Monday, March 21, 2016

          April blog will publish 4/22/16.  See you then.  Hope you are enjoying Spring.      

                    MARCH 2016 BLOG
                   MARCH FLOWER: The Daffodil

                       I wandered lonely as a cloud
                        That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
                       When at once I saw a crowd,
                         A host, of golden daffodils;
                       Besides the lake, beneath the trees,
                       Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
                       For oft, when on my couch I lie
                          In vacant or in pensive mood,
                       They flash upon that inward eye
                          Which is the bliss of solitude;
                       And then my heart with pleasure fills,
                       And dances with the daffodils.

(1st and last verses of William Wordsworth's famous poem)


No, I haven't gone around the bend, well, at least not entirely. I know, we celebrate the New Year on the 31st of December each year starting the new year on January 1st thanks to the Romans centuries ago. And I know that January is called January after the god, Janus who had tow heads, one that looked into the past, the other into the future. That's all very interesting but I think that New Year's falls on the wrong date. Now before you start laughing give me a chance to explain my theory. But first, let me ask you a question.

Does it feel right to you that the New Year begins in winter? Think about it. At that time the earth is hibernating. The leaves are gone, the branches bare, the grass is dead and sometimes, depending where you live, might be covered in snow. Creatures like frogs and bears and other creatures sleeping away the winter hours while we are tooting horns, watching the event of Times Square, shooting off fireworks and acting crazy. Everything is in a state of suspended animation except us humans. So I ask you again, does it feel right to begin the New Year in winter?

The early Romans called the first month of the year - Martius or what we call March.  It remained the first month of the Roman Calendar until around 153 BC. March I began the numbered year in Russia until the end of the 15th century and believe it or not Great Britain and its colonies continued to use March 25th as the beginning of the year until 1752 when the Gregorian calendar was adopted. Still today many cultures and religions celebrate the start of the new year in March.  Well, I guess I was on the right path about the new year date.  Now don't get me started on moving the clocks ahead an hour in the spring or back in the fall. At least here in Arizona we don't do that.  I believe it was last year some congressman wanted to change our stand on time but he got a lot of heat so he quit before he really got started on that idea.

Like the bears and frogs I considering hibernating between December and March. Those long dark cold nights and short days, many of them grey and overcast are not on my "Things I Enjoy" list.  Getting up in the dark trying to convince my brain that is working hard to convince me to stay in bed is not my idea of a fair fight. I give into brain more than not and I live in Phoenix, Arizona. Think what I'd be like in a colder climate. That's how I got to Phoenix in the first place from the cold northeast. So how can I even think about a New Year beginning in the middle of my hibernation time? By the time my energy level is rarin' to go it's March.  I come to life about the time the trees in Phoenix are showing off their new leaves and the birds are back. I'm definitely a sun worshipper, not in getting a tan but getting my solar energy back!

So now you know why I think our New Year's celebration should come on the eve of spring instead on a cold, blustery December 31st. The date for the new year is an arbitrary one. The universe doesn't care what date we humans decide. The Chinese have their own new year as did the ancient Egyptians, so why can't we?  The start of spring for many ancient cultures was the time for celebrating the new year. Why can't we? Well, I won't count my chickens just yet, I doubt I could ever convince the powers to be change the date.  (code: daff16)

Here we are at the beginning of spring so I've got my
resolutions ready. Hey, Father Time you haven't been relievedof your duties yet until you celebrate my spring new year's with me.

One thing is always consistent even when the seasons change - the pile of books next to my bed never gets smaller. But the book titles change just like the seasons. I'm already making notes of what I want to read this spring. Here's a great opportunity to pick some books for Your spring reading.


Amy is not only fun but a great needlework teacher, designer and writes needlework stitch "chapters" and stars in her DVD's.  If you aren't familiar with her classic chapter series on stitches that fit into a notebook called her Amy Bunger's Cookbook for Stitchers and also has six visiting chef chapters you might want to be. Her bestselling chapters are still available. If you need more info on these visit my website: to see the individual titles. Yes, her chapters will get a 20% discount since they are featured on this blog. 

