Tuesday, July 1, 2014

MY AUGUST BLOG WITH BE A FEW DAYS LATE -  I've been super busy with shipping book to four EGA seminars and now will be shipping books next week to the ANG National Seminar so I fell a little behind. Usually I publish on the 5th of each month but my August blog will be up by this weekend.  Sorry for the delay.  Ruth  Ruth Kern Books

                           JULY 2014 BLOG
      Welcome to My July Blog!  Come on In and Stay Awhile!

                 "A thoughtful life is one in which one might read
             and creep into the hearts of books as they can only be
             crept into when the wheels of daily life are grinding
             soft and low."  - Olive Schreiner - 1855 -1920

Don't forget to find 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've heard about. Information for ordering at the end of this blog.  Enjoy!

Chinese Embroidery Books Alert!

I love it when it doesn't just rain books it pours!  I've been waiting many months for the The Art of Chinese Embroidery: Foundation Level by Margaret Lee when up pops another book on Chinese embroidery, Chinese Embroidery: An Illustrated Stitch Guide by Shao Xianocheng.  Since books on this embroidery are nil at the moment I welcomed both titles with open arms.  Let me tell you about each book.

Lee, Margaret - The Art of Chinese Embroidery - Known around the world for her Chinese embroidery, Margaret has made it her passion to share the secrets of this unique stitching style. Equipment and materials are described in detail and the twenty-five core stitch techniques are fully explained providing the embroiderer with a strong and solid foundation. Seven beautiful projects are included, designed to allow a steady progression and a thorough understanding of the concepts and practices of this elegant style of embroidery.  Patterns are included.  Color throughout.  I loved reading the history and the plates are beautiful in this large soft cover book.  116 pages.  $44.95

Xiaocheng, Shao - Chinese Embroidery: An Illustrated Stitch Guide -The author is a Chinese embroidery artist and the director of the Beijing Shao Xiaocheng Embroidery Research Institute and a senior national master of arts and crafts.  Her research covers embroidery varieties on the verge of decline and those that have diaappeared since ancient times. She has also succeeded in practicing and summing up complicated techniques of repairing and duplicating those embroidered pieces.  She includes 40 projects and analyzes twenty-five kinds of needlework techniques.  Color throughout.  168 pages. $27.95.

Hill, Elaine - Chinese Designs - If you fall in love with Chinese embroidery and need more designs this Search Press book will be important in your library.  This is a photocopiable collection of decorative Chinese  patterns and motifs - flowers, plants, birds, fish, animals, figures and more.  Great for needleworkers.   $9.95

Please meet Pat Mazu needlework designer, teacher and author  

I met Pat in August of 1995 when she was first releasing her wonderful book, Finishing 101: A Workbook of Techniques and Encouragement.  I had ordered "lots" of this title for the ANG National Seminar as I was doing the bookstore.  "Your book will be a great hit. I predict a best seller."  She laughed and looked at me, "Are you sure?"  "Absolutely", I replied.  I had perused her book and my bookseller's goosebumps and prickles at the back of my neck informed me this book was going
to be a classic.  I loved Pat's generosity in encouraging the new finisher to look at other finishing books listed in her extensive bibliography.  She also encouraged us to read her text before diving into a finishing project.  No rushing ahead with the information needed to succeed.  But the most telling thing about the kind of person she is, Pat includes her phone number and her e-mail so you can reach her with your questions on finishing.  Who doesn't need a mentor when doing something new? She is generous with her time, patient with her students and is famous for her miniature Christmas Stockings. 

Finishing 101 is spiral-bound so it can be laid flat when open.  140 pages.  $39.95

As a designer her needlepoint creations are tops.  Her mini stocking designs have earned her the title of the "Christmas Stocking Queen".  Her heart designs reflect her heart- felt passion for her art.  But she designs more than stockings and
hearts.  I've included some samples of her designs here but to see all her designs just google in Pat Mazu designs and all her creations will pop up.  Meanwhile take a look at these designs I'd like to show off.  But I can get whatever pops your buttons. 

