Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mystery Day!

FINALLY, the big day is HERE! Part I of our Very Scary Mystery Sampler is shipping to shops all over the world TODAY. And...we're not doing the work! WOO-HOO!  Those busy bees at Norden Crafts, our fabulous distributor, are handling all the distribution on this special joint project. If we're not doing the shipping, why is our office still such a mess? Hmmmmmmm...

While the family and employees at Norden were busy processing yards and yards of beautiful hand-dyed linens...

Alan and I spent the weekend at Lake of the Ozarks in nearby Missouri. Here was the view out our bedroom window! Look out Dorothy...we're not in Kansas anymore!

The workers at Norden Crafts were circling the thread table again and again to assemble thousands of thread packs. Katy tells me they walked almost 13 miles while circling the table and grabbing that is VERY SCARY!

We were so excited to spend time with our daughter Sarah, husband Jeff, and Jeff's parents Kim and Mark, at their beautiful home in the Ozarks. Did I mention it is ON THE LAKE? You take this impressively long (my aching knee!) set of steps from their back door and land at the dock on the lake. 

Alas, we weren't able to help the Chicago gang at Norden as they packaged all of these chartpaks into boxes for eager customers everywhere. But wait...we've been working on this project for months. It seems like years since we began, and my desk is still covered with Part 2 and Part 3 preparations. And, we did make about 250 of these chartpaks twice - see June 18 post about the disappearing samplers!

Thanks again to Mark and Kim for hosting us at their beautiful house! Sorry, Mark was off to work the last morning when we took this photo. After saying our fond goodbyes, we began the 6 hour drive back to Kansas. We were sad, but we had hundreds of Mystery Sampler embellishment packs (great car project) to keep us company.

Sadly, we returned to the Land of Oz and it was 105 degrees! No wonder that famous farm girl Dorothy Gale donned the sparkly red shoes, clicked her heels and left the state!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Yes, there are other NEW things at L*K besides the big summer Mystery Sampler Club! We just shipped new things to shops last week, so they should be in stock for you to shop now.

#154 Wouldn't Life Be Great?
A friend shared this great saying with me and I couldn't wait to graph and stitch is fun, sweet and sentimental all wrapped up together.

S103 Do What Your Wife Said! Snippet
Yes, it's now available in "stitched" form so you can stitch it, frame it and hang it on the wall! Just point and nod whenever appropriate. The adage is timeless, but you can stitch this in a couple hours. Thanks to Patty for sharing this very appropriate saying with me!

B39 Sweet Simple Things Boxer
This is a lovely saying, originally attributed to Helen Keller. We graphed it with some beautiful soft colors and sweet motifs, and added rosy pink flower buttons. Kit includes 30 ct. natural linen, pink flower buttons and BONUS pin pillow design with raspberry bead embellishments. Sweet and simple!

K59 A Little Liberty Kit
This little square design is a companion to A Little Love and A Little Easter Kits, but has a great summery, patriotic design. Kit includes 30 ct. natural, linen, pattern and teensy red beads. Yea for the red, white and blue!

One more thing...for all of you who kindly responded to the previous post regarding UPS and the "disappearing samplers"...we have filed a claim, photographed and saved the damaged box, and all that. We have replaced and reshipped the MIA Very Scary Part I chartpaks. 

For all the boxes we ship out of here every week, we understand that sometimes "stuff happens". UPS is looking for the stuff in the mysterious place that contents of broken packages land...can you imagine? Meanwhile, our UPS man still cheerily opens the L*K door every afternoon around 3 PM, endures the barking granddog, picks up boxes and breezily says "y'all have a great day!" 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mystery of the disappearing samplers!

The fun thing about reading a great mystery never know how the plot will twist and turn...right? Well, we've just experienced an unexpected "plot twist" ourselves, in our BIG summer project "Mystery Sampler Club".

Last week was our deadline to ship Part I to our distributor, and we blogged about our production line, etc. We shipped several 40 to 50 pounds boxes two days in a row, and we were excited to have them out the door and on the road to shops and stitchers everywhere.

