Sunday, November 14, 2010

Member of the Month - Our List Mom

Here at StitchMap we think of ourselves as one big family. We believe our members are the best and every one of them has unlimited talent! With that being said, each month we are going to introduce you to a member of our StitchMap family. We are very proud of our members and their accomplishments. I am starting the introductions with our list "Mom". Without this lady's dream and vision StitchMap would not exist today.

Without further ado I am pleased to introduce our Lady J --- Shari Jensen:

Shari and her husband live in Colorado near Pikes Peak. They have 3 adult children and 3 grandchildren. She is a Colorado native raised in California and has lived in several different parts of the country while her hubby was in the military. She has owned and operated several businesses as they moved around. She had a cake decorating shop and bakery. She is a founding member of the International Cake Exploration Societe (ICES) and at one time published a monthly newsletter for sugar artists around the world. She recently sold an herb, spice and gourmet food business that she had for over 20 years. Soon after she retired she took on the business of raising her 3 young grandchildren. They and their father moved in with the family after "life" took an unexpected turn for them. Having them move in helped her make the decision to do something from home rather than go back into business. So, she decided to share her other passion -- the art of hand stitching and she soon discovered the world of online stitching groups. You will find her blog - Lady J's Cache - listed in the sidebar.

Shari learned her first embroidery stitches from her grandmother. She also learned crocheting, tatting and some sewing skills from her grandmother. She is a Life Member of the Embroiderer's Guild of America and has been associated with her local chapter, Pikes Peak EGA, for the past 30+ years. She is also a member of the American Needlepoint Guild and a founding member of her local chapter, Little London Stitchers. She has helped both of these groups out by volunteering to hold various offices, teach classes and organize functions over the years.

It is well known in her circle of friends that she is not at all comfortable with the sewing machine. However, she does admit to using the sewing machine to piece together her crazy quilt blocks and to zig zag the edges of her linens for counted thread work. She may even make the occasional drawstring bag or Christmas ornament. But...she is more inclined to let someone else do her finishing work for her...often trading services with friends. She might bake them a cake while they sew together her stitched projects.

Shari has a passion for teaching needlearts and spreading "needle fever". Her favorite techniques include stitching reproduction antique samplers in a wide variety of counted thread techniques, including drawn thread, pulled thread, and hardanger. She loves crazy quilting because she sees it as an extension of her interest in samplers. She feels that each crazy quilt is a sampler of stitches and small samples of various techniques. She loves Assissi, blackwork, redwork, surface embroidery, beading, punchneedle, needle felting, silk ribbon embroidery, dyeing of lace and fabrics, making dimensional needlepoint figures, shadow embroidery and stumpwork. She credits the EGA and ANG for helping her have access to many wonderful national teachers whose classes she took as often as possible.

Recently Shari took a class in creating fabric painted landscapes from Judith Baker Montano. Here is a picture of her completed landscape.

Since starting StitchMap in 2009, Shari has spent her time working on organizing the group activities and handling the membership applications, etc. There isn't much that goes on at MAP where she hasn't been one of the creative forces behind the scenes. She has a hand in the writing and editing of courses, challenges, and our group tutorials. She is a mentor in Crazy Quilting and Hardanger and she mentors the members who would like to become mentors in any of the courses. She sets up the classes and handles the class placements. One of her favorite jobs is creating the questions for our Thursday Talk Shop Segments because of the amount of sharing that takes place as a result.
When asked what she sees for StitchMap in the future, Shari said, "I hope that we can add to the actual number of courses we are mentoring. We have several new courses in various stages of completion right now. I would be happy if each one of them could actually be released for Pilot Classes in 2011. I would also like to see growth in our Stash Angels program and I am looking forward to working with our new Community Outreach Coordinator to make that happen. I firmly believe that what we give away we get back 10 times over. So, I want to keep MAP as a place where women, and men, can come to learn stitching for free and even get help with supplies, if need be, for free. I get excited about the family feeling that exists at MAP. I definitely want to find ways to ensure that everyone who joins this group realizes that by belonging to MAP they are also committing to our common goal of keeping needlearts alive by sharing stitches. I would like all MAP members to feel confident enough in their skills to go out and spread the joy of the needle and what they learn about needlework by taking the courses at MAP."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Color Theory Proved Successful

