Monday, September 25, 2017

Button mystery magic from JABCO

Their name may be Just Another Button Company, but there's nothing ordinary about the creative magic that happens at JABCO every day.

We've worked with Cecile, daughter Rachel and the talented team for many years to supply and create special buttons for L*K projects, including mystery samplers. So I decided to enlist their expert help again for our Spirit of Christmas Mystery Sampler.

Last year I shared a bunch of behind-the-scenes pics of them crafting their clay masterpieces for the SPOOKED! Mystery Sampler. AMAZING!

This year we included some custom clay buttons, but are also using their new hand-dyed buttons. These colorful gems come in lots of different shapes and sizes. AND they will dye them to match DMC colors...brilliant!

Here are button pros Colleen (foreground) and Hollie. Hollie mixes clay, packs order and, yes, counts buttons! They are counting darling little sweetheart bird buttons for our sampler. 

***Colleen gets "extra credit" because she dresses to match whatever projects she is assigned that day. She has on poinsettia earrings and gorgeous scarf that coordinates with Spirit of Christmas Mystery Sampler. I sometimes listen to Christmas music when I'm designing Christmas in March, but dressing the part...I'm impressed! Colleen is also a stitcher and is delighted to be a part of our mystery journey.

Here are Cathy and Colleen counting out hand-dyed buttons. Cathy answers the phone and takes orders - but EVERYONE in the office pitches in to count. All the ladies can count by 2's in their sleep!

Dying the buttons looks a bit like playing in the kitchen. Here's Rachel mixing dye to add to boiling water. You can see part of the inventory of undyed buttons behind her and the open door is their "natural ventilation" system. A nice air-exchange system is in the JABCO future.

I love this picture - the wooden spoon bouquet! They use different colored spoons for different colored dyes. If you look closely, you can see a button "recipe" on the card at bottom. 

These buttons are going into a dye bath. They use a strainer buasket so all the buttons come out of the dye bath at the same time. Check out the pretty purple spoon!

Here's the high tech button drying system...beautiful hand-dyed buttons chilling out on towels.

Here's a super closeup of tiny buttons on a mesh rack. Otherwise, they fall right through the holes on the strainer baskets.

Here are (left to right) Cecile, Janice and Rachel. Cecile and Rachel run the biz (I am so jealous of their natural curls...sigh). Janice formerly worked at Hillcreek Designs where she hand-dyed the buttons. JABCO recently acquired the biz and Janice taught them her tricks of the trade.  I used hand-dyed buttons from Janice for many years. I'm so grateful that JABCO is carrying on the colorful tradition.

And perhaps the most important "ladies" behind-the-scenes? These are Rachel's 2 darling daughters (Cecile's granddaughters) - Anna and Amelia. They are lovingly nicknamed Misses Button 1 and 2

Who can recognize the "mystery visitor" in the back? It's a surprise appearance from Cathy Habermann, aka Hands On Design. This pic was snapped on a visit from Aunt Cathy to the button factory. I love Cathy's darling, creative designs and beautiful finishes. Shout out to Kathy from L*K! 

Many thanks to Cecile for furnishing and narrating the photos for this post!!!

Meanwhile, we're expecting another button shipment to deliver tomorrow. Which means, more Spirit of Christmas Embellishment Pack assembly on our agenda.

Happy Week ahead, everyone!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mystery Sampler Madness!

Here's the big question we're asking ourselves at L*K headquarters multiple times a day...
"What the heck is going on???"

As in, "why is Spirit of Christmas Mystery Sampler going CRAZY?" We've done 5 mystery projects before and this one is topping them all...easily...and we're just getting started.

***The demand is making it really hard for our suppliers - and therefore, us - to keep up with orders. If you didn't order before our pre-order deadline on August 10, you may have to wait a few weeks. Some recent orders will not be shipped until October 2 - our Spirit of Christmas Part 2 ship date.

Here's why...everything is HANDMADE! Our fabric, thread and embellishment suppliers are working hard to get you their products, but it all takes time. We had extra inventory (that was adequate based on previous mysteries) on hand after our original shipment, but demand quickly depleted our supplies. 

1. The fabric from PTP is hand-dyed. Here's a pic of our new Heartland fabric on the drying racks. We'll post more soon about the busy ladies at Picture This Plus in Abilene, Kansas. Marilyn will be driving a new shipment to Wichita next week. Meanwhile, she and her staff are working on hundreds more pre-cuts. 

2. The over-dyed threads from Weeks Dye Works are hand-dyed. We visited Miranda and her team last summer and were amazed at the beautiful, intricate business of dyeing fibers. We call and update WDW several times a week on quantities and they're doing their best to keep up, but...we're not their only customers and it's a busy time in the cross stitch biz. 

Every time we get a package from WDW we're thrilled. Then we begin the tedious process of assembling the thread packs. We can turn these around in a day, with a little help from the L*K elves. If threads arrive one day, we're ready to ship the next day. But you gotta get them first!

3. Our buttons from Just Another Button Company (for embellishment pack) are hand-crafted and guessed it! We'll also do a blog post soon behind-the-scenes at JABCO. Cecile, Rachel and the gang have been shipping us thousands of beautiful buttons and they're working on thousands more this week. Picture above shows some buttons being dyed and dried.

4. The Spirit of Christmas Needle Nannies are hand-made! I know...this is getting repetitive. Kim and the dotty girls at Zappy Dots make these little magnetic wonders by hand. I can't imagine the stories they have to tell from working with these powerful magnets. We have a host of them ourselves! Who knew the Needle Nannies would be attracted to the metal legs on our work tables?!

***So...long story short...if your favorite needlework supplier tells you she's waiting on a shipment from L*K, she is!!! And...we are waiting on shipments from our suppliers so we can assemble and ship the needlework shops around the world. No worries, though. The Spirit of Christmas Mystery Sampler will be revealed to everyone, eventually. 

On a different note...Alan and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary over the Labor Day holiday!!!!

We didn't mean to dress alike...but it happened

I know...FORTY! Sounds like such a giant milestone, and I think it is. We summoned our daughters (and L*K namesakes) and their husbands home to spend the weekend with us...chatting, eating and enjoying the little lake in our backyard. We even got a new lake toy - a standup paddle board with pedals. It's easier to balance than the traditional paddle board with an oar.

Alan, Linda, Sarah, Jeff, Ali and Barclay

Saturday night we had dinner at a fabulous farm-to-table blackberry farm near our house, Elderlie Farm. We snapped this pic during the appetizer course on the patio. Then we moved inside for 5 more fabulous locally sourced courses. It was a perfect evening...quiet so you could talk easily, sharing wonderful food and paired wine with our favorite people - our daughters and their spouses.

As sometimes happens when you've been married to someone a VERY long time, Alan and I showed up in matching blue-and-white striped outfits - without planning it. So funny and a little sweet!

After 40 years, I'm still pinching myself for choosing the right life partner. I don't think we "thought it through" as much as many young couples do nowadays. We just went "hey, we love each...let's get married". And figured out the rest of the stuff as it happened over the years...and years...and years!

We're both looking forward to the years ahead...and a little more sleep after the Spirit of Christmas Mystery Sampler is solved!