Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Little Snow

Yes, I know I haven't blogged for almost a month. Not intentionally, of course...the holidays just got in the way.

I've really enjoyed "staying in touch" with many of you on the I Love Stitching Lizzie*Kate Facebook page. It's so fun to see what you're stitching, and all the creative finishes. A kind shopowner oversees this sight, and we're so thankful for Wilma and all the people who share on this FB page.

Here's the official "gather around the tree" photo this year. Our adult kids weren't home (see previous post!) but we had a wonderful time with my Mom and brother's fam here in Wichita. From left: Alan (husband and L*K biz partner), me, my Mom, brother John (sporting new "Santa" beard), sis-in-law Donna (super cook and all around awesome SIL).

I'm working on a BIG blog post with upcoming stuff for 2015. Look for that early next week in 2015!

Meanwhile, sitting in my upstairs L*K office and watching a "little snow" outside my window, I'm reminded of our A Little Snow kit. Our helper, Carmen, just restocked this one and it's a favorite.

Is it snowing at your house? What's your favorite thing to do when it's snowy outside? Does it involve a cozy chair and stitchery (and maybe a pet) in your lap or an outdoor activity with your warm clothes? 

We have this silly tradition of always venturing out to eat when the weather is the worst. My husband loves this (he's already mentioned it this morning)! Everyone else is heeding the weatherman's warnings and staying in and he longs to drive in whatever wintry mix is falling!

Happy Wintry Day!

Check back next week for the 2015 PREVIEW!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thanks-mas @ 2901 Oriole

Q. What is Thanks-mas?
A. It's the very important holiday you celebrate when your adult children can come home for Thanksgiving, and not Christmas. 

Q. How do you celebrate Thanks-mas?
A. Choose your favorite parts of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and have FUN together!

Sure, it's a little sad when your grown kids can't make the trip home for Christmas, but you smile and adjust (and remember that next year will be different!).

Once everyone gathered, we began the great pie caper...pecan, pumpkin, and 2 apple pies were on the list. Ali (right) is a pro food blogger and insists on homemade crusts. I typically use the refrigerated ones you roll out...

but I did learn a lot about crusts after making 4 of them, under her supervision. She has a couple tutorials on her blog that are helpful. I guess you're never too old to learn something new?


Alas, I was too busy helping Alan with dishes to participate in the lattice top. Four cooks in the kitchen sure makes a mess...in a hurry!

Clearly, I was too distracted to take enough pictures, but we delivered 3 beautiful pies to a friend later that evening, and kept this apple beauty for ourselves. I also made some homemade caramel sauce for the pie. Oh my...once I discovered this delish microwave caramel sauce, I never buy the jarred stuff. It's kinda magical when you make it in the microwave - no candy thermometer required - and it's SO yummy!


On to the star of the Thanksgiving feast...the turkey! Our son-in-law Jeff decided to spatchcock the bird this year...YIKES! Basically, a little surgery flattens the bird out (looks like he got run over). He sits nicely in the pan and cooks evenly in less time.

And our bird was suspiciously GREEN before he went in the oven. Jeff had the gobbler resting on a bed of veggies and coated with herbs.

Apart from a quick photo op, I stayed out of the kitchen during the turkey process. EEWWWWW!!!! I don't want to deal with the bird until he is cooked and resting on my plate.

And speaking of plates...here's our Thanks-mas table setting. I used some pretty green hedgeballs from the yard and funky Dollar Tree black crows for a centerpiece.

On Friday morning we opened Thank-mas presents! Conveniently, my Christmas cactus started to bloom that day. It's always a little off-schedule, so blooming at Thanks-mas was perfect.

One highlight of our time together was our Annual Ebright Talks. They're loosely based on TED talks - short, informative talks on a variety of topics. We initiated the Ebright talks last year, and they were so fabulous, we did them again.

NOTE: After last year we were so psyched and all purposed to work on our talks during the year. But procrastination rules, and we were all "cramming" for our talks a few hours beforehand.

We each prepared a little informative talk on a subject that interests us. Many of us had visual aids, and used the TV to show computer power point slides. It was a fabulous evening full of fun facts, snacks, wine, and hilarity!

Here's our talk topics on photo above, going clockwise from upper left

Ali: healthy multitasking using Barre 3-inspired toothbrushing workouts
Dr. Erin (honorary 3rd daughter): Flu shot mythbusters
Sarah: Similarity in world religions as seen in art and architecture (she teaches AP Art History)
Alan: Innovations in geothermal heating (we're using this in our new house)
Me: WWII history of Bletchley Park code-breakers in England, breaking the German Enigma codes
(can't wait to see the new movie, The Imitation Game)
Jeff: Beer Tasting 101 - including tasting! (I still don't like beer, but now I know more about it)

Alas, Thanks-mas...the party mix is gone, and the leftover turkey is in the freezer (after some awesome turkey hash the next day - thanks, Jeff and Sarah). 

