Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Now Accepting Entries for Norden's Needleworkers - DESIGNERS

We are ready to pick the next 12 DESIGNERS for the Norden's Needleworkers feature!  Don't worry retailers, you will get an email from me tomorrow! 
Every Wednesday I will feature a designer and a retailer right here on our blog (and post the link on Facebook) that has answered some interview questions that I have written. I am taking reservations in 12 weeks increments.  I am going to handle this a little differently this time - I will be accepting entries into this program for 24 hours from this post.  After the 24 hours is up, I will put all entries into a "hat" and we will pull 12 names for the next 12 weeks!  If you don't hear from me sometime tomorrow, don't be discouraged - you may get in next time!   If you are picked - I will be in touch with you tomorrow, and fill you in on what we need next from you, and when you are scheduled to be featured. 
Quick, comment below or send me an email now stating your Design Company Name, Contact info, and I will enter you into the drawing for tomorrow.  Good luck to all of our designers!

P.S.  I was sending this out in email newsletters for the first couple of weeks, but to be honest I was having to create the same promos two different ways, and some image files were not compatible, so this has been the easiest way to get it all done.  We are super happy with the feedback that we are getting from other designers, shops, and stitchers!  

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Get your needles ready stitchers!  Part 2 of the incredibly popular Lizzie Kate Mystery Sampler is ready to start shipping tomorrow from Norden Crafts to all of you that have signed up for the club! We are busily folding tons and tons of linen, counting charts, making boxes, and pulling skeins of floss for the big release!!  

Are you done stitching Part 1? 
If not, hurry, you only have a few days before Part 2 is at your local shop or on your doorstep! 

Bonus chart that is included in Part 2 of the Mystery Sampler

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bea Brock Designs & Wasatch Needlecraft - Norden's Needleworkers

Featured Designer -


Costa Rican Cartwheel
Norden # BBR-PN01

Q.  How long have you been a stitcher and how did you first learn about stitching?
A.  Like so many others, I first learned stitching at home under my mother's direction.  She was a home sewer, embroiderer and quilter.  As her oldest daughter, I was inquisitive about learning anything that had to do with thread or fabrics.  I sewed for my children when they were small.  By the time my youngest was was in school full time, I decided it was time to learn some other things and came upon rug hooking.  There are a lot of rug hookers who enjoy needle punching and I was able to find out the basics as well as see demonstrations at rug hooking events.  My first original pattern was designed just a few days after learning while on a trip with friends and was the first in a series of four floral designs that were also converted to rug hooking patterns.

Q.  When did you begin designing your own patterns and how did that turn into a business?
A.  I have been designing rug hooking patterns since 2001 and in 2008 I launched my website named Hill Country Rug Works.  When I designed my needle punch patterns, they became a part of my offerings for online customers.

Q.  What are a few of my favorite themes when designing a pattern?
A.  Over the years I find myself vacillating between two types of designs:  repeat pattern or geometrics and fantasy botanicals. The color possibilities in each of these themes is boundless and gives the stitcher (myself included!) optimal expression in the use of color.  
Q.  Do you stitch your own models, or do you have model stitchers?
A.  Once a needle punch design is completed, I am compelled to work it out in color.  It is the part that I love to do and look forward to seeing it brought to life with my extensive collection of threads.

Q.  Do you feel your style has changed over time, and if so how do you feel about your older designs now?
A.  I do feel that there are shifts that have occurred over time.  I started out years ago with imitating a more primitive style but felt that I would just be adding to more that was already out there.  I wanted to have something that was uniquely my style.  I committed to sketching and doodling with the promise to refrain from self criticism.  Six months to a year thereafter I was beginning to recognize characteristics that eventually marked my style of undulating florals fitting closely within the format like puzzle pieces.  My feelings about these stylized designs from a few years ago are much like being with old friends:  We know each other well and look back on our history with fondness, loyalty, and deep appreciation.


Q.  Besides stitching and designing, what are a few things you enjoy in your free time?
A.  This year I learned how to spin fiber.  I am also learning to weave.  I am looking forward to using all the yarn that I have spun and weaving some great rugs and garments.  