Then 2 days later we get a call from Katy at Norden and she is a little surprised at the condition of the first box that arrived. To make a long MYSTERIOUS story short...the box weighed 56 pounds when it left L*K, and lost almost 20 pounds on the 2 day trip to Chicago. Yikes...the PLOT THICKENS!!

Inquiring minds want to know...could it be cross stitch corporate espionage? Or..the more likely scenario...UPS severely damaged the box, lost 1/3 of the contents, didn't bother to replace them, retaped the box and merrily sent it on it's way...hoping we wouldn't notice?! Twould have been nice if UPS had slapped on one of those friendly labels the USPS uses when something arrived in MYSTERIOUSLY altered condition. 

OR...are the UPS drivers and dockworkers happily distracted while stitching Part I of the Mystery Sampler Club? This MYSTERY may never be solved!!

Since we're in such a MYSTERY funk this morning, here' s another sneak peak pic I snapped while I was working on the sampler. You can see the stitchery and the computer printout I was using for my pattern.

If you're still reading, here's one more MYSTERY for you! Every year Alan and I do a couple bicycle rides for charitable causes. Last Saturday we braved rain and wind to complete the 100K Bishop's Bike Challenge. It's a fundraiser for Open Door, a local comprehensive homeless ministry. We rode through the county, stopping at numerous small towns for snacks and drinks...and bathrooms! We began in drizzly 68 degree weather and finished in some very humid 88 degree sunshine. Below is pic of the "official socks" we received in our ride packet. 

The MYSTERY is...why is this our idea of having fun? Could it be the hours spent with our best riding buddies, the beautiful Kansas scenery, or the serious snacking required to ride for hours? I think it's the great stories we have to tell afterwards! One of us begins..."Remember the time...." and then we're all doubled over in laughter!

Notice the beautiful green cornfield in the background. It's corny in Kansas and it's only June.  I'm the one in the back in the slime lime green shirt!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mystery production line

WHEW! What an exciting and BUSY week! Yesterday we shipped new L*K designs to shops around the US and outside the US. We needed to get those shipments out the door to make space and rev up the "production line" for our big Mystery Sampler shipment this Friday.

This Friday is our ship date to send the first part of the Very Scary Mystery Sampler to our distributor, Norden Crafts. After they receive our printed materials, the real work begins. They'll be shipping all the pre-orders to shops! I know the elves at Norden are already busy cutting fabric and preparing to assemble LOTS of thread packs. They promised to send me photos of their production process, so I'll post those when I get them.

Back to L*K headquarters...above is camera-shy Carmen's little production line on her desk. Carmen helps us several mornings a week. There are 3 insert pages with part 1 of the Mystery Sampler and we are totally paranoid about not getting them mixed up. Note the big 1,2,3 labels on the boxes. After we collate the three pages, we add the color cover, embellishment packs (on right and bottom of pic) and slide them into a zip bag.

While Carmen is busy in the office, I set up a second production line in my family room.The temporary white folding tables are such a lovely, practical addition! At the table in the foreground I'm doing the same collating process. Then I move to the table on the right for the sacking part. Yes, it's a brainless job, but I have my faithful aristocrat friends from Downton Abbey to keep me company - check out the TV screen! I just finished watching the last disc from season 2, so I am finally caught up and eagerly awaiting the start of season 3. 

For you eagle-eyed readers, check out the flower canvas on the left side of my fireplace mantel. I love this painting from my friend Frank Bielec, of Trading Spaces fame. Remember Frank as the fabulously popular and funny decorator on the trendy TLC show? Frank also designs cross stitch, so I know him from the needlework biz. I pull out this canvas every summer and enjoy it!

But all work and no play makes a sad girl, so this morning I headed out for an early morning bike ride. Here's a shot of the sun rising over the lake at nearby Sedgwick County Zoo Park, where we like to ride the trails. 

As I was headed home to shower and get to work, I paused to take a quick pic of the beautiful smiling sunflowers...our Kansas state flower and a sunny way to start the day!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Barry Manilow!!!

Yes, THAT Barry Manilow! He was in town one night last week and we went to his concert...and I'm not embarassed or ashamed to admit it!

