Friday, August 12, 2016

On the Road Again--A Visit to Stitching Bits and Bobs

A couple of weeks ago Tom and I spent the weekend in Battle Creek, Michigan with dear friends. What a wonderful time the four of us had!  On our way home, we decided to make a slight detour to visit Bobbie and Cam at their shop Stitching Bits and Bobs in Plainwell, Michigan. What a treat that was!!

Bobbie and Cam opened their original shop in West Memphis, Arkansas in February 2003 and attended their first Nashville Needlework Market about the same time. Bobbie told me that they had no idea what to expect so they drove to the market in a Ford Taurus.  She said it was a good thing that they lived only four hours away because Cam had to pack things on and around her to get everything home. All you could see was her head. Obviously there was no stopping for anything (including a bathroom break). Wow--what we do for our love of needlework. 

Here are some photos from one of the two large rooms in the shop.  Look at all those fibers!!! 

I was so excited to see Bobbie and Cam again that I forgot to ask them a number of things about the shop. (Thankfully I remembered to ask Tom to take some photos.) Once I got home, I emailed Bobbie with some questions, and she kindly answered them.  (Thanks, Bobbie.)

Me:  How did you get the name Stitching Bits and Bobs?
Bobbie:  I noticed a lot of the Brits in my stitching group would say they were going to gather their bits and bobs and go stitch. So that is how we came up with the name for our shop. Later on I noticed in one of the Harry Potter movies that Hagrid tells Harry that they need to go to Diagon Alley to get his bits and bobs for school.  A lot of people  assume it's because my name is Bobbie!  (Ellen: That's exactly what I assumed, Bobbie.)

Me: Please tell me about your shop and how you got started.
Bobbie: We started out online only and originally thought we'd remain that way. Once our inventory started to take over the house we decided we needed a separate building for it. That is when we moved to Michigan and bought property that included a separate carriage house. We had our shop in the carriage house for about a year and then due to so many requests we decided to have walk-in customers too. We quickly grew out of the carriage house and were lucky to find a retail space only four blocks away. 
We started out with 1200 square feet and within six months were able to expand into part of the space next to us which brought us up to 1800 square feet. Four years ago the business on the other side of us moved to a smaller space so we were able to expand again - we currently have roughly 3600 square feet.

Me: I noticed lots and lots of fibers.  Please tell me about them.
Bobbie: Our shop has an extensive selection of fibers and I'm always finding ways to squeeze in a new fiber line! We carry threads from Dinky-Dyes, Rainbow Gallery, Gloriana, Needlepoint Inc., Thread Gatherer, Weeks Dye Works, Gentle Art, Classic Colorworks, Carrie's Threads, Tentakulum, and many more. Our most recent addition are the cotton and silk lines hand dyed by Erik Shipley of Ship's Manor Designs. 

Me: Tell me about the stitch-ins you have at your shop.
Bobbie:  We have a weekly sit and stitch that is open to all. Some of us meet for an early dinner at a local restaurant, The Old Mill, at four and sit and stitch is from five to eight. We are always happy to have people stop in and join us if they happen to be in the area! 

Me:  Is there anything else you would like to say?
Bobbie: I think the one thing that surprises most people is that we do not have employees. Cam and I do it all right down to creating and updating our website. My parents helped us quite a bit the first few years and we've had a few temporary employees but we really enjoy working together just the two of us.

Stitching Bits and Bobs has a large mail-order business with many customers both in and out of the US.  They are open Tuesday-Saturday or by appointment.  We were at the shop on a Monday which is the day that they play catch-up from a busy week and get ready for the next one.  The shop is on my automatic list which means they get my new designs as soon as they are available.

Thank you, Bobbie and Cam, for letting us stop by for a visit, especially knowing how busy you are even on your "off-day". Wishing you many more years of continued success with your shop.  

Blogspot is giving me issues today--no matter what I try, I can't get the font to stay consistent throughout this post.  I've finally given up and decided to post it as is.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Oh my goodness!  Where does the time go?  I can't believe that summer is halfway over!  Our grandsons will be starting kindergarten and 3rd grade in a month.

We have had a busy time since I last posted.  In late May, Tom and I went to Ireland for nearly two weeks.  Our tour included both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The scenery was beautiful, and the weather cooperated.  In fact, we were told it was the nicest May they had had in over 30 years.  We also found the Irish people so friendly and hospitable.  I'll share a few photos in a future post.

