Saturday, October 18, 2014

Final sneak peek photo & Busy Lizzie threads

Before we get to the thread feature, here's our FINAL Things Unseen mystery sampler preview pic. We're calling this one the "I spy with my little eye pic". Look carefully and you should see:
*.Part 1 cover
* Embellishment pack insert
* Things Unseen threads (including new Busy Lizzie)
* 3 pages of Part 1 instructions
* Part of the BONUS design stitchery
* A corner of Things Unseen sampler
* Gorgeous pile of mother-of-pearl buttons that just arrived! I know what I'll be doing this evening (and many more nights)...catching up on my favorite recorded TV shows and making embellishment packs!

Now for our second post featuring our awesome partners on our Things Unseen Mystery Sampler project. We're excited to share some behind-the-scenes pics with you from the gang at Weeks Dye Works.

Weeks Dye Works is a wonderful family-owned needlework company. Yes, we used this picture last year. Just picture all the kids a year older...but could they get any cuter? Miranda and John are two of the busiest, smartest people in the needlework world. But, more importantly, they're also some of the nicest. And those charming North Carolina accents...I love just chatting with them!

We began talking with Miranda many months ago about developing a new color just for our Things Unseen project. After a couple tries - I certainly don't understand the dyeing process, but it's definitely a tricky thing - we hit on just the right color. After we brainstormed a bunch of floral themed names, we decided on Busy Lizzie. We're thrilled to have even half of the Lizzie*Kate name on a new color. You flower lovers will know that Busy Lizzie is a common name for old-fashioned impatiens flowers.

Here's some behind-the-scenes pics at Weeks Dye Works in Garner, North Carolina.

Lauren is shown twisting the new color...also called skeining or tagging. It's nice for me to put faces on the staff I talk to regularly on the phone.

Miranda and Sylvia are admiring the new Busy Lizzie color. Sylvia also helped count the skeins. Gotta love that! Check out all those floss bins in the background. It's like thread heaven!

Loraine pulled the cones and coordinated with the "LOL" - little old ladies- that twist/tag/cut the skeins. She is standing in front of bins full of finished skeins waiting to ship to Lizzie*Kate. 

Here are some beautiful cones of floss with some of our Things Unseen palette. These cones and accompanying tags are waiting to be sent out to the LOL's. It just makes me smile to think of the little old ladies cutting the threads and putting them on cards. It reminds me SO much of all the tedious assembly work we do here at L*K.

I think this is really interesting. WDW uses folders to organize their "recipes", or formulas. There is a "history" in the folder and they look back at past dyeings and notes every time they dye something. It's kinda like a secret family recipe. And, it's the reason Weeks Dye Works colors are so consistent. As a designer, I really appreciate that!

OK...this is a hoot! I don't know if you can read it, but the note attached to cone of Busy Lizzie says "Most important...pick me, pick me!". Since this is the newest WDW color, it's screaming for attention!

This picture just reminds me that WDW is a whole lot more complicated than Lizzie*Kate! WOW...look at that cool machinery. 

...and more techie stuff. The dyeing business is an awesome mix of creativity and science, resulting in beautiful colors for needlework fans around the world. And it takes a bunch of talented folks to pull it all together. 

Here's our sneak peek photo of the WDW threads we selected for our Things Unseen mystery sampler. Lovely!

Today the first box of thread arrived at L*K! This giant box was FULL, but I forgot to take a pic before I started sorting out the beautiful colors.

Normally our kitchen table, it's now a thread sorting station. Why isn't all this stuff in the L*K office, you ask? The L*K office is just too full - every day - for a big project like the Things Unseen Mystery Sampler. (We've outgrown our office, but that is a subject for an upcoming blog post!). Once we get things assembled, we've carry them to the office for packing orders.

Finally, here's the perfect accent for our fall decor - a thread assembly station in the family room! That little brown chair on the right is Alan's favorite chair. It's often the scene of lots of yelling and cheering while he watches sports. Usually,  there's a TV tray in front of him while he puts L*K embellishment into tiny sacks. That's been replaced by a big table to spread out all the threads. 

