Thursday, April 29, 2021

"In the Garden" Again: Oak Leaves and Acorns

It is hard to think of autumn as we are enjoying the glory of spring, but this week's In the Garden block will help you to be ready when the leaves that are now just coming out, will start changing their colors. This block will give you some wonderful practice with French knots—note Teri's trick with a pillow to aid in making the multitude of knots. Here is the unedited version of our previous blog post to help you as you stitch this little bit of autumn!

Until May 5th, use the coupon code ACORNS10 to receive a 10% discount on the printed pattern!


Thursday, November 16, 2017

I (Teri) was afraid that the only autumnal color we were going to get this year would be that which I stitched. Here in Maryland, the days stayed warm and the temperatures didn't drop as much at night much later than normal, resulting in an October of primarily green trees. In the past few weeks, we have finally been seeing some color, though it was sadly short-lived, as many of the leaves have already begun falling.

While I love green, the autumn palette is my favorite, so it was with great pleasure that I stitched this month's block in our In the Garden Block of the Month series, Oak Leaves and Acorns. If you missed our first block, it is available on our website. You can read about Cornflowers by clicking here.

November block: Oak Leaves and Acorns

Our BOM class was held at Primitive Homespuns Wool & Needleworks on Sunday afternoon. We had a delightful time—lots of stitching and lots of laughing. As you can see in the photograph, there were moments of nearly silent concentration, with only the sound of needles pulling thread through our wool. And then the conversation would begin, as we got to know new stitching friends. This quaint shop offers such a charming setting for our classes!
We began by stapling our leaves and stem in place onto the background. Around each leaf, we blanket stitched with The Gentle Art Simply Wool™ thread, which blended into the wool beautifully, giving the leaves a crisp edge. Variegated Valdani Pearl Cotton 12 gave the veins a bit of pop and sheen.

I have been intrigued by the new Rustic Wool Moire™100% wool threads. I had bought several spools but hadn't tried them yet. The branch seemed to be the perfect opportunity, as I had a color that blended with the wool I used precisely. It was a little fussy to work with, needing gentle handling and a short stitching piece, but I loved the way it worked with the wool. The natural slubs in the thread give the branch a little texture, but it sinks right into the the wool fabric. I didn't, however, choose the wool for the acorn caps. 

To make the acorns, I cut out a piece of gold the shape of the entire acorn. I blanket stitched around about 3/4 of the acorn, and then I stuffed it with polyester fluff. You could as easily use batting scraps or shredded scraps of wool for stuffing. Then I finished blanket stitching the acorn. For the cap, I choose Weeks Dye Works™ Pearl Cotton 8, but you could use size 5 if you want bigger and fewer knots. I first outlined the cap with knots and then filled it in—with hundreds of knots. I use a pillow when I do knots, so that after I wrap the thread around the needle, I can stick it straight into the pillow, and pull the wraps tautly, as in the photo above. I then pick up my work, holding the thread at the base of the knot with my thumb, and I gently pull the needle through from the back, keeping my thumb at the knot. Easy, uniform knots!

So many knots! You can use French or Colonial knots.

Pick a great movie or TV show to binge-watch, and knot away! They give such a realistic textured effect to the acorn caps.

I also met with the Margaret Potts quilt BOM group this past weekend. We are embellishing the blocks with ribbon and embroidery. To read about the ribbon flowers we learned last month, read the post "Potts" of Ribbon Flowers. Several people brought their blocks in to share what they had accomplished thus far. We had some lovely and creative flower centers! Not only are the flowers centers different, but each block has a different kind of veins in the leaf. It is such fun to see the modifications that are made to reflect the makers' own tastes and styles. 

A circle of knots and one of seed beads

Filled with knots to complement the color of the vase

A mixture of French and bullion knots

This month, we used River Silks ribbon to embellish our flowers, playing with several stitches—a straight stitch and the ribbon stitch. The buds were made with folded wired ribbon, and the thorny stem was created using the wheat ear stitch. I can't wait to see how these flowers look on all the blocks next month! 

What a fun-filled, stitching weekend! The only thing that could be more fun than two stitching classes would be to end the weekend with a birthday party for a two-year-old princess. Which I did! I know this grandma is a bit biased, but I think she is a darling little princess!

Admiring herself in her princess gown 

But I digress! If you haven't ordered your Cornflowers pattern, they are available on our website (click here). And our new pattern, Oak Leaves and Acorns is now available as well! We'd love to have you join us In the Garden!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

We're Back "In the Garden" Again: Cornflowers

As Kara stated last week, we will be revisiting our time capsule of posts from a few years ago, and going back In the Garden. We will be using many of the stitches we learned in our Hopeful Flowers Stitch Along, and sharing tips in our Hopeful Stitchers Facebook group. Since this post was first published, the quilt has been assembled, quilted, bound, and taught in two year-long BOMs at Primitive Homespuns. We hope that you will enjoy our return visit In the Garden, and if you have already stitched some of the blocks, perhaps you might share some of your successes in our Facebook group. Below, you can find the unedited original post from 2017. All of the patterns are available as digital downloaded PDFs or as printed copies with ribbon at Enjoy!!