Shortly after getting home from Ireland we had a family trip to Disneyworld. A fun time was had by all.

Since we've been home we've been busy enjoying cookouts, concerts in the park, and time with family and friends. I'm also busy packaging class kits for a full fall of teaching--7 classes at four events (in Madison, Wisconsin; Bath, Ohio; twice in Sturbridge, Massachusetts).

Plus at long last I have some new products--three new retail projects and two new teaching ones. Details are on my website  The charts have already been shipped to the shops on my automatic program. (Those shops on listed on the shop page of my website.)  The charts will be shipped to my distributors in a few weeks. I hope you like the new designs.

First is Amidst the Crowd, a sampler inspired by an antique I have in my collection. Since this sampler is mainly worked in cross stitch, it can be stitched on either linen or on aida.

Next is A Gift from Heaven. The are the birth samplers I made for my granddaughters.  As you can see the samplers are very similar, but I wanted them to be slightly different.  Both versions are included in the package.

And next are two small samplers, When We Are Absent One From Another and To Love and To Be Loved.  This pair of samplers are part of a new series I'm calling Sentiments.  In the photos, I show the mini-samplers framed, but wouldn't they be great as small pillows or perhaps as pincushions?

Next time I'll show photos of my new teaching projects.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I've Not Been Very Good...

I can't believe how terrible I've been over the past months about updating my blog.  Please accept my apologies.

Several needleworkers have sent me photos of completed With My Needle projects.  Thank you.  So sorry that it's taken me so long to show off your work.

The first photo is from Mary Lou G. in Kansas.  Her project is A Needleworker's Sampler Huswif which I taught for her guild.  Mary Lou decided to frame the project versus making it into a huswif.  (This is a class project only and not available in shops--sorry.)

Next is Joan C's An Emblem of Love. She chose to stitch the single color version of this sampler and used Spring Violets Belle Soie thread. Joan told me that the thread colors are much more vibrant than this photo shows. Joan's unsure what linen she used.  Didn't she chose a beautiful frame to showcase her sampler?

Pam Z. stitched Quaker Sampling III as part of a SAL with the Kindred Spirits Sampler Guild in Michigan. She used Birds of a Feather's 36-count Sandpiper linen and  Cranberry Gloriana Silk thread.  Pam said this was a fun stitch.  She's also stitched Quaker Samplings I and II which I showed you in an earlier blog post.

I hope other members of the Kindred Spirits Sampler Guild will send me photos of their completed samplers. Thank you for choosing one of my samplers as your guild focus project.

Here is Clara's With A Pleasant Thought. Clara is an Italian doctor.  She chose this project because she was "enchanted by the poetry". She also wrote, I purchased your other designs: they are just beautiful! (Thank you, Clara.)

Clara used 35-count Vintage Country Mocha linen from Zweigart. She personalized the sampler with her parents' initials so that the project would be a tribute to them.

And last, but certainly not last, is Gill F's Elizabeth Wood sampler.  I had the great pleasure of meeting Gill in person a couple of years ago when I was in Australia. Julie, the owner of the Crewel Gobelin shop, hosted an open house, and afterward invited me to dinner at her home.  Gill had a very delicious Pavlova for dessert...yum, yum.

Gill wrote, I am writing to let you know I have just collected from the framer my latest piece of cross stitch, your design – Elizabeth Wood, 1822.  It was an absolute joy to stitch and even more pleasure to pick it up from the framers today.  It is a  not already occupied.   To have met the designer makes it even more special. 

My life recently has been taken up with grandchildren, of which I now have thirteen, so to finish and have framed a cross stitch gives me great pleasure.  Thank you for providing me with the enthusiasm to complete this beautiful design and have the pleasure of admiring it on the wall as I walk pass.  I am attaching a photo of the said Elizabeth Wood cross stitch.  

Ladies, please accept my apologies for having take SO long to show your beautiful work.  Thank you for the photos and notes.

Good news--at long last there will be some new With My Needle designs--three retail projects and two teaching projects.  The directions are now written and the photography on four of the five is completed.  The projects are now with my wonderful reviewers who read through the directions before I publish the designs. Look for all the new projects sometime this summer. I hope you'll enjoy them.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Time Is Getting Away From Me!

