Friday, August 30, 2013

Invasion of the threads, fabric and charts!

Yikes...they're HEE-RRR-EEE!!!!

We just got a giant shipment of beautiful hand-dyed threads from the talented gang at Weeks Dye Works! Here's a little Q & A about our big project...coming soon to a needlework shop near you!

Q. Who is this incredibly sweet-looking family?
A. It's the family behind Weeks Dye Works! It truly IS a family affair at this dynamic fiber/fabric biz. As the products at Weeks Dye Works continue to expand, it seems the family is growing, too! We always enjoy seeing the McGahey kids (and parents Miranda and John) at Needlework Market. They graciously shared a few pics with us of their WDW factory.

No, they don't work from home like we do at L*K. It's a large building located in Garner, NC.

Above is the Dye Room, where all the color magic happens!

WHOA! That's a lot of floss, ready for a colorful bath.

Here is Delia winding the 6-strand floss onto cones. Each cone holds an amazing 3,250 yars.

And, finally, here's the productive gang at Weeks Dye Works, working hard to bring beautiful fibers and fabrics to the needlework industry. Thanks for the mini-tour, John. I'd like to visit in person next time!

Q. How many threads arrived at L*K?
A. The most threads I've ever seen in my history at L*K. Enough threads to DIVE into, cannonball style (if we did that sort of thing at work!). Four giant, slightly-smushed boxes arrived at 7 PM via UPS last night.

Q. Who put all these threads in their lovely little sacks?
A. Again, the gracious staff at Weeks Dye Works sacked them for us (giant blessing for us!). Alan, Linda and our helper, Carmen, thank them with all of our tired little fingers.

Q. When will L*K customers get to see and hold the "mysterious" thread packs?
A. We'll be packing orders during the holiday weekend. Hey, it's aptly called LABOR Day! We'll be shipping to shops inside/outside the US on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

Q. What does the thread pack look like?
A. It's a beautiful rainbow of muted holiday colors, including one new color that Weeks Dye Works developed on our request. It's a grungy olive green color called Oscar, named after the ever-famous Sesame Street resident, Oscar the Grouch.

Q. With all those threads, how about the fabric?
A. We picked up a whole carload of lovely hand-dyed linen and Aida from nearby Picture This Plus a couple days ago. The hard-working gals at PTP worked really hard (nights, weekends, overtime) to dye the fabric for the Mystery Sampler project. Then they went a step farther (actually several steps!) and volunteered to cut the fabric, serge the edges, fold, package and label each convenient pre-cut. Fabulous for shops and customers alike!

Q. How about the patterns?
A. Hey, we've been working on this part for 6 months!  After we designed and stitched the model, we worked on the printed materials. There's a pretty color cover, then 3 additional pages including color key (hang onto this!), chart for Part 1, stitch guide and BONUS pattern. You can see the final results on the photo below...sacked and ready to leave the nest!

Q. Whew? Do you celebrate after a big shipment? How?
A. You betcha!!!  Always, our post-shipment celebrations center around food...duh. The Sept. 3 ship date cleverly coincides with our 36 wedding anniversary, so we're having a few friends over to eat and party! Actually, we're doing a triple celebration...our 36th anniversary, another set of friends are having a 34th anniversary and our special friend, Doug, is turning 60 years young! We'll grill steaks and shrimp, fill in with some veggies, and finish with Vicki's famous German chocolate cake and Alan's renowned homemade vanilla ice cream. The evening will be filled with friendship and laughter...our favorite combination! And (bonus!) we'll have lots of hands available for cleanup afterwards. I'm nominating the men, in advance, for the cleanup portion.

Q. What's next at L*K?
A. Once Part 1 is out the door, we'll begin prepping to ship Part 2 on October 1. There won't be nearly as much confusion, as most of the threads/fabric will go out with Part 1. Still, each order is "customized" for each shop, so every order is different.

Enough photos and's time for a rest! Here's Will from WDW lounging in the kid's area at WDW. Sweet!

it's time to start packing orders. Happy Labor Day, everyone!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It's a HOOT!

What's a HOOT?  It's our newest Halloween kit and it's called HOOT!

