Saturday, July 28, 2018

Never Tire of the Needle

Isn't it amazing how those of us who have a passion for this seem to never tire of anything involving a needle.  I even resist going to sleep at times because I am so engrossed in whatever design I happen to be working on and I really resent needing to stop and go to bed.  I do so many times reluctantly.  When people ask me if I ever sleep I have a pet response - I never deprive myself of sleep or food - - probably should let that last item go a little but heck we only go around once.

Over on the Online Mystery Classes side the Swans finally came swimming home.

I am amazed that we have already gone through 7 of the 12 days!  Time is moving so swiftly.

I'm leaving this week for a wonderful f2f Embellishment 4-day session at Stitcher's Garden in Naperville, IL.  Several of my students from Designers Desk in Geneva, IL are coming over and it will be like a happy reunion.  I'm anxious to meet several new stitchers to me also.  Those who know me know that I always have fun so I'm ready for the challenge.  

After this excursion I'll be packing up for the ANG Seminar in Washington, DC.  Kits are almost ready for that one and looking forward to seeing lots of familiar faces there too.  You know, those events where you see some friends only once a year?  This is that event for me.  Be sure to come by even if you are not registered - there's lots of wonderful stuff to see at the Exhibit and of course you get to see the anxiously awaited reveal of the classes for 2019 ANG Seminar in Houston.  I have three classes on display here - come see.  And it is FREE!  

My next f2f class will be in Seattle, WA.  The SpaceNeedlers are hosting the beautiful Maggie piece that I have called Winter Cardinal.

Registration has closed for this class.  But - - - never fear!  It will be a class at the ANG Seminar in Houston in August 2019.  If you are not a member of ANG you can join now.  There are so many options - a chapter if you are fortunate enough to have some in your area, a member-at-large (I think that is still a viable membership) and the ever popular CyberPointers.  Go to the ANG website of and check out the details.

The next f2f class after Seattle will be in Houston as well.  The Blue Bonnet Studios has such a wonderful array of teachers and class projects from which to choose.  I am fortunate to be teaching Captain Blackbeak's Wench from JP Needlepoint.


There are lots of interesting techniques in this exercise.  I think it is fun and I loved stitching her.
Needle felting, thread manipulating, feather creation variation, padding and much more! Check out all the classes and receive registration form over at We'd love to have you join us. The Wench is a four-day class - February 17-20, 2019 in Houston, TX.

Have you met her boyfriend?  Captain Blackbeak?  

He is available through your LNS and there is a stitch guide for him as well on my website of

This week I am concentrating on the class project for our Stitching Down the Danube riverboat stitching cruise.  I really like how it is developing.  I can't share pictures just yet.  I would want to share them with the Cruise Participants first.  Maybe I can have something next week - depends on what life throws me.

Also working on exclusive design for the Canadian Rockies Train/Motor Coach stitching adventure.  That is going to be so peaceful and serene - WOW!  Just sit back and enjoy!  Right?

Contact our agent Liz at for trip details.  It is April 2019 - full brochure is in the files section on the left column of this page.

That's it for this week!  Have a great weekend and remember to Stitch with a Smile!

Saturday, July 21, 2018


Well my 2 weeks with Royal School of Needlework Tudors has come to an end. While there were 10 tutors here teaching I managed to get the same 2 for my term of 4 classes.  I must say that as much as I loved every minute of it I look forward to getting back to stitching things I can see.  Where are those holes?

My whitework was no surprise.  But, it is always so exciting to see someone else's approach to our stitching.  It is refreshing.  Sara is a lovely tutor and very nice and pleasant.  However . . .

Oh gosh Tambour!  One of the tudors wore a fabulous wrap done by a gentleman in our group!  So jealous!  And I will confess that our student progression examples aren't even close to what this is supposed to end up looking like!  LOL!  But I always wanted to try it and maybe I'll be able to incorporate in a future exercise.  We'll see.  Sara confirmed I'm doing it correctly and I can see that and see what I'm supposed to do but fat, arthritic hands have other ideas. Practice!  Practice!  Practice!

This is me with Sara - rare to stand next to another woman so much taller than I.

My Or Nue` experience reconfirmed my interpretation of how I am adapting the technique to needlepoint.  In fact my tutor said she was going to use my technique.  Very flattering.  One thing new for me was that I have not done Or Nue` in the round.  Fun to do.  I'll use her technique - pay back is only fair - right?

The Two Sides Alike was a little more intense for me.  First of all I'm a bleeder so those sharp needles and I had to come to a mutual respect for each other.  And I will say that now that I am on this end of that class I am anxious to redo it now that I know where I'm going.  For me the last technique helped explain how I should have done the first - I know that probably sounds crazy. I always do things in a weird way.

This is Amanda Ewing 'Mandy' who taught these 2 classes.  If you have the green covered Royal School of Needlework book that was published in 1998, Mandy had 4 - FOUR - pieces featured in gold work. She is also in a photo on the RSN website where Camilla is on the rightish and Sara is sitting on the left lecturing (uh! illustrating).  If we both look the worse for wear here it is because the days are catching up with us!