Once again, time has gotten away from me. Since my last post I've been busy settling in our new home and working on two new teaching projects. In addition, I have these two new family members. Can you believe they are 6 months old?

Then last week we had house guests, Giulia Manfredini and her husband Mario. What a great time we had with them! On Saturday, Giulia taught a class for my guild, The Queen City Sampler Guild. While we were in class, my husband Tom took Mario to the Dayton Air Museum. We also showed them around Cincinnati and introduced them to Graeter's ice cream (a big hit) and our southern heritage with grits and biscuits and sausage gravy. Tom's sausage gravy was a bigger hit than Graeter's ice cream.

Together at the end of the class

Giulia enjoying Graeter's ice cream

Giulia and Mario with a loaded rental car and ready to head to Nashville for the tradeshow

Thank you for all the comments to my last post. I tried to respond to everyone who wrote me, but quite a few of you are "no-reply" which means I can't get an email address to write you back. Now you know why you didn't get a reply from me.

Ellen L. recently asked me in an email about the new model that she saw on the floor in one of my office photos. The sampler, Amidst the Crowd, will be a retail product. This week we got the cover made, but I still need to write the directions. That will have to wait until I finish the two teaching products that will premier in October for the Western Reserve Sampler Guild in northern Ohio.

When I release Amidst the Crowd, I'll also be releasing two other products, A Gift From Heaven, the baby samplers I designed for my twin granddaughters, and Sentiments I and II which are the first two of a set of six small samplers that can either be framed or made into small pillows or pincushions. It will be a while before you see any of these designs in your local needlework shop because I must complete the two teaching pieces first.

The good news is that I have completed the stitching on the first of the new teaching pieces, A Most Engaging Needlebook. If you're interested, you can read a description of it here. I'll post some photos later. Next up will be a sampler that will also premier in October.

I have also updated the teaching page of my website.  
On September 10 and 11th, I'll be teaching the Fruit of the Vine Sampler Huswif and Tokens from the Sea at Lynn's in Madison, Wisconsin.  I recently learned that the beautiful ditty box I use in Tokens of the Sea is being discontinued because it is so hard to make. (Boohoo!)  I've ordered all the remaining stock, but once my supply is gone I won't be able to teach the class with the wonderful box. I have enough boxes for one or two more classes.  If you've ever thought about taking this class, now is your chance before the boxes are gone. Please remember that if you sign up for the class, you must be there in person to get the kit with the box.

Then on October 17th and 18th, I'll once again be teaching for Sue Donnelly at one of her marvelous Stitcher's Hideaway Retreats in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. The class, Kindred Spirits, has been so popular that it quickly filled up with a waiting list. Last week, Sue decided to add a second retreat (October 26th and 27th) and offer the same class, Kindred Spirits. The class is already halfway full, so if you're interested, it's best not to wait. Sue puts on wonderful retreats! Just ask anyone who has gone to one.

Registration information for all the classes can be found on my website. 

Thank you to those who have sent me photos of your recently completed WMN projects.  I get so excited when I see what you have done with my designs.  Since this post has gotten rather long, I'll wait and show the photos in my next post. Thank you for your patience.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Long Time, No See....

I'm very sorry I've been so remiss in updating my blog. Our lives have certainly been in a whirlwind over the past few months.

We are now pretty well settled in our new home although there are still a few boxes to unpack. We have hung  over 250 things on the wall. Yes, you read that number right. Most of the items are framed pieces, and of the framed pieces most are needlework. It  has been a very time-consuming process. I thought you might enjoy seeing some of my new sampler walls. You can click on the photos for close-up views.

First, is a view of what I see from my new stitching spot. All of the samplers on these walls are reproductions.

