Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tootsiebubbles: Pinwheels & Whirligigs

I've promised some photos of Pinwheels and Whirligigs in different colors. Thank you to Irene Ashkenas and Dorothy Lounsbury of San Diego.  They have done an incredible job proofing the last several designs. I truly appreciate their input and expertise. They've also stitched several of the designs and used some great colors. Pinwheels & Whirligigs is one of those designs and I just have to share them.
The photo above is Dorothy's color choice. Doesn't it look great?
This is Irenes.  Looks totally different in the softer colors.  I love the shades of purple.
During the online needlework show I received another photo from Helen Klimeck-Jones. She's not finished with it yet, but you can tell it's going to be very dramatic.

I have the lists of threads that were used in each of the designs. I would be happy to share them with anyone who contacts me.
Now on to the winners.  If you browsed the Needlework Show online last week you probably saw that there were several contests.
Here are the winners from my contest:
Julie Savard: Lancaster Stars
Kate Rice: Or Nue Evening Star
Cross Stitch Etc from Knowxville TN is stocking their new shop with Flower Patch
Looks like we'll be having some nasty weather the next few days.  The Governor of PA has advised us to stay home and be safe.  I guess I'll just have to stitch!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's the Online Needlework Show!

It's that time of year again, the leaves are an incredible palette of orange and red. It's time for hot spiced cider, cold crisp mornings and the scent of woodfires in the air.  It's also time for the Online Needlework Show.  There are tons of new designers (at least new to me) and an incredible array of talent. You really must check it out:
While you are there, check out my booth: Brenda E. Kocher Designs.  I'm fortunate that everything is alphabetical and I'm toward the beginning :-).  Once you've had a chance to look at everything, decide which is your favorite design and email with the name.  I'll enter your name in the contest to win a pattern of your choice.
I've always been fascinated by history and antiques. I love to go antiquing and find unique items that had a very important use in it's time, but now are just an oddity to us.  I love firescreens and designed several of those in the past.  My newest interest is hornbooks.  Did you know that hornbooks have been around since the 1400's?  They were a very important part of a childs education.  A child's first lesson, the ABC's, were written on a piece of parchment.  That was placed on a flat board with a handle.  To protect the parchement, a cow's horn was placed in cold water for several weeks so the horn could be separated from the bone, It was then heated in boiling water and flattened between boards. Now it was translucent and could be placed on top of the parchement and fastened to the board. The first laminating!
Schooltime Memories is a series of three hornbooks, all worked on Congress Cloth that can be framed individually or mounted on hornbooks from Images Stitchery Design.
I decided to design some smaller, quick and easy designs for a change :-)
The next design is also a small one: Hearts in Bloom is approximately 3" x 3" when worked on 18 count canvas.
I think it would be great in Christmas colors.
Now it's time to get started on Christmas gifts!  There's just not enough time in the day to get everything accomplished that I have ideas for. I often joke that I do things in my spare time in the hours between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning.
Jay's Stocking is almost finished so I hope to get a photo of it up online soon.

If you have a moment, check out this really neat website:  Isn't that a great name?  She has gorgeous art quilts that you just have to see for yourself. Prices are super reasonable. If you need ideas for Christmas gifts, this would be a great place to start looking!

In the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying this incredibly beautiful day that God has given us.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


The Online Show is over and here are the winners...Sue Bailey from Greensboro North Carolina chose Lilies of the Field.  That's the picture of it above.

Karen Spivak of the NeedleArt Closet in Portland Oregan chose Winter Forest.  I used "Fuzzy Stuff" from Rainbow Gallery for the snow.  What a great fiber to stitch with!