Gold and Silver Times Three: Three Petite Stockings - All Pat's designs come in clear packets and include a large color cover page of the finished projects inside.  She carefully describes what materials are needed, the finished size, in this case, the stockings are 4 1/2"  high and 3 3/8" wide if worked on #18 count canvas.  Pat includes great directions and neat graphs so each project will be totally enjoyable.  $15.00

Jeannie's Hearts: Three Heart Ornaments - Pat has designed some wonderful heart ornaments and like her stocking ornaments she includes wonderful information on the materials
needed, graphs, and precise instructions to complete these designs: Hearts and Florentine, Chevrons in a Heart,  and Hearts in a Stripe.  Use your stitching skills and learn new ones.  $15.00

Checquered Chic: Four Square Ornaments - Pat has come up

with four wonderful design to get you stitching.  What wonderful ornaments to use your stitching skills but with all
these ornament patterns to test your finishing skills as well.  Don't worry Pat will always be there with you as you read her great design directions and her finishing techniques.  $15.00


Untangling the Zentangle   


"Anything is possible - one stroke at a time."

Several years ago a needleworker called me looking for a book on Zentangle.  Having never heard of this I told her I'd see what I could discover.  Eventually I found the book but I still didn't know what I had discovered so I did more investigating.  This art process was fascinating and simple to learn with lots of pluses for the artist.  What I liked best about Zentangle was it was non-technical, no technology needed format. Even I could manage paper, pens, and paper!  Nothing is pre-programmed.  Just relax and let the creativity you didn't even know you had come through on paper.  Although there are specified steps and directions in learning this process you will be surprised to see where you will end up - original art.  But that's not all.  When you practice the Zentangle Method you will discover new levels of relaxation, improved sleep, more self-esteem, increased attention span, better problem solving, design inspiration,  improved eye/hand coordination as well as beautiful art.  

Yes, I've tried it and enjoyed it.  I'm only a beginner but enjoy the idea that a non-artistic person like me can create art.  I like to use it for getting me into a story writing mode.  If you would like to experiment with Zentangle I've included a list of books to get you started.  Have fun!  You'll discover that this art is connected to stitching.

McNeil, Susanne - Zentangle Basics - This book helps you get started. It features step-by-step illustrations for 25 tangles. Also included are tips on how to relate Zentangle to learning spelling, math, social studies, geometry and art. As artist Davilla Harding said, "Seeing the book is what inspired me to buy so many.. I just fell in love with all of the variety of tangles and just wanted them all!"  $8.99

Peter Pauper Press - Let's Tangle! the Art of Zentangle - Welcome to the wonderful and intriguing world of Zentagle! All you need to get started is a pencil, pen, and paper, or paper tiles and this book. Have you been intimidated by the beautiful Zentangle designs you've seen? This book will take you step-by-step through this simple but elegant art form. Learn how to create official tangles, your own tangles, and ZIA (Zentangle Inspired Art projects). You can complete a piece of art in one 15 -minute seeion and dozens are included.  $17.99

Design Originals - Joy of Zentangle: Drawing Your Way to Increased Creativity, Focus, and Well-Being - Zentangle is an
easy-to-learn method of pattern drawing that reduces stress while promoting creativity. This book will introduce readers to the basic theory of Zentangle and provide instructions for drawing over 100 tangle patterns. This book is filled with examples of Zentangle drawings as well as other art projects and compelling stories from those who have improved their well-being through Zentangle.  $24.99

Design Originals - Zentangle 2, Expanded Workbook Edition: Featuring  Ideas for Scrapbooks and Journals (revised) - In this inspiring book the authors offer more than 40 new tangle patterns and border designs to use in embellishing scrapbooks, sketchbooks, journals, cards, paintings, quilts, and more.  $8.99

McNeil, Susanne and Cindy Shepard - The Beauty of Zentangle: Inspirational Examples from 137 Tangle Artists Worldwide - This book celebrates the worldwide Zentangle phenomenon with hundreds of sensational one-of-a-kind designs all done breakthrough artists and Certified Zentanlge Teachers.  $24.99

