Friday, March 14, 2014


Note: Look for the "secret code" in one of the articles and get a 20% discount on any book you order including books from past blogs and books you heard about.  Information for ordering at end of this blog.  Enjoy!

          April Showers  Bring May Flowers 

 It's a lovely April  evening in Phoenix, Arizona. Every time I open the back door I smell Jasmine and citrus flowers blooming.  That delicious scent permeates the yard and my brain, taking me back to Cairo, Egypt when I resided there back in the 1990's.  Cairo has a similar climate to Phoenix.  Taking evening walks in spring the smell of jasmine was everywhere along with the frogs croaking.  It was a common to see little children run between stopped the cars, carts, trucks waving strings of jasmine flowers at the drivers and passengers and the pedestrians as well.  I bought a string star-shaped white flowers and for days my apartment was naturally scented.  I still have that necklace with me today. Tomorrow I'm going to string jasmine flowers into another necklace.

It's Spring! Color is Coming Back in our Lives

                This rainbow vortex was taken in Arizona
I have a friend who is color blind, not just to green and red, but to most color in general.  She discerns color by the shades of grey - a feat I can't imagine.  I guess if we watch a b/w movie we can get some idea what she deals with all the time.  But most of us have the ability to enjoy color and should give thanks we have this miraculous sense.  Enjoy the spring colors. 

I think one of the most valuable "colors" in our life is happiness so I had to include The 7 Secrets of Happiness: A Reluctant Optomist's Journey by British writer Gyles Brandreth a brilliant writer, broadcaster, stage actor and more.   I love his Oscar Wilde mystery series.  But this time he takes on the pursuit of happiness and why it matters - no wishy-washy, feel-good mumbo-jumbo but instead he wrote a straightforward, down-to-earth guidance to being happy. When he lectured on happiness at the University of Birmingham he received a standing ovation.  He interviews the like Archbishop Tutu, renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Anthony Clare, singer, Rod Steward, the Queen of Denmark and others in this insightful book.  $10.99  

What colors we chose for our homes, inside and out or what colors we wear says lots about us. It also affects how feel about life.  I've noticed when people chose a new homes on HGTV, after location, color in the homes they walk through really plays a role in home they select. Needlework is no different. Pick the wrong colors and UGH! a great design looks horrible. Chose other colors and the praises never quit. 

While I was thinking about color by sheer concidence, I read a blog by Michelle who owns, Come to the Point! located at 10 California Avenue, San Rafael, CA 94901. Michelle and I have exchanged thoughts for years and has given me permission to reprint whatever she blogs so I'm taking her up on this offer and reprinting a blog she did October 2013.  The title gives me a laugh every time I read it and the information is invaluable about color in needlework.  So take a break and enjoy Michelle's blog: "Poison Color OR Why That "Poke in the Eye" Actually Works.  By the way, you get the benefits of two other great needleworkers thoughts as well as Michelle's.
Poison Color OR Why That "Poke in the Eye" Actually works.
     "One of the primary issues I've encountered with customers who aren't happy with their pieces revolves around one color that is disliked.  The more options we explore, however, the more the stitcher realizes the color is there for a reason.  It is so powerful, nothing else will work.

I contacted Linda Kilgore about this "indispensable color" idea. Linda is a fabulous stitcher who has spent many years taking courses in the needlearts, including seminars in color theory through the ANG.  I had heard of the "poison color theory, but did not understand it. Thanks to Linda now I do. Her generous and informative reply is excerpted below."

'Poison color is a theory Marnie Ritter coined in her book, "Embroidery My Way for Fabric and Canvas" on page 11 and following.  Marnie is a well-known needle artist who has taught nationally for years, and written several best-selling books featuring her lovely floral designs. I took a painting class from her years ago, studying the use of colors in backgrounds.   $35.00

Marnie says.....When choosing a color take a chance and add one more color that seems a bit "off" to you. For instance, a chartreuse green when everything else is in the family of tree greens, or perhaps a tint of magenta when the family choice is soft pink.  The addition of "off" and out-of-sync will add a sophistication to your embroidery that separates the mundane from the terrific. "

Sage Advice from Linda: "Here are some factors to consider when selecting threads for your canvas. Ask yourself what style of canvas am I doing? For example, if it is a lovely flower, then the poison theory would work. Who hasn't looked inside a flower and seen surprisingly amazing colors hiding there?

