Saturday, January 23, 2016

I was hacked as I was finishing this blog and the entire blog was erased! My computer person is working on it today, Sunday Feb. 21st.  Stay tuned!  What a mess!  For those who asked: My fractured right arm is healing but it is still telling me what to do. OUCH! I'm limited but I can now use a paper and pen! Progress.  See You then.


Happy New Year!!
"Oh! For a book and a cozy nook! And Oh! For a quiet hour!" 

Hope you all had a great holiday season. Now we are on to the new year.  Did you make resolutions for 2016?  I did. January was named for the Roman god Janus. Janus had two faces, one in the past, and one in the future that reminds us though we need to move ahead we should always remember what we accomplished (or didn't) in the past. I took time on New Year's eve to remind myself of what I managed to do in 2015 and what I still need to do in 2016. (Janus16)

When I go back into 2015 I remember all the great customers I spoke with and the new books that arrived. How I love books!  But my happiness moment of the year came in the fourth quarter when I brought my husband home from assisted living. Because of MS this past year he stopped walking and it was suggested he go into a nursing home. But I didn't want that. I decided I could take care of him myself so I took refresher courses in medical work, home care, CPR, first aid, etc. With my confidence up I moved him home near the end of September. That was a hard move and stole some of my time from my business. Is everything perfect? No, because of his MS it will never be perfect. But both of us are much happier and that's all that matters.

Now looking ahead to 2016 I've decided to continue my  business of selling books and since I've studied my past year I am going to correct any mistakes I've made. And there will be no moving to contend with!  Life is good and I plan on celebrating that this new year. Of course I didn't count on catching my foot in a rear wheel of Mark's transporter and going down like a dead weight on my left shoulder and fracturing the head of the upper arm bone and getting extensive tissue damage - fortunately all healable. Luckily, I didn't hit my head, damage my glasses or knock some teeth out. So I count myself lucky.  The hardest part has been the awful pain when I type and not driving. My tenant has been wonderful in getting me to food stores, post office, etc.  The good news is the orthopedic doctor/surgeon said all should heal as good as new.  What more can you ask for??

What are in your plans for 2016?  I hope doing more reading and needleart are on your list.  Perhaps a good way to get the New Year started would to be to get the old inspiration going.
So what is the key to your creativity?  We'll explore ways to get that in high gear.


Remember when keys looked like this?
No longer. Today keys are slim. In fact, at hotels they look like credit cards not like keys at all. I stumbled on to some pictures of ancient keys in a history book and was amazed at what keys looked like back then - big, important, many of them masterpieces of art.
     When I was a girl our backdoor key was kept under the milkbox. (Who reading this remembers the milkman?) I can well imagine how many keys these early morning delivery men found! Keys were also kept under welcome mats, on door ledges, under a stone, and other equally easy to figure out places but I never remember hearing about a robbery or burglary. Keys were different then and so was life.
     I have the old key to our backdoor hanging up on the wall of office. My father had painted it white to distinguish it from other keys. This key has come to symbolize more than my childhood home. When I tutored student in writing it reminded me I needed to find the "key" to turn students on to writing. When I face a tough problem it reminds me there is a "key" to resolving it.  Now the key is my symbol for writing this blog - a key to inspiration and creativity; a key to help unlock the door to that mysterious room in your brain that is full of ideas you never knew existed.
     Of course, there is no one way to be creative - that's the glory in it - the imagination can take wing in any direction it wants. But what better way to begin the search for the key to inspiration than through books or visiting artisans and learn how they stumbled upon the key for themselves.
     Years ago when I was in Denver setting up a bookshop for an EGA National Mark and I got an extra bonus when Caela Tyler, a certified needlework teacher, met us at the Tattered Cover Bookstore and gave us a tour of that immense bookstore.  As we approached each other I noted she carried a book I recognized immediately: The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use it for Life by Twyla Tharp, one of America's greatest choreographers. I can't tell you how long we discussed that book. It is still in print and is timeless.  Both Caela and I recommend it to students and friends. $17.00. 
     While browsing each floor of the bookstore Caela discovered a wonderful alphabet book, City Alphabet ($6.99). Each page is a different letter of the alphabet the author discovered hidden in plain sight on the walls of building, vehicles, pipes, and other right-in-front-of-you places and photographed them. What genius! How did the author tap into that? I guess when we take time to really see what we're looking at, really seeing becomes an important key to creativity.  The author, Stephan Johnson, has done a second book, Alphabet School where he explores the alphabet in everyday objects found at school.  $17.99

