Friday, October 4, 2013

Decisions Decisions Decisions

After a lot of thought, I have decided to move this blog over to my domain. It isn't that I don't like using Blogger - it's much more that I can do more with this site on my own turf. It will let me keep things much more up to date and all in one place.

So... please visit me there. The older posts from this blog will all be imported there, and I will leave this up for a while...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I Will Be Back Soon, I Promise!

I've found it necessary to take a short hiatus from adding to my shops these days, but I do promise I will be back to regular additions very soon.

What have I been up to? Some of you know that I work with a charity stitching group, creating quilts for premature infants. The group I worked with has undergone some pretty serious changes lately, and we had a division of our members and a change of focus. I went with a new group that is forming - Canada Stitches. We will still be doing quilts for preemies, but that is not the only thing. We will be doing cushions for kids undergoing treatment in the hospitals, making cat toys for the no-kill shelters, and making all kinds of other projects that can be given to hospitalized patients, or donated to different foundations that can use them for fundraisers. We feel that we can sometimes do more good for a community by helping to raise the money to purchase needed hospital equipment than we can by making a quilt for a premature infant. Instead of putting our energies into this one project, we are now able to see how we can use our pooled talents to best help the community as a whole.

One other thing we wanted to do was showcase the shops and designers of Canada. Most stitchers don't even know they have so many wonderful designers in Canada, or that they can get almost everything they need to create their projects right there without shopping in the US. We do cover new releases, do shop reviews, and profile the designers on our blog as well as on our Facebook Page. It's  promises to be a really fun ride, so be sure to visit the new site or follow us on Facebook to watch the progress.

Also just in... if you were thinking of starting an Etsy shop, *this* is the time to do it. Right now... they will give you 40 free listings if you use THIS LINK. Opening your shop is free, and each listing normally costs you 20 cents each for 4 months. It is a fair amount of work, but it can also be so rewarding. Check out my shop, or look around, then come back to this link and set yourself up. Handmade does rule, but you can also sell your used craft supplies and charts. Hope to see you there....

And I will see you all again very soon. I promise!

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Shout-Out

It isn't often that I can give this kind of recommendation, so treasure this. Many many people are leery of dealing with online purchases, especially downloadable charts. I have three sites in particular that I am going to boast about.

The first one, and biggest one is PatternsOnline.Com. Sure, by now everyone has heard of them, haven't they? This is the place you can buy so many charts from so many designers. You get them loaded onto your account where you can retrieve them as you wish. I started dealing with them in 2003. Since then, I think I am on my 4th computer. Everything has worked for me.. usually. This last computer upgrade was probably the hardest for me. I moved to a different country and my carefully packed hard drives didn't let me have access to all of my stored information. I did a fresh install and hoped everything would work right.

Well, it didn't. There was a string of about 12 charts that I had purchased that would no longer open for me with PC Stitch. The program is used to open, view, and print these charts. I also use it when I design my charts. The program told me I didn't have access to these. They were on my computer, and I know I paid for them. I sent in a trouble ticket just a few days ago. I got an answer just a few hours ago. Everything is fixed and I once again have access to all of these charts purchased in 2003 and 2004! Thank you Jennifer for your kind help. And seriously how many companies go that far for their customers these days?

This is their online shop stocked full of everything you need to stitch the charts you just purchased. They are owned by the same company, and I know their attention to detail is just as good. You may well wish to check them out for your stitching needs.

The other two shops are on Etsy. I know you keep hearing about it, but you may not know what it is. I like to think of it as a virtual craft show. Yes, you find vintage and supplies on there, but for the most part, it is handmade. I've had so many bad experiences purchasing charts on eBay that I swore off of them. Many were computer generated charts that were just poorly done - a fast way to make a buck. The designs never look like what the cover image suggests. I gave up on any charts not generated by one of the big designers until I ran into Jody and Rinna on Facebook. 

Jody is Austitch, an Australian designer with a growing shop. She's an avid stitcher and designer who is bright and bubbly. Yes, she's a real person and she is very responsive to her customers. Her designs can be a bit on the cheeky side, but they are far from rude. I have purchased a chart from her and when I get a chance to stitch I will be posting updates. Her charts are large, well thought out, clear to read, and with excellent instructions. I can tell this will be a project I will truly enjoy. Please do drop by Austitch and see what new unconventional creations she has. I think you will enjoy!

The second Etsy shop that I love dearly is Cross Stitch by Rinna. Rinna is based in the Philippines and brings a solid Oriental touch to her work. Her work is bright, colorful, and fun not to mention gorgeous. I love the faces on her children and cherubs. You can almost guarantee that at least one of her designs is going to end up on a piece for Canada Stitches. Rinna is another lady that is very responsive to her customers, and a pure delight to talk to. 

Do check these shops out when you are in the need for new charts. I know you can find just about everything at PatternsOnline and their prices are very reasonable. What you don't find there, you may find at Austitch or Cross Stitch Rinna!

Until next time, Happy Stitching!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Wow!! It's been a very busy month!

Please don't think for a moment that I am ignoring this blog. I have just been very busy lately. For the shop news, I did add several new magnets, including a really cute red squirrel and my first round magnets. These have all been done on a beautiful, soft antique white 28 count linen. I was so pleased with how the round magnets came out that I will be doing more (including Christmas ornaments) this way.

The squirrel really jumped out at me. I love squirrels for some unknown reason. When I lived in Texas, I had one resident in the oak trees in my yard. My cats loved watching them come over and steal the bird seed. We have resident squirrels here in Finland too, and yes, they are bird seed thieves!! This one won't steal anything but your heart...