If the canvas is whimsical or cartoon-like, perhaps a poison colors is not the best choice. If it is about Halloween, poison colors work very well, and add playful quality that catches the eye. If it is a 17th century piece, choose colors appropriate to that time period.  (discount code: 1404)

It's all about the designer's artwork and what it is telling you to choose colorwise. So here the decision becomes one of, "What is the most appropriate use of color in my new piece? Where is the source of light in the canvas, how will the color choices help or define the forms in the canvas based on the source of light? The questions are endless.

The more questions you ask the better your piece will be. "

If you want to "visit" Michelle's shop go to: www.cometothepoint. com. 

Of course it doesn't hurt to include color resources in your needlework library so I've included some great books below.

Ritter, Marnie - Embroidery My Way for Fabric and Canvas- This book was mentioned in the above article and highly recommended.  $32.95 

The Kangaroo Dyer - Color Grid - This has been a best-seller. Teaches you how to use the template, select the major colors of the paper, place the circles over these colors, now select the color in the rectangle as a ribbon or card for the spark.  Easy I've did it in less than five minutes.  $7.95 

Burr, Trish - Colour Confidence in Embroidery - This book has been designed by a world-class embroiderer who understands the use of color based on her own experience with long and short stitch shading. Each aspect is clearly illustrated by example and includes tools for selecting colors, choosing shades that enhance embroidery, why some shades blend better than others, and the importance of contrast with light and shadow. She includes projects to represent each color group including stunning roses, caemmlias, fruit and much sought after bee-eater birds. Then there the chapters on color combinations and complementary colors that include more than 200 stitched examples with DMC thread keys, plus schemes to help choose colors for your own projects. $32.95 

Dean, Jenny - A Heritage of Color - Jenny loves writing about creating your own colors.  In this book you can learn to create a wealth of color from 50 plants, including many that have been in constant use as dyes for over 2000 years. She even includes dyeing with fungi, contact printing on cloth and dyeing multi-coloured fibres and fabrics. She explains in detail how to experiment with local plants, no matter where you live, to produces rich beautiful color on textile fibres.  $24.95 

Metz, Deb - ColorWorks: the crafter's guide to color - If you are stumped about which colors to use in a needlework project, beading, weaving or other crafts, using this book gives you a practical guide. Deb covers color theory principles clearly and includes 270 hand-crafted swatches that bring color palettes to life. There is a handy back pocket to store all your ideas.  This is a classic.  $24.95 

If you want to learn more about color itself:

Birren, Faber - Creative Color - A knowledge of perception is the springboard to a more inventive use of color in art. Enjoy the interesting experiments at the end of every chapter and you will learn how to consistently produce effects that artists have rarely achieved. Included is a list of Munsell-coded palettes by which the author's color effects may be duplicated.  $19.95 

Birren, Faber - Principles of Color: A Review of Past Traditions and Modern Theories of Color Harmony - This is an elementary work on color, dealing with traditional principles of harmony as well as advanced principles derived from modern studies of the psychology of human color perception.  $14.95

Legrand, Catherine - Indigo: The Color That Changed the World - This is the ultimate reference on indigo dyeing techniques across the world, and a compendium of the most beautiful samples of indigo textiles. The author spent more than 20 years traveling and researching this subject and has a great knowledge of ancient techniques, patterns, and clothing traditions. $50.00 

Sherman, Baruch - The Rarest Blue: The Remarkable Story of an Ancient Color Lost to History - For centuries blue and purple dyed fabrics commanding many times their weight in gold. Few people knew their secrets. This book tells the incredible story of "tekhelet", the elusive sky-blue color mentioned throughout the Bible. After the Roman empire the color vanished. Then, in the 19th century a marine biologist marveled as a yellow snail guts smeared on a fisherman's shirt turned blue. But why did this happen? Our author's recount the amazing story of this scared dye (lots of twists and turns!) that changed the color of history.  $24.95 

I had a wonderful phone call from Edie Feisner who shared the good news her wonderful book on color: Color Studies 3rd Edition is once again available.  Edie taught color, design, and introduction to visual arts in the School of Fine Arts at Montclair State University. She also taught for the Embroiderer's Guild of America so of course she remembers those who work with threads in this edition. This book is a complete introduction to color theory and application for students in a broad range of studies including fashion design, textile design and more. New to this edition are new chapter objectives, key terms, end-of-chapter summaries and beginning and advanced exercises.  It has a new Internet resource in the appendix, up-to-date discussion of sustainable color applications and green materials as the underlying component of colorants, dyes, and inks in textiles, printmaking and paints, new chapter on color and digital technology and teaching resources; instructor's guide and PowerPoint presentation are available.  $90.00