Q.  What is your favorite holiday and why?
A.  I love New Years Day.  After all the busyness of the Christmas holiday, I find it particularly relaxing to not make any special plans for New Year's Eve or Day and just enjoy what family happens to be around.  I find it is a contemplative time and a time filled with hope and anticipation of all they days to come in the New Year.

Q.  What kind of music do you like to listen to?
A.  I listen to Pandora radio a lot, especially while I am working in my studio.  There is a station called "Ambient" radio that is particularly calming.  The music is very ethereal and takes my mind to a very calming place that is conducive to being creative.  

Q.  Would you share a little about your family?
A.  I have a wonderful supportive husband with a great sense of esthetics.  I rely on him repeatedly to to qualm the doubts that arise in my creative ventures.  We have four children, a son (oldest) and three daughters, and one grandchild.  It is a busy house I live in as they weave in and out of our lives on a weekly, sometimes daily basis.  They all have wonderfully creative interests that they exercise from time to time as their careers and families allow.

Q.  What is your greatest strength?  What is your biggest weakness?
A.  I have to chuckle at this because the answer is the same for both questions:  single mindedness.
It works as a strength because when set to the task at hand I am focused almost to the point of being immovable.  I can get things done that way.  Then on the other hand, it is a weakness because life doesn't always allow for days without interruption, hence frustration.  With age, I have learned not to be so production minded, but oh to have to forgo the pleasure and gratification of a task completed . . . well, my patience is growing, however incremental!


Featured Retailer -

Q.  How long have you been a stitcher and how did you first learn about stitching?
A.  I first started stitching, at least seriously about 8 years ago after I went into my LNS looking for something to do.  I saw a model of the Cross‘n Patch Christmas Star hanging on their wall and said, “I have to learn how to do that!”  I had never even heard of Hardanger before, but fell madly in love with it at first site.  I took a beginners class where I found Hardanger to be more addicting and  much easier then I expected and was instantly hooked.

Q.  Who are some of your personal favorite designers?
A.  Since Hardanger is my first love I tend to lean towards designers like Victoria Sampler, Judy Dixon, Cindy Valentine, Satin Stitches and Colette Robinson.  Whereas most of my customers do not do Hardanger the charts that sell well are a different mix of designers.  I do not want to leave any great designers off so I will not list them individually but I will say that samplers and smalls are very successful.

Q.  Do you have any advice for any aspiring shop owners out there?
A.  Be prepared to treat it as a business and not as a hobby.  While you might enjoy stitching as a hobby to pass the time or relax with, running a business should not be treated the same.  In fact there are many times that I get so caught up running the store that I don’t realize it has been months since I picked up a needle and thread for personal reasons.  You also need to be able to look at products using your brain instead of your heart.  In other words be able to step back and make a decision based off of what makes the most business sense that is not necessarily the same conclusion you might get going off of your personal preferences.  And while the thought of purchasing all the latest and greatest patterns, linen, etc might excite you this is actually a small percent of running a business on a day to day basis.  Are you ready to deal with the other functions of a business?  If so, it is a great way to make a living.


Q.   Favorite Holiday
A.  Christmas is my favorite holiday, probably because it is more of a season to me then just one day.  It is a time to celebrate and be with family and friends, a time to build memories with kids and celebrate traditions from past generations.  It also doesn’t hurt that I have a real soft spot for snowman.

Q.  Share about family
A.  I have a wonderful husband and have been married for 13 years.  We have two incredible kids, McKayla, our sweetie, who just turned 11 and is a creative inspiration.  She already has a wonderful sense of colors and has recently become very interested in fashion design.  We also have a son Trey who is 6 and is our little buddy.  He is always making us laugh and we are always amazed how his mind works, the questions he asks and how he solves problems.  Trey is has a lot of food allergies (Peanuts, Tree Nuts and Eggs) so dealing with that on a day to day basis has been a real eye opener and so we are also very involved in the Food Allergy community and are local walk chairs for the national Food Allergy Walk.  We also have two dogs, Molly who is a 3 year old cockapoo and a 3 month old labradoodle named Jazzy.