So in 2016 lets practice really looking for ideas to stitch and of course reading books on the creative process.  I've included a number of recommended books below:

Crutchley, Lee - How To Be Happy (or at Least Less Sad); A Creative Workbook - Through a series of supportive, surprising, and engaging prompts, this book sees things in a new light, and rediscover simple pleasures and everyday joy .. or a least a little less sad. By turns a workbook, trusted friend, creative outlet, security blanket, and diary, the pages of this book will offer solace, distraction, engagement, a fresh perspective, and hopeful new beginnings for readers of all ages and walks of life.  $14.95

Gilbert, Elizabeth - Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear - This author digs DEEP into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. She offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration and asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives.  $24.95

Grazer, Brian and Charles Fishman - A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life - This book is a homage to the power of inquisitiveness and the ways in which it deepens and improves us. Whether you're looking to improve your management style at work or you want to become a better partner this book looks to get you moving.  The authors Brian Grazer is an Academy Award-nominated producer and acclaimed business journalist Charles Fishman bring us a peek into the weekly "curiosity conversations" that have inspired Grazer to create his wonderful movies. He schedules weekly "curiosity conversations"with an accomplished stranger - from scientists to spies, to adventurers to business leaders with the purpose of stirring his pot of creativity.  What a great idea!  With all the time we spend gabbing on the phone maybe those little gab fests could go a big step further.  $25.99

Johnson, Steven - Where Good Ideas Come From - This is a sweeping study of the history of innovation that breaks out the seven patterns of innovation like "the slow hunch" and "serendipity". It debunks the myth of the lone genius and presents the real-world dynamics and context that enable innovation.

Pressfield, Steven - Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way - Could you be getting in your way of producing great work? Have you started a project but never finished? Would you like to do work that matters but don't know where to start? If so, this book is your answer and a weapon against Resistance - a tool that will help you take action and successfully ship projects out the door. It doesn't matter what the project this author identifies the predictable Resistance Points along the way and walks you through each of them.  $9.99

Rogge, Robie and Dian G. Smith - Do One Thing Every Day That Inspires You - Every day is an opportunity to engage your persistence, patience, imagination, and daring as you stretch the boundaries of your creativity. Daily doses of wisdom and encouragement from famous artists, writers, architects, musicians, chefs, dancers, photographers, designers, and other creative. With space to doodle and to record personal epiphanies, watch creativity transcend borders, and prepare yourself to make that leap, too. At the end you will have built a portfolio that showcases your most inspired year ever.   $12.95


Merrilyn lives what we Americans refer to as "down under", now in Northern Tasmania having returned to her childhood home.  Since the age of five she has been stitching including sewing her own doll clothes. All her needlepoint and embroidery are designed as she stitches and no computer is ever used.  In fact, she is so familiar with her beloved fabric, threads and needles, Merrilyn very rarely uses a diagram or draws out a plan and only uses a colour pallet of threads, the fabric or canvas to begin her stitching.

Although stitching is her first love always, in Tasmania Merrilyn has taken interest in farm life, especially lambing time, cooking, preserving and more. In spite of all her activities she has managed to teach needlework and writing articles for Needle Pointers magazine and Needlepoint Now both here in the USA. 

She has nine other books published in the 1990's besides the new ones I listed below.  If you get hooked on her designs I'll be happy to supply you the titles of her older books, still available.

Happy Stitching!