Here is a close-up of the samplers on the lower wall.
Identifying the samplers starting with the top sampler on the left
in the hallway of  the 1st photo--a partial view of  Dutch Beauty (Permin)
 Column 1--Isobel Doig (The Examplarery); Rachel Allen (The Scarlet Letter)
Column 2--Amy Eliza Herbert (The Porcupine Collection); Janet Gibson (Hope's Dwelling Place)
Column 3--Sarah Owen (The Essamplaire); Frances Eden (Handwork Samplers--OOP)
Column 4--Sovine Palphryman (Handwork Samplers--OOP); Rachel Hyde (Threads Through Time)
Column 5--Lucy Adams (The Examplarery); Mercy Hopkins (The Examplarery)
Column 6--Ann Bowers (The Examplarery)
Column 7--ES Sampler (With My Needle)
And here is a close-up of the samplers on the staircase. It was quite a process to get the spacing right.
Identifying the samplers starting with the sampler on the top left
Column 1--Elizabeth Mears (Queenstown Samplers); Sarah Salter (Sheepish Designs)
Column 2--Ann Raynor (Threads Through Time); Hannah Lancaster (The Porcupine Collection); Elinor Simpson (Historic Stitches)
Column 3--Mary Gibson (Haslemere Museum); Margaret Gibson (The Scarlet Letter); Mary Sharp (Handwork Samplers--OOP)
Column 4--Anne Maria Clarke (The Essamplaire); Ann Hair (The Scarlet Letter); L. Haworth (The Marking Sampler)
Column 5--Deborah  Walker (Just Cross Stitch--The Chester  County Collection--OOP); Hannah Pepper (Fine Lines Magazine--OOP); Mary Katz (Mercer Museum)

Here are three samplers (non-reproductions) which are on the wall above the tv.  I can see 35 samplers from my stitching spot. How wonderful is that?
Identifying the samplers starting on the left
American Sampler (Treasures Magazine)
Queen City 20th Anniversary Sampler with minor changes (Heart's Ease Examplar Workes)
Snooty Parrots with minor changes (Barbara Ana Designs)

Next  up are photos of some of the models in my office. The one on the floor is a new one--just waiting for us to write the directions. I chose the wall color to  go  with the drapes that were already in the room.

Identifying my With My Needle samplers starting with the sampler on the top left
Column 1--partial view of the Family Record Sampler
Column 2--Accept This Posey (from a Friend); Adorn Thy Heart (can be adapted to be a wedding sampler)
Column 3--Kind and  True; Elizabeth Wood

Identifying my With My Needle samplers starting with the top one
An Emblem of Love (single color version); Caroline Bevan

Next is a view of one end of the hallway at the top of the stairs between my office and our guest room. (There are four more samplers there that aren't shown in the photo.)
Identifying the samplers starting with the sampler on the top left
Column 1--Williamsburg Lady (Historic Stitches for Kreinik's Remember the Ladies series); Three Things Sampler (Moira Blackburn)
Column 2--Gratitude (The Scarlet Letter)
Column 3--Ellen Murray (The Essamplaire)
Column  4--Mary Trelfall (The Marking Sampler); Eleanor Taylor (The Examplarery)

And  here are some samplers at the other end of the hallway.

Identifying the samplers starting with the sampler on the top left
Column 1--Let Virtue (Sheepish Designs); Elizabeth Easton (The Good Huswife--OOP)
Column 2--Marquoir Sampler with quite a few changes); Wisdom Sampler (Vermillion Stitchery)
Column 3--Jacobean Sampler (??); Aires of Green (Sheepish Designs)
When looking for the names of some of these samplers I ran across the old Geocities  page where I used to show my needlework. The photos aren't particularly  good because most photos were taken before the advent of digital photos. Nothing has been added to the page since 2007, but you can see lots of my older pieces which are in other rooms of our home.
I have several new designs, but it will be a while before I can get the directions written as I'm in the midst of developing  a couple of new teaching projects that will premier with the Western Reserve Sampler Guild in October. In a future blog post, I'll have more information about those classes and also classes in Madison, Wisconsin in September and in  Sturbridge, Massachusetts also in October.

In closing, I thought  you might also enjoy seeing new photos of our little girls. It's hard to believe they're already 5-1/2 months old. Both have been plagued with ear infections especially Norah who has had three ear infections already this year and a ruptured ear drum right before Christmas. Katie got two teeth last month. Norah  doesn't have any yet. Her favorite thing to do is roll over, and over, and over.  It's so much fun to watch the changes as they are discovering the world around them.

If you ask me a question in the comment section of this blog post,  please make sure I have a way to contact you. For many of you, there is no email listed.  So if you ask me a question, and  I don't respond you now know why. You can also email me if you have a specific question.