Her DVDs - the "How'd You Do That" series are very popular that gives a needleworker the feeling of having a private class in their home.  I've included three of her latest DVD's but all eight are available.

DVD #6  Barely There - In this DVD shows how a light touch with the thread and stitch is just the right touch and includes technique ideas that will help you add texture and depth to your design while still using the artistry of the original painted canvas. This DVD is one hour in length and has close-up camera work on stitches such as Sound Waves, Traveling Stem Stitch, Appliqued Flair, Willow Stitch, Honeycomb Blackwork, Side Stitch, Eyelets and correct Darning procedures using many stitched models.  $38.00

DVD #7  The Ins and Outs of Needleweaving - This 1-hour 8 minutes DVD with wonderful close-up camera work. There are 16 chapters allowing you to fast forward to the next stitch of interest or pause and study. Amy teaches needleweaving technique (attached), detached needleweaving (1 side open), detached needleweaving (2 sides open), detached needleweaving (3 sides open); Amy Bunger and Kelly Clark - Lets Ask Amy and Jill; detached needleweaving  seaweed; detached needleweaving on long loose threads. Techniques from Kelly Clark: needleweaving introduction, picot needleweaving, woven basket technique, Basket Rim Techniques, Semi-Detached Needleweaving, Cast-off technique.   $38.00

DVD #8  Spiders and More! - This is a one hour video with 20 chapters allowing you to fast forward to the next stitch of interest or pause and study.  Amy demonstrates the various Spiders methods, or "weaving in a spiral".  Learn the Raised Spider Introduction; Raised Spider Technique; Large Raised Spider Technique; Oval Raised Spider Technique; Needleweaving Padding Supplies; Raised Spider Padding Technique; Left-handed Raised Stem Technique; Thread too Thin or too Thick?; Ribbed Spider Technique; Ribbed HOrn Technique; Ribbed and Raised  Weaving Combine; Woven Spider Technique; Woven Ribbon Rose Technique; Stitches that End in a Weave; Herringbone Strap Stitch; Waffle Stitch; and Jessica Stitch.  $38.00


Boutique- Sha - 501 Enchanting Embroidery Designs: Irresistible Stitchables to Brighten Up Your Life - This book offers simple hand-embroidery motifs from the kitchen or garden, feminine embellishments for your household zakka projects, for a child's clothing, and traditional designs such as monogrammed initials and elegant borders. $15.95

Bruna, Denis - Fashioning the Body - An intimate history of the slhouette. Fascinating insights into the convoluted transformations employed by both men and women to accommodate the fickle dictates of fashion.  $50.00

Granlund, Nina - The Joy of Stitching: 38 Quick and Easy Embroidery and Needlework Designs - 38 projects for embroidery and needlepoint projects for the home and wearables that feature a range of decorative stitches and patterns . The author presents unique patterns and clear, concise, step-by-step instructions using a variety of techniques including needlepoint, cross-stitch and open weave embroidery. Whimsical birds on a linen pillow, a fun trolley car, table linens decorated with wildflowers, a watchband, belt, coin purse, and ipad pouch are a few of the projects included.  $19.95

Hemingway, Karen - Encyclopedia of Classic and Vintage Stitches: 245 Illustrated Embroidery Stitches for Cross Stitch, Crewel, Beadwork, Needlelace, Stumpwork, and More - This great stitchwork sourcebook features 245 embroidery stitches photographed close-up, instructions in 22 techniques, and 24 great projects. $19.99

Montano, Judith Baker - Judith Baker Montano's Essential Stitch Guide: A Source Book of Inspiration - The Best of Elegant Stitches and Floral Stitches - This globally known needlework expert shares 180 stitches and 70 combinations in this great guide. With even more traditional embroidery stitches, silk ribbon stitches, and crazy quilting combinations, this important handbook has an updated section of free-form techniques for improvisational work. With full-color illustrations and advice for left-handed stitchers, the essential reference goes well beyond the basics.  $26.95

