Friday, October 10, 2014





I'm late!  I'm late!  I'm late for an important date.  No time to say hello, goodbye. I'm late! I'm late! I'm late.   The white rabbit - Alice in Wonderland.

I know how that white rabbit felt for I'm experiencing that right now.  But it is all good.

This is a very busy month for me because the Embroidery Guild of America National Seminar 14 is coming to Phoenix and I'm doing the bookstore.  I've done the bookstores for the past twenty plus years but never near home.  I'm thrilled that over 600 enthusiastic needleworkers will be visiting Phoenix and stitching. 

There will teachers flying in from other parts of the world - Jane Nicholas, the Mistress of Stumpwork and Alison Cole, the Mistress of Goldwork.  I've met Jane at a number of past seminars but I'm thrilled to be meeting Alison for the first time.  Her two books; The Midas Touch and All That Glitters are classics in goldwork embroidery.  At present distributors are no longer carrying these great titles but she is bringing a number of books to the seminar along with her talent.  I'm having her sign them.   Jane will be signing books too - a selection of her titles her latest is her Stumpwork Butterflies and Moths noted below .  $32.95

All That Glitters - The book covers both stumpwork and goldwork and features stitches, techniques, and projects ranging from dimensional framed pieces to functional items all with clear easy-to-read instructions, illustrations, and color photos.  I'm not quite sure what the price is now but the price should be in the $30.00 range.

The Midas Touch - This book is 142 pages of 11 projects, with clear instructions and color photos, techniques and supplies needed.  Her work is exquisite.  This was in the $50 range so I'm guessing it should be near the same. 

I will have lots to report about the seminar in my November Blog.  Meanwhile, I have lots more to share with you in this blog.  Welcome to my world of books and needlework friends or perhaps it is welcome back.

Friends come first so I'd like to bring Michelle Hufford of Come to the Point back for encore.

I look forward to Michelle's short, informative newsletters and I glean more than a bit of wisdom from teach of them.  I hope you enjoy, as I did, the following two pieces I "borrowed" (with permission) from her.

THINK IT THROUGH - Michelle Hufford

"When starting a new project, there are three vital questions to ask.  Although they appear independent, they are actually interdependent. Looking at the triumvirate in tandem before merrily setting off with your needle will save a lot of money, time and thread. It might be what prevents a WIP from becoming another UFO.  (1)  The first query in a new project brings up concerns color. What's my palette?  (2) The second revolves around thread.  What do I want to use? (3) The third question you should ask yourself pertains to the project's final purpose.  How is the finished piece going to be displayed?  A firm answer to that query early in the stitching has a domino effect. Many finishing choices will impact the type of fiber that will work best. Can I raid my floss stash, or do I need to stitch with perles? The fiber chosen wil often narrow the color options.

 Unfortunately, what turns out to be the million-dollar question is often neglected until far enough along in the stitching that probles arise. I have encountered many a customer who finds herself having to frog a large portion of her work because she "finally figured out what this is supposted to be." Yes, I do believe pieces "talk" to the stitcher. That's why some of mine take years before they're completed. "


Thanks Michelle.   I think that philosophy could be referred to simply as, "Look before you leap."  Simple but not always followed.  Michelle made think that I could apply three simple rules to my own work - my business and writing.  Each day I should ask myself: Rule 1 - What is my priority today?  Rule 2 - What information do I need to accomplish that priority?  Rule 3 - What is my deadline and what must I do to finish on time? 

Once I had a very successful businessman tell me, "Deadlines are one of God's greatest gifts.  Without a deadline, I doubt anything would get accomplished."  I;'m sure he most certainly looked before he leaped.

CONTROLLED CHAOS - Michelle Hufford

She writes in a December issue of her newletter, " I found this article on page 85 of the December 2013 issue of Good Housekeeping. It is terrific food for thought. This is a crazy time of year. For those of us who would rather make something than buy it, things are that much more chaotic. Will I have everything finished on time?

Embrace Your Messy Side: Cleanliness may be a virtue, but clutter may inspire your next great idea. When researchers at the University of Minnesota had people solve problems in either a clean room or a messy one, they found that those in the untidy space came up with more creative solutions.