Congratulations to the winners!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

More Stories Behind the Design-Victorian Bride's Purse

Victorian Bride's Purse
I have to confess, I'm not a sewer.  Now the world knows my secret.  When it comes to a sewing machine, I have fear and trepidation.  I  think it all started in 8th grade Home Ec.  I was scared silly of our teacher.  I remember when making a skirt in her class, she told me how to attach the waistband.  My mind was would I remember all (what seemed like to me) 52 steps of attaching this thing?  I couldn't ask her again...what would I do?  Well, I sat down and tried to figure it out on my own.  The only way I could think to do it was to attach it by hand sewing.  I completed the task and showed it to her.  She smiled, she said "that's correct", and then.....she saw one stitch that I hadn't hidden well enough.  Her next words made my heart stop...."  No, it was not a good day for me.
When it came to finishing the purse I was bound and determined to  figure it out on my own.  I started reading the instructions that came with the purse handles.  What's a gusset???  After a few attempts I decided it would not be wise to leave streaks of tears on my white purse and chose to take the purse and all the materials to EGA. Surely someone would take pity on me.
I explained my dilemna, then thought I would sweeten the offer.  "I'll clean your garage, I'll bathe your dog....would someone please help me with this?"  Immediately a hand shot up.  The young lady was 8 1/2 months pregnant. "My husband won't paint my toenails" she said. "You've got a deal" I responded.
Later as we talked I assured her that I would pay her for her time. Her response...."NO....I REALLY want my toenails painted!"
She did a beautiful job, and the purse went on to play a role in a very special upcoming wedding, that of our son and very beautiful daughter-in-law.
Special thanks to Alison Clarkson for her beautiful finishing work on the purse and for writing the finishing instructions.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Story Behind the Design


Many of my designs are created for a special occasion for friends and family members.  When our son graduated from Virginia Military Institute, I designed "Graduate" for him.  Our sons are amazing young men, and are so supportive of my business so it was an honor to create something especially for him. When his younger brother graduated from Penn State University he asked if I was going to design something for him and my answer was "of course!"
We actually didn't think he would graduate.  No...not because he was lazy or disinterested...he was serving his country.  As a family we've gone through 4 deployments with the boys.  Joshua was in the midst of his college career when he volunteered for deployment. His reasoning in addition to serving his country was "the other guys have wives and children" so he figured that would enable at least one of the guys to stay at home with his family.
The first time he was gone over a 1 year.  The second time was about a year  and a half.  Several months of that was spent on the other side of the country for training, then over a year on the actual deployment.  Each time he came home we figured he would decide to skip college and get on with a job, but each time he came home he went back on campus and picked up where he left off.  I actually thought about naming the design "Long Time Coming!", but thought "Pathways" sounded classier.
Each time he lamented that he was the "old guy on campus", but each time he worked hard and did better than he had the previous semester.
The design represents the pathways he's taken in his life.  He's always been one to scare the bejeebers out of me by jumping off the deck or the roof of the shed as a child, then the fast motorcyles and bungee jumping off a bridge in Bulgaria while he was on leave.  (yep...we've got video of that one!).  He's still a bit of an adrenaline junkie, but he's matured with a beautiful wife and 2 very precious little ones and has a career in Federal Law Enforcement.  The colors represent the countries he's been in and of course you can see the paths aren't straight, but that's my boy!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

We're Going to Nashville!

It's been ages since I wrote anything.  I've been running at full steam getting ready for the TNNA show in Nashville at the end of this month. I feel like I finally have a handle on everything and thought I would get caught up with the blog.
The last blog showed a partial photo of Tootsiebubbles: Pinwheels & Whirligigs.  Here's the finished design.  I imagined "Baby Jay", as his big sister Alivia calls him, playing with a pinwheel in the wind as he gets older.

I also finished Baltimore Bride: Shimmering Hearts
The colors are teal and orchid, with Amadeus stitches creating the hearts.  Last fall I had the opportunity to go to TNNA Baltimore with fellow designer Beth Seal of Summer House Stitche Works.  We decided to collaborate on some designs and chose the Baltimore Bride Quilt as our inspiration.  We'll each do several for the series, with Beths being worked in counted cross stitch on linen and mine on counted canvas.
 I've always loved quilts and Baltimore Bride is one that I've always found fascinating.  There are so many variations of the design and so many stories that go with them.  One of my first cross stitch projects when I was about 13 was a queen size quilt with the Baltimore Bride design. There were 3 panels with 4 large stamped designs on each panel. I confess I only finished one panel.  It's still waiting for me!  Even when I was that young I was drawn to large projects :-)

Finally, my exciting news is my trip to Nashville at the end of February to attend TNNA's market.  I've never been to Nashville before and I'm so excited. It will be great to be around so many stitchers, shop owners, and designers.  I'll come back so inspired!