Q.   Who inspires you and why?
A.  I would have to say my family is my biggest source of inspiration.  My husband is my strength and really grounds me and keeps my head together and is a great source of knowledge and laughter.  McKayla has made me so proud on the things she has overcome in her life and is a very creative person and has a huge future ahead of her.  Trey is an amazing little kid who takes the trials he has been given in stride and brings laughter to everything he does and everyone that is around him.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shakespeare's Peddler & Ewe Count - Norden's Needleworkers

Featured Designer -

Q.  What are a few of your favorite themes when designing a pattern?
A.   I love reproducing antique samplers.  When I pick apart an antique, I also learn a lot about that little stitcher.  What was her tension like?  How did she handle her mistakes?  If she ran out of a color, what did she do (sometimes that little girl will match the best she can with another color, and sometimes she'll throw in hot pink....that substitution says a lot about a stitcher.)  Did she carry her threads, or did she neatly tuck everything in?  When I design my own samplers, I try to take lessons from the antiques I have.  I tend to like designs that aren't too matchy-matchy.  It's not fun to stitch something two or three times.  So, I like samplers that are asymmetrical.  I like mistakes - I design mistakes into my designs, and then when I stitch those designs, I make more mistakes.  It's what I see in the old samplers...and I think those mistakes add a certain air of authenticity to a piece.  I'm more of a type B personality.

I also think color plays a huge part in designing a piece.  As a shop owner, I have seen people reject a design they liked, because they didn't like the colors.  I have also seen stitchers take a design they didn't like and make it so beautiful by changing some colors around.  I think as needleworkers, we're drawn to the beauty of the supplies.  It's so satisfying to pull a group of threads for a peoject and feel happy just looking at the colors.  A lot of times, I've designed my own pieces by pulling a bunch of thread colors I like and then seeing when I can come up with.

Q.  What other designers are you a fan of?
A.  I've been stitching for about 30 years now, and have stitched pieces by a lot of different designers.  I grew up a couple of blocks from the Nordic Needle, so I always had access to great designs.  When I was in my 20's, I stitched a lot of Shepherd's Bush kits, and those introduced me to different types of stitches and helped me progress as a needleworker.  I love Lizzie Kate's color and design sense.  Little House Needleworks is designing and reproducing some really cool samplers.  I never get tired of the Americana feel of Prairie Schooler's pieces.  And Blackbird Designs charts knock me right out -- they're fun to stitch and so beautiful.  Plum Street Samplers, Chessie & Me, Stacy Nash, La-D-Da, With Thy Needle & Thread, Gigi Ries Designs, The Scarlet Letter...there are a lot of great designers right now, and they're doing wonderful things. 

Q.  How do you compare the products that are available in today's market compared to 10 years ago, and how has that changed your designs over time?
We've never has such a great selection of supplies.  I'm thinking back to the days when I was a teenager and using pre-packaged (cheap) Aida cloth that was all starchy and yucky.  I still stitch with DMC floss on occassion, but now I have so many hand-dyed fibers to choose from in silk and cotton and wool.  There are all colors and counts of linen, and again, some of this is hand-dyed.  And I can get fabric that is gently mottled, or fabric that's just crazy/splotchy.  There are great charms and buttons.  And I love that these days designers are coming up with fun finishing ideas, too.  I will say that over time, I have gone to the hand-dyed fibers that are more like a solid/aged color.  With a hand-dyed fabric and hand-dyed fibers, it's easy for a design to become difficult to look at.  Too much striping in the thread can compete with the splotchy background fabric.  I tend to look for balance - and really like the aged/dirty/been-in-the-attic look that I see on a lot of my antique samplers. 

Q.  How important is social media in the cross-stitch industry and how do you make use of it for your company?
A.  I started a needlework site back in, oh, maybe 1994 when there wasn't much online about needlework.  I put up a few articles, and within a year was getting around 6,000 a month.  My monthly newsletter goes out to a few thousand people, and I have a blog (http://www.shakespearespeddler.blogspot.com/), a Facebook page and a web site.  A lot of the time, needlework can be a very solitary activity.  Stitching is something we do all by ourselves (usually) in our own homes.  The social media, especially blogs, have made it easier for us all to get connected and stay informed.  I love seeing what other stitchers are working on, reading about their gardens, meals, learning about their children and pets.  I have found that stitchers often have a lot in common -- and the Internet has made it so easy for a lot of us to get to know each other.