"An orderly room encourages people to do what is expected. But a messy room can do the opposite, leading you to brainstorm more innovative ideas," says Kathleen Vohs, PhD. So the next time books and papers begin to pile up, cut yourself some slack. The mess could encourage a light bulb moment.

I think this may be true.  I live in the middle of papers and books and many ideas have evolved out of the mess.  When I finally put them in order, I discover so many interesting things I nearly get lost in the reading.  I think my semi-controlled litter keeps me from ever running out of ideas.  I'm sure you've found yourself leafing through books and coming upon something that hit a creative nerve inspiring you to undertake a great needlework project.  So our personal spaces should be what Michelle calls creative chaos.  But, all in all, our minds need to be open to plucking ideas from the ethers while our minds must be orderly enough to think them through into a reality.  I've included three books that gets into creativity and how this mysterious and amazing process  works.

Cameron, Julie - The Artist's Way (10th edition) - I don't have to tell you that 10 editions of the same book means this book is a seminal book on the subject of creativity and has been an international best-seller. Millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living the artist's life.  I love to be inspired - gets me doing!   $16.99

Clair, Maxine - Imagine This: Creating the Work You Love -
This book will be released on November 1st 2014.  The critics gave it two thumbs up and call it part memoir and part guide to the craft of plying creativity and say it is inspiring, informative and engrossing whether you are an artist or not.  I can't wait for my copy to arrive. $16.00

Goldberg, Natalie - Living Color: Painting, Writing and the Bones of Seeing - Natalie has been around inspiring writers and artists for a long time and I have a number of her books on my shelves.  This book came out in the spring of this year and on my list for winter reading.  This is called her memoir of "living the paint".  I'm not an artist but she is creative in paint and writing so I'm anxious to draw advice from such a creative brain.  She includes twenty-two specific assignments for readers who are seeking to expand their creativity, be it writing, painting, drawing or any other creative medium.  $24.95


We humans have walked this marvelous and mysterious planet long before language and writing were invented and cities stood glittering on the hillsides.  Thousands of years ago humans hunted and then learned to raise crops.  But even that early in our history our ancestors were attempting to explain this strange and scary world and used art and stories to pass this information along.  The average life expectancy was about 20 years.  Death was common and shocking.  Rituals were set
up to explain this phenomena and help them get through their short, harsh life.  Hunting had to go well or they starved to death.  If you've ever seen pictures of the ancient cave paintings drawn by prehistoric man you come
to the realization that even that long ago humans came inbued with artistic ability. The animals drawn on cave walls are so powerfully drawn and real it is hard to imagine calling the painters primitive.  Perhaps they were calling those animals to the hunt. Some hunting rituals were definitely being performed. Meat was everything. Because the art was done deep inside caves each artist had to carry that animal in his brain and paint it from memory with only torch light. What is fascinating, symbols were already in play. 

 Our art is full of symbols.  Every artist is telling us a story in a painting and we must know the language of his paint to fully appreciate his art work. When small children draw a picture of their family a trained eye can see what the child feels his place in the family is, who is most important, and if it is a happy home.  In the middle ages religious paintings were center stage.  Religion and state were one.  There were no elections.  Royal families ruled. Whoever managed to survive to be crowned then had to worry about plots on his or her life.  The ruler had to be seen as the ultimate power so any portrait had to reflect invincibility.  Take a look at this painting of Queen Elizabeth I.  She is surrounded and covered with symbols of her position. Her clothes speak to her power and wealth since clothing, such as her magnificent outfit, was worth a king's ransom. Pearls were used to present Elizabeth as the goddess of the moon and her purity.  Her right hand is on a globe, possibly to show she rules the world.  I could not find out what all the ribbon bows on her clothes meant.  Does anyone know?  I'd love to hear from you.  (code: Rock14)

We don't have to look any further than our dollar bill for strange and interesting symbols.  Do you know what the Great Seal means?  Why the "all seeing eye" or the pyramid?  Take time to study the back of the dollar bill.  Shouldn't we understand what's been put on the dollar bill?  Our flag is also symbolic - thirteen stripes for the original colonies and the stars - one for each state.  The stars are set on a rectangle of blue that represents the union.

