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!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fingers have been quietly working....

It has been a busy end of spring here. My husband and I took a short trip to Eastern Finland just a couple of weeks ago. It was so nice to get away and see his family. The country side is gorgeous, all cloaked in the soft greens of summer.

I did take stitching with me, but didn't get as much done as I wanted to. Spending time with my husband and family was a bit more important. I did get to visit a real needlework shop in Joensuu, and replenished some of my precious DMC floss.

I also finished 4 panels for a quilt that will be given to a 2nd grader in California this week. She's facing some surgery soon, and her wonderful teacher wanted to give her a surprise. I had posted a picture of the first panel earlier... here are all 4 that I sent.

All for are Precious Moments. These were a lot of fun. I have not seen a picture of the finished quilt yet, but I will post one when I do.

For now, it is back to work for me.. I have some more pretty magnets to do!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

FHT Summer Giveaway is HERE!!

I am really excited about this. I am one of the 11 Finnish handcrafters participating in this FREE Summer giveaway. Our team now has over 100 members, and to celebrate, we decided to pool our resources and create this lovely gift basket. The retail value is over 230 Euros (almost $300).  My lovely butterfly and frog magnets are part of this, and I don't even offer this particular grouping in my online shops which makes it even more special. So, here's how YOU get to take part... Between now and June 24th,

    Rules of the Giveaway
    1. Like the FHT page on facebook
    2. Like all participating shops pages
    3. Share the giveaway on your wall

Enter the Giveaway

It really isn't that difficult, and it should only take a few moments to do. I know you will find a lot of very cool things to like with these skilled artisans. I am always amazed myself when I see their latest creations. On behalf of everyone on the Finland Handcrafters Team, I wish you the absolute best of luck.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


The birch trees have finally begun to show their new leaves, and the fields are freshly plowed. The ice cream kiosk is open. I think I can safely say that Spring has officially come to this part of Finland. It is gorgeous!! I love watching the earth come back to life after the long winter under its soft white blanket of snow. We are going to be heading to eastern Finland for a couple days this week, and I will get some pictures to share.

I finished my quilt panels and sent them off to California last week. I am literally on pins and needles until I know they have arrived safely. I have one more to start but I need to go get more fabric first. With luck, I will be able to work on this while I am on the road. Not to worry, I do have PLENTY of other goodies to work on.

If you follow my shop, you know that I recently introduced several picture magnets on evenweave. I've been working on adding more. Personally, I prefer these to the ones worked on Aida.

Linen on the left, Aida on the right
As a refresher, I posted the lavender butterfly comparison above. The evenweave is on the left. Evenweave comes in lots of flavors -- this particular one is a lovely 32 count linen from Wichelt. 

So, I have been adding more. Here's a teaser...

The smaller piece of fabric on top is Aida, and the sheet underneath (with the squirrel) is linen. I get to keep working on this fabric while I am on the road, hopefully, and should have some of these pretty, springtime magnets ready to go into the shop shortly. 

I really want to encourage everyone to visit the Facebook page and LIKE it. I will announce sales and specials there more than anyplace else. 

Thanks for stopping by!!

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Power of Backstitches

I don't always have a chance to demonstrate just how powerful backstitching can be. For one, I often backstitch as I finish an area, so getting a picture with just the cross stitching done is almost impossible. Secondly, I work on a lot of smaller projects. But sometimes, I really love to see how the design blooms.

In this first picture, I have all my cross stitches done. It really doesn't look like much other than blobs of color. You can barely tell what this is going to be ("You are the Sweetest Heart" - Gloria & Pat, PMR3). This panel will be going for a charity quilt, being presented to a special young lady.

No backstitches yet

And here we are, with all the backstitches done. This chart isn't really that huge - 40 stitches wide by 89 high. The cross stitches took me about 20 working hours, and backstitching another 8.

Amazing, isn't it?

You can get this lovely design from Patterns Online or you can get the whole booklet with 25 other sweet designs from Gloria & Pat's website as a digital download. The booklet itself is out of print, so you may well pay a bit more than the $12.50 cover price.

I've taken a few days away from working on items for the shop to do a couple of panels for a quilt. I do have some more message magnets to go into both shops. My 10% off sale is over, but I will do another one very soon. In addition to starting on Christmas ornaments (yeah, I know.. it's only the beginning of May!), I should have some small gifts like mug mats and bread cloths ready well in time for the holiday season. Don't forget to drop by Facebook and LIKE the page. It's a great way to stay in touch of sales and product additions. 

