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.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Behind the scenes - Our Mystery Sampler buttons!

One of the best parts about the needlework biz is the people you meet along the way. Awesome shopowners, fabulous stitchers everywhere, and great suppliers combine to make this a very friendly biz!

We're really pleased to be working with the creative gals at Just Another Button Company on our Things Unseen Mystery Sampler project. It's a multi-generational company! Pic above is Cecile, daughter Rachel and sweet grand baby Amelia. There are a host of other talented ladies behind-the-scenes at JABCO. too. 

When Cecile sent us this picture of her beautiful, uber-organized office, we literally gasped. YIKES...Lizzie*Kate world headquarters is a study in organized chaos. We're glad for this pic, because it give us something to aspire to.  Isn't it interesting to see where other people work? And look at all those gorgeous little buttons high and low, all beautifully organized!

For years we've wondered how JABCO really makes all of their stunning hand-crafted buttons. Here's how they all begin...with some colorful chunks of clay.

When I first called Cecile to ask if she'd be interested in working with me on Things Unseen, the creative ideas began flowing. I sent her computer files of my design, and eventually mailed her the completed Mystery Sampler stitchery, so she could see it in person!

After exchanging ideas and sketches...conversations about size, color and design...numerous ideas proposed, evaluated, revised...the Helen's rose buttons finally bloomed!

You can see the long "canes" of clay that become buttons when they are sliced. That's why the color/pattern on JABCO buttons is consistent from front to back - no wrong side!  In the background on above pic you can see the handwritten "formula" for making the Helen's rose buttons. The "formula" is there, yet each button is unique. They're hand-made, so tiny variations are part of the creative process and make each button special. And, oh yes, each button needs to be hand-drilled with teeny tiny holes to make them buttons!

These Helen's rose buttons are exclusive to the Things Unseen Mystery Sampler. Lizzie*Kate has an exclusive on these little floral gems.

Finally...a batch of buttons arrives at L*K in a well-padded box. I was so excited when I opened this box and was greeted by all of those lovely little floral buttons. Just having these charming buttons here is brightening our office and my spirit.

Q. What are the other pretty rosebud buttons I see in the bottom sack?
A. These sweet little rosebuds (in custom Things Unseen colors) will embellish the BONUS design, included with the Mystery Sampler.  Both buttons will be included in the Things Unseen Embellishment Pack, along with a host of other little goodies.

Just got the box from the printer with all the embellishment pack inserts. Time to begin the embellishment pack assembly line.

Special thanks to Cecile from Just Another Button Company for sharing these photos with us. She and the JABCO gang have worked really hard to bring our button visions to life. What a great group of creative, helpful gals!

Dear Santa...please send's Mystery Sampler time!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Biking the Katy trail

A couple weeks ago we took a much-needed vacation with some of our best friends. We traveled to nearby Missouri to bike part of the historic Katy trail.

What's the Katy trail? It's a rails-to-trails conversion path (you can bike, walk, run, whatever you like) that runs for 237 miles through the heart of Missouri, often following the historic Lewis & Clark trail and the Missouri river. It's a beautifully maintained State Park , in the right of way of the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (hence the Katy name).

We began our adventure in Boonville, MO (so we've officially been to the "Boonies"). The night before our ride we stayed at the beautiful, historic Frederick Hotel. Here we are on the first day, looking perky before our ride and the inevitable "helmet head" hairdos. Alan is wearing the K-State purple/white jersey and I'm beside him in my hot pink Walmart couture.

We rode for 3 days, and covered about 120 miles, with frequent stops for snacks, taking pictures and lunch every day. This ride was the perfect excuse to eat and snack all day long. The above pic was a typical view as we enjoyed the very flat trail (thanks, railroaders) and the super lush greenery.

The path often followed the Missouri River, which was gorgeous and right next to us...what a beautiful sight!

Sometimes the path was bordered by soaring cliffs, which looked very un-Kansas-like.

There were bunches of little creeks to cross and every style/size of bridge imaginable.  The weather was perfect - cool and lovely for riding. Rain kept threatening, but thankfully we never had more than a couple of drops.

We also rode by lots of farmland, with crusty corn (ready to harvest) and the beautiful golden soybeans above. The picture doesn't do justice - these golden fields were glowing!

Here's my farm boy husband, Alan, giving a short informational talk on corn. You can take the boy off the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy!

We spent one night in Jefferson City, the capitol city of Missouri. After dinner, we checked out the capitol by moonlight.

Every 4-5 miles along the trail, you came to a little town. Some towns were so little, there was a sign...but we couldn't find the town. But most towns had an official Katy trail rest stop with benches, shelter, and bathrooms! One of the best parts of riding was meeting people along with way. We met people from across the US. Visitors come from around the world to ride the Katy every year. Riders varied from kids with training wheels to lots of retirees.

And, of course, we had lots of FUN along the way!!! This odd attraction was called Boat Henge. It's a series of old boats partially buried in the ground - perfect for silly pics!

Is Alan really holding up this boulder? I know he's "super-Alan" to all the needlework shops who talk to him daily, but....

And did I mention there were wineries along the way? We spent one evening in Hermann, Missouri. It's a little German town with several wineries and lots of charm.

We only had one mishap. Our pal, Bob, was attempting to ride and carry his nice camera. And you know what happens when you only hit one brake and it's your front tire. Thankfully, Bob was OK (and so were his camera and bike). Thanks to Bob for many of the photos above.

* Great scenery
* Fun B & Bs and hotels
* Lots of food (preferable hourly on the trail)
* Wineries!
* Perfect weather
* Lots of smiles and laughter
* And the best thing....relaxing time with great friends!

We're already planning another trip on the Katy....maybe next year to celebrate our 60th birthdays?
Wanna come join us for part of the ride?