Life itself is a mystery. Perhaps that is why so many readers love mysteries. In real life we probably will never get to solve a murder mystery but there are plenty of other happenings that need solving.  Maybe you have a curiosity to know more about your family history and finding your roots.  Or maybe you want to find an old friend you've lost touch with.  Where is she now?  Maybe you've served on a jury and had to decide the guilt or innocence of someone on trial.  Or perhaps you wonder if is there really is a Loch Ness Monster, do UFO's exist or is there a Big Foot.  So for us "curious people solving crimes can be an addictive read.  Presently,  I'm reading a superb historical mystery by Imogen Robertson that takes place in England in the late 1700's.  This British author can really use her imagination and the written language to her advantage?.

Who is Imogen Robertson? One of the best prose writers of today.  Her reviews are glowing from the likes of Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, The New York Times Book Review, Booklist, and on and on.  She has worked as a television, film, and radio director before writing full-time. I'm not a big mystery reader but she's got me hooked on her Westerman/Crowther novels: Instruments of Darkness; Anatomy of Murder; Island of Bones (I'm finishing this one now. Yum! Yum!) 

Imogen lives in London and brings England of the Georgian time period to life as she does her characters and plot with her brilliant use of language.

The main characters Harriet Westerman ( a wealthy woman who was up for adventure including sailing on her husband's ships to all parts of the world and now home raising a son is up for intelligent adventure.  Her partner of crime is Gabriel Crowthers, an anatomist, with secrets of his own.

The first book,  Instruments of Darkness, brings the two protagonists together when Harriet finds a dead man on her grounds and enlists reclusive anatomist Gabriel Crowther to help her find the murderer.  $15.00 

The second book, Anatomy of Murder, finds us in London in 1781 with Harriet awaiting word of her husband, a ship's captain.  And as London seethes with war rumors, a body is dragged from the murky waters of the Thames.  $15.00 

The third book, Island of Bones, sends these two to Crowther's family estate, he had sold on the death of his father. But an ancient tomb  reveals an extra body inside.  Who is it and why was it placed in someone else's tomb? What they learn will rewrite Crowther's familys past - and spill new blood in a land torn between old magic and modern justice.  $15.00  

The fourth book, Circle of Shadows, sends them to a small German market town.  While the nobility dance at a masked ball, the beautiful Lady Martesen is murdered. Daniel Clode is found by her body, his wrists cut and his memories nightmarish. What has he done?  $16.00  This is due out soon.


Allan, Barbara - Antiques Chop: A Trash 'n Treasures Mystery - A gristly axe murder, a reality TV show, and a dark family secret combine for fun and mayhem in the seventh book of the series hailed by "Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine" as 'one of of the funniest cozy series going.' Includes tips on antiques. $7.99 

Allen, Beverly - Bloom and Doom: A Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery - First in a new series. Bridal bouquests designer Audry Bloom is asked by her childhood friend, Jenny, to arrange her wedding bouquet. But after the groom is found dead - sprinkled with bits of the bouquet - Jenny becomes the prime suspect. $7.99

Archer, Connie - A Roux of Revenge: A Soup Lover's Mystery - Lucky's soup shop is busier than usual with itinerant works in town for the Harvest Festival. After an unidentified man is murdered, simmering suspicions about the travelers are brought to a boil, and it's time for Lucky to turn up the heat on a killer, $7.99 

Carmack, Amanda - Queen Elizabeth's Daughter - In Queen Elizabeth's court, royal musician, Kate Haywood, befriends Lady Mary Everley, who eerily resembles Elizabeth - which makes Mary's murder all the more chilling. But when another redhead is murdered, Kate must find a killer whose grievance can only be answered with royal blood.  $7.99   

Graves, Sarah - A Bat in the Belfry: A Home Repair is Homicide Mystery - When it comes to home repair, Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree is a fervent wielder of power drills and paint brushes. But when a shocking murder rocks the small town of Eastport, Maine, Jake may be the next victim for whom the bell tolls.  $7.99 

Purser, Ann - Wild Wood Enquiry: An Ivy Beasley Mystery -  A reclusive widow claims she has been tormented by ghostly investigators so she hires Ivy and her fellow investigators at Enquire Within to get to the bottom of the mystery. When the ghost is revealed to be flesh and blood, the widow may be in more trouble than Ivy and her team can handle.  $7.99 