Now it's back to the office and shipping Part 2 of the Things Unseen Mystery Sampler and more new L*K designs. Check back soon for photos!

Happy Thanks-mas!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Jingle Time!

We're working like crazy to get Part 2 of our Things Unseen Mystery Sampler ready to ship...but that's not ALL, folks!

We have a couple new things shipping to shops on Dec. 3.  Here's a sneak peek!

Jingle All the Way Kit (K74)
I couldn't resist doing one more Christmas design...the more the merrier, right?  I started with a teeny little elf I graphed, and built the design around him. He doesn't look stressed out...not yet, anyway!

After I stitched the model, I found this gorgeous finishing fabric, and decided to include it with the kit. You'll get the 28 ct. Lugana fabric for stitching (this fabric is a breeze to stitch on), poinsettia finishing fabric for front, striped coordinating fabric for backing (you can see it on pic behind model), 5 jingle bells, 2 little white snowflake buttons, graph and finishing instructions.  Add some bits of floss from your stash, and you're ready to JINGLE!

We're busy cutting, folding, and ironing (yes, ironing!) all the fabrics for this kit. As soon as the printer delivers our pretty color cover, we'll get to work assembling everything. We're hoping to get everything assembled before Thanksgiving holiday, because the turkey is at our house this year! (And can you believe that December begins right after Tday?!)

B50 No Act of Kindness Inspiration Boxer
This is the final winning saying in our Inspiration Sayings contest from earlier this year. This is a classic sentiment attributed to Aesop's Fables. Isn't it timeless? Kit includes 30 ct. natural line, flower button embellishment and BONUS design for the little pillow on the left.

If you want to add any of these new designs to your own Christmas list, let your favorite needlework shop know so they can be sure to order.

It's chaos here at L*K headquarters. We have "officially" outgrown out little home/garage office space. There is stuff everywhere...the shelves and countertops are full, and the floor is getting impassable. Every time we release a new product, we struggle to find a place to store it.

So...BIG news here at L*K...we've rented a little office space near our home. Yes, the commute will be longer - 5 minutes instead of 25 steps - but we are looking forward to our new L*K office. Moving is going to be a huge job, but we think the newly organized and expanded space will be awesome.

And...BONUS...our favorite Italian restaurant is in the same little strip space as us. Anyone want to help us move a little L*K inventory?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mystery mistakes & smart stitcher sleuths!


I got to my computer early this morning with a smile on my face, and a long list of urgent things to do...and I was greeted by a couple emails regarding possible mistakes on the just-released Things Unseen Mystery Sampler - Part One. 

After I resumed breathing, calmed myself and said a prayer of the simple variety "O Lord, help me!" I read the emails. And, of course, these smart stitchers were right!

Yes, even though it's a Mystery Sampler and no one has seen a picture of the completed project, these alert stitchers spotted a couple little errors. Thank goodness they are small, and even if not corrected, would not adversely affect the finished sampler. But, inquiring minds, and stitchers, want to know!

I sent an emergency note to my webmaster, and she posted the corrections on the L*K website. www.lizziekate.com/corrections.html. Here they are:

* On the left hand border, the square block stitched in Oscar (next to the word "be") should be 16 stitches (a perfect square) instead of the 12 stitches shown on graph. Refer to the upper left corner block for correct graph. All little "Oscar squares" should be 16 stitches, wherever they appear on the Mystery Sampler.

* The 3rd row contains a row of flowers. On Chart 1 graph, the 1st and 3rd flower straight stitches are incorrectly graphed. They should be stitched like the flowers on stitch illisutration - with all straight stitches pointing towards the center. Refer to the instructions on this stitch illustration for colors for flower petals and flower centers. This correction is only relevant for linen stitchers, not Aida stitchers.

HONESTLY...if I had already finished these little parts, I would not rip them out. I love antique samplers, and they are full of little quirks and inconsistencies. That's what makes them naive, personal and valuable!

WHEW!!! Interestingly enough, my main task for today was to finish the proofing for Part 2. When I called my proofer, Debbie (center in photo) to tell her about the mistakes, she said she was having trouble breathing! I said to "relax...it's just cross stitch". 

This is a running joke between us, because we both truly care about the needlework biz. She is my local needlework shop owner (Heart's Desire in Wichita, KS), and I earn a living as a designer. But years of experience have taught us to do our best, acknowledge that we all make mistakes and roll with it.  Still, uncorrected mistakes can literally make us both gasp!!!

Debbie and I are on our 3rd round of proofing/corrections for Part 2 and we're hopeful to get it right...the first time.

The beautiful Things Unseen Part 2 cover just arrived today! We'll print the insides as soon as proofing is finished, and get to work collating and sacking. When you release these parts every month, the time really flies!