How many of you know what a true color really is? Do you know what constitutes a true blue or a true red for instance? Does it even really matter? Do you know the differences in the way a needlewoman should be looking at color while using her thread and fabric as compared to the person who dyed that fabric or thread? Does a painter/artist look at color differently than a stitcher? Do they handle colors differently? Do they share any common ways of looking at color?What do they share in common when it comes to the use of colors? You can find all of that out in the Stitchmap Color Theory Course.

Some people are lucky and the skill of being able to pick out colors that go together seems to come naturally to them. There are others out there that have no "sense of color". Where can these needle women go to learn about using colors in the way a needle worker needs to use them, not a painter, not a dyer, but a stitcher??? How many of you are even aware that threads and fabrics can work differently together than dyes and paints in some ways?

At MAP we believe that taking a Basic Color Theory Course is the best way for the color challenged to brush up on their skills! And we have one such course written just for MAP! It consists of 6 lessons and several short assignments that will help you unravel the mystery of color as it relates to thread and fabric. Learn how to make your colors choices so that they work for you, not against you. Learn how to choose frames and mats that make your projects more pleasing to the eye.

Recently we started another class of apprentices in the StitchMap Basic Color Theory Course. We have 8 wonderfully talented mentors helping their fellow member apprentices. The comments on our recent course evaluations showed that even those who thought that they knew about colors and how they work together got new insight on how to apply "color sense" to their stitching with information garnered from this course.

Here are some examples of a small exercise completed by members of a MAP Basic Color Theory Course. The exercise was regarding the recognition of and the use of Warm and Cool colors. The top photo is an exercise done by Gayle Morris. The bottom photo was an original stitched exercise done by Thelma Bradshaw, a Stitchmap Color Mentor.

The StitchMap Color Theory class is now one of the pre-requisite courses at MAP. Everyone who wants to take a class in Crazy Quilting, surface embroidery and other needlework courses, where color is very important to the success of the stitchery technique, will have to go through this class first or they must have had an equivalent course at some time in the past.

The ladies who have taken this class really seem to enjoy themselves while learning about color and how it works in the needle world! You can work in thread, paper, paint chips or even crayons, but you cannot use dyes, paints or other similar coloring agents.

How many of you say, "I wish I could do that. I wish I could make my colors 'POP', harmonize, or even, not stick out like a sore thumb"? Well actually you can. You just need to take the right course! We think we have the right course, for free, right here at Stitchmap.

Lyn Gaskill
AKA: Ms. Mischief

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Let's Talk shop!

On StitchMap we have a regular feature entitled the Thursday Talk Shop Segment! Nearly every Thursdays our list mom, Shari, posts a question to the group about some aspect of stitching and everyone gets to discuss it!! These segments are greatly informative for the beginner and experienced alike! Sometimes the discussion will go on for several days. The most helpful hints and advice comes out of the Thursday Talk Shop Segment (TTSS)! We all learn from each other new sources, ways of doing things and ways to get motivated, etc.

Here is an actual TTSS Post from Shari:

"Everyone should be getting their first Challenge Installment today (if they remembered to sign up with Ann). Part of the Challenge is finding a certain type of needlework pattern. This made me think ......... where do people go to get their patterns? Do you look on-line under certain topics? Do you check out coloring books, the commercial pattern transfers or something else?

I will share that one of my favorite (out of the ordinary) places to look is in my cake decorating books. They are especially handy if I am looking for simple embroidery or applique patterns. The shapes in cake decorating are usually very simple and lend themselves to being done with applique, needle punch or surface embroidery techniques like redwork and crewel.

I have other sources that I check but I am waiting to hear where you look for patterns. If it is on-line can you share the link? If you have a favorite transfer book or company please tell us which one and where can we find it ourselves? "

And here are acutal responses from some of our members:

"These are great ideas Shari, I have found a lot of patterns at antique stores and estate sales. I love the coloring book idea especially for children"..............Shelly R. UT


"I occasionally do an online search and actually find something worthwhile. My most recent find was on

There's a group call Hoop Love Vintage Transfers. Great source.

