in more than a bunch of stitches and threads on a fixed and static design.

Gay Ann

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Hearts Sale Ends Tomorrow

For the last couple of weeks I have had a small sale of hearts (four of them to be exact) on my website. It finishes tomorrow at 6:00 pm or as soon as I take it down. I say 'as soon as I take it down' because DH wants to go to the movies at just about the time my Hearts Sale is supposed to end.

Someone asked me why I don't keep sales going on my website all the time; my answer is a simple one: Time. There is another component too: Organization. The two are linked together, as in, it takes a lot of Time to stay Organized and keep on top of these sales. So I do them, but not all the time.

I enjoyed my Hearts Sale and have started thinking about next year already. I finished one new heart this February and have some more drawings set to go. Hearts are fun to stitch because they don't take months and months; usually I start one and in a few evenings it's finished. It takes a few days to write the instructions and then I can move on to another.

So how do I plan to end my sale? By announcing next year's Hearts Sale and asking for a bit of help. I have been at work in PhotoShop and have a question I hope my classroom at Shining Needle Society will help me answer. All for Monday morning.

Meanwhile, the Time Factor is rearing its ugly head: on with four months of writing instructions for seminars.

Gay Ann

Sunday, February 07, 2010

A Surprise on Monday Morning

On my website I will have a little bit of a surprise in the morning: I will uncover 4 windows on my home page (www.GayAnnRogers.com).

Most of my followers have figured this surprise out, but they can't guess which ones because some are new.

Happy Valentine's Day on Queendom Website!

Gay Ann

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Callaway 2010 and 2011

I had not realized how long it has been since I posted on my blog. I promised somewhere along the line that I would write here more frequently and I see I have done just the opposite. Maybe this year I will be better about it all.

Catching up on my life: after E-Week last fall, I mailed out a ton of Townhouse instructions for people signed up for the class at Shining Needle Society. The class doesn't start until next month, but we did an 'early-registration-start-the-Nun's-Stitch' month in December. I ran it right along with my 'Stitch Gay Ann Stash' program for Shining Needle Society also.

After I mailed Townhouses, I had to start on Callaway preparations. I love to go to Callaway! It is my favorite needlework venue. I am not the only needlework teacher who feels this way -- in fact most of my long-time peers love it best. There is something so relaxed and wonderful about Callaway. The whole setting is informal and beautiful, friendly and hassle free.

This year at Callaway I took photos and posted them on my website in hopes of giving people a feeling for the ambience there; then I had permission to post next year's classes, Callaway 2011, and I just finished posting them. As usual, Callaway seems to have the best of the year's offerings -- go have a look and see if you don't agree:

www.GayAnnRogers.com and click on 'Callaway 2010'. If you scroll down, you will find 5 pages of photos for next year's classes.

Next year will be special because it is the 40th Anniversary for the Needle Arts School.

I am newly back from Callaway 2010 and am transitioning into a winter and spring of writing instructions. I have a full plate with classes for EGA in San Francisco and for Callaway next year. Right now it looks like I will be busy writing instructions for about 4.5 - 5 months. Yikes! I had best get busy.

Gay Ann