For this week only, use the coupon code CORNFLOWER10 to receive a 10% discount on the printed pattern with ribbon!


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Introducing "In the Garden," A BOM Series: Cornflowers

For some time now, Kara and I (Teri) have wanted to design a Block of the Month series. We discussed a number of different themes, but we finally settled on a garden. Before Kara left for Germany, we mapped out our plan, and worked with Kathy Makers of Primitive Homespuns Wool & Needleworks to select our palette of wools for the project. We love to mix different materials, so we will be combining wool, a variety of threads, ribbon, and even some beads. The blocks will vary in size, and ultimately, we plan to create a quilt out of the blocks. But you might wish to used the blocks independently in some other way—your creativity should know no bounds!

I will be introducing a new pattern each month in a class I'll teach at Kathy's shop in Frederick, Maryland. After the class, I will blog about it, and the pattern will be released on our website, Any ribbon needed to complete the block will be included with the pattern. Of course, if you want to source your own ribbon, you can simply purchase the digital version of the pattern. If you are interested in purchasing wool and thread kits, you can do so through the Primitive Homespuns website, linked above.

The first block: Cornflowers (or Bachelor Buttons)

The Cornflowers class was held this past Sunday. Our first step was to appliqué down the wool unit for the leaves. Most of us did the leaves as one whole unit and used the embroidery to delineate the separate leaves. A couple people cut the leaves into separate units and appliquéd them down. Either method worked just fine. We worked on outlining the leaves with a stem stitch using Valdani pearl cotton, stitching fairly densely.

We all enjoyed making the bias silk cornflower blooms. The flowers are made with 1.5-inch Hanah bias silk ribbon, which is frayed, folded and gathered. 

Here is a brief tutorial for how to make these flowers. You will need to make two flowers.

Cut a 9-inch piece of ribbon. Fray the edges of both sides
of the ribbon with your thumbnail and index finger.

Fold the ribbon in half lengthwise. We didn't press it,
but a few ladies in class said that they would, because the silk is slippery.

Bring the two ends together. Starting at the fringy edge, backstitch
the two ends of the ribbon together with matching or neutral thread.
You should now have a loop.

Open the loop and take running stitches along the folded edge until you
get back to where you started. Your stitches need not be tiny;
ours were anywhere between an eighth and a quarter inch. 

Don't knot off the thread yet!
Pull the thread gently to gather and take two small backstitches
in the folds to secure the gathers.

The budding bloom on the right of the block is made the same way, with two exceptions. You start with a 4.5-inch piece of ribbon, and rather than opening the loop, you just stitch straight across through all the layers on the fold and gather. We started the class with a fun technique—what is more fun than the magic of turning a piece of ribbon into a beautiful flower? We set our blooms aside to create stems.

Our next task was to tackle the Hungarian Braided Chain stitch, used for the stems. I love this stitch, but it can take a while to feel comfortable with it. Some of us were wishing we had saved the ribbon fraying for after this stitch, so we could fray our stress out! We all agreed that we would master that stitch, but maybe not in one day. ☺

When I do this stitch, I am reminded of French braiding my daughter's hair. I would get the parts of the braid in place and then tug to secure it. As I stitch, I can almost hear her squealing. (Believe it or not, my adult daughter loves braiding her hair now; she might be gentler on herself than I was.) 

Here are a few photos of my method to help you out. For a really wonderful tutorial, check out Mary Corbet's video by clicking here. (And please don't compare my method with hers!)

1)  Start by making a lazy daisy stitch. Bring your needle up to the front a stitch-length away from the bottom of the lazy daisy.  Carefully take the needle through the tack stitch on the opposite side of the stitch.

2)  Pull the thread through the tack stitch, but do not pull tightly, yet. Take the needle to the back of the work precisely where the thread came to the front. Bring the needle back to the front a stitch-length below.

3)  Using the eye of the needle, so you won't pierce other threads, take your working thread under the stitch in the
middle of the loose stitch.  So your needle is over the outside stitch and under the previous stitch in the middle.
Keep the needle in place for the time being.

4)  This is where I give the working thread beneath a little tug. (Imagine a squealing little girl.)
Pull the needle through, eye first, but don't pull the thread tautly yet.
Repeat steps 2 through 4 until you have created the length of stem you desire. 

Because I was using size 12 pearl, I decided that the taller stems were too skinny for the big flowers, so I stitched another row right next to the first. It gave the stems a cool texture. But of course, you could always swap out a size 5 or 8 pearl if you wished. Or, as always, you might just want to sub in a totally different stitch! And that's okay.

To create the buds, I first appliquéd a piece of green wool in the shape of my bud. This gives the bud dimension, and it insures that if any color shines through the stitches, it is not the cream of my background. I used a periwinkle satin stitch to cover the point, and then I created random, overlapping fly stitches, shaped like a V, pointing to the tip of the bud—first in purple, and then green at the bottom. 

