Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mysterious clarifications!

Have you ever tried to write instructions for something and make them crystal clear...even if there's not a photo or video to explain? It's a challenge...and that's me at mystery sampler time!!! Every time I do a mystery sampler, I agonize over the instructions. Every mystery (this is our 5th) I get a little more detailed, but there are still a few "mysterious" elements that were not intended!

Lots of you have received SPOOKED! Mystery Sampler Part One and I know you're eager to get stitching and make some progress.

***If you haven't received Part One yet, I'm sure it's coming. You are welcome to inquire at your needlework supplier. We shipped EVERYONE on June 15, so there are definitely some mysteries still in the mail, and on the airplane across the pond, and being rerouted from shops to all of you.

I've seen a few questions popping up on Facebook, so I want to clarify a few details. These instructions made sense to me and my 3 proofers, but I totally understand if you all have questions. Inquiring cross stitch minds want to know!!!

* Under the "If using embellishment pack" instructions...I refer to a cadet "diamond" motif. That is referring to the group of 3 motifs - just to right and above little witch. They are four sided and look like diamonds to us. Whatever you want to call them, if you're using the embellishment pack, don't stitch the center black stitch on the top left one. Attach a tiny black button instead. You will see this motif cropping up again in Part Two and Part Three. If you've been reading my Cross Stitch 101 blog posts, you know that repetition is a favorite design trick. Our eyes find repetition pleasing!

* Also in the embellishment pack instructions, I used the word "onyx" several times. It should says KOHL. I got my WDW black colors mixed up (SORRY!), and this one got past the picky proofing crew. Whatever name you use...kohl, onyx, it's BLACK!!!

* Also in the embellishment pack instructions, I refer to "quilt motifs". Those are the 6 motifs that run across the bottom of the chart - sandwiched between the 2 horizontal lines of sweet potato stitches. These are my best rendering of a quilt motif. Maybe if I were a quilter??? You will see these fun motifs pop up again...but I can't tell you when...because it's a MYSTERY!

* I've seen some comments about fabric precut size. Marilyn and the PTP crew hand dyed, ironed, cut and labelled each piece. If the size of the finished fabric does not exactly match the size printed on the label, make some slight adjustments in the placement of your sampler on the fabric. I ALWAYS measure a piece of fabric and do the calculations with the stitch count before beginning a stitchery. See next paragraph.

To calculate finished stitchery size, just divide the overall stitch count (227W x 97H) by the count of your fabric. If you're stitching on Aida, divide by 14 for 14 ct. Aida, and 16 for 16 ct. Aida. If you're stitching on linen, you are stitching over 2 fabric threads. If you're stitching on 32 ct. linen, divide by 16. If you're using 28 ct. linen, divide by 14. This will give you the finished size of the stitched piece. You may not have a full 3" around the entire size, but it will be adequate for stitching and framing.

* I have seen some questions about using overdyed threads. Whether to complete each stitch before moving on, or do a whole row of half stitches and return to cross them, or use one strand of thread put end to end through needle (whew - 3 choices!) is totally up to you. I don't complete each stitch, because the end to end method is faster for me. And I'm ALWAYS in a many models to stitch, so little time for everything else.

If you would like the overdyed effect to be less muted in one specific area - like the little witch's face in Part One - then do that. I didn't want her face looking too stripey. But that a problem if you're already a witch?! You can see the "muted" effect of overdyed threads used end-to-end on the BONUS fob below on another witch's face. Could they be related?

* I've also had questions about the photos available for the BONUS Bewitched 2 sided fob. You can find them here on the blog (and in earlier post) and also on the L*K website at What's New.

Wishing all of you "mystery stitchers" a fabulous SPOOKED! time this summer. Can't thank you enough for joining the "club" of mystery stitchers all over the world. Isn't it great that needlework makes the world a smaller, closer little crossed stitch at a time?!

And yes, I am working on other new stuff that will be coming soon in July and August. More details soon!

Monday, June 13, 2016

SPOOKED! Mystery Sampler Final Countdown

We're busy packing orders to needlework shops everywhere - all over the US and around the world. This takes several days, and we'll ship EVERYONE on the same day - Wed., June 15. No matter whether the shop is large or small, near or far...everyone goes out the same day. It's harder for us that way, but it's the closest we can come to "mystery equality".

Here's what's been happening as we near our big day:

Two weeks ago we received 3 giant boxes from the colorful folks at Weeks Dye Works.  My photo is blurry, the boxes look less than perfect, but the threads arrived in perfect condition. They're sorted by color with 100 thread skeins per bag, bundled in neat little packs of 10...which we then proceed to take apart!

We unloaded the boxes and sorted the lovely threads all over the basement floor - office is too crowded. As we have watched the piles diminish the last couple weeks, we know we're almost finished making thread packs...whew.