McNeill, Suzanne - Zentangle 8 -Monograms - Alphabets - Elegant letters are the perfect way to personalize a greeting card, stationary of a memorable gift. Turn mundane mail into envelopes that promise something really special. Send special tangled thank you notes and enclosure cards for showers, weddings and baby announcements. Using the relaxing process of Zentangle you can create unique letters with stunning details and sumptuous backgrounds - one tangle at a time. You will be amazed as delightful designs flow beautifully from your hand.  $8.,99

McNeill, Suzanne - Zentangle: Fabric Arts Quilting Embroidery - If you enjoy working with fabric, quilts and embroidery, you will be inspired with Zentangle. Begin by drawing simple tangles on fabric. Like needle and thread, Zentangle and fabric are meant to marry. You will love the calming process. Learn to use permanent fabric markers to add unique tangles onto quilt blocks, postcards, ATC's and wearables. Experiment with the decorative stitches on your machine as you stitch blocks with tangles. Turn your sewing machine loose and feel the zen of free-motion quilting on wall hangings or quilts.  $15.99

McNeil, Suzanne - Zen-Sational Stitches for Quilting: Inspired by Zentangle - Quilters around the world are discovering stitching with Zentangle inspired patterns. It is easy to apply patterns to their craft, creating beautiful quilts using repeated symbols called tangles. This book offers a variety of projects, so the busy sewer can explore this exciting trand. many projects - potholders, pillows and totes, for example, can be accomplished in about an hour, so they are perfect for sharing with groups.  $18.99

A Love of Tea and Tea Cozies
"You can't get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me"
                                        C.S. Lewis

Did you know that the drinking of tea instead of gin in 18th Century Britain life expectancy rose significantly? Did you know that tea was crucial in maintaining British morale in WWII?  Did you know that the tea bag was a mistake?  The silk bags were used for tea samples by a New York tea dealer and by accident the samples were infused with boiling water.  The rest was history.  These are just a few of the numerous historical trivia that surrounds the delightful drink of tea.

In the Tuscon area of Arizona an elementary teacher was clever enough to use tea as a teaching aid for her fifth graders. The girls wearing dresses and hats and the boys in ties walked into their school cafeteria and found the tables had clothes, flowers, and china cups.  For many it was there first cup  of tea that many students took with sugar.  Now this wonderful tea party is incorporated with a reading challenge.  Depending what the book is about a food from that novel is incorporated into the tea. For example, when reading, "Old Yeller," cornbread and molasses with honey that was spoke of often in the book was served. I bet at one of these events Alice's famed tea party was discussed. AIMS scores have risen and so has reading proficiency.  And I'd like to add so have good manners. This got me to thinking why couldn't a tea party be incorporated in book clubs and groups?  I can't think of anything better, myself.  Discount Code: DGJY

Today tea has gained in popularity in the United States though not overtaking coffee as yet.  When I go into Einsteins for a take out breakfast, tea definitely rates second as a hot beverage. In fact when I order tea (even at 6:30 am) I am invariably asked, "Ice tea?"  To make matters worse for tea lovers some of the staff sports shirts that say, "My perfect cup of tea is a great cup of coffee!"  Humph! A little gloom cloud forms over my head as I reach into a glass jar for a beautiful wrapped English breakfast tea bag.  But with a first sip of my tea my mood mellows and the day looks brighter.

At home I don't drink tea out of a paper cup and I mostly use loose tea.  I'm into Silver Needle tea at the moment.  This is the highest grade of white tea and one of the rarest teas in the world so savor it at special moments. Silver Needle is harvested only a few days each spring from the first tiny leaves that appear.  My morning tea is usually black, an Irish blend does nicely. I drink from a mug and not a tea cup as I need to carry it around with me as I work.  Lately I've been brewing in a teapot since I'm now in the habit of  drinking more than one large cup.

Since I've got a number of tea pots and have used them all I realized tea doesn't stay piping hot very long. A friend made me a tea cozy quilted in lovely colors.  That simple addition makes a big difference in my tea temperature.  Coffee pots are normally electric and the plate stays warm.  Who ever heard of a coffee cozy?  But tea cozies are fun to use and fun to make.  I've noticed that knitted cozies has become very popular.  I haven't knitted in years but I'm actually thinking of attempting a tea cozy this winter when all the needlework seminars are finished.  I've been perusing books on the subject so I've included some in case your great cup of tea is REALLY a cup of tea!!