Today is "game day", so the K-State faithful is coming over to watch football. I've squeezed in a second thread assembly table in the family room. The room will be full of cheering purple-clad fans, and a zillion WDW threads!

Q. What's the fastest way to pull those threads, line them up, and sack them?
A. ONE at a TIME, baby!!!  There's no shortcut...darn...sure wish there was!

Thanks for following our behind-the-scenes Mystery Sampler tour. Coming soon...the inside scoop from Picture This Plus, our fabric supplier. 

If you would like to join our Things Unseen Mystery Sampler tour, just contact your favorite needlework supplier to place your order NOW!  This mystery unfolds in 3 parts, beginning in early November. We need orders NOW so we'll be ready for 1st shipment in 2+ weeks - yikes!

Thanks for following our behind-the-scenes Mystery Sampler tour. Coming soon...the inside scoop from Picture This Plus, our fabric supplier.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Behind the scenes - Our Mystery Sampler buttons!

One of the best parts about the needlework biz is the people you meet along the way. Awesome shopowners, fabulous stitchers everywhere, and great suppliers combine to make this a very friendly biz!

We're really pleased to be working with the creative gals at Just Another Button Company on our Things Unseen Mystery Sampler project. It's a multi-generational company! Pic above is Cecile, daughter Rachel and sweet grand baby Amelia. There are a host of other talented ladies behind-the-scenes at JABCO. too. 

When Cecile sent us this picture of her beautiful, uber-organized office, we literally gasped. YIKES...Lizzie*Kate world headquarters is a study in organized chaos. We're glad for this pic, because it give us something to aspire to.  Isn't it interesting to see where other people work? And look at all those gorgeous little buttons high and low, all beautifully organized!

For years we've wondered how JABCO really makes all of their stunning hand-crafted buttons. Here's how they all begin...with some colorful chunks of clay.

When I first called Cecile to ask if she'd be interested in working with me on Things Unseen, the creative ideas began flowing. I sent her computer files of my design, and eventually mailed her the completed Mystery Sampler stitchery, so she could see it in person!

After exchanging ideas and sketches...conversations about size, color and design...numerous ideas proposed, evaluated, revised...the Helen's rose buttons finally bloomed!

You can see the long "canes" of clay that become buttons when they are sliced. That's why the color/pattern on JABCO buttons is consistent from front to back - no wrong side!  In the background on above pic you can see the handwritten "formula" for making the Helen's rose buttons. The "formula" is there, yet each button is unique. They're hand-made, so tiny variations are part of the creative process and make each button special. And, oh yes, each button needs to be hand-drilled with teeny tiny holes to make them buttons!

These Helen's rose buttons are exclusive to the Things Unseen Mystery Sampler. Lizzie*Kate has an exclusive on these little floral gems.

Finally...a batch of buttons arrives at L*K in a well-padded box. I was so excited when I opened this box and was greeted by all of those lovely little floral buttons. Just having these charming buttons here is brightening our office and my spirit.

Q. What are the other pretty rosebud buttons I see in the bottom sack?
A. These sweet little rosebuds (in custom Things Unseen colors) will embellish the BONUS design, included with the Mystery Sampler.  Both buttons will be included in the Things Unseen Embellishment Pack, along with a host of other little goodies.

Just got the box from the printer with all the embellishment pack inserts. Time to begin the embellishment pack assembly line.

Special thanks to Cecile from Just Another Button Company for sharing these photos with us. She and the JABCO gang have worked really hard to bring our button visions to life. What a great group of creative, helpful gals!

Dear Santa...please send's Mystery Sampler time!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Biking the Katy trail

A couple weeks ago we took a much-needed vacation with some of our best friends. We traveled to nearby Missouri to bike part of the historic Katy trail.