So that's the Mystery update! Many apologies for these little errors, and many thanks to all of you who spotted them.

Tonight's exciting activity? More rick rack cutting for the Part 2 bonus pin pillow. Look out...giant rick rack rolls will be rolling around our floor tonight! If I only had a cat, it would be great entertainment.

We think this little bonus pin pillow is the cutest. I really hope all of you Mystery stitchers enjoy it, too!

Have a great (error-free) week!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Mystery unfolds...

Part 1 of the Things Unseen Mystery Sampler shipped to needlework shops earlier this week!!

Here's a pic from one of Alan's trips to our local post office - it's early morning on the loading dock. We also greeted the UPS man with a smile and a mountain of boxes when he arrived later that afternoon.

Here's our pretty Part 1 Things Unseen cover. Since we used an inspirational saying from Helen Keller, I added some lovely old pictures of Helen. I love the beautiful picture with her smelling the flower. It inspired the new floral thread color we designed for the sampler, Busy Lizzie. The background of the cover is a section of the Part 1 stitching, with some special effects I added on my computer. 

I love designing these covers! I would not be exaggerating to say I tried 100+ ideas before I settled on this one. Choices, choices....now I'm working on the cover for Part 2...more choices, of course.

Here's a pic of the Things Unseen Embellishment Pack. This is the first time we've offered an embellishment pack for a mystery sampler, so we wanted to make this really special. We worked with JABCO to create the 2 Helen's Rose buttons (left side). We also included another swirly rosebud button with custom colors from JABCO (lower left).

There are also 5 round mother-of-pearl buttons, and a really special rosy mother-of-pearl heart button. We rounded out the pack with some hand-dyed flower buttons from Hillcreek, and a pinch of iridescent rosy beads (hard to see - I think they slid to the back of pack). 

The embellishment pack will complete the Things Unseen Mystery Sampler, as well as the BONUS design. 

AND...(not to sound like an info-merical here)...we have ONE MORE little surprise to announce. I thought this sampler deserved it's own pin pillow, so I designed a sweet little companion pin pillow. This design will also be included in Part 2. It uses the rose-colored heart-shaped button, and some beads from the embellishment pack. We'll also include a little picture of our finished pin pillow, finishing instructions, and a length of ivory rick-rack to complete your little pillow. (I poked some of my Just Pins from JABCO in my pillow, but these are not included).

Time to start cutting that rick rack for Part 2!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Field trip to Picture This Plus!

Remember field trip day at school? The anticipation, carpooling or riding the bus, visiting something fun, and getting out of school!

Earlier this week we took a mini field trip to nearby Abilene, Kansas - the home of Picture This Plus and beautiful, hand-dyed fabrics. They are partnering with us on our Things Unseen Mystery Sampler project, and dyeing hundred of yards of beautiful fabric for you.

***A quick side note: I meant to get this post up earlier, but I had a little computer virus that prevented me from seeing my own blog - believe it! I was clueless about what was going on, but finally got it resolved with my computer guru, and I'm back in the blog groove. SO frustrating!

PTP operates out of the basement of a beautiful old building in downtown Abilene. You can see a cool pic of the building in early days over the stairway. Abilene is a smallish town with a rich history as a rowdy Kansas cowtown. It's also the birthplace of President Eisenhower, and his Presidential Museum is there.

In the basement at PTP a hard-working group of ladies craft some really beautiful hand-dyed fabrics. Check out those giant rolls of linen behind the drying racks. We're talking hundreds/thousands of yards of fabric waiting to be transformed.

Here's a rainbow of some beautiful PTP fabric to feed your fabric envy.

The colorful, overdyed magic begins in the cozy little dye room in the corner. 

Yes, an old-fashioned sink and a nearby washer and dryer are involved in the process!

Above are piles of fabric waiting their turn in the dye room, and their transformation into Wren linen and Aida - our chosen fabrics for the Things Unseen Mystery Sampler. PTP is dyeing 2 counts of linen, as well as 2 counts of Aida for this project - something for everyone.

After it's dyed, washed and dried, the fabric will be cut into pre-cut pieces, just the right size for our mystery sampler. Every piece of fabric is ironed (yes!!!), serged (below)...

...folded, labeled and packaged for our customers. 

Now we have giant boxes - one for each fabric type and size - in our office and we're busy packing Things Unseen Mystery Sampler orders. 

This is our big weekend...the culmination of many months of work, lots of blog posts, newsletters and sneak peeks, and pre-orders from needlework shops...before we ship Part 1 to shops on Monday, Nov. 3. It seems pretty fitting that we're buried in a mystery project on Halloween!