Many embroideries are full of symbols.  American samplers, for example, are full of hidden meanings.  I find I've enjoyed samplers even more after I read Patricia and Leslie's book I've listed below. They have broken the "code" of the hidden language embroidered there.


Andele, Patricia and Lesley Rudnicki - Sampler Motifs and
Symbolism - This is a wonderful dictionary of the symbolic meanings behind old sampler motifs and the reproduction of a Scottish sampler, plus four new traditional samplers with complete graphs and instructions for each.  Each motif is nicely graphed for easy use. $34.95

Mary Kelly
Kelly, Mary - Embroidering the Goddesses of Ukraine; Embridering the Goddesses of Russia; Embroidering the Goddesses of Slovakia; Embroidering the Goddesses of the Greek Isles -  $10.00 each.  Mary's life long work has been the symbol of the goddess embroidered in cloths of many cultures. 

Why the goddess?  

She explains it all and charts out important goddess symbols for us to embroider. 

Two recent books on Chinese embroidery delve into the traditional meaning of the flowers, fish and birds and plants used in this exquisite art form. In The Art of Chinese  Embroidery by Margaret Lee we learn the cymbidium orchid is significant of position in Chinese culture and is also associated with principled, moral gentlemen of talent and integrity as well as friendship and loyalty.  In the book she includes one of her embroidery pieces called, The Three Sisters using three of these delicate orchids in honor of her three daughters who embrace these principles.  She also reveals the meaning of butterflies, the dragonfly, Koi fish, lotus blossoms and bamboo.  I was interested to learn that when embroidering birds you must understand the type of bird to select the correct stitch techniques. $45.95 

In Chinese Embroidery: An Illustrated Stitch Guide by Shao Xiaocheng she not only shares her wonderful embroidery techniques but the ancient symbols of the images embroidered.  The chrysanthemum was beloved by ancient scholars not only for its proud blossom in defiance of the autumn cold.  She explains the Calabash Pattern, a beloved pattern among common folk expressing the longing of people for happy lives.  $27.95

For extra help in decoding symbols:

Barbe-Gall, Francoise - How to Look at a Painting - Have you ever stood in front of a great painting that just drew you in emotionally but seemed to evade your understanding?  Our author takes her readers on a wonderful journey teaching us through using 36 fascinating paintings from those paintings that distort the real world, old masters, to realistic works and covers artist from Raphael to Rothko, Breughel to Bacon.  Questions of history, style, iconography and composition are dealt with in context to the paintings she discusses.  $27.99

Jung, Carl - Man and His Symbols - Illustrated throughout with revealing images, this is the first and only work in which the world-famous Swiss psychologist explains to the layperson, his enormously influential theory of symbolism in our life and dreams.  Originally done in 1964 this classic is still in print both as a hardback at $30.00 and mass paper at $7.99. 

Maybe in our own needlework we should include symbols that have meaning to us, our family and community. 

Traditional blackwork  pattern  embroidered in black.


Blaskwork  pattern embroidered in  color.

 I love blackwork embroidery.  This embroidery makes a statement with its delicate and eye-catching stitching done in wonderful patterns.  Of course blackwork is traditionally done in black. with maybe a touch of metallic thread for accent. BUT blackwork embroidery expert Laura Perin confesses she has never done blackwork in black - she uses one, two, three or four colors and even beads.     

Blackwork has an interesting history. Did it come from Spain? Marion Scoular tells us that while Catherine of Aragon made it popular in 1501 in  England it was already documented in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in the late 1390's.  Marion calls blackwork "the most creative, restricted embroidery." Restricted, she adds, only by the count of the ground fabric. The designs seem limitless. 

Laura created her pattern book as a reference book for all the  different stitch patterns she had used in her designs.  I love how she included a Blackwork Gallery of her designs. I call it Inspiration Alley.  Gives you a great idea of how color compliments blackwork.  If blackwork inspires you to stitch take a look at the list of  books below.