What's the Katy trail? It's a rails-to-trails conversion path (you can bike, walk, run, whatever you like) that runs for 237 miles through the heart of Missouri, often following the historic Lewis & Clark trail and the Missouri river. It's a beautifully maintained State Park , in the right of way of the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (hence the Katy name).

We began our adventure in Boonville, MO (so we've officially been to the "Boonies"). The night before our ride we stayed at the beautiful, historic Frederick Hotel. Here we are on the first day, looking perky before our ride and the inevitable "helmet head" hairdos. Alan is wearing the K-State purple/white jersey and I'm beside him in my hot pink Walmart couture.

We rode for 3 days, and covered about 120 miles, with frequent stops for snacks, taking pictures and lunch every day. This ride was the perfect excuse to eat and snack all day long. The above pic was a typical view as we enjoyed the very flat trail (thanks, railroaders) and the super lush greenery.

The path often followed the Missouri River, which was gorgeous and right next to us...what a beautiful sight!

Sometimes the path was bordered by soaring cliffs, which looked very un-Kansas-like.

There were bunches of little creeks to cross and every style/size of bridge imaginable.  The weather was perfect - cool and lovely for riding. Rain kept threatening, but thankfully we never had more than a couple of drops.

We also rode by lots of farmland, with crusty corn (ready to harvest) and the beautiful golden soybeans above. The picture doesn't do justice - these golden fields were glowing!

Here's my farm boy husband, Alan, giving a short informational talk on corn. You can take the boy off the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy!

We spent one night in Jefferson City, the capitol city of Missouri. After dinner, we checked out the capitol by moonlight.

Every 4-5 miles along the trail, you came to a little town. Some towns were so little, there was a sign...but we couldn't find the town. But most towns had an official Katy trail rest stop with benches, shelter, and bathrooms! One of the best parts of riding was meeting people along with way. We met people from across the US. Visitors come from around the world to ride the Katy every year. Riders varied from kids with training wheels to lots of retirees.

And, of course, we had lots of FUN along the way!!! This odd attraction was called Boat Henge. It's a series of old boats partially buried in the ground - perfect for silly pics!

Is Alan really holding up this boulder? I know he's "super-Alan" to all the needlework shops who talk to him daily, but....

And did I mention there were wineries along the way? We spent one evening in Hermann, Missouri. It's a little German town with several wineries and lots of charm.

We only had one mishap. Our pal, Bob, was attempting to ride and carry his nice camera. And you know what happens when you only hit one brake and it's your front tire. Thankfully, Bob was OK (and so were his camera and bike). Thanks to Bob for many of the photos above.

* Great scenery
* Fun B & Bs and hotels
* Lots of food (preferable hourly on the trail)
* Wineries!
* Perfect weather
* Lots of smiles and laughter
* And the best thing....relaxing time with great friends!

We're already planning another trip on the Katy....maybe next year to celebrate our 60th birthdays?
Wanna come join us for part of the ride?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Things Unseen Mystery Threads Revealed!

Mystery Sampler Update!

It's finally here...the much-awaited Things Unseen sneak peek thread pack photo! We're really excited to share this lovely color palette with all of you mystery lovers. Look carefully and you'll see a sneak peek of some of our very special embellishments, too.

Can the sampler sleuths identify our new Weeks Dye Works overdyed thread color? We had it dyed especially for this sampler, and it's making it's debut in our Things Unseen thread pack. The pretty new color is called Busy Lizzie. 

BTW...the new Busy Lizzie WDW thread will not be available (outside of our Things Unseen Mystery Sampler thread pack) until Feb. 28, 2014. If you're joining our mystery adventure, you'll want to purchase the thread pack, even if you have a good palette of WDW in your stash. The sampler is large, and will use a lot of thread...not to mention the bonus design (and another little surprise coming with Part 2).

Our early order deadline for needlework shops is October 10, so please contact your favorite shop to place your pre-order ASAP. This will help us communicate with our awesome suppliers (thread, fabric, embellishments) and make sure we have enough supplies when it's time to ship Part 1 to shops on November 3.