I have used coloring books. I collect vintage transfers and embroidery patterns whenever I can find them or afford them. Aunt Martha, The Workbasket, Vogart . I have Workbasket magazines and patterns mailed in an envelope marked The Workbasket and Modern Handicraft. I have used applique patterns for embroidery or punch needle. I use to go to a lot of auctions (estates) but now mostly what I buy is online with occasional finds at the thrift store or yard sale"......... Ruby


"Y'all, I buy my Aunt Martha's patterns from the source. and I've never been disapointed at all. They have patterns that are soon to be retired and some really great patterns that are new but look vintage. Someone was looking for peacocks earlier and they have 2 that I have seen"...... Eileene


So? Where do you find your stitching patterns? Is it an online source or from your local shop?

Lyn Gaskill
AKA: Ms Mischief

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Mystery Was In the Challenge

How many of you in the Land of Stitching have been so bored that you would do anything to relieve it? Well, let me tell you that the ladies of StitchMap are never bored! At Stitchmap inspiration and projects abound!One of the main priorities of StitchMap is that no matter what you are learning, you will be creating something that you can use after you are done.

This month we had a floral theme as a part of one of our regularly scheduled Challenges. We had nearly 1/3 of our membership sign up for this Challenge. Fun is being had by all! For this Challenge every lady first declared her specialty in needle work and/or one she wanted to brush up on. The fun of it was you had to use that declared type of needle work and finish certain steps in order to get the next part of the lesson! Did I mention that the final project was a mystery? We were given a theme in the first installment of the Challenge but we weren't told exactly what the finished project would be until the last installment. It was amazing to see how so many ladies could interpret the same theme given only a few clues as to the final mystery project.

We had some eager beavers and they finished their mystery project in a week! Here are some pictures of a few of the completed projects:

These Victorian Heart Pincushions were stitched by MAP members Ann Flowers, Shelly Rebol and Debbie Higgins (from top to botton). There was a lot of fun and hard work that went into making these wonderful Victorian Hearts Pincushions!

If you are interested in learning how to make such beautiful projects and participating in Challenges such as this you might consider joining Stitchmap right away. If you were a MAP member you would be able to check out our group photo album and see the other beautiful Victorian Heart Pincushions completed in this Challenge. In fact, you could arrange with our Challenge Coordinator to take this Challenge at any time and make one of these pincushions yourself! I will let y'all in on a little secret........We have many more delightful items like this just waiting in our files to challenge you!! Our creative needle work challenges are the best!

Lyn Gaskill

AKA: Ms. Mischief

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stash Angels Help A Member Be An Angel

We recently had a new member join who makes child sized blankets and comfort articles for small children at a shelter near her home. She told us she was running low on supplies and wondered if our members could help. Our Stash Angels came to the rescue, sending fabrics, threads and whatever they thought might help. Here is a copy of her letter to the Stash Angels of MAP.

"I've been very remiss in not writing this sooner. Truth be told, words failed me....Stash Angels!!! How well you wear your name!

Truth is that by your generosity and caring I am now able to help 'my' safe houses children feel loved and cared for. Not only by me but as I tell the children, most especially by all those wonderful ladies who have sent the fabric/floss that is coming from quite far away for them.

Words cannot tell you the difference you have made in 'our' lives ladies! Even that special word: THANK YOU!!! is barely enough to show my appreciation.

The greatest gift one can receive and that YOU have given me is to feel needed, to know I can make a difference. I am truly blessed and I have received so much and to be able to help others, specially children, is a true miracle. Being home/wheelchair bound,living alone, I could not, without you, feel that special kind of warmth that comes from giving.

Your caring, generosity, dedication, is well above and beyond what anyone could expect. You truly ARE ANGELS!!!!!