Barnhill, Anne Clinard - Queen Elizabeth's Daughter: A Novel of Elizabeth I - Mistress Mary Shelton is Queen Elizabeth's favorite ward, enjoying every privilege the position affords, The queen loves Mary like a daughter and wants her to make a powerful match. But when the young woman deifes her choice to be with an unsuitable man, the couple finds their very lives in danger for Elizabeth's wrath knows no bounds.  $15.99

Benjamin, Melanie - The Aviator's Wife - In the spirit of Loving Frank and The Paris Wife, this acclaimed novelist pulls back the curtain of the marriage of one of America's most extraordinary couples, Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  $15.00    Note: This is on my list. At one time I had a collection of Anne Morrow Lindbergh' s signed books, many of them diaries, papers and the original picture of the shells she used for her most famous book, The Gift from the SeaI read Charles Lindbergh too. When it was discovered Charles Lindbergh was proven by DNA to have had an on-going relationship with two sisters in Germany and had fathered children with them during his marriage to Anne I was stunned. Why? He thought his genes were superior and the world needed lots of replica's of him. Immediately, I lost all respect for him.  Some years back I had a book customer who worked with a son of the Lindberghs and learned that Charles was a controlling man, a tyrant of sorts. Not my type.  As you can imagine I'm dying to see what this well-thought of author does with this story. I don't know if Anne knew of this deceit but I am researching this out. I always had a deep respect for her and can't imagine her accepting this.  To be continued..... 

Bracewell, Patricia - Shadow on the Crown - A tale of power and forbidden love revolving around a young medieval queen. In 1002, 15-year-old Emma of Normandy weds the much older King Athelred of England. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, Emma must defend herself and secure her staus as queen by bearing a son.  $16.00 

Cullen, Lynn - Mrs. Poe - It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman - especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband.  She meets the handsome and mysterious Edgar Allan Poe at a literary party and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.  As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears.  $15.95 

Fiorato, Marina - The Venetian Bargain - The author of the acclaimed The Glassblower of Murano makes a triumphant return to historical Venice with this novel that chronicles the city's decimation after it becomes infected with bubonic plague in 1576.  It begins with a seriously ill man disembarking from a ship with a gift for Venice from Constantinople. Within days of this ailing visitor's arrival the city is infected with bubonic plague and the Turkish Sultan has his revenge. A stowaway, Feyra, a young harem doctor fleeing a life as a concubine, keeps alive by using her medical knowledge and wits. Meanwhile, the Doge commissions the architect, Andrea Palladio to build a cathedral so magnificent that God will spare the city any more deaths. Our author brings the city, the time period and characters alive. Great reviews.  $15.99

Connor McNees, Kelly O. - The Island of Doves - Vivid and enthralling, this new work by the author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott tells the story of two women in early 19th-century America - one typical of her time, the other extraordinary for it - who transforms each other's lives.  $15.00 

Rutherford, Edward - Paris: The Novel - This New York Times-bestselling epic about the magnificent city of Paris from the grand master of the historical novel. Moving back and forth in times, the story unfolds through intimate and thrilling tales of self-discovery, divided loyalty, and long-kept secrets.  $18.00


I've never met Cynthia in person but I know her from ordering lots of her great stitch guides and her first latest book, Noses, Roses, and Other Fun Stuff - $35.00.  
Highly recommended!

She has done stitch guides for some very impressive designers: Melissa Shirley, A Bradley, Shelley Tribbe, Maggie and Company and Rebecca Wood and others.  In fact, she has done close to 300 stitch guides. That must be some kind of Guiness Book record. 

Like many of needleworkers she was exposed to people loving needlework early. Her grandparents were tailors and she was exposed to their business as a child. In earlier years her knitting came before needlepoint but now for many years needlepoint  consumes most of her time,  Cynthia has taught needlework for over twenty years, teaching at TNNA and many shops. She managed to write over 300 stitch guides so she has touched needleworkers on so many levels.from her classes and the following stitch guides.  

Shelly Tribbey's  12 Days of Christmas Canvases BG-21-32 $35.00 

Rebecca Wood Goofy Ghouls - 740 booklet - $27.95 

Rebecca Wood Tree for All Seasons booklet - $58.95 

Rebecca Wood Halloween Village - $39.95 


Melissa Shirley 866 - Christmas Angels - 48.95 


There are others but they will be for another blog.