In case you've missed some of the Things Unseen Mystery Sampler scoop, here's a review below. You can also scroll back a few blog posts and read everything.

THINGS UNSEEN Mystery Sampler

* We began with a lovely quote from Helen Keller. I'm enjoying reading more about her while I'm working on this project...what an inspirational woman!

* 3 part series will ship in early November, December and January - perfect for holiday stitching and gifting (maybe for yourself?)

* Stitch count for Things Unseen is 165W x 205H.

* Things Unseen is stitched on lovely Wren linen, from Picture This Plus. We'll have 4 fabric options...28 and 32 ct. Wren linen, as well as 14 and 16 ct. Wren Aida. All fabrics are precut with a 3" border on all sides, serged, labeled and packaged.

* Things Unseen thread pack has 14 skeins of Weeks Dye Works overdyed threads, including our exclusive new color, Busy Lizzie (pictured above!). There are several multiples in this pack (in addition to new color), so we recommend our convenient thread pack.

* There's also a BONUS design that will be revealed in 3 parts - a bit with each monthly shipment. BONUS design stitch count is 165W x 34H. BONUS design is stitched with the same threads as Things Unseen, so choose an appropriate fabric and customize your BONUS project. We used pretty Earthen linen from PTP (it's a rosy beige color). Our Embellishment Pack includes goodies for this BONUS design.

* Things Unseen Embellishment Pack! We've never done a separate embellishment pack for a Mystery Sampler, but this one is super special so we're pulling out all the stops (and embellishments!) for this one. We've collaborated with the ladies at Just Another Button Company to design some lovely, sampler-worthy buttons. We named our new button "Helen's Rose". Pack includes a host of other goodies...mother-of-pearl buttons, hand-dyed buttons, beads, etc. Pack includes includes embellishment for Things Unseen, BONUS pattern and ??? (another surprise with Part 2).

This is one of my favorite pictures of Helen Keller. Helen's love of flowers inspired some of the sampler motifs, as well as the new WDW thread color and our new "Helen's rose" button from Just Another Button Company.

Here's our little Part 1 assembly line currently taking up space in our family room. The covers aren't here yet, but we're busy collating the 3 pages. 

And here are the finished Part 1 collated pages, which have invaded our dining room. It seems the Things Unseen Mystery Sampler project is taking up residence in our residence...not just the office! Wonder where the elves will be working once we get to the really labor intensive parts...assembling thread packs and embellishments packs?!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts about our wonderful partners on this project. We're working with the great people at Weeks Dye Works (threads), Picture This Plus (linen and Aida fabric), Just Another Button Company (Helen's rose buttons), Hillcreek Designs (hand-dyed buttons) and Kelmscott Designs (beautiful mother-of-pearl buttons - 2 shapes!).

Happy Mystery, everyone!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

HOT off the press!

It's that time again...we're shipping new designs to shops this week. We've got stockings...small and large...little sleds and more inspiration coming your way. Here's the roundup!

#168 Flora McSample's 2014 Stockings 
They're back! Flora did a group of 3 tiny stockings last year, and they were super popular. Our sampler girl has been busy again, and this bunch is (in Flora's humble opinion) beautiful! These designs are quick-to-stitch, yet really charming little projects. Chartpak includes designs and embellishments for 3 stockings. Companion chart is #161 Flora McSample's 2013 Stockings.

 #169 Reindeer Stocking
Finally...another FULL-SIZE Christmas stocking! Our customers have been asking for years, and we've been slow to respond, but it's here now. Includes 2 large round buttons and 1 star button. Our Reindeer Stocking is a companion to #93 Santa Stocking, #99 Snowflake Express Stocking and #110 Angel Stocking. Stocking is stitched with DMC Perle cotton.

S116 Sled Dudes
We've designed 3 little sled ornaments, using the darling sleds from Foxwood Crossings. Our models are stitched on antique brown perforated paper and we added some embellishments. Super Snippet includes designs and embellishments for 3 little sleds. Super cute for ornaments for your tree or for gifting!