This was a great experience and all the RSN staff went above and beyond to make everyone comfortable with what they were trying to accomplish.  If given the opportunity jump at it.  

Some Duo Designs, Inc. Stuff

I am amazed at how many requests I still get for my books.  Most are several years old now and the newer ones are at the stage that I really just need to go hibernate and get them polished.  (That's what we all say, right?).  Anyway, for those newer folks who have joined my blog over the past several months here's a little glimpse of what I have out there.


These books are huge.  But that was deliberate.  Series I is 100 pages, Series II is 117 pages, Series III is 138 pages and Series IV is 118 pages.  They are heavy - about 2 pounds.  But, when I refer to a diagram to execute a stitch I want to be able to see it.  I want to be able to see the numbering (when there is such), and I need it to be a few feet away because I am using both hands to do the stitch so I don't want to be constantly picking up the book to see what I do next. 

Most pages show only one stitch or technique.  It may show some additional variations but mainly there is only one stitch to a page - even the little 4 x 4s.  

Another reason I have this setup is because when I am stitching I am easily distracted and my eyes might want to wander off.  This way there are not 5 other diagrams on the left for me to try to look at which I am concentrating on the one I am actually doing.

I have started a new series of books called Pocketbooks.  The first of this series was the Can Do Hairdos.

This little books is approximately 5" x 6" and is a fun series.  This book has 2 brothers in the wings waiting for final proofing - I know I'm such a slacker!

All these books are available through my website at  In fact I believe my webmaster has set it up so that there is a special for multiple copies, etc. Your LNS can also order them for you so don't hesitate to ask.

The first two books - Series I and Series II - have been made into Apps.

These are available and there is a shortcut on the right of this page - or at least there used to be.  While apps are wonderful for me they are very expensive to have produced because I am not a computer guru.  And I am at the age that I have that little gnawing whisper in the back of my head remember 8 track tapes, rotary dial phones, etc.  I am hesitate to invest five figures when the world of technology can just up and say tomorrow - sorry you are now antiquated.  So be it.


Current very active enrollment is going on for the next new class Every Bunny Needs Some Bunny from JP Needlepoint. The other similar designs Catitudes and Dog Gone Good are so much fun and have a lot to offer.  I do not see this one being any different.

As a refresher let me introduce you to Teacher's Pet, Mr. Patriotic, Miss Bashful, Little Miss Orange, Miss Flower Power and Bottom's Up or Here's Looking at You (I think I like that better)!  To join us for the 6 lesson series just send email to The classes are all online and are $150 for the 6-lesson packet.  The shop that is working with me is feverishly trying to locate all the 'stuff' that I manage to incorporate into my playful classes.  There will be an optional thread/embellishment kit for those who need assistance and also the opportunity to order the canvas if you do not have a LNS handy.  Come on over!  You'll love the fun!

Last week another set of lessons hit the Internet.   In no particular order -

We finished another doggie in Dog Gone Good - Miss Priss - JP Needlepoint

Over on the kitties we had - You Got Something to Say to Me? what an attitude - JP Needlepoint
Added some bushes on Moon Gazer - Brenda Stofft

Added blanket for the Reindeer with Bells - Raymond Crawford
Then there were lots of accessories on Snow Happy Trio - Love you More

The 7 Swans a Swimming were swimming slowly this month as I was involved in so many class projects, etc., but we will make it - albeit a couple days later than I have spoiled my students to expect.  Some forget that mid-month means before the 30th in my book - LOL.  I'm so bad.


Look what is being added to the 2019 Agenda! This lovely new design from Sandra Gilmore - At the Seashore - the first Online Mystery Class lesson would be mid-September 2019 so lots of time to prepare. Let me know if you would like to be added to the notification list (no obligation but I need your email address). The 6-lesson packet is $150 and is billed through PayPal. All lessons are posted through a secret Facebook Page. Project is 14" x 14" on 18ct mono canvas. Optional kits will also be available for those needing assistance. Email me at

So now that RSN is over I am concentrating on the Stitching Down the Danube optional class piece.  I am really liking how it is developing.  This riverboat stitching cruise is sold out but I thought some might still like to follow what is going on.

Along those same lines, Canadian Rockies Train/Motor Transport Stitching Adventure is in full swing!  The exclusive design is on the drawing board - someone said something about mountains, water and possibly a moose?  Who knows?

For information on this excursion review the brochure in the files section.  For travel questions contact our agent Liz at and for stitching questions or anything else contact me at 

If you would like to follow our upcoming stitching adventures follow our closed Facebook page - Needles 'N Fins Stitching - come on over.

Enough for today - well, probably too much - but have a great weekend!  Bad storms here - without power for 15 hours - trees down, etc.  We were spared property damage - just no electric.

Stitch away folks!