And this I say not only to my stash Angels but to all of you, whether or not I have been touched by you personally. Anyone who has ever given to others, anyone who has wished she could be an angel but could not for one reason or another, you will be included in my prayers each day. I hope you will always be blessed because you truly are the Chosen Ones.

May you be blessed always!

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It makes our collective hearts feel warm when we know that our help has done so much good and the recipients can feel the love that was included in the package.

You are welcome, Sybil and so are the children....who are so lucky to have you watching over them

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Use What Mother Nature Gives You!

The second week of February the ladies of StitchMap were, for the most part, snowed in just like most of the rest of you across the country. In order to relieve the doldrums we participated in a dyeing challenge -- SNOW PAINTING ON FABRIC. Oh my goodness but we had fun! We learned a lot about how the kids in the family were probably better at this than we were, LOL! It definitely turned into a family affair in many households. We would like to think it gave the kids a new found respect for the needlework preparations we all go through. At least that is how we justified doing it with them while they were out of school due to snow days!

We were free to use what ever fabric we wanted - most chose cotton or muslin. We could use whatever dye and colors we wanted as long as it could be put on the snow. Various dyeing agents were used: powdered food colorings, paste type food colorings watered down, acrylic liquid craft paints, acrylic paint from a tube watered down, powdered dyes and probably other colorings too.

First the work area had to be prepped. Most of us used a cooling rack spread over a cookie sheet or a roasting pan of some sort, maybe a sheet of plastic or a newspaper underneath (highly recommend - now that we know better, lol). The fabric was scrunched up and placed on the cooling rack in a tight wad - some of us soaked it and wrung it out first, others went the totally dry route thinking the snow would wet it anyway.

Then the kids (if you had them home) were sent out to collect the cleanest new fallen snow possible. At least a bucket full. Can you guess what the ladies of MAP who live south of the equator did in order to participate? They are in the middle of their summer right now. They defrosted their freezers and collected the frost/ice! Very innovative.

The snow was piled on the fabrics and the coloring of choice applied in the manner of choice: sprinkled, poured, plopped, squirted, spooned, you name it. We were fairly loose with the rules of the challenge.

Here is a picture of Cynthia G's two pieces of fabric, under snow with lots of coloring applied. More on her results later.

Tania W. chose to work with deep magenta and raw sienna acrylic paint watered down. She shares that she "plopped" the acrylic down on the ice using a cotton swab.

This picture shows her finished fabric piece after it was heat set in the microwave and ironed. Can't you just see cutting it into several different pieces that would be perfect for embroidering a tropical scene, a still life of flowers, a garden scene or some other design on? So much potential here.

Amy A. let her teenage son, Noah, help her make several pieces of snow painted fabric. Noah enjoyed working on the muslin and decided he would like to have some of the fabric made into an autograph pillow for taking to school and having his friends sign. Amy says she will make one for him out of one of the pieces they dyed together for the challenge.

Here is one of the pieces that Amy and Noah finished for the challenge. We wonder if this is the one Amy will use for Noah or herself? Can't you imagine a multitude of uses for this fabric? Great job!

And what about Cynthia G's piece? Cynthia relates it, " was very promising until I nuked it to death!" Yes, she burned it up in the microwave! Lesson learned? Don't walk away when you aren't sure how long to set the timer for! But she did get her chance at the opportunity drawing for taking part in the challenge. The day of the drawing Cynthia's luck changed. She WON the prize! Congratulations Cynthia.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Progress On The Replacement Wedding Quilt

In a previous post you read about how StitchMap had taken on, as a group project, replacing a special wedding gift that had been lost in a house fire. Nekkid blocks were made up and sent out to some of our members to embellish. The holidays kind of interrupted our progress. So, for the new year we are all hopping back on the bandwagon to get them done. We want the quilt to be put together and sent on to the owners as soon as possible. These are pictures of the blocks that have been sent back as of today's date. The names of the members who signed the blocks are above the pictures.

They are so beautiful! All the ladies have just outdone themselves! Also returned is one of the 2 cross stitch labels that will be attached to the back of the quilt. This one is from Deb O. of Colorado.

As the blocks are returned they will be posted for your enjoyment.

Lyn G