GMC Publications - Tea Cozies - This is the first book in a very popular tea cozy series. I adore the sheep tea cozy, the fish cozy is great too as is the kitty and so are the sweater- looking cozies. $14.95

GMC Publications - Tea Cozies 3 - No matter the shape of your teapot this series can teach you how to make a "great teapot fit".  There is something to suit every personality or décor. This third edition pushes tea cozies to the max but there are tea cozies for the beginner.  From a froth of colorful butterflies, to lush grapevines on a trellis to a clever mermaid these patterns are fantastic.  $14.95

GMC Publications - Tea Cozies 4 -  This new addition to this beloved series arrived with this new year and features some of the most popular yarn craft experts including: Alison Howard, Emma Varnam and Sian Brown along designs by talented readers of "Knitting" magazine, each one chosen for their great design and color sense and of course knitting and crochet skill.  $14.95

Prior, Loani - Wild Tea Cosies - If you like lots of fun décor even in your tea cozies this book has 24 step-by-step patterns with straightforward  simple instructions.  Are you into chickens or frogs or perhaps sunflowers? There are patterns for those and many more designs.  Have fun! $21.95

Prior, Loani - How Tea Cosies Changed the World - 24 fun and fabulous designs that can change the conventional teapot into a knitted piece of art.  Designs include Lily of the Valley, Devilish, spotted Gourd, Forest Bloom and Starry Night among many others. All directions are easy to follow.  $19.95

And Tea Mysteries too! 
Since we are on the subject of tea, Laura Childs Tea Shop Mysteries popped into my head.  Here is a chance to read a good mystery and learn lots about tea at the same time. She has finished her 15th book in the series which tells us that her series is beloved by mystery readers and has been a N.Y. Times bestseller. 

If you want to start at the beginning you can get the first three titles in one book, Tea for Three.  $17.00.   In Death by Darjeeling, our tea shop owner, Theodosia Browning, is serving tea for two hundred or so at the annual historic homes garden party when one guest is found dead clutching a teacup. In Gunpowder Green Theo unveils her latest flavor of tea at a yacht race when she hears the crack of an antique gun and a member of the Charleston elite falls dead.  Shades of Earl Grey - Theo attends the engagement soiree of the season where a wedding ring- a family heirloom from Marie Antoinette's crown - goes missing. 

Below I've included the latest four in the series in paperback for those who have read others.  I can get the titles in-between - not a problem! 

Teabury Strangler #11 - Theo discovers the body of the local map store owner in an alley behind her tea shop, and is alarmed by Detective Tidwell's theory that she was the intended victim.  $7.99

Scones and Bones #12 - Theo is lured into attending the Heritage Society's 'Pirates and Plunder" soiree. But an antique diamond skull ring gets plundered by someone who murders a history intern in the process and Theo is on the hunt for a killer.  $7.99

Agony of the Leaves #13 - Theo finds herself in hot water at the grand opening of Charleston's Neptune Aquarium.  She's been hired to cater the event, and things are going swimmingly until she discovers the body of her former boyfriend. Includes recipes.  $7.99

Sweet Tea Revenge #14 - Theo's best friend has asked her to be a bridesmaid but when the wedding day arrives everything is going wrong. A massive storm is brewing over Charleston, the bride's sister is late and worst of all the groom is dead.  $7.99

Time for a cup of tea!


Blomkamp, Hazel - Crewel Intentions: Fresh Ideas for Jacobean Embroidery - The author of the very popular Crewel Twists -$29.95- continues the concept of using non-traditional techniques and materials in crewel and Jacobean embroidery. She showcases four large projects, each with an accompanying small project similar in technique, and shows needle workers how to be creative with threads, alternative stitches and beads. Traditional techniques are explained but are extended with the use of bead embroidery, needlelace techniques, and stitches not normally used in crewel work. Many new needle lace and bead embroidery techniques are incorporated, and the book also explores weaving techniques used to create textures like twill and tartan and houndstooth check. Every project is clearly explained with step-by-step instructions and lots of photos and the completed embroideries are once again displayed in ways that are both decorative and functional in the home. Templates of the original design complete this great source for creative embroidery.  $29.95  Due in September.  (I couldn't wait to tell you!)