Happy Mystery Weekend!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Final sneak peek photo & Busy Lizzie threads

Before we get to the thread feature, here's our FINAL Things Unseen mystery sampler preview pic. We're calling this one the "I spy with my little eye pic". Look carefully and you should see:
*.Part 1 cover
* Embellishment pack insert
* Things Unseen threads (including new Busy Lizzie)
* 3 pages of Part 1 instructions
* Part of the BONUS design stitchery
* A corner of Things Unseen sampler
* Gorgeous pile of mother-of-pearl buttons that just arrived! I know what I'll be doing this evening (and many more nights)...catching up on my favorite recorded TV shows and making embellishment packs!

Now for our second post featuring our awesome partners on our Things Unseen Mystery Sampler project. We're excited to share some behind-the-scenes pics with you from the gang at Weeks Dye Works.

Weeks Dye Works is a wonderful family-owned needlework company. Yes, we used this picture last year. Just picture all the kids a year older...but could they get any cuter? Miranda and John are two of the busiest, smartest people in the needlework world. But, more importantly, they're also some of the nicest. And those charming North Carolina accents...I love just chatting with them!

We began talking with Miranda many months ago about developing a new color just for our Things Unseen project. After a couple tries - I certainly don't understand the dyeing process, but it's definitely a tricky thing - we hit on just the right color. After we brainstormed a bunch of floral themed names, we decided on Busy Lizzie. We're thrilled to have even half of the Lizzie*Kate name on a new color. You flower lovers will know that Busy Lizzie is a common name for old-fashioned impatiens flowers.

Here's some behind-the-scenes pics at Weeks Dye Works in Garner, North Carolina.

Lauren is shown twisting the new color...also called skeining or tagging. It's nice for me to put faces on the staff I talk to regularly on the phone.

Miranda and Sylvia are admiring the new Busy Lizzie color. Sylvia also helped count the skeins. Gotta love that! Check out all those floss bins in the background. It's like thread heaven!

Loraine pulled the cones and coordinated with the "LOL" - little old ladies- that twist/tag/cut the skeins. She is standing in front of bins full of finished skeins waiting to ship to Lizzie*Kate. 

Here are some beautiful cones of floss with some of our Things Unseen palette. These cones and accompanying tags are waiting to be sent out to the LOL's. It just makes me smile to think of the little old ladies cutting the threads and putting them on cards. It reminds me SO much of all the tedious assembly work we do here at L*K.

I think this is really interesting. WDW uses folders to organize their "recipes", or formulas. There is a "history" in the folder and they look back at past dyeings and notes every time they dye something. It's kinda like a secret family recipe. And, it's the reason Weeks Dye Works colors are so consistent. As a designer, I really appreciate that!

OK...this is a hoot! I don't know if you can read it, but the note attached to cone of Busy Lizzie says "Most important...pick me, pick me!". Since this is the newest WDW color, it's screaming for attention!

This picture just reminds me that WDW is a whole lot more complicated than Lizzie*Kate! WOW...look at that cool machinery. 

...and more techie stuff. The dyeing business is an awesome mix of creativity and science, resulting in beautiful colors for needlework fans around the world. And it takes a bunch of talented folks to pull it all together. 

Here's our sneak peek photo of the WDW threads we selected for our Things Unseen mystery sampler. Lovely!

Today the first box of thread arrived at L*K! This giant box was FULL, but I forgot to take a pic before I started sorting out the beautiful colors.

Normally our kitchen table, it's now a thread sorting station. Why isn't all this stuff in the L*K office, you ask? The L*K office is just too full - every day - for a big project like the Things Unseen Mystery Sampler. (We've outgrown our office, but that is a subject for an upcoming blog post!). Once we get things assembled, we've carry them to the office for packing orders.

Finally, here's the perfect accent for our fall decor - a thread assembly station in the family room! That little brown chair on the right is Alan's favorite chair. It's often the scene of lots of yelling and cheering while he watches sports. Usually,  there's a TV tray in front of him while he puts L*K embellishment into tiny sacks. That's been replaced by a big table to spread out all the threads. 

Today is "game day", so the K-State faithful is coming over to watch football. I've squeezed in a second thread assembly table in the family room. The room will be full of cheering purple-clad fans, and a zillion WDW threads!

Q. What's the fastest way to pull those threads, line them up, and sack them?
A. ONE at a TIME, baby!!!  There's no shortcut...darn...sure wish there was!

Thanks for following our behind-the-scenes Mystery Sampler tour. Coming soon...the inside scoop from Picture This Plus, our fabric supplier. 

If you would like to join our Things Unseen Mystery Sampler tour, just contact your favorite needlework supplier to place your order NOW!  This mystery unfolds in 3 parts, beginning in early November. We need orders NOW so we'll be ready for 1st shipment in 2+ weeks - yikes!

Thanks for following our behind-the-scenes Mystery Sampler tour. Coming soon...the inside scoop from Picture This Plus, our fabric supplier.