As you can also tell, I am playing with new backgrounds. The round ones were shot indoors on a paper that has glitter. Then we found a really neat handmade light blue-gray paper. The squirrel was shot outdoors on the new paper. I did not do any color correcting to it, and I think it is a much more accurate picture of the magnet.

In between finishing these magnets, I have been working on Christmas ornaments along with my first model for a designer. I don't have any pictures yet on either project, but promise I will take some soon. I am also back to working just about full time for the Angel Quilt Project, which makes quilts for premature infants. My latest finish for the Canadian Division...

We have family arriving on Sunday, and will be taking an overnight cruise on the new Viking Grace from Turku to Stockholm and back. We are all excited about this. Yeah, I know.. who gets excited about a ferry boat ride? Well, this is more of a cruise ship with the restaurants, nightclubs, and other facilities. Plus, it is brand new. We watched the christening of the ship live. Finns do these cruises as mini-holidays, and it is very reasonable. For me, it will be a test. I usually take my laptop when I leave home. This time, my computer stays here. I am taking only one small stitching project - another first for me. I am going to relax and enjoy some quality time with my husband. Two years ago this week, he proposed to me. It's a special week for us, and I hope you have a special week as well. I will post pictures when I return.. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A First For Me...

I was stitching along this morning, working on the last magnet on this piece of linen when I decided I really disliked the design I was working on. It's a grouping of peppers, and between the shaping of the peppers and the cartoon-y colors the designer chose (or their conversion from DMC to Anchor), I could not see wasting the time to finish it. Sigh... I guess I am too antsy to get started on something else. Now I am free to move on to other projects.

So, yes, finally, I have a start on ornaments. There are so very many cute ones that it is very hard to decide what to do first. I did manage to narrow the field down a little. As I finish these, I will be adding them to Storenvy first and then to Etsy after September 1st. Why the difference? I have to re-list my items every 4 months and pay a new listing fee with Etsy.

I have also become a lot more active with the Angel Quilt Project. They do so much good for families that are truly stressed. Stitching for them makes me feel good. My finished pieces will be heading to Canada for finishing and final delivery to a family. I will still be stitching for the US Division as well.

Don't forget -- there is only about 2 days left to enter the Summer Giveaway. I can't wait to see where my butterflys are going to go. I do hope they will end up with someone who appreciates them.

It is Midsummer's Day here in Finland. Time for good food, good friends, and family. I hope your summer goes well. I will post a picture of this next group very shortly.

Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Charity Stitching

Earlier I had posted the 4 panels I sent to California for a special quilt. Yesterday, I saw a picture of the completed quilt.

The lovely lady holding this quilt is the teacher who put this project together. Everyone was so happy, and everyone was crying over the love shown to this little girl by complete strangers. It's a great feeling knowing that something so simple as a piece of needlework can make someone so happy... 

Which brings me to today's topic -- Charity Stitching. We all have our own reasons for stitching these pieces. With the quilt above, I had the time, the materials, and the desire. When her teacher asked in a Facebook group for volunteers, I was happy to be able to help. I have a lot of Precious Moments designs here, so it was just a matter of picking out ones that fit the theme and size requirements. These panels weren't stitched for money or for the thanks. They were stitched to show that we can care about others, even if we don't know them. It's really all about people helping each other.

There are a TON of charity stitching groups out there, each with their own focus. My favorite is the Angel Quilt Project. Now in its 13th year, this international group of stitchers led by founder James Farmer of Mississippi has donated over 53,000 quilts to premature infants and critically ill children all around the world. They don't have any time deadlines, so you can stitch as you wish. The panels I did for the quilt above would have been perfect for the Angel Quilt Project (and I will probably stitch some for them, too!) They do have a website as well as a Facebook Page

Another great group is the Linus Project. They are all over the US and deliver brand new handmade security blankets to children in need. Many many churches work to help the elderly and children with bits of handmade comfort and are excellent resources. Stitch for Charity, Stitch for Pleasure is another group that is well-liked by its volunteers in the UK. Best of all, you can easily Google Charity Cross Stitch and come up with a whole list in just minutes. 

The whole point is to take a short time out to help another person through a time of stress. You have no idea how much it will add to your pleasure by simply doing so. 
I will have more updates to the shops this week as I am just finishing off a group of magnets on linen. 

Until then, Happy Stitching!!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A HUGE step forward!!

Today is a huge day for this humble little shop. I finally purchased a domain name and started building a more permanent home. Soon, you will have just one spot to go to get the latest news, find the shop links, see what is going on, and enjoy pictures of Finland and my work. The new domain is My Needle's Song.

I also set up an internet panhandling account for my enterprise. It's not like I need a lot - I brought a good amount of stash (fabrics, floss, and charts) with me. It's more that I need a few things that dangle enticingly just out of my reach. I want to upgrade my chart design software, buy a used sewing machine, and invest in a few more fabric choices. Not a lot, like I said. Every dollar (or Euro) helps. I don't have a lot to offer right now, but I will give all donors a permanent 20% off in either store. That, and you will have our undying gratitude. The campaign is ongoing, so please do feel free to stop by anytime and donate securely via PayPal.

I will have more items coming for the shop next week, and then.. it is time to start getting ready for Christmas. Look for a Santas, Snowmen, and Angels. These will roll into Storenvy first, and then be listed at Etsy in September.

Until then, Happy Stitching!