Now we just need to place our flowers and work the centers. To stitch the blooms in place, take some tack stitches into the folds of the blooms. I only stitched in the center, so that the petals would still move freely—like they're blowin' in the wind. In the center, I stitched French knots, using periwinkle floss with three wraps. I surrounded the center with a circle of purple French knots. Finally, I used black floss to make pistil stitches, radiating from the center, adding a bead to the knot. The beads, of course,  are optional. 

We are having a great time designing this quilt, and would love to have you join us! We have twelve garden-themed blocks coming, and ultimately, a border and plan for assembling them. Won't it be fun to garden all year long? We would love to have you join us—In the Garden!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

In the Garden Together

As both Teri and I (Kara) have alluded to over the last two weeks, spring has arrived in each of our respective locations. For the last 4 years we have been experiencing the seasons on opposite sides of the pond, but pretty soon we will both be on the same side of that pond for good! 

This will be my last post written from my kitchen table in my German house. All our worldly goods will be packed up next week and put on a rather slow boat to the states. Because of this state of flux that I will be in, both Teri and I thought it might be a good idea to simplify our blogging for the next two months, and so we present In the Garden Together. These blocks were originally taught as separate classes at Primitive Homespuns Wool and Needleworks in Frederick, Maryland, but now we will be highlighting all of our In the Garden quilt blocks both here on the blog and in our Hopeful Stitchers Facebook group.

Each week we will highlight one of the blocks by re-posting that block's blog post, which features tips and tricks for creating that particular block. 

We will also feature the stitches used in that block in our Hopeful Stitchers Facebook group. 

As an added bonus, we are offering a 10% discount on the block that is featured during that week! If you have always wanted to create this quilt or have purchased the blocks but not yet put them together, then this is a perfect time to start. It will be like taking a mini class from the comfort of your own home, and we will be doing it together! 

All the patterns are available on our website in either printed or digital form. The printed pattern includes the ribbon needed, if the block requires ribbon. If you'd like to save a little bit, we even have the entire set of patterns bundled together for you to purchase. Contact Primitive Homespuns for more information about wool and thread kits. If you plan to do the entire quilt, we recommend purchasing your background first. We used wool as a background, but you could choose cotton, flannel or linen. The finished size of the quilt is 36" x 46" so two yards of background would be more than enough.

We would love to have you join us as we re-visit our garden—especially as our own gardens are getting ready to bloom! You can join our Hopeful Stitchers Facebook group and share your progress there. It is always an encouragement to other stitchers in the group to see everyone's interpretation of the blocks.

Let's come to the garden together!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

What's Happening?


Spring has officially hit the state of Maryland, and I (Teri) have been enjoying some beautiful long walks, enjoying all the flowers in bloom. There is nothing that inspires us more than nature, with all its bountiful beauty. I guess it's no surprise that we stitch so many flowers!

Even as the world is starting to slowly open up again, at least here in the US, we are staying quite busy with new designs for online stitching programs. Participating in several stitch alongs this past year has been such a fun way to "meet" new stitching friends, while we anticipate classes opening in person again. It shan't be long, we hope!

Here are a few things we have been up to lately. We still have kits available for all our previous stitch-along blocks, and orders are still rolling in, but this is the last week for free digital pattern downloads, so if you haven't gotten your patterns, act fast! They will still be available, but for purchase.

Vicki McCarty of Calico Patch Designs has created a stunning finishing design for all of the Potted Petals Mystery Stitch-A-Long blocks. Each of the designers still has patterns and kits available, and now you can get the finishing pattern and kit to make this quilt, as well. For details, check our website, where you can find live links to each designer's site:

I think my violet was so excited that we had stitched some into our Tea and Blooms block that it decided to bloom for me. These are the first blooms I've gotten in about three years!

A Few New Mysteries Coming Your Way!

Our Woolie Buddies have once again gathered together to present a new mystery stitch along. The name will have to be your hint here, because it IS a mystery, but I can tell you that there are some fabulous projects in store for you. Be watching for more information on our social media, in the Potted Petals Facebook group, and on our website, as it will be starting soon. Any guesses?!

We are also happy to be participating in the Joy of Giving Mystery, with thirteen other designers. Each of the 14 projects can be made and given as gifts, and a new one will be released every other week, beginning on June 6. These are great affordable projects to help you prepare for your gift-making and giving. To follow this fun, you can join the new Joy of Giving Mystery Facebook group, or watch our website and this blog to see more about our project.

I will be updating our website in the very near future with more information about both of these stitching opportunities. It's hard to spend so much time at the computer when the spring flowers are calling me outside!

Conferences and classes are beginning to open in person, and we are so excited to be teaching at Baltimore on the Prairie this September. We have two fun classes planned for this event, pictured below. We would love to see you there. Kara and I are already planning for 2022! 

Session A
Session B

And we are thrilled to again be on the prestigious faculty of the Academy of Appliqué in 2022 and are busily preparing our designs. The fun will continue!! The class catalog will be available in early August. 

We've been as busy as this bee in the cherry tree, stitching and writing patterns, and looking for inspiration in this beautiful spring season. You never know which flower will under our needles next!

Happy spring!!

Did you know that whenever the words appear in a teal color, they are live links to click on for more information?