I love designing little bits for Halloween, and this project was a real HOOT! We're sending this Limited Edition kit to Needlework Market this weekend with our friends at Norden Crafts (fave distributor!), because we couldn't attend this year. We're staying home to pack orders for Part 1 of our biggest project ever....the Holly & Hearts Mystery Sampler!

Here's the back of the biscornu. Yes, it's reversible!

This is the first time I've ever designed a biscornu. If you don't know what a biscornu is, it's pictured above. It's a little 3-D thing that looks like a pincushion...only much prettier and cooler! 

Here's your French lesson for the day. Biscornu is actually a French adjective, and means "odd" or "bizarre". But they're not at all "odd" in the needlework world, they're just fun little projects! You begin with 2 stitched squares (must be exact same size!), then attach them by offsetting the corners, stuff it and...oila (as they say in France)'ve got a puffy, 8-sided masterpiece.

As long as I was designing a biscornu, I decided to make the back as pretty as the front, and throw in a bonus fob design for more fun.

Here's a few pics to show how these little gems evolved. I designed and stitched all 3 2 days...I was on a true biscornu mission!

Here's the biscornu after I started assembling. I had a serious moment of finishing anxiety on this one. I usually (read that NEVER!) do my own finishing. I just drop my project in the mail to my finisher, Mona, and it magically comes back looking prettier than when it left. But I was in a hurry on this one, so I required some hand-holding from my local needlework owner and her staff. It's really one of those things you need to do your own little hands...before the instructions make sense!

Then I got to work on the publishing part. In addition to the color cover, there are 2 insert pages with instructions and graphs. What are those red scribbles? Those are corrections my proofer caught (thanks, Debbie!) and they will be amended before we print. Those red marks remind me of school papers, with those ever-present teacher corrections.

While we're waiting on the publishing, we're busy cutting and folding fabric...

and making embellishment packs! There are some fun goodies on this and yellow buttons, with black and chartreuse beads.

We'll send these to market via special delivery!  My local shopowner is driving to market, and she's agreed to schlep boxes of these with her. Hopefully, they will be going home with shopowners from around the country and maybe outside the US.  

If you're feeling a NEED for one of these kits, let your local shopowner know ASAP. These are Limited Edition, so when they're gone, it's sad faces all around.

Happy travels to you, my odd little biscornu friends!!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Clue #3 (the final sneak peek!) & Fab Fabric Field Trip!

August is a big countdown month for us at L*K, as we prepare for the September launch of the 2013 Holly & Hearts Mystery Sampler. We just got the printed material delivered, and we're busy collating 3 pages, plus the color cover, and stashing everything in handy zip bags

Clue #3 Holly & Hearts Mystery Sampler
It's another sneak peek photo from the actual sample!. There's a sweet bird surrounded by our orts (leftover threads) from stitching our original model. There's part of a beloved holiday saying nearby...can you guess it?

Along with the 3-part designs (one each in September, October, November), we're also providing pre-cut fabric pieces (both linen and Aida) and pre-packaged overdyed threads. Everything is sold separately, but we're providing the "whole deal", if you want it! Just contact your favorite needlework shop to pre-order ASAP. 

Our fabric supplier for the Holly & Hearts project, Picture This Plus, is conveniently located in nearby Abilene, Kansas. Last week we took a company field trip (that's Alan and I) to visit Marilyn and the merry fabric gang, and want to share some pics with you. We found the whole fabric dyeing process fascinating, and hope you will, too!

PTP is located in a historic building in downtown Abilene (population 6844). Abilene was quite a cowtown in the pioneer days, but now it's best known as the home of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. This building is OLD and full of great quirks and crannies. The gals will even tell you it's haunted, and several visits from "ghostbusters" seem to confirm the paranormal visitors. 

Marilyn has a fabulous (and surprisingly large!) bookstore on the first floor of her charming old building. 

You wind down a beautiful old staircase to find all the fabric action in the basement. 

We loved this little hidden room halfway down the stair landing. Hmmm...reminds me of Harry Potter's room, also under a stairway!

As we arrived downstairs, we were greeted by hundreds of beautiful hand-dyed fabric packs...lots of different fabrics and a glorious rainbow of colors. 

So here's the process! The fabric arrives in giant bolts, like those lining the wall above. It's hard to see the size in this pic, but these bolts are large, long and heavy (and expensive)! The window you see is a unique basement window that looks out on an old stairway leading out to the street above...sweet!