We set up thread assembly stations at both the office and at home. Our helper, Carmen, found a clever new way to get those pesky threads into the zip bag. After literally thousands of thread packs with previous mystery samplers, we've improved the process...slightly. There's just no super speedy way to get the job done. It requires time and a good TV series/lots of movies!

Here's Alan on a typical evening in the basement. I'm sitting on the nearby sofa stitching on a model...of course.

We filled a nice pile of plastic totes (the ones that hold inventory for Nashville Market every year), and toted the totes to the L*K office.

Last Friday Alan traveled to nearby Abilene, Kansas to pick up a car-FULL of fabric from Picture This Plus. Marilyn and the gang had packed and neatly labeled the boxes of 28 and 32 ct. Ale linen, and 14 and 16 ct. Ale Aida. 

The PTP ladies cut, serge and individually label and package each piece of linen and Aida. I don't think we could handle this process at our crowded office. We appreciate this extra service so much, and so do the needlework shops. NOTE: these fabrics may appear darker in these pics than in person.

After all the invoices have been typed, we're finally ready to pack SPOOKED! Mystery Sampler orders...yes! We set up an assembly line on our shipping table. From right to left...SPOOKED! Part 1 charts, 4 kinds of fabric, embellishment packs, and the order invoices. Where are the thread packs? They're on the right, just out of sight on the pic.

And here's the happy packer...Mr. L*K himself, Alan. This is how he spent most of the weekend, and many hours to go, I'm sure. Sitting on the near side of the packing table (bottom of below pic) are pulled orders. Each one of those boxes - or sometimes more than one box - represents a shop order. We accumulate several pulled orders, then stop and box them. 

Alan loves the satisfaction of a "well-packed box". It's kind of a "thing" when you do a lot of shipping. A well packed box is when you choose the perfect size of box (not too big/not too small - on the first try) and everything fits neatly inside for happy shipping.

After all the boxes are packed, we begin labeling using online postage from the US Postal Service. Even though we save addresses for our regular customers, it will take most of a day to complete labels.

We ship the cheapest method possible, and nowadays that's usually USPS. Just a few years ago, we had a close relationship with the UPS man with a daily pickup. Now, we see him occasionally. But...surprise, surprise...he also delivers to our new house, so we still get the occasional "how ya doin'?". We'll put the super big shop orders in UPS boxes. International accounts advise us on their preferred shipping method.

I had better get back to packing. There's a deadline in a couple days, 'ya know!!!

But before I go, I want to tell all of you a giant THANK YOU!!!

THANK YOU for joining us on our summer mystery adventure (whether you pre-ordered or join the party later), THANK YOU for reading these blog posts, THANK YOU for your comments and encouraging notes, and THANK YOU for being loyal L*K stitchers and making this job a reality for us!

Let's have some FUN!!!

****I keep getting Facebook comments, blog comments, emails, etc...asking where to order SPOOKED! It's easy...just order from your usual needlework supplier. Lots of stitchers don't have local shops anymore (sad), so rely on shipping from shops around the country. You're not alone, if you're in this boat! But don't let yourself sink...there are tons of great shops out there who would love your mail order business. You can find a list of shops on the L*K website. Just click on the Info for Stitchers button. Many of these shops will be happy to mail you. Some have online ordering, some you will have to contact by phone or email. Hopefully you will find an awesome needlework supplier that can help with all of your urgent cross stitch needs!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

JABC buttons get SPOOKED!

Have you ever wondered how the gals at Just Another Button Company do their button magic with polymer clay? I just look at those gloriously detailed buttons in awe. They're truly little works of art!

Well, I didn't take a field trip to JABC, but I do have some behind-the-scenes pics of SPOOKED! Mystery Sampler buttons being made at JABC.

We're offering a very special SPOOKED! Embellishment Pack for the mystery sampler, which will have goodies to embellish SPOOKED!, as well as the 3 BONUS projects included. When I think "cool embellishments", I immediately think about JABC. They are so happy to work with me and customize fun, whimsical buttons for L*K projects.

Even before I was done stitching the SPOOKED! Mystery Sampler, I sent them an actual size color printout of the design from my computer design software. I had some ideas about where to put embellishments, but I invited the button professionals to play around with the design and make suggestions.

**When I know I want to use embellishments in a design, I have to consider this while the design is "in progress". In addition to selecting appropriate buttons, I have to make sure buttons are correct scale for the design. This sounds like more of my Design 101 posts!

Shortly, the JABC whiz team returned my printout with lovely little buttons taped here and there, and helpful notes in the margins. Decisions, many buttons, which buttons, where to put them...enough to keep a cross stitch designer up at night.

I ended up selecting 4 different JABC buttons, and included 6 JABC in the pack (there are 3 of my fave little buttons - see it being made below). The SPOOKED! Embellishment Pack also contains tiny black and cream buttons from another source, and golden olive beads. We've got a serious buildup of packs at the L*K office now, waiting for our June 15 ship date.

Here's my official SPOOKED! Embellishment Pack assembly box that follows me everywhere...while I'm watching TV, in the car, whenever I have time to make a few dozen (or hundred) packs. 