Noble, Marty - Elegant Medieval Iron-On Transfer Patterns - More than 150 decorative designs include adaptations from ancient originals as well as new motifs inspired by "Camelot", "Game of Thrones," and other shows. Ideal for needlework and other crafts. Complete instructions.  $8.95

Pan, Gail: Christmas Patchwork Loves Embroidery: Hand Stitches, Holiday Projects - The author lives on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia and brings us her cheerful embroidery style that are portable and quick so you can stitch while traveling or waiting for an appointment. She explains how to choose threads, how to mark the designs on fabric, how to make each stitch, and more for the 17 festive designs to bedeck gift tags, pillows, wallhangings, Christmas stockings, table runners, a bag, and more.  $24.99

Prutton, Jane - Retro Fun in Stitches - This is a collection of pastel animals, cupcakes, flowers and retro vehicles which are perfect to make into cushions, simple gift cards or pictures for the wall. Make birth and wedding samplers by simply adding names and dates using the alphabets provided. Some of these patterns can be used to celebrate family events. The cross stitch designs are a variety of easy and hard pictures. You can add personal details.  $12.95

Rocca, Federico - Embroidery: Italian Fashion - This book follows the trend for handwork especially hand embroidery in the Italian culture. "Embroidery" is a door on the wondrous, opulent dimension where light plays with the richness of threads and the craftswomen behind the scene.  $120.00

Wilford, Judy - Embroidered Landscapes: hand Embroidery, Layering and Surface Stitching - Design and create realistic hand-embroidered landscapes, from coastlines to deserts, escarpments to plains. The author's stunning process combines different genres, textiles, traditional stitches, and embroidery styles. Part I covers the materials and equipment, lays out a simple landscape, and demonstrates background layering and surface stitching. The second section contains a range of projects, each developing and extending the various techniques. $29.95

Wood, Jennifer - Refined Knits: Sophisticated Lace, Cable, and Aran Lace Knitwear - This book concentrates on these two techniques, along with incredibly unique Aran lace which combines the two, and the results are sure to impress. Knitwear designer and author guides you through knitting these timeless, classic techniques, resulting in finished garments and accessories with a decidedly modern feel to be treasured. $25.99


I don't know about you but sometimes I get so busy I don't take the time for the beautiful little things in life - it seems I'm "too busy" to really stop, look, and listen at anything but what "needs to be done".  I've found myself rushing past the garden (I didn't want to see the weeds).  Who has time to find that bird singing so sweetly in the tree? Not me!  I check off an item on my to-do list and on I go to the next.  I'm at my computer so much I eat some of my meals at my desk. And when I have a present to wrap I grab the tape and find a sheet of wrapping paper to quickly wrap it or if I'm really in a hurry I place in one of the handy gift bags and stuff  some tissue paper around it and call it good. It's not that I don't care about the person I'm giving it too - I do!

The other week I was cleaning out a cupboard and from the back I pulled out a package I hadn't thought about in a long time. I carried to my kitchen table and looked at it and smiled. It was a gift from a customer/friend in Japan. Through letters Toshi had discovered I was a tea drinker and unknown to me he bought me a lovely tea gift. I opened up the package layer by layer.  First, the outer paper it was mailed in - even that an interesting wrap.

Inside that was a lovely gift bag with another box inside.  I remembered opening this package for the first time and how enchanted I had been. Well, I was enchanted over and over each time I had reopened it.  And now I was in awe again.  

I opened the box - inside my tea in lovely containers was my tea.  What a precious gift.
I was so impressed I kept the whole presentation together. Now I understood the message. Stop rushing and take the time to enjoy each step of the process - like wrapping
gifts.  Seems such a small thing but it shows you care - that who you are giving it to is special to you. 

As I sat thinking about this I recalled an old book on gift wrapping in Japan where they use fabric for wrapping (something I thought I'd like to try at that time but never found time.) so I took the time and researched this art.  This type of traditional Japanese wrapping is called Furoshiki. This began to be used in the Nara period in traditional Japanese baths. The bathers' clothes were tied up in Furoshiki. This idea was picked up by traders to protect their goods or gifts.