Thanks for stopping by!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Novel Idea

While working on the magnets for the Finland Handcrafters Team, I decided to offer some designs on evenweave. There are very few sellers out there that do this. Most stitch on 14 count Aida or perforated plastic (which is also 14 count). Some do stitch on 18 count Aida, but very very few use evenweave. I happen to love working with this, and I will offer it with some appropriate designs.

I have also started grouping items into sets, especially as I complete enough designs to have it make sense. The first up is a set of 3 butterfly magnets, available in either fabric choice.

Set of 3 Butterfly Magnets on Aida
This is a picture of the Aida version. The evenweave version is on a lovely 32 count antique white Lugana.

And yes, that is the same lavender butterfly that was featured in the earlier post on Aida versus Evenweave. I do give a nice break on price for buying the set, plus it is only 1 item for shipping which saves you even more. As I add more to the categories, I will add a listing for any 3 magnets. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Don't Be Afraid of Evenweave

Many cross stitchers will stitch on nothing but Aida because it is easy to find and easy to work with. It comes in a lot of sizes and colors and you can find it in many shops. Aida can have a "chunky" look to it because of the way it is made. Here's an example of 14 count Aida, and you can readily see where your needle should go.

14 count Aida

Evenweave, on the other hand is harder to figure out in the beginning. Here's an example of a 25 count Lugana. The holes are not as obvious as this (and all evenweaves) are made up of one thread running vertically and one thread running horizontally. By way of comparison, Aida has clusters of 4 threads.

25 count Lugana
But why torture yourself for something that is supposed to be relaxing? For one, fractional stitches are a breeze on evenweave. For two, your work looks so much more elegant on it. If you are stitching that is fully covered by stitches and doesn't have a lot of fractionals, Aida is a great way to go. But, if you are on the curious side, give it a go.

Evenweave comes in so many different styles and counts it can be very confusing. Linen is probably the best known but is the hardest to work with. It can have uneven slubs because it is a natural plant fiber. I know, uneven spots in evenweave sounds like an oxymoron but it is really not. Evenweave means the loom has been set for so many stitches per inch in both directions. My recommendations for a first project are Jubilee, Monaco, or Lugana. All have nice rounded threads, come in lots of pretty colors and counts, and are very easy to work on. If you are used to 14 count Aida, look for 28 count evenweave. For your first project, I will suggest 25 count Lugana as it is a little bit larger. You are stitching over 2 threads, so you take the thread count and divide by 2 to get how many stitches per inch.

To start cross stitching, locate your starting point on your chart. Everyone starts in a different place. I usually like my work to be centered so that I have enough excess for framing or mounting. Find the spot closest to your starting point where the vertical thread is on top of the horizontal one. This is where your needle goes. Check this blowup of evenweave. I have a red dot next to the hole where your needle will go for the first stitch. See it? Just remember, you want to ride on TOP of the bridge to enjoy the view.

Doing the magnets for the Finland Handcrafters Team gave me a chance to do a side by side. Here's the same exact design done on 32 count Lugana (left) and also on 16 count Aida (right). Personally, I think the one on Lugana is just a bit more special. This is the one that will be going into the special promotion basket. (For more information, check my earlier post!!) These have not yet been blocked, sorry!!

Side by side - Evenweave on the left, Aida on the right

And here are the finished magnets. The evenweave magnet is on the left.

See how much more delicate the butterfly looks when stitched on evenweave? It's really all about using the materials at hand to make our creations come out the way we see them in our mind. There are just so many lovely lovely fabrics to choose from these days. Don't limit yourself to just working with Aida!

If you are still lost, there are tons of videos out there that show you exactly where to start. Take an easy design, a piece of evenweave, grab a cup of coffee and spend some quiet time bonding with your fabric. I can guarantee that once you try it, you will be hooked and actually look forward to stitching on these exciting fabrics.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More new goodies on the way!

So, it is almost spring here in Central Finland. The temperatures have been above freezing both night and day for a couple of days now, and our snow is rapidly melting.