Begonias and Snowdrops: Silk Ribbon Needlepoint - Silk ribbon, needlepoint, ruffles and textures are used here. Enjoy stitching the elegant Begonias or delicate Snowdrops using silk ribbon, wool embroidery, cotton and silk threads are combined into her wide range of needlepoint subjects.  $32.00

Camellias: Silk Ribbon Needlepoint - Soft delicate Camellias are created with silk ribbon. This is Merrilyn's latest design is of counted needlepoint, silk ribbon, creative embroidery with silk, cotton and wool are all needlepoint formats that Merrilyn delights in designing and sharing.  $32.00

Ooooooh, So Cute - Fushsias, Irises, Daffodils - Needlepoint, silk ribbon, embroidery to create your own gifts. Share you love of needlework with those you love. Make a needlepoint book for your own needlework basket or give it as a gift. Also make pincushions and more.  $32.00

Splendor and Sparkle: Counted Needlepoint - Counted needlepoint book with over 12 various techniques to create this wonderful design.  $32.00

Stitches for Sarah - Formal Gardens and needlepoint are a great marriage. Inspired by formal gardens these three designs are easy to stitch and look great when finished. Enjoy Merrilyn delights in sharing her original needlepoint, silk ribbon so you can create her original needlepoint, silk ribbon and create embroidery designs.  $32.00

Tudor Garden: Counted Needlepoint - This book incorporates over 14 needlepoint stitches. Easy to follow. Plenty of graphs and photos to support the text. Sections of this design can be used on smaller items.  $32.00

Since silk ribbon is part of these needlepoint techniques I've included two classic silk ribbon books for those who need a refresher course or who are learning for the first time. 

Cox, Ann - Silk Ribbon Embroidery Designs and Techniques - Learn how to create beautiful flowers and how to colour ribbons, paint backgrounds, add depth to garden scenes and enhance still-life arrangements.  $17.95

Van Niekerk, Di and Marina Zherdeva - Little Flowers in silk and organza ribbon - All completed projects are smaller than A4 size and templates of all the original designs are included, with easy-to-follow instructions on how to layer the embroidery and stumpwork to achieve the exquisite 3-D effect. using a combination of thread, ribbon embroidery, stumpwork and other techniques you can produce strawberry blossoms, daffodils, ring of daisies, wild roses, chamomiles and poppies in #D, with butterflies and ladybirds, and much more.  $24.95



Oliverio, Elaine - Stitch Winter - This a first of her new Stitch Seasons Series that will be followed by the other seasons.  This book is set up in the same format as her first two best sellers with a spiral format. She includes angels, bells, bows, candy canes, holly, Judaica, holiday lights, ornaments, presents, Santa Hats, snowflakes and trees.  $39.95
        Her first two books are: Stitch Ins and Outs: Interiors and Exteriors Plus - All kinds of great architectural stuff including barns, baskets, bricks, buildings, chimneys, fabrics, floors, houses and molding, patios, pavement, roof, rugs, trims and borders, walls and wallpaper, windows. As always great graphs.  $39.95
       Stitch Landscape - This book covers: clouds, flowers, grass, mountains, sand, shrubbery, sky snow, soil, stones, trees, water.  Great graphs.  $39.95
Another Great Needlepoint Book by Julie Synder

I'm sure most needlepointers are familiar with Julie Synder as a teacher and as a great writer of needlepoint books.  For newcomers to her great series of books meandering through the alphabet.  Now she is up to K - with the latest just released this month,  Key to Canvas Embellishment. $39.95   As with all her previous books this book is 8 1/2 inches tall and about 5 1/2 inches wide with a spiral binding.  She explains each stitch and has clear graphs with directions noted for each stitch. At the moment I have no photo available.

If you don't have her others in this series I am happy to list them here.

176 Amazing Stitches - $36.95
Backgrounds and Such - $37.95
Categories for Needlepoint Stitches - $38.95
Darn Fillings - $38.95
Everything Blackwork is New Again - $38.95
First Stitch First - $34.95
Great Layers for Needlepoint - $38.95
Just Stitches I Use - $39.95


Carole Lake and Michael Boren bring us two new books:

Desert Island Stitches Vol. II - This is the follow-up to their very popular Desert Island Stitches Vol. I ($25.00)- both are in a

convenient small size about 5"x7" and spiral-bound for easy use when learning the stitches.  This new book covers ideas for creative borders. $30.00

