Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Little Surprise

Prior to arriving in Austin, Colleen Church told us she had a surprise for us all.  I just assumed it was a really cool needle minder, which we did get.  But some of the ladies thought it might be a guest visitor.  Well they were right because it was no other than the fabulous Brenda Stofft.

Brenda Stofft
If you've been needlepointing for a while, then you've probably heard of Brenda and most likely have a few of her canvases in your stash.  Not only is Brenda one of the most successful needlepoint designers in the industry, but she is also a talented stitcher.  I had so much fun chatting with her.  It's always nice to know that an artist, who's work you admire and love to stitch, is such a nice person.

The following photos are a few of the her nativity pieces that are an exclusive to the Needle Works.  In case you are wondering, that's what Brenda was stitching while she was at the retreat.

Holy Family
The first canvas in the nativity series is the Holy Family.  This piece is gorgeous.  Colleen did such a great job creating the stitch guide.  In fact, Brenda mentioned several times about how pleased she was with how the series has turned out, and that Colleen did a fantastic job choosing threads and stitches that complemented each other but did not take away from the original design.  What a compliment!

Colleen had the Holy Family framed with a light behind the stained glass window. It's hard to tell in the photo, but the circular window was all beaded so that the light shines through.  Unfortunately due to my camera, the window looks white.  But in real life, it is dazzling with color.  Definitely a finishing technique that I've never seen before, but absolutely loved.

Magi with Elephant
Magi with Horse
I thought that these were beautiful too.  I'm curious to see how Colleen will have these and the rest of the nativity pieces finished.

For those of you who know me, you've probably already guessed that I couldn't resist this series.  I joined the club and started stitching the first canvas at the retreat!  I think my mother, who was also at the retreat, thought I was a little crazy to buy another nativity series, as I already have the Kelly Clark nativity and Amy Bunger stitch guides.  But sometimes you just have to be a little crazy and go for it.  Besides, I'm justifying it with this reasoning: I have two kids whom I would like to give each a nativity, so I have to stitch two.  Right!

Holy Family Canvas

So far, I've really enjoyed stitching this piece and have added it into my rotation of canvases.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.

If you would like to see more of Brenda Stofft's work, make sure you check out her website.  To see the rest of the nativity series, you can view them at the Needle Works' website.

Happy Stitching!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

2014 Bluebonnet Conference

One of the best things about being a needlepointer is going to different retreats.  Its a great way to get away from all the distractions at home and have 2-3 days of stitching bliss.  It used to be that retreats were a costly endeavour.  Often there was a project piece, national teacher, hotel and travel accommodations, etc... But now, thanks to the Needlepoint group on Facebook, a new type of retreat is emerging.  These new retreats are a little easier on the pocketbook.  They are held in a store's classroom; you bring whatever project you are working on; there isn't any formal instruction, but there is always someone close by to offer some help; and you pick your own hotel accommodations.  Last year I blogged about such a retreat at the Needle Works in Austin, Texas.  You can read about it here and here.

Once again, Naomi, a fellow needlepoint addict stitcher, and Colleen Church, the owner of the Needle Works, planned our second annual retreat.  It was a blast!  Each recipient received a custom made needle minder.  I love our official new title for our retreat: "Bluebonnet Conference".

Bluebonnet Conference Needle Minders

We also received the new Puffin needle threaders that were just released.  I've never been a big fan of needle threaders, but these had me changing my mind.  The hook portion is very sturdy, yet fine enough to fit into  the eye of a 26 tapestry needle.  They may be able to go smaller, but I didn't have any 28's to try.  They also have a magnetic disk on the back that will adhere to tacks, so it's always easy to find.

Puffin & Company Needle Threader

The best part of the retreat are all the friends, new and old.  This year, we had to close to 30 participants, so it was a tight squeeze fitting into the classroom.  It also meant that it was difficult to get around to get everyone's photos.  But I did get some group photos in which you can get a peek at what everyone was stitching.

As you can see, there was a lot of stitching and chatting going on.

The last day of the retreat, Colleen welcomed us to her home for a fabulous dinner prepared by Missy Gray.  We had a great time visiting and getting to see an adorable owl who has decided to call Colleen's backyard "home'.  Smart owl, if you ask me.

So if you have ever thought about going on a needlepoint retreat, I would highly recommend it.  A good place to inquire about one is with your local needlepoint store.  If you don't have one or they don't offer retreats, then check out the Needlepoint group on Facebook.

Don't know about this group?  Well here is how to find it.  Once you are logged onto Facebook, enter "needlepoint" into the search bar.  Several choices will come up.  Just look for the one with over 4,900 members.  Request to join and then get ready to devote several hours looking at all the gorgeous canvases.  I will admit that it's a bit addicting.  However, I wouldn't have ever learned about this retreat and made so many friends had it not been for this group.

Happy Stitching!