 Blackwork Patterns - This is Laura's classic blackwork book.  It is full of many different patterns using the basic blackwork stitches, using detailed instructions and beautiful examples of traditional and contemporary embroideries.  Her book is a wonderful reference collection of over 600 patterns showing one-color, two-color, and three-color variations intended specifically for blackwork designs.  The book is spiral-bound for easy use. $40.00


Scoular, Marion - Why Call it Blackwork? - Over the years, I've mentioned this book many times.  It's a classic book by a great needlework teacher to get you started in this beautiful stitching.  Clear instructions and clear graphs take you on a wonderful journey and when you reach the end of this journey you will be doing blackwork.  $8.50

Marion  has done a neat design in blackwork using color.  Since tea plays an important part in my daily life her tea cup and saucer pattern caught my eye. Her pattern stitch guide and graphs and directions are so easy to use.  $12.00

Wilkins, Lesley - Blackwork Made Easy: Techniques, Patterns and Samplers - This experienced stitcher shows how to create traditional blackwork embroideries using simple stitches on evenweave fabric. Step-by-step photos and lots of charts illustrate how traditional motifs, patterns and borders can be combined to create stunning designs. The author also shows how to create band samplers inspired by those on which sixteenth century embroiderers collected their favorite designs, including figures, flowers, plants, birds and animals. Lesley combines a deep knowledge of and appreciation for historical embroideries with her own flair for design and practical teaching skill.  All color.  $19.95


Hogg, Becky - Blackwork: Essential Stitch Guides - Graduate Apprentice and tutor of the Royal School of Needlework, Becky Hogg,  teaches us about blackwork and includes patterns and lots of stitch information, This hardcover (laminated) spiralbound book is $21.95. 


Gostelow, Mary - Blackwork (revised) - This is a fascinating history of a beautiful and distinctive craft, accompanied by clear, concise descriptions, suggestions for innovative patterns, and more.  I'm happy to see this old classic is still available.  $19.95




Geddes, Elizabeth and Moyra McNeill - Blackwork Embroidery - Again, this is another classic on blackwork.  This excellent guide has been in print since 1976 and covers history, contemporary practice, plus stitches, needles, transferring designs and creating orginal patterns. More than 200 adaptable motifs feature birds, animals, fruit, architectural forms, and other images.  $11.95


Just as I was finishing up on this blog I got word of two new needlepoint books. I had to get acquainted with the two authors so I could include these titles in this blog.  This would set my schedule for the blog back a few day but after I talked to both Renee Seidman from Gone Stitching and Lynda Richardson from Dream House Ventures I knew the delay would be worth it.

GET STITCHES by the great team at Gone Stitching includes
multi-leveled stitches for needlepoint in a neat spiral-bound 6x9 format with wonderful thick paper for long term use. This small but important book features multi-layered stitches according to how many threads are used. Sections include 2-thread, 3 threads, and more for designs. There are also trame and trellis stitches for more adventurous types. In the back are stitched samples in alphabetical order. And as Renee said, "the best part everything is in color". $29.95.  You'll love visiting their website with a great selection of canvases and their TWINKLE threads. You can't miss it! Just look for the green frog with the large threaded needle slung over his shoulder.  How can you resist his call to be Gone Stitching!

Our next author is Lynda Richardson, owner of Dream House Ventures.  This inventive needleworker in her book, Stitches Ala Carte, focuses on the tent stitch and long stitches to create over 60 wonderfully inventive patterns with original names such as: "all hemmed in" and "tribal motif". She does most of the patterns in one color, some in two colors, all of them using open canvas. These patterns can fill in the canvas in great effect for backgrounds but you can use them for areas in the focal point too.  You will definitely get acquainted with Lynda as she includes short pieces on herself, family and more.  You'll get to write on yourself, your needlework, family or ideas for creating your own patterns in this neat, sought after book.  $29.95   Lynda is not only a dreamer but a doer!  Nice combo!  Visit her on the web at:


Brown, Marcia S. - Distinctive Presentation in Needle Art: A Complete Guide to Professional Finishing for Your Needlework
- This book was released earlier this year and was very popular at the ANG 2014 Seminar. Since 1979 Marcia has provided finishing services for retailers, private clients, students, and designers throughout the United States and internationally. With an average of 500 - 700 canvas and linen needle art pieces, she has developed finishing techniques that easily offer professional result. She has also been a special editor for major needlework publications and has been a teacher on the national level for a variety of mainstream needlework venues since 1991. She has lectured and exhibited for needlework seminars, museums and guilds nationwide and has run The Binding Stitch, a successful finishing business for 35 years.  $59.95