This declined some for a while in Japan because the use of plastic bags started taking hold. But the Japanese Ministry of the Environment has organized campaigns to promote the use of Furoshiki again to protect the environment from plastic wrapping.  Today in Japan, it is very popular to wrap and transport lunch boxes and often doubles as a table mat for the lunch.  How cool is that!

Hmm! Now I'm thinking of all the extra unused fabric stored in drawers and bags everywhere finally finding a great use. 

If your curiosity is aroused you may want to take a peek at the books I've listed below.

Morita, Chizuko -  Gift Wrapping with Textiles -The author has created her own style of wrapping with textiles that's very contemporary, yet preserves the techniques of the centuries-old Japanese tradition of wrapping for gift-giving. She had taught her techniques on both Japanese and American television.  $19.95

Oka, Hideyuki - How to Wrap Five Eggs - Traditional Japanese packaging is an art form that applies sophisticated design and natural aesthetics to simple objects. In this elegant presentation of the baskets, boxed containers that were used in ordinary, day-to-day; we are offered a stunning example of a time before mass production. The eminent American designer George Nelson praised the work featured here, saying, "we have come a long way from the kind of thing so beautifully presented in this book." $30.00

Tuttle Publishing - Japanese Kimono Gift Wrapping Paper: 12 sheets of high-quality 18x24 inch wrapping paper - This fine-quality tear-out wrapping paper sheets features twelve traditional and modern prints, suitable for craft projects as well as gift wrapping. An introduction details the history and meaning behind the designs.  $11.95

Yamada, Etsuko - Wrapping Up With Fabric: Your Complete Guide to Furoshiki: The Japanese Art of Wrapping - Wrap Anything from a wine bottle to a yoga mat with this practical Japanese fabric-wrapping book. Long before today's eco-friendly philosophy of 'reduce, reuse, recycle' entered America's collective consciousness, furoshiki, the Japanese method of wrapping   $15.95

Yamada, Etsuko - The Furosiki Handbook (Japanese-English Bilingual Books - In this highly illustrative book, not only will you be shown how to make the most of good furoshiki (wrapping cloth) wrapping in modern life, but also how to turn them into fashionable, modern bags, as well as various gift-wrapping ideas.  $18.95   Due out May 1, 2016


Daheim, Mary - The Alpine Zen (Emma Lord Mystery) - The picturesque town of Alpine in the foothills of Washington state's Cascade Mountains home to Emma Lord and her weekly newspaper, "The Alpine Advocate" has long charmed and enthralled mystery lovers. As an early summer heat wave beats down on Alpine, Emma and her staff are treading very lightly. The paper's House and Home editor, Vida Runkel, is in a major nit, refusing to speak to her colleagues, or even her boss. This is only the beginning of the craziness and murder shows up as well.  $7.99

Ferris, Monica - Darned If Yu Do (Needlecraft Mysteries) - Monica's bestselling Needlecraft Mysteries have shown that when it comes to murder, Betsy Devonshire, owner of the Crewel World needlework shop, doesn't mess around. But when a local hoarder is murdered, she'll need all her wits to dig a new friend out of a heap of trouble. After a tree falls on Tom Riordan's house, landing him in the hospital, the police discover a mountain of junk piled high in his home. Locals in Excelsior, Minnesota including Betsy Devonshire offer to help with the cleanup while Tom recuperates. But when Tom is found murdered in his hospital bed, the sole heir to his property his cousin Valentina becomes the number one suspect. Betsy believes there's more to the case than meets the eye, but finding clues to the killer's identity in the clutter Tom left behind will be like looking for a needle in a haystack.  $7.99

Fox, Mae and Jan Fields - Threads of Deceit (Vineyard Quilt Mysteries) - The first in a new mystery series. Former antiquities bounty hunter, Julie Ellis, is on the run, trying to stay one stiletto step ahead of her past. She accepts a position as manager of the Quilt Haus Inn in Missouri wine country, thinking it the perfect place to keep a low profile and start a new, less-dangerous career. It is until Daniel Franklin walks thorugh the door and askd for a room. Daniel claims he's come to Straussberg in search of a famous sunken ship that he believes is buried in a nearby farm field. Julie find the handsome historian's story odd at beast, but when a dead body is discovered at the proposed dig site, it becomes clear somebody else believes the theory and doesn't want the ship or its secrets exposed. Who in the town would possibly care about the old shipwreck? As frightening things start to happen at the inn - all seemingly connected to the hunt for the missing ship - Julie and her quilting friends must unearth the truth before someone else is buried. Includes a free quilting patterns inspired by the story.  $7.99