I am part of a group of artisans from Finland called the Finland Handcrafters Team. We recently added our 100th member and decided we wanted to do a group giveaway. 10 of us have pooled our efforts and will be offering items. You don't have to buy anything, but of course, we love it when you do. Some of us are making special items just for this, while others have picked favorites from their stock. I will be posting pictures over the next few days on My Needle's Song Facebook Page. You can also follow the progress on the team's Facebook Page or Blog. Either way, I will keep you all informed on what is being offered, what you have to do, and by what date.

Here's a real rough picture of the butterflies I am turning into magnets:

These will be ready later this week along with some other treats.... Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Shhhh... Fingers Have Been Busy!

I know the silence between posts can be deafening, but.. there is always a good reason behind it. Most of the time it is because I am stitching or designing away. Lately, it has been stitching, though I do have a couple more of my own designs going into my shop this week.

I have had this small sheet of designs finished for about a week now, but I didn't want to go through the process of washing and ironing just this tiny sheet of designs. The smaller ones at the top will be made into Charmers, which are great for hanging on purses, backpacks, cellphones, or just about anyplace you need a bit of bling. Here's one of the US designs finished...

They either get attached to a lobster claw or directly to the mobile phone cord. I think I like the lobster claws better because you can clip them to more places.

The boots are an experiment, inspired by a dear friend back in Texas. Normally, I finish these tiny designs with a fabric background and a sealer. This time, I am going to try making a two-sided Charmer. It's a question of whether or not the sealer does a good enough job. I should know in just a day or so, and I will let you know how this goes. If it works well, then I will be doing more of them.

Since I didn't want to just do the one small sheet of designs, I stitched like a fiend and just barely finished 16 more message magnets, including one more Finnish design.

Other hot news.... I now have a 2nd shop open. I like Etsy as a marketplace because there is just so much there, and it is really geared towards the handcrafters. One downside is I need to relist (and pay) for the listings every 4 months. Plus, each magnet and charmer has to have its own listing. So.. I have a second shop open now at Storenvy. There is no listing fee, and I don't have to relist my items. You will see Christmas go up on Storenvy first, then on Etsy around September 1st. I will always have all of my listings up at Storenvy, where I will only have the most current ones at Etsy.

One other addition - I added storefronts right on my shop's Facebook page so that you can look and shop without ever leaving Facebook. When you decide to buy, you will be taken to the correct shop and can check out securely. Both sites take PayPal, which means you never give out your precious credit card and banking information to anyone but PayPal.

If there is a special design or message magnet you are looking for, or you want different colors than what I have done a sample in, by all means drop me a message and let me know. I can do most of the customizing for the same fee as the sample, and it should only take me 1 or 2 days to stitch your special request. I do love challenges...

And now, time to get these pieces into the wash so I can get them finished. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Outstanding Service!

If you follow this blog, you know that I have been having a hard time finding certain items. I am so used to the complete needlework shops that have all the necessary items, plus spoiled by stores like Michael's and Hobby Lobby where you can find everything you need for embellishments. Here in Finland, we do have a small chain called Timari. We even have one in our small town. I can get basics like jump rings and eye pins but it is a VERY limited selection and well, expensive. For example the magnets I use for my witty little message magnets. I found 6 of them for 2 euros, or about 60 cents EACH. I used to get my magnets at Wat-Mart for about 8 cents each. I am still looking for sources on this before I resort to mail order. As I told my husband, at least I know where to get them.

But, I needed some other items to complete my tiny stitching. There is this place near Tampere (the next large town to our east) that has a lovely website. So, I decided to try them. I put an order in on Saturday the 23rd for findings and beads. We got the payment request on Monday and sent it back. My package arrived today, complete!! I didn't request any special handling or pay for rush postage. From the time we sent the payment information in to the package arriving was less than 48 hours!!! GREAT selection, outstanding service too. I will definitely be back to shop there and will make a road trip soon too.

They do ship international, folks...

Visit HelmiQ soon!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Now just what is she making?

Here's the first crop of tiny designs. What are they going to be? Well, originally I was going to make them into small pins or button covers. The bunnies make cute earrings, too. But then... times change and our tastes for bling change. These are about the size of a US quarter. So.. you will just have to check back to see the finished products. I was hoping to have some ready by April 1st, but it may be just a few days later. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Almost ready!!

I wanted to post a teaser picture. I completely redid the pictures for the shop this week, and am in the last stages of finishing several new additions. Here's a teaser...