The fabric is cut by scissors (no rotary cutters allowed!) and then stacked for it's future bath in the dyepot!

Marilyn does most of the dyeing herself, but she's camera shy, so you'll have to picture her hard at work in the area above. Fabrics are washed after they're dyed and the color is set. That's a hard-working washer/dryer pair on the right.

Check out the dyes lining the nearby shelves and dye pots hiding on the shelves below. Marilyn keeps formulas (her trade secrets!)for the beautiful colors posted on an adjacent wall. 

After the fabric is custom dyed, it's hung on drying racks...lots of them! 

And then, the fabric has to be IRONED! Yes, they get paid to iron and lots of ironing goes on in the basement at PTP!  Mari is ironing in the background while Susie begins to cut the now wrinkle-less fabric into smaller pieces. PTP has generously offered to cut pieces for our Mystery Sampler project to size, so shops don't have to! That's a piece of our Doubloon linen above, the fabric we chose for Holly & Hearts.

Once the fabric is cut, serger Susie gets to work serging all the edges to prevent fraying...another great service! The busy girls at PTP have worn out a serger every year, and have finally found a model that can stand up to their industrial use!

The final step is folding, individually bagging and labeling each fabric piece. Here's a piece of Doubloon ready to make the journey to Lizzie*Kate headquarters, before shipping on to needlework shops and landing in the hands of a lucky Mystery Sampler stitcher!

We decided to offer 4 different fabrics for this project, so everyone could get their favorite. The Doubloon color is the same on 28 ct. linen, 32 ct. linen, 14 ct. Aida and 16 ct. Aida. 

We had SO much visiting with Marilyn and the staff at PTP! Thanks for letting us visit, take pics, and tour the cool building. Oh yea, Marilyn also owns the unoccupied second floor, which is not in use (unless you count the nocturnal ghosts) and in vintage office condition!

We did manage to squeeze in a little more fun and food before we left town. We walked around the grounds of the Eisenhower Museum, Presidential Library, Chapel and his charming boyhood home above. 

And we ate at a local spot that Marilyn recommended that was small-town fabulous! Alan tackled the giant hammer-burger above...and won! Hidden below the large burger were ham, bacon and an egg - he added the ketchup sculpture on top.

There's always room for dessert, so I ate their famous peanut-butter pie, kind of a pudding-y dessert in a bowl with chocolate and Reese's toppings...yum! Alan concluded his meal with a traditional chocolate milkshake and he was a happy boy!

Definitely a FUN day away from the a good field trip!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Santa's on his way!

Yes, Santa's on his way...along with a lot of other new seasonal designs. We just shipped new designs yesterday to needlework shops around the US and outside the US.

Here's the quick scoop on everything new we shipped to needlework shops everywhere this week!

* Tiny Tidings XVIII #159
Do you remember your Roman numerals from elementary school? I have to think about this every year, but indeed, this is number 18!  Another year of small Christmas goodies just for you. Unwrap a few with needle and thread and share with those you love! Don't forgot the embellishment pack (sold separately) to complete all 5 designs with buttons and beads.

* Santa '13 - Jolly Old Soul S111
Santa has a sly smile on his face this year, hence the title. He's stitched in muted reds and greens, with ivory snowflake buttons and antique gold stars as embellishments. We made his beard fuzzy and furry with Wisper threads.

* Thankful String Snippet S109
Perfect for autumn/Thanksgiving, you can stitch this in an evening or two...and it's still so lovely. Beautiful fall colors and fun little motifs make this a seasonal treat.

* Merry String Snippet S110
This Christmas string-thing is our 5th string and we're still having fun! Traditional holiday colors and motifs and fun alphas make this a quick, fun stitch.

* Love Jingle Flip-it F135
The last 3 Jingles are out, and here they are!  Stitch them separately, or group together using our free graph and instructions at Includes tiny red button.

* Joy Jingle Flip-it F136
Who said all needlework designs need to be square? This was a fun experiment for us, and we're pleased with the unique-shaped ornament. Includes tiny red button.

* Let it Snow Jingle Flip-it F137
This is the 12th and final design in the Jingles Flip-it series. Woo-hoo!  Thanks for joining us on this jingle-y holiday journey! Includes tiny red button.

Thanks, everyone, for checking out the new stuff!