Saturday, July 14, 2018


This past week I have been taking classes that are hosted by the Royal School of Needlepoint and taught by their tutors they brought from England.  These are not diploma classes like the ones I had before.  But they are so exciting and I just could not pass up the opportunity to take some classes right here in my back door!

I had two classes this week and I have two different classes next week. We started with a reception on Sunday evening (a beautiful and perfect Sunday evening I might add).  We were getting to meet our tutors and fellow students before we actually needed to delve into our projects.

My first class was a beautiful white brooch created in white work (guess how long it will stay white with me and my habits)!  It involved setting up the individual petals with backstitching, then stitching a design - one satin stitch sets and one pulled work rows - then couching down a wire, covering the wire, buttonholing the wire, cutting out the petals, mounting on linen for preparation to apply to a sieve brooch form and final touches of beads and French knots.  A very nice class and lovely participants. My second class was also possible brooches - this time in or nue`.  We did two techniques - horizontal and circular.  Don't hold your breath to see my finished projects however.  I have classes to run of my own - lol.

Had the wonderful surprise of being able to reconnect with one of my Italian Cruise Stitchers - Nancy F.  Here's proof that we were there!

So good seeing her again!

Another past cruise participant just shared this picture from her hotel room overlooking Lake Louise!  Just so happened that our upcoming Canadian Rockies Train/Motor Coach Stitching Adventure will have a very similar view!

If you would like to join our fun from Calgary to Vancouver in April just email Liz our agent at with travel questions or me at for stitching questions. A limited exclusive design will be offered as an optional class on this wonderful journey.


Just a reminder that registration is currently in progress for a face-to-face class being hosted by Blue Bonnet Studio.  We are teaching the ever fun and delightful Captain Blackbeak's Wench from JP Needlepoint.

So many interesting techniques to share with you!  Needle felting, thread manipulating, feather creation variation, padding and much more! Check out all the classes and receive registration form over at We'd love to have you join us. The Wench is a four-day class - February 17-20, 2019.

Tomorrow is when we post another series of lessons in our Online Mystery Classes. These months just fly by!  If you want to check back in I may try to post again with some sneak peek at what we are doing.

In addition to these monthly lessons I am beginning work on the new upcoming classes.  Did someone say Bunnies??

Or how about the evil Green One?

On the opposite end from this guy is the Lily Wreath - lots of seaside icons in this one.

And don't forget our Butterfly Quickies!
Active registration is going on for all these classes and more.  Just email us for details and more information at or scroll down through older posts to get extended information.

So have a great summer weekend - and Stitch with a Smile when you can!

Saturday, July 7, 2018


There are many times that I truly do not know!  There is always so much I want to share with you on the one hand but on the other hand I don't want to wear out my welcome.

Last week I discussed our wonderful Riverboat Stitching Cruises only to learn that our Stitching Down the Danube is full - sold out - narry a bed! Good and bad.  Good that it is a success but bad that we had some that were still trying to work out coming with us.  Lesson learned.  If you think you may be interested in coming with us on some of the adventures try to start making plans early.  We never know how each will be accepted.

We are currently putting together a package for Portugal and Spain.  The Greece trip is still very much alive and well - just may need to consider a different time of year - maybe spring/summer.  Stay posted for more details.  I'm really excited about the Douro River Portugal trip.  Can't wait to see how the package develops.

New classes on the horizon that are being registered are Every Bunny by JP Needlepoint.

The registration for this class indicate that it is going to be very well attended!  I know I'm having fun planning the techniques to share with you all.  Still plenty of time to join us - email me at

The Royal School of Needlework has tutors in KY for the next 2 weeks so just guess what I'll be doing.  I'm very fortunate to be able to attend.  We always learn something if nothing more than a different approach to an old familiar technique.  I'll try to share as best I can.  As in my classes that I teach, I get so caught up in what I am doing that I forget to have pictures to make a post.

I have been very busy preparing stitch guides for an upcoming Embellishment Class in Illinois. Such diverse designs.  There are familiar designers and some that are not known - but all fun.  

We are stitching away on the next set of Online Mystery Class Lessons to share with you in the week or so.  Additionally we are auditioning threads and stitching for upcoming new classes that are scheduled.  Stay turned.

Our local ANG Chapter, Central KY Chapter of ANG, is hosting money raising event by offering this fantastic design created by our very own Karen Barras.

Here is info provided by Karen:

Looking for the perfect July 4th project for the upcoming holiday? Hooray for the Red, White, and Blue! is exactly what you need! This counted canvas work design is approximately 7” square on white 18 count mono canvas. The 15 page professionally written Stitch Guide has excellent instructions, color diagrams, a complete Supply List, and a full page color picture. The chart, to benefit Central KY Chapter, is only $25 (which includes shipping). We are also offering a discount to chapters. If you are interested or have questions, PM Karen Barras with your email address.

Fun project that works up quickly!

Have a safe weekend and remember to Stitch with a Smile!