As soon as the advertisements for his concert hit the media several months ago, we called some friends, found some willing companions, and got tickets. Sure, a lot of other friends laughed when we told them our plans. My thought's now or never to see Barry, because I don't think he's coming back! And, TRULY, Barry Manilow was the soundtrack to my youth. I listened to Barry with my first boyfriend, Barry comforted me when we broke up, Barry sang at my get the picture!

He's 68 years old, according to his publicity, but who knows? Honestly, he looked a lot different from the Barry I knew in the 70s, but I look a lot different than I did in the betcha! Only his plastic surgeon knows for sure. And, he just resumed touring after some hip surgery, so he was good to boogie!

I tried to zoom in with my camera, and this was the closest I could get. For a man with a big voice, he barely opens his mouth. Come to think of it, he barely moves his face....hmmmmm. 

But, we had a BLAST!  The average audience age was about 60 - believe it! And my friend who works at the arena said they had an unprecedented number of wheelchair attendees. Also easy to believe! I believe there was a joke going around the mature crowd...if anyone throw panties on the stage tonight, they will be Depends! The colorful pic above shows Barry belting out the famous Copacabana number - a real audience pleaser.

The whole concert was so FUN and mega hit after another...sort of an adult sing-along. We knew all the words, and sometimes he encouraged us to take the lead. When we entered the arena, everyone was given a red glowstick and we put those things to work, waving them in rhythm and lighting up the night. Isn't there a Barry song about that? You can see the red lights in the pic below. That's real Barry in the middle stage, flanked by big Barrys on the 2 side screens.

The concert ended early at 9:15.  We were shocked when suddenly we realized it was the big closing number. As the audience clapped wildly, we expected Barry to return for an encore, and maybe a second encore. But alas, Barry had left the building! The curtain came down, and Barry was headed to bed early! 

Linda's Ode to Barry Manilow - "This one's for you!"

"You came and you gave without taking",
yes, "Yesterday's a dream, I face the morning" without you.

"We started a story who's end must now wait..."
But alas, "We'll just go on burning bright, somewhere in the night!"

Thursday, June 7, 2012

My country tis of thee...

sweet land of LIBERTY, of thee I sing!

I haven't been able to get this song out of my mind since watching all of the festivities surrounding Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee celebration. Of course, when the Brits sing this refrain, the words are "God Save the Queen"!

I've been working on my own LIBERTY tribute! We have a new kit coming called "A Little Liberty". Many of you will recognize it as a companion piece to earlier kits "A Little Love" and "A Little Easter". I used the usual red/white/blue colors, and threw in some cheery sunflowers for some extra summer fun. Here it is hanging out on the mantle in my house.

Kit includes 30 ct. natural linen, pattern, and teeny-tiny red beads to accent the flower centers. We've been assembling these all week, and are shipping to shops next Wed., June 13. If you think you need this quick patriotic fix, please let your LNS show so they can order NOW! Below are the finished kits, ready for packing this weekend.

Here's a cute pic below of that "other" red/white/blue flag from across the pond. I loved this pic of the young royals whooping it up at the Queen's celebration. They seem a little more animated that the older generation!

Did anyone else think this was they transformed Buckingham Palace into a giant-screen and projected moving images all over it during the concert? WOW! That's a big screen!

But I don't want to leave out the star of the show on this post, so here's a pic of the Queen, ditching that tiny turned up smile and giving a full-on smile to her son and that grin on her face...God bless her!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

We'll miss you, Mrs. Wain!

Remember how excited you were as a kid when school was out for the summer? Now that a lot of my friends are teachers, I know the teachers are equally excited...maybe more!

Our daughter Sarah is an art teacher, and she just finished the most interesting year of her short teaching career. But her feelings were a little bittersweet as she finished her first (and last) year in tiny Medora, Indiana. She said to me "I hope I can find another job I like as well as this one!".

She commuted 45 minutes, twice a day, to teach art in a bitty district in rural Indiana with only 230 students from K-12...and she taught the whole school! There just weren't any jobs in Bloomington, where her husband Jeff was in grad school. After spending the previous year as a special ed para in an elementary school, she was anxious to get back to she decided to take a radical step and apply for jobs within an hour radius.