Fall, Cheryl - Simply Samplers: Easy Techniques for Hand Embroidery - A sampler is a project made from a "sampling" of different stitches or different motifs. This book covers samplers in several different styles: cross-stitch, counted thread, surface, and freestyle embroidery. The author shares creative uses for sampler art beyond the basic wall hanging; gift bags, ornaments, scarves, tote bags, and more. She includes a how-to section with step-by-step instructions for basic embroidery stitches and sewing skills. Enjoy the 16 projects for decorative sampler designs plus creative variations.  $19.95  Due in August.

Friedlander, Carolyn - Savor Each Stitch: Studio Quilting with Mindful Design - An explanation of how selecting different materials, textures, and substrates combined with playing with the design concepts of line, contrast, scale, emphasis, color, volume and texture can impact the end result of the design. 8 quilts each with a multitude of color way options, illustrate how each design decision can impact the direction of a quilt. Projects range from table runners to full sized quilts each encouraging readers to play with design possibilities to create unique quilts of their own.  $27.95

Interweave Press - Mollie Makes Embroidery: Adorable Stitched Projects Plus Tips and Tricks - Basic embroidery stitches are clearly explained with step-by-step illustrations. This
book covers how to work from charted designs as well as following freeform or doodle stitching. There are also brief tutorials on crewel work, ribbon embroidery, bargello, cross-stitch, and even machine embroidery. More than 15 contemporary projects from an international range of embroidery experts will demonstrate the different ways in which the techniques and stitches can be used.  Due out in August.  $19.99

Learner, Michaela - Ready to Stitch: Borders and Motifs - This is a collection of designs with accompanying iron-on transfer sheets for embellishing, upcycling and revamping clothes and accessories. Simply chose a design from one of the 32 stitches samplers provided, transfer it to your item using the corresponding iron-on transfer sheet, and add hand stitching following the instructions. With just ten simple embroidery stitches to choose from, all with clear, step-by-step diagrams, even those new to stitching will be able to tackle all the designs provided. Or you can interpret and experiment with the designs and give them your unique style.  Information on DMC thread colors included.  The eighty designs include flowers, butterflies, hearts, and fairies and much more.  $24.95  Due in August.

Shaw, Mandy - Modern Redwork Embroidery: Quilt and Stitch Redwork and Embroidery Designs - This book shares modern ideas for an old-style embroidery.  $23.99

I couldn't leave this blog without adding a few more mysteries.

Logan, Kylie - Death by Devil's Breath: A Chili Cook-Off Mystery - Maxie Pierce and the Chili Showdown are in Las Vegas for a very heated contest devoted to judging the legendary and notorious Devil's Breath chili. The guest judges are five casino performers with a taste for chili and an eye for publicity. But one of them is going to get more than he bargained for. Includes recipes. $7.99

Pike, Penny - Death of a Crabby Cook: A Food Festival Mystery - First in a new series.  When Bay Area restaurant reviewer Darcy Burnett is let go, she joins her feisty aunt Abby's hip food truck. After a local chef turns up dead at the San Francisco Seafood Festival, and her aunt is framed for the murder, Darcy wonders if one of the other vendors did him in. Includes recipes. $7.99

Adams, Ellery - Murder in the Mystery Suite - First in a new series. Storyton Hall in rural western Virginia is a resort that caters to book lovers. Resort manager Jane Steward organizes a Murder and Mayhem week so mystery fans can gather together for some role-playing and fantasy crime solving. But one fan takes the game too far, and Jane is determined to find a real-life killer,  $7.99

Casey Elizabeth Lynn - Taken In: A Southern Sewing Circle Mystery - When a trip to the Big Apple ends in murder, members of the Sweet Briar Ladies Society Sewing Circle search for a killer who's rotten to the core. Includes a patern and sewing tips.  $7.99