Their second new book is: TWISTY STITCHES: String Art for Needlepoint - This larger book is an entire study on Amadeus through Jessica Stitches
with step-by-step photos. Since this is A -J - we stitchers have another volume to look forward to.  $58.00


Pearle II - Butterflies of North America - American artist and naturalist Peale II (1700-1885) - had a passion for butterflies and throughout his long life he wrote and illustrated an ambitious and comprehensive manuscript that was never published. Now his color plates are published for the first time in this beautiful volume.  $40.00

Sader, Desiree - Inside Haute Couture -With exclusive photos this book offers a private tour of 10 meccas of French fashion. From the splendor of the VIP reception rooms to the privacy of sewing ateliers, the daily lives of the most renowned figures in haute couture are showcased along side the skilled artisans and their stunning creations. This is a unprecedented journey into the secret world of French haute couture.  $50.00  Due in March.

Wilks, Mike - The Ultimate Alphabet: Complete Edition - In the 1980's the author set out to depict as many words as possible in 26 images corresponding to the alphabet. Each image contains hundreds of items, all starting with the same letter.  $50.00


Adams, Ellery - Murder in the Mystery Suite (Book Retreat Mysteries) - First in a series - Tucked away in the rolling hills of rural western Virginia is the storybook resort of Storyton Hall, catering to book lovers who want to get away from it all. To increase her number of bookings, resort manager Jane Steward has decided to host a Murder and Mayhem week so that fans of the mystery genre can gather together for some role-playing and fantasy crime solving. But when the winner of the scavenger hunt, Felix Hampden, is found dead in the mystery Suite, and the valuable book he won is missing, Jane realizes one of her guests is an actual murderer. Amid a resort full of fake detectives, Jane is bound and determined to find a real-life killer. $7.99

Adams, Ellery - Murder in the Paperback Parlor (Book Retreat Mystery #2) - With Valentine's Day around the corner, Jane Steward is organizing a week of activities for fans of love stories at her book-themed resort. But her Regency readers barely have time to brush up on their Jane Austen before tragedy strikes Storyton Hall. Rosamund York, one of the most celebrated authors in attendance, is killed. Rosamund had as many enemies as she did admirers, including envious fellow novelists. It's up to Jane with the help of her book club, the Cover Girls, to catalogue the list of suspects and find a heartless killer before the murderer writes someone else off.  $7.99

Alexander, Ellie - On Thin Icing: A Bakeshop Mystery - Welcome to Torte - a small town family bakeshop where the treats are killer good. It's the dead of winter in the sleepy town of Ashland, which means no tourists and fewer customers for Jules Capshaw and her bakery. But when she's asked to cater an off-season retreat for the directors of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, business starts heating up ...until Jules finds a dead body in the freezer. First in a series.  $7.99

Alexander, Ellie - A Batter of Life and Death: A Bakeshop Mystery - It's summer in Ashland, Oregon -'tis the season for a spiced hot apple cider with a serving of Torte's famous peach cobble. It's also the perfect time to promote her family's beloved bake shop by competing in the Pastry Channel's reality show, Take the Cake. The prize is $25,000. But as Jules quickly learns some people would kill for that kind of dough. Just as Jules dusts off her Bavarian Chocolate Cake recipe and cinches up her apron, the corpse of a fellow contestant is discovered - a death by buttercream. What began as fun has morphed into something of a true-crime detective show for Jules and the others on the set.  $7.99

Carmack, Amanda - Murder at Hatfield House (Elizabethan Mystery) - First in a new series. 1588, Kate Haywood, a simple musician in the employ of a princess, will find herself involved in games of crowns, as she sets out to solve the murder of the queen's envoy. England is in a tumult under the rule of Queen Mary and her Spanish husband. Confined to house arrest at Hatfield House, young Princess Elizabeth is the country's greatest hope. Kate proves herself most valuable when an envoy of the queen sent to flush out heretics in the princess's household is found dead on the grounds of Hatfield. Acting as Elizabeth's eyes and ears, Kate is sent out on the trail of a killer whose mission could destroy her family, friends and the future of England.  $7.99