Fox, Mae and Amy Lillard -Pattern of Betrayal (Vineyard Quilt Mysteries) - Murder checks in. When Julie Ellis traded her high stress life as an antiquities bounty hunter in the big city for the slower pace of Missouri wine country, she expected to find peace and tranquility among the beautiful rolling hills - not murder and mayhem. As the new innkeeper of the Quilt Haus Inn, Julie breathes a sign of relief when preparations for their first quilting murder mystery weekend are finally complete. The props are set, the scripts are ready and each guest has a role to play. But when the lights cut out, someone goes off script, and a real dead body takes center stage. Every guest is a suspect in the murder and as the clues unfold, it seems they all have something to hide. Can Julie identify the killer before someone else checks out.  Includes a free quilting pattern inspired by the story.  $7.99

Harris, C.S. - Who Buries the Dead ( Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries) - The decapitation of a wealthy plantation owner at Bloody Bridge draws Sebastian St. Cyr into macabre and perilious investigation. The discovery near the body of a lead coffin strap bearing the inscription King Charles, 1648 suggests a link between this killing and the beheading of the 17th Century monarch. Equally troubling, the victim's kinship to the current Home Secretary draws the notice of Sebastian's father-in-law, Lord Jarvis, who will exploit any means to pursue his own clandestine ends. Working with his wife, Hero, Sebastian amasses a list of suspects who range from an eccentric curiosity collector to the brother of a brilliantly observant spinster named Jane Austen. But as one murder follows another, more connections come to light.  $7.99

Maron, Margaret - Long Upon the Land (Deborah Knott Mysteries) -On a quiet August morning, Judge Deborah Knott's father Kezzie makes a shocking discovery on a remote corner of his farm; the body of a man bludgeoned to death. Investigating this crime, Deborah's husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, soon uncovers a long-simmering hostility between Kezzie and the slain man over a land dispute.  Meanwhile, Deborah is given a cigarette lighter that once belonged to her mother. The cryptic inscription inside rekindles Deborah's curiosity about her parents' past, and how they met.
As she investigates even more questions pop up.   $7.99

Page, Katherine - The Body in the Birches (Faith Fairchild Mysteries) - Real estate can be murder especially when it's all in the family. The Fourth of July fireworks are just beginning on Sanpers Island. But after the celebrations are over, Faith Fairchild is shocked to discover a body in the woods near The Birches, an early twentieth-century "cottage," The body is identified as The Birches' housekeeper, who seems to have succumbed to a heart attack. The death is only one of the dramatic events upending the historic house. A family gathering has been called to decide who will inherit the much loved, and very valuable estate that has been in the Proctor family for generations. With this much money involved, it's just a matter of time before trouble arises among the warring potential legatees. But when another death occurs and this time it is murder, Faith races to uncover a killer, one who is much too close to home.  $7.99


I hope you enjoyed your visit. Join us again in April. We've been in business for over 21 years. We've not only done mail order but set up book shops at both ANG and EGA nationals and regionals and other needlework organizations.

Can't find a certain book? Give a call. It doesn't matter if the book is in or out-of-print. We also have a website always being worked on but still usable.

Questions? Give us a call Monday through Saturday at 602-943-0738 between 9 am and 6 pm Arizona time. We are the people that never change the time in spring and fall.  If I don't answer I'm probably in the middle of helping Mark, my husband with M.S. or on an errand so please, please, don't hang up - leave me a message and I'll call ASAP. Or you can e-mail: or

To reach us by mail:  Ruth Kern Books  7235 N. 9th Avenue,
Phoenix, AZ 85021.

MOST IMPORTANT: Find the discount code in this blog and get a 20% discount on any book you order.