June McKnight starts our spring with a new title: Needlepoint Secrets. I borrowed her great photo of her book to show it off. What's revealed between the pages?  June includes advice about choosing wonderful canvas and how to avoid creative pitfalls.  Yes, she tells us there are badly painted canvases and shares her decades of knowledge about canvas with us.  She goes on to explain how to avoid frustrations and expensive mistakes when selecting threads. Styles of threads and sources of threads are included so you can avoid expensive mistakes. She shares tools and tricks of the trade including lighting floor stands and home remedies (eg. using dryer sheets to wipe away needle tarnish. Then she unveils a gallery of stitches and graphs based on mathematical formulas which guarantee stitching success. Count the number of threads available on the painted area and you can easily determine which stitch will fit using her magic formula.  All for the great price of $39.95    AND if you use the code found in one of the articles - you will get a 20% discount on this or any other title. 

Those of you who are familiar with June's great series of needlepoint books that are thick, 4.5x6 inch size spiral-bound on thick paper.  Below I've included a list of her best-selling titles we carry:
Colorful Stitches for Over-Dyed Threads - $24.00

Fifty new stitches colorfully fill the pages of this neat book. The text also provides a study of the thread industry and the hand-dyeing process. 

Decorative Backgrounds for Needlepoint - $24.00 

The chapters are filled with inspiration for delicate, bold, fast and easy backgrounds. Basketweave and Continental variations.

More Background Stitches - $24.00 

Building on the first background book this marvelous edition shows how canvases can be brought to live with these brand new stitches and clever techniques.

Christmas Stitches for Needlepoint - $24.00  - Great stitch ideas to create beards, mustaches, Christmas trees, fur, stars, snowflakes and many more Christmas ideas. 

Plants and Animals - $24.00 

More than sixty stitches to produce shrubbery, flowers, garden structures and animals.

Architectural Stitches for Needlepoint - $24.00

Learn how to use great stitches in all kinds of architectural scenes in needlepoint.

Christmas Bargello Medallions and Twinkling Backgrounds - $34.95

This book helps inspire an ornament that can be created in less than 60 minutes. Perfect for beginners. 

Shading and Thread Blending Techinques - $24.00 

Here June provides precise and clear instruction to move color gently on a canvas Up to the minute assistance on shading with the new over-dyed threads.

Needlepoint Wisdom - $24.00 

Basic needlepoint info and professional hints for both beginner and expert needlepointer.

Needlepoint Borders - $24.00 

Great ideas for decorative borders using a single canvas thread or many canvas threads. Offers a precise mathematical method for calculating the perfect border.

Holiday Stitches -$24.00 

Wonderful stitch ideas to celebrate every holiday: New Years, Valentines Day, Saint Patrick's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Fourth of July.  There is a Halloween chapter. Also Judaic patterns are also included.

Spooky Stitches -$39.95 

Halloween canvases can be challenging but June makes it easy with new stitches that bring life and magic to those special holiday projects. 

Bling, Glitz and Glamour for Needlepoint - $39.95

This book features 222 colorful pates of ideas and instruction for using stitches with bling.  I like the chapter that shows how to do the dress bling that many of our First Ladies wore.

Colorful Backgrounds - $39.95

This book contains page after color page of ideas and stitches for creating needlework brimming with vibrant backgrounds.

The Best Bargello Book  - $39.95

Great book to inspire new stitches and refresh those with more experience. Lots of stitches.


Hall, Felicity - Cross Stitch Alphabet and Numbers - Over 100 letters and number charts perfect for creating personalized gifts and pictures in cross stitch and needlepoint. All of the designs may be worked on aida (with stranded cotton) or canvas (with words) and you can combine them to create any names or words, so the possibilities are endless. Includes full color chartsand an idea gallery.  $22.99 (Due out in May) (No picture available yet).

Hyde, Diane - Break the Rules Bead Embroidery - The author is into multilayered jewelry, found objects, quirky oddities, old images, and vintage materials and in this book brings us 22 projects featuring these innovative materials even clever light-up earrings with mini-light bulbs haloed with floral-shaped beads and much more.  $24.95  Due out in May. 

Van Niekerk, Di - Lettres and Monogrammes - In French but good graphs for doing loads of monograms and letters in thread and ribbon.  $44.95

Ogura, Yukiko - Broderie Ruban, Les Points De Base - This is the French version of her best-selling Ribbon Embroidery which in now out-of-print in English.  $54.95 

Otsyja, Avaka - Broderie Stumpwork - In French.  This book includes great techniques and projects in padded and raised embroidery.  $43.95 

Chambon, Marie-Claude - Point De Beauvis De A-Z - In French.  This author includes techniques and designs for Tambour thread embroidery.  $44.95  


The price to Threads: A Needle Necessity Thread Reference that was listed in the March Blog is not $32.00 but $30.00 retail.  And don't forget - with the discount code you get 20% off of that.  







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