Carmack, Amanda - Murder at Westminster Abbey - Life at the center of the new royal court is abuzz with ambition and gossip - very different from the quiet countryside where Kate served Elizabeth during her exile. Making her way among the courtiers who vie for the new queen's favor, Kate befriends Lady Mary Everley. Mary is very close to Elizabeth. With their red hair and pale skin, they even resemble each other - which

makes Mary's murder all the more chilling. The celebrations go on despite the pall cast over them. But when another redhead is murderd, Kate uncovers a deadly web of motives lurking just beneath the polite court banter, and follows the trail of a killer whose grievance can only be answered with royal blood.  $7.99

Carmack, Amanda - Murder in the Queen's Garden - 1559, Elizabeth has been on the throne for six months, and life in England seems newly golden. But for the Royal Court, murder and betrayal are foretold in the stars.. Kate Haywood, the queen's musician, has been keeping busy playing for a merry
round of summer parties, where famed astrologist Dr. John Dee and his fantastic horoscopes are all the rage. However, Elizabeth's favorite stargazer fails to predict the discovery of a skeleton in the queen's garden..and that the victim's identity will call his own innocence into question. When the doctor's pupil is the victim of a second murder, the concerned queen enlists her trusted Kate to clear the accused killer of wrongdoing. But will the stars align to light Kate's path through a tangled thicket of treachery to save Elizabeth's prized astrologer and protect the queen from those who threaten her reign?  $7.99

Carmack, Amanda - Murder at Whitehead - 1559.  The 12 Days of Christmas at Whitehall Palace will be celebrated as a grand affair. But there are those who wish to usher in the New Year by ending Queen Elizabeth's reign. The Queen receives an anonymous letter that threatens to reveal untoward advances
from her beloved Queen Catherine's last husband, Thomas Seymour. Kate has barely begun investigating when one of Spain's visiting lords is found murdered.  $7.99

Delany, Vicki - Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen: A Year -Round Christmas Mystery - As the owner of Mrs. Claus's Treasures, Merry Wilkinson knows how to decorate homes for the holidays. That's why she thinks her float in the semi-annual Santa Claus parade is a shoe-in for best in show. But when the tractor pulling Merry's float is sabotages, she has to face facts: there's a Scrooge in Christmas Town. When she stumbles upon the reporter's body and the police say he was poisoned by a gingerbread cookie made by her best friend, Vicky - Merry will have to figure out who's really been grinching about town.  $7.99

James, Miranda - Arsenic and Old Books (Cat in the Stacks Mystery) - Lucinda Beckwith Long, the mayor of Athena, Mississippi, has donated a set of Civil War Diaries to the achives of Athena College. She would like the librarian Charlie Harris to preserve and substantiate them as a part of the Long family legacy something that could benefit her son, Buck, as he prepares to campaign for the state senate. His biggest rival would love to get a look at the diaries in an attempt to expose the Long family's past sins. Meanwhile, a history professor is also determined to get her hands on the books in a last-ditch bid for tenure. But the interest suddenly turns deadly, leaving Charlie with a catalog of questions to answer. Together with his Maine Coon cat Diesel, Charlie must discover why the diaries were worth killing for.  $7.99


I hope you enjoyed your visit. If you haven't heard of us before I'd like to introduce you to our business.  We've been in business for over 21 years we set up book shops at both the ANG and EGA Nationals and regionals and other needlework organizations.

Can't find a certain book? Give us a call whether the title is in or out-of-print. We have a website as well as this blog. It is

Questions? Give us a call Monday - through Saturday:602-943-0738 between 9 am and 6 pm Arizona time. (Yes, we are the people who never change our clocks forwards or backwards.) If I don't answer I'm probably in the middle of helping Mark so please leave a message and I will return your call ASAP. To fax us: 602-944-4108. This is a new fax number. If you prefer you can e-mail me at: or To reach  us by mail: Ruth Kern Books 7235 N. 9th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85021.

IMPORTANT!! Don't forget to find the discount code in this blog that gives you a 20% discount on any book you order.

Have a great 2016!  Remember to keep plenty of time available for stitching and reading.

See you in February!

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