Sarah was hired 2 days (that's TWO days) before the fall semester began and she was thrilled. She got right to work inventorying supplies (not much) and making lessons plans (lots of those for the varied ages!). She had previously taught middle school and high school, so the elementary kids were a complete mystery to her. 

The experience turned out to be amazing! The staff and rural community were very welcoming. How small is Medora? It's so small the district superintendent doubles as the Methodist pastor! It's the 2nd smallest school district in the state. Sarah heard chatter about "squirrel hunting" the first day of school and wondered if they were kidding or serious?!

Right away, Sarah started sharing the kid's art with the school, papering the hallways with awesome projects. You know how exciting that is to see your creation in the hallway!

From clay creations...

  to dragonflies and rubber duckies for the young ones...

 and self-portraits for the middle schoolers...

and cool custom cars and a largeVan Gogh reproduction for the high school kids! The school secretary reserved this finished piece for her office!.

Alas, the year is over and Mr. and Mrs. Wain are moving to Chicago, because Jeff finished grad school and got a job - we love that! And...Mrs. Wain is looking for a job...AGAIN!  If anyone knows an opening for a art teacher in Chicago...let me know!

I think my favorite pic of the year was Sarah with her youngsters on "Colonial Day" at school. She figured out how to help kids make candles (without burning themselves), found a cool prairie dress, and had a good old-fashioned time!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Unraveling the Mystery Sampler!

More MYSTERY! We've posted a couple times about our upcoming Mystery Sampler Club project (see May 4, May 18 posts), and we're so pleased that you're excited about this project. We sure are!!

This summer is going to be so FUN! Today is the first day of June (yikes!) and since the first part of the Mystery Sampler ships later this month, we are BUSY!  I designed the cover and emailed it to the printer earlier this week. After about a zillion changes and adjustments, I love the new cover. Below is a partial pic of a printout from my computer - it will look prettier when it's professionally printed! Since it is a MYSTERY sampler. there isn't a photo of the finished project, like the usual cover. 

Now you can see the name of the sampler...VERY SCARY! I have to confess, I almost forgot to name the project. I have been working really closely (daily emails and phone chats) with Katy at Norden Crafts and we had a funny exchange a couple weeks ago.

Katy: BTW, do you have a name for the Mystery Sampler?
Me: No, am I supposed to have a name?
Katy: Well, that is the usual thing. 
Me: Wow, how could I forget something as important as that? I'll think about it and get back to you. I suppose "Mystery Sampler" isn't really a name!

While we're waiting on the printing, Alan is busy assembling embellishment packs for the first part. For some reason, his big hands are faster at opening those tiny little 1" x 1" zip bags than my hands. So he gets the job!   You get a SNEAK PEEK of what's in the first pack...can you identify these little goodies? We're trying to catch up on the past 2 seasons of Downton Abbey, so we'll be prepared when the new season begins. Alan is making packs while I'm stitching on Christmas models and watching the exploits of the aristocrats and their "staff" at Downton Abbey. Those Brits from the year 1914 are certainly entertaining!

In case you missed it, here's a photo we posted earlier. This is the whole project, slightly wadded, headed to the LNS to be stretched and framed. But that was the FIRST time I delivered it. Before it landed in a frame, I got some darling buttons samples from a supplier. They were so cute, I decided to add them! I ordered them to be dyed, then while I waited for them to arrive, I retrieved the sampler and took out some stitches to make room for them. Will this design ever be finished? YES! Happy to report that the aforementioned buttons arrived, I attached them, and delivered FINISHED sampler to my LNS...again!

And...Alan is opening all those little 1" x 1" bags he already finished, and adding buttons.  Thank goodness that Downtown Abbey show has a lot of episodes!

P.S. We continue to receive a lot of direct inquiries from stitchers about joining the Mystery Sampler Club. We love hearing from you, but (as always) we don't sell direct to consumers. Please contact your local needlework shop to sign up. If you don't have a LNS, you can find a list of shops on our website, or go to Norden Crafts Facebook page. There is a list of shops that are participating. This isn't a snobby club (like those characters on Downtown Abbey)...EVERYONE is invited!