B49 I Cannot Count My Day Complete Until Needle and Thread Meet 

Inspiration Boxer 
Here's the second winner in our Inspiration Saying contest. Design has lots of sampler-y motifs, old-fashioned fonts and a much-requested saying. Boxer kit includes 32 ct. Lambswool linen, embellishments and bonus design. (Special thanks to Missy for being the first to submit this saying in our recent contest)

The boxes are packed and now we're busy putting mailing labels on everything. This pile is patiently waiting for labels. The finished ones are piling up on the other side of the office.

SPECIAL THANKS to all of you who left comments on this blog and on Facebook, responding to my previous post requesting "Little" kit ideas. The suggestions are great, and it's really nice to have your input! I'll get to work on more "Little" designs soon. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Little ????

A couple years ago I did a small design called A Little Love. It's a sweet little kit with some fabric and embellishments.

I guess the world needed "a little love", because this design has been super popular. We've kitted it again and again, and reprinted several times. And, of course,  stitchers started asking for more "little" designs.

Now we have a whole family of "Little" kits...A Little Easter, A Little Liberty, A Little Christmas, A Little Snow, A Little Beach and most recently, A Little Boo.

I really enjoy designing and stitching these "Little" kits, but I need HELP!  Please HELP ME decide what "Little" kits to do for 2015. I've got lists of ideas, but I'd like to hear from you!

Leave a comment below and send me your suggestion(s) for the next "A Little ????" design. Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My iphone Mystery!

Last time I got a new cell phone, I couldn't decide on a new case. What color...what pattern...serious, silly, whatever??? 

So I chose a (very cheap) CLEAR one and I've been playing with paper and scissors ever since! I change out my phone cover frequently, using bits of scrapbook paper, images I create on my computer, bits of this and that, whatever seems timely and fun.

My new cover is so pretty, I want to share it with you. You've all probably seen the Things Unseen Mystery Sampler promo card already, but here it is in my phone....strategically resting on another area of our Things Unseen Mystery Sampler.

This is one of my favorite areas of the sampler...beautiful colors and lots of little critter motifs. It's always tricky to decide which areas to show on SNEAK PEEK pics, and I couldn't resist sharing a bit of this section.

Need more info on Things Unseen Mystery Sampler? See previous post for all the scoop! Contact your favorite needlework shop for pre-order info.

I've been working on this project for many MONTHS now. Every week, there's a different task. This week I'm working on the printed material for Part 1. I've designed a pretty cover on my computer ...and redesigned and redesigned over and over again. I think I've tweaked it enough?!

As I work on a project, I accumulate paperwork, supplies, all gets thrown in a basket and carted around. I realized today that my basket has an impressive amount of paperwork categorized and clipped together. Pretty clips are my best strategy for happy organization :)

Part 1 of Things Unseen will come with 3 pages of printed materials, in addition to the cover.Page One will have important info you need to keep for the entire sampler including stitching instructions and color key with symbols. 

Page Two will have the chart for the first part of Things Unseen. It's the upper left section of the design. There are instructions for how to link this section to Parts 2 and 3. Page Two also includes instructions for embellishment placement on the first section. You can attach embellishments as you go (you'll need the optional embellishment pack) or attach them all at the end (my preference).

Page Three will have a couple stitch diagrams (2 easy specialty stitches) and alternate instructions for those stitching on Aida. Page Three will also have the 1st section of the BONUS design. The BONUS design unfolds horizontally, so you'll link the second part to the right of the first part.

WHEW!  So many details to wrestle and keep straight. I'm taking a whole pile of Things Unseen Mystery Sampler paperwork to my local needlework shop (Heart's Desire in Wichita, KS) for proofing this afternoon.  But, maybe a few more changes before I go....

On an unrelated's the daily garden haul. Lots of cherry tomatoes, Romas and jalapenos...regular tomatoes and big peppers are still MIA. I've been roasting and freezing lots of tomatoes which will reappear in yummy things this winter.