Just Another Button Company is a family business, like so many other vendors in the needlework biz. Creativity definitely runs in the family. Below are 3 generations of button ladies...Cecile, Rachel, baby Anna (Miss Button 2) and big sister Amelia (Miss Button). As you can see, curly hair also runs in this family. Personal NOTE:  I keep reminding God that I want curly hair when I get to heaven. I know envy is a sin, so I'm just "hoping" for heavenly curls in the hereafter. 

Speaking of heavenly...check out this pic of Amelia, nestled in a pile of buttons. Amazingly, the contest winner who guessed closest to her delivery date won that entire stash of buttons - button dream come true!!!

The button we'll "profile" today is the little black/burnt orange quilt block. For scale, see photo below. I have a 2" square Tupperware container brimming with buttons. They're tiny - 1/4" across. We scaled our button selections so they will work well on multiple fabrics...28 or 32 count linen, and 14 and 16 ct. Aida.

Our button guru, Donna, begins building a "cane" for the button from polymer clay. You can see her tools at top of pic.

You can see the button starting to take shape as she cuts and combines the black and burnt orange pieces.

...and here's the final button. But WAIT...why is it so JUMBO SIZED! Before the button is sliced,baked and drilled, it has to be S - T - R - E - T - C - H - E - D!!!!

Watch video below and you'll see Cecile make a different button cane and see the whole large-to-small button evolution. She's a whiz, and super you will see!

Just like our previous posts on hand dyed linen at Picture This Plus, and overdyed fibers from the gang at Weeks Dye Works, I'm so glad I'm doing the DESIGNING part of this job. I don't think I have the patience (or skills) for this button building biz. But the more I learn about other needlework artisans, the more respect I have for what they do...and the lovely products they bring to the cross stitch business!

Ready to get SPOOKED!??? Alan is busy this contacting shops all around the US and outside the US, verifying pre-order amounts, and accepting additional orders. We'll begin packing boxes next weekend and ship SPOOKED! Mystery Sampler Part One to shops everywhere on Wed., June 15.

Have a great weekend, stitchers!

Monday, June 6, 2016

SPOOKED! Bonus #1 closeup and "thread heaven"

 So much info to little time to blog!

We're super busy here at L*K headquarters, preparing to ship SPOOKED! Mystery Sampler to shops on June 15. It's literally a day to day countdown for us right now.

We just received 3 large boxes of gorgeous Weeks Dye Works threads. OH MY - lots of thread packs to assemble and lots of points on our airline credit card. I literally DID NOT leave the house as I waited on this shipment last Friday. Way too many pretty threads to leave laying around on my porch. I didn't want my neighbor's pet white goose taking a liking to hand-dyed threads.

Alas, it was a GORGEOUS weekend in Kansas and we spent most of it wistfully looking out the window. OK...we did take the occasional paddle board and swim break. Above is my husband, Alan and our friend, Eddie, on his maiden paddle board voyage.I think they look pretty good for 60 year olds on "surf/paddle boards". 60 is the new 40!  Admit it...Kansas is prettier than you thought...right?

I promised you a close-up of the BONUS 2-sided fob in SPOOKED! Mystery Sampler Part One. There's a BONUS project with all 3 parts of SPOOKED! I had such a good time working on these little gems...pure delight.

My fab finisher, Mona, did a great job finishing the fob. Lucky for you...she will be posting complete fob finishing instructions on her blog soon. I love the "hairy" black fiber she used in her twisted cording. If you don't want a fob, you could easily turn this into a pin pillow or whatever other mini-project you like. 

You can spot a few "goodies" from our SPOOKED! Embellishment Pack in these fob pics. There's a tiny black button on Side 1 and a JABC black/white mini quilt block button on Side 2.

You can spot the other 2 BONUS projects in our SPOOKED! sneak peek collage photo (above). Winnie Witch standup will be included with SPOOKED! Part 2. Don't you love the pumpkin standup finish with the real twig stem? The biggest BONUS of them all will be included with SPOOKED! Part 3. It's called "For the Birds" and the unframed stitchery is folded next to the fob. It's got a flock of blackbirds and a wily cat. 

Check back soon! I'm working on a beautiful post with behind-the-scenes pics from Just Another Button Company. They are magicians with polymer clay, and I think you'll be as fascinated and impressed with their business as I am. And you can see them working on a SPOOKED! button.

Still want to join the SPOOKED! Mystery Sampler Club. It's never too late! Let your favorite needlework supplier you want to join the fun. This isn't a Limited Edition project. For those of you reluctant to commit to a mystery project, you can join us later as the mystery unfolds. But if you want to join the group of "mystery stitchers" around the world this summer, now is the time to get SPOOKED!

HAPPY SUMMER 2016!  If you haven't pulled out your white shoes (or flip flops)...Memorial Day is history and it's officially SUMMER. Enjoy!!!