Clouston, Jennifer - Foolproof Crazy Quilting - This book contains complete instructions for over 100 embroidery, beading, and embellishment stitches, full-size patterns for 9 hexagonal crazy quilt blocks, and 25 stitch keys showing proper stitch placement and thread and needle selection for 25 different blocks.  $27.95

Doh, Jenny - Stitch Along: 10 Stitchers: 30 projects: 100 Embroidery Motifs - Thread your needle and stitch along with
ten talented artists as they share how-to instructions for creating 30 whimsical, clever, an sweet embroidery projects. With an illustrated stitch library and a step-by-step primer explaining embroidery from floss to finish and 100 embroidery motifs to tease your creativity.  $16.95

Lippert, Sabine - Sabine Lippert's Beadwork Evolution: New Techniques Using Peyote Stitch and Right Angle Weave - Our author's unique, sophisticated jewelry designs have won her legions of fans worldwide. Now she has created a collection that not only includes 25 gorgeous projects, but also provides breathtaking variations on popular stitches to build beaders skills. From a Peyote-stitched Crocodile Bracelet to right-angle-woven Marrakech Earrings to the embellished shapes of a Helena ring, her savvy techniques take beading to a whole new level.  $26.95.

Simpson, Sophie - Stitch the Halls: 12 Decorations to Make for Christmas - Sophie Simpson is of What Delilah Did.  She promises whatever your holiday style, you'll find something that's just right in these three themed collecions. Merry and Bright offers colorful, modernist geometric gems and a mini-sampler stocking. Stylish and Chic items, like Polar Parade Bunting, will delight sophisticates. Traditionalists will opt for Classic and Cosy projects, including a Tiny highland Village Garland. So join Delilah in celebrating her favorite time of the year with stitched decorations that are, quite simply, heirlooms in the making.  $14.95.

Triston, Julia and Rachel Lombard - Contemporary Applique - Professional textile artists show how traditional techniques can be adapted and expanded to create original and modern textile pieces. Transform mola work, broderie Perse, cutaway applique and many more traditional techniques into beautiful and innovative textile art with a modern twist on fabrics, materials, stitch and embellishment.  $29.95


Bosworth, Diana and Kathee Cumbie - Beards I Have Known - I love this title!  If you ever needed to pick a beard this book of forty seven beards shown in color is the place to go.  The authors include all stitches (with a diagram for each stitch) and each beard it is used for.  Have fun!  $21.95

Menz, Deb - Color Works: the Crafter's Guide to Color - If you are reluctant about selecting colors this is the place to begin. This book includes practical, hands-on tools for using color for many craft areas including needlework and beading. Color theory pronciples are demystified with clear explanations, examples, and more than 270 hand-crafted swatches tht bring color platettes to life. A 32-page interactive section features: A pull-out color wheel, two color value scales and a hue card for taking with you shopping.  $24.95

Waddell, John - Kimono Revisited - John got the rights to reprint this wonderful project booklet as he has taught this as a class many times. He includes many helpful notes so a student  can take this project on easily.  All 90 stitches are included and graphed as is the project.  $25.95

In Memory of Beth Robertson

I learn yesterday that Beth Robertson had left us.  I'm sure most of you are familiar with Beth, the needlework teacher, designer, and of course her wonderful needlepoint books co-authored by Suzanne Howren: Stitches for Effect, More Stitches for Effect, Even More Stitches for Effect, Stitches To Go and the out-of-print Thread Thesaurus. She was also the graphic artist for the magazine Needlepoint Now.  She succumbed to a short fight with cancer at the young age of sixty.  You will not be forgotten.


Ordering is easy! Call us at 1-800-429-5075 and use your Master, Visa, Discover or American Express card.  If you prefer to send a check:  Ruth Kern Books  7235 N. 9th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85021.

If you have a question, call us Monday thru Saturday between 9 am to 6 pm Arizona time. Three hours earlier in the east, same time in the summer as the west coast. Winter reverts to two hours earlier in the east and an hour later on the west coast. We Arizonians don't do daylight saving time.


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