The white angels will be part of Christmas. I had done them earlier while I was still in Texas and just went ahead and filled the fabric with the wizards and chubby angels. The tiny designs on the right will be turned into cellphone or bag charms. These should be online this week. Don't worry - Christmas designs won't be in the shop before September 1st. 

Until then, I am busy stitching away on a piece for my mother-in-law. I will post pictures as I have them. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A slight change of focus...

This blog will always feature news about my Etsy Shop, but, it is also going to start being a whole lot more. I get questions from other stitchers about how to make their work better, or how to find this item or that chart. There are also a ton of websites out there that promise free charts but take your identity instead. I am also noticing a lot of needlework shops disappearing. So...

Shop news... I added a bunch of magnets about 10 days ago, and am finishing off the stitching for another group. This group will be a bit smaller, but will include one of my favorite designs - a wizard.

This is just a rough teaser of him. He still has to be washed, blocked and finished. He was originally a Christmas ornament, but he would be so cute hanging year round. Watch for him to make his shop debut very soon. While he can be finished as a magnet, he is best at his job of just hanging around from a golden cord. His wand will also be topped by a crystal.

My Etsy Shop is also now a part of the Finland Handcrafter's Team. This is a phenomenal group of artisans based in Finland that do a wide range of handwork - fine jewelry, knit goods, accessories for your home, and so very much more. I am amazed at these people, and will start showing off their shops in the next few posts. So that this blog doesn't get so cluttered (and off-topic), you can read about my finds at Handcrafted Joy

But first, why Etsy? From my standpoint (the crafter), it offers a nice platform to display my work for sale. They do take a small commission as well as a nominal listing fee, but I don't have to pay for my hosting. I get nice statistics as well. For you shoppers, you really win out on this. PayPal is the preferred method of payment, which means you shop securely without ever having to give out your payment information. I don't get your credit card or banking information ever. You also have PayPal's shopper's guarantees behind you- If you don't get your item or it isn't as I described it, you do have recourse and it is even better than using your bank card. Etsy has thousands of shops offering an incredible range of items - high fashion, accessories, home decor, craft supplies, gifts, and just about everything else you can possibly imagine. Items that say they are handmade are just that - handmade by me (or the artisan/shopowner) and not purchased from China. 

So, so yourself a favor and check out Etsy or my new blog. Easter is coming up, so you can always just search for Easter and enjoy the outstanding selection of goodies to tempt you. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Finally, an update and new goodies going up!

Sorry it has been so long between posts. I have been busy stitching and looking for materials here in Western Finland. Stitchers (and really all crafters!) please don't ever take your local suppliers for granted. You don't realize how easy they make it for you to craft until you no longer have access to them.

Take simple stranded cotton floss, like DMC. In the states, you can find this almost everywhere. Wal-Mart carried it until a couple of years ago when they decided it wasn't a big enough profit-maker for them. Just about every town has a Michael's, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn's, or other major craft chain nearby. Don't ignore those awesome full-service needlework stores either!! I was so used to being able to just drive about 10 minutes to get my DMC floss. Well, guess what... that isn't possible here in Finland.

Finland is a small country of about 5-1/2 million. It has a strong tradition of handwork. Everywhere I go, I see lots and lots of yarn. I just don't see embroidery floss. We live about 4 hours north of the capital, out in a small area called Eura. I was complaining to my husband about my dwindling DMC stash, and he suggested we try the local fabric store. "What? They have one in this small town?" Yeah... and it is pretty good too. Problem is, no DMC floss. They carry a brand called Mayflower from Denmark. Okay. The price is reasonable and I can match the colors. Then he got to thinking - what about the yarn store in town. Great. Nice store, but only Anchor floss. So, one day last week, we went into Rauma - about 45 minute drive from our home. The yarn store there carries DMC but not all the colors. I did locate sources for fabrics, so that is great. I have both DMC and Anchor threads, so I will make out. Still... it has taken a bite out of my stitching time. We went through the same thing with the small magnets that I use. Even getting a new glue gun was a half-day search to find a store that carried it. I have just learned to keep my eyes open and to always ask. You never know what you will find where.

So, now.. on to the good news. I have 9 Wittys going on to Etsy:

These are all on soft blue 18 count fabric. I may have more of this fabric, but will probably have to order it. I have hundreds of these sayings, so if I have not stitched your favorite, I can easily do so. I also managed to find all of the finishing materials I needed for my Cutouts:

These are all stitched on 18 count cotton Aida fabric, and then treated with a finisher that seals the stitches. I then trim them close to the stitching line. Everything but the gumball machine is backed with the black pindot fabric. The angel and gumball machine have a beige muslin backing so that it doesn't show through. The angel is not a refrigerator magnet - she can be hung anywhere from the golden cord that she holds in her hands. She can also be stitched in any color you wish. The two coins are included for reference - a 2 euro coin and US quarter from left to right.

So... I promise it won't be so long between updates. Remember to visit the shop!! Even if you don't buy anything, you are allowed to like it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Shop is open!!

I have just finished opening the Etsy shop! I only have a few items listed right now, but will be adding a lot more over the coming months. The first items up are the magnets that I posted pictures of. Most are now complete and ready to go to new homes. I forget that I can't just run down to Wal-Mart and get finishing supplies anymore!! Even lace trim is very hard to find. Still, I will find new ways to finish these items and get them online.

I do have a growing collection of Texas designs to stitch along with a ton of designs for Christmas. Next on my list is Spring and Mother's Day. I am thinking plant pokes, magnets, maybe sachets?

Drop by the shop at My Needle's Song - Minun neulan laulu and add it to your favorites. Please do check back often!!

Here's one of the finished magnets...

Great reminder to me to stay strong and focused!! Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's almost here!!

the shop is quietly waiting to be stocked! I have the first two "sheets" of magnets ready to start the finishing process. Then it is photo time and listing time. Maybe by the end of the week?

This has me nervous in a lot of ways. I have sold my work before - both at live craft shows in California and Texas as well as online. Usually, I stitch someone else's charts. This time, I am doing some of my own designs. I did take a rough photo of the first sheet done here in Finland...

I will be doing my work in both Finnish and English now, though I am not confident enough to do this blog in Finnish yet!

One thing I notice is that people always want to see the back of any needlework. It does tell a lot about the work itself. When you look at the back, you are looking for overall neatness. I don't ever knot my work, and try not to carry threads over more than 2 stitches without anchoring. Here's a couple pictures of the back of the same sheet so that you can see what I mean... 

The completed magnets will look something like this -- depending on what lace or trims I use. These are backed with cardstock and magnet so that everything is clean and sealed. 

My goal is to have simple, inexpensive but good quality gifts for everyone. As soon as I have the shop stocked, I will post the URL here. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Welcome to my latest project!

Welcome to my latest and craziest project -- an online needlework shop. Over the next month or so, I will be opening an Etsy shop to sell my small completed cross stitch ornaments, magnets, and gift items. You will want to tune in here regularly so that I can update you on the progress as well as tease you with hints of things to come.

My life this last couple of years has been crazy. I have been a needleworker all my life - embroidery and needlepoint when I was younger, counted cross stitch as that developed in the early 1980's. I have done craft shows in 3 different states, and always loved seeing the people smile at my work. Some have even bought it! In the summer of 2011, I had a lovely man propose to me, and I moved from the Texas Hill Country to the rural part of western Finland. I love it here, but it is so very different. I can't just run to Wal-Mart or the Michael's for floss. There is a small fabric shop in nearby Eura that has Mayflower floss, but no DMC! I believe the closest DMC is in Rauma, a good 40 minute drive.

Jobs are scarce here, unless you want to work at plucking chickens or do seasonal work in the fields. There are very few office jobs, so... I decided to make my own work. I did a bunch of counted cross stitch Christmas ornaments that were quite well received. 

These were just some of them.

I think my two favorites were ones I did for my niece and nephew for their tree:

These little ornaments were all stitched on 28 to 32 count evenweave, stuffed with a thin layer of batting and then finished with a single running stitch and fringe. The hangers were simply metallic DMC thread attached to the plain back. My mother-in-law displayed several of last year's ornaments on some spruce cuttings:

These were all stitched on 18 count Aida, then sealed with needlework finisher and cut out. They don't ravel at all. I will be doing a LOT more of these. 

Right now, I am working on a group of message magnets, including some in Finnish. I will post a picture as soon as I get the pieces blocked and completed. I also have conversation hearts in both English and Finnish scheduled to be done in the next week. I expect to have my Etsy shop online and ready in about 2 weeks. I won't have everything there, but it will be a good start. 

I hope you will bookmark this page and come back frequently. Happy stitching!