Q.  Do you feel your style has changed over time, and if so how do you feel about your older designs now?
A.  I think most designers change over time due to the success of their previous designs.  As a shop owner, I know what types of designs sell well in terms of theme, color paleete, size and style but as a designer.  I don't always know when something is going to be a huge success or a big bust.  For example, the Jenny Bean Halloween Sampler I designed in 2009 was going to be kind of a "one-off".  The chart was (and continues to be) extremely popular, which led me to continue designing in that style.  Sometimes, I'll design something that I think will go over well, and it flops.  I try to figure out what about that design didn't connect with stitchers and then avoid doing those things next time.  A lot of the best designers have their own particular style.  A stitcher can look at something by Lizzie Kate and know it's one of hers by sight.  Developing a unique look is part of becoming a successful designer.  And developing that look definitely takes time.


Q.  Besides stitching and designing, what are a few things you enjoy in your free time?
Inadvertently, I have turned into a Crazy Cat lady.  Those who follow my blog know about my collection of cats at home and the many foster cats and kittens who come and go.  I volunteer a significant part of my free time to the local animal shelter in a number of different ways, but fostering tiny kittens is really something special.  I like to read and spend time with friends and family.  I have a great group of crafty/stitchy friends here in Hattiesburg.  And my husband and I are great friends.  I'm not a huge fan of traveling.  If I could, I would stay home every day of the year. =)

Q.  What's your greatest strength?  What's your biggest weakness?
A.  My creativity has allowed me to do a lot of things in life -- start my own business, design, write, raise children, and find the humor in just about everything.  I'm relentlessly positive, like my father, and always see the glass half-full.

I have an anxiety disorder that has sometimes made everyday functioning difficult.  Occassionally, coming up with the energy and bravery to complete every day tasks is difficult.  I'm a very strange combination of anxious and self-confident.  I don't like being amongst a large crowd of people I don't know, but on the other hand, I have given speeches in front of as many as 10,000 people and used to do musical theater.  Basically, I'm a weirdo -- and that's a strength and wekaness!

Q.  What changed would you make if you could go back in time?
A.  I believe my past has brought me here; I am a product of what has happened to me all of these years.  But I would love to go back to my high school-aged self and say, "Don't worry so much about what college you get into.  Take some art classes."  I drew, and sewed, and stitched, and crafted as a child, but I never took another art class past the 8th grade.  And then I took all these math, science and English classes to get into a good college, and ended up going to a state school, anyway.  I wish I had taken more time to do what I enjoyed from about 14-20.

Q.  What are your three greatest achievements?   
A.  This is a completely unexpected (and possibly boreing) answer, but I think my marriage and my two children are the three greatest things I've done so far, and probably will ever do.  I completely love my husband and sons, and we enjoy spending time together being ourselves.  The time, energy, patience, love, and commitment it takes to be a family person far outweighs anything I could do professionally or personally. 

Q.  What do you want to achieve in life?
A.  The older I've gotten, the less I put value on "achievements".  Living each day contentedly, overcoming minor obstacles, reading a good book now and then, enjoying a great loaf of bread, biting into some dark chocolate, laughing with a friend...the best things in life are the little things.  I love being able to serve others, so I guess when I die, I'd like to believe that the world was a little bit better, because I was in it.

Theresa Venette
Shakespeare's Peddler


Featured Shop -

Ewe Count
Cheyenne, WY
Penny Franz

Q.  How long have you been a stitcher & how did you first learn about stitching?
A.   I started embroidering when I was about 10, I learned to crochet at 13 & knit at 16.  When I got married I did printed cross stitch.  Then I found counted cross stitch and never looked back.  In 1985 I helped start a local EGA chapter and took all the classes I could to learn all the different techniques.
Q.  How long have you been in business?
A.  I became involved in a partnership in 1992.  After about 1 1/2 years the partnership dissolved (very messy) and I started on my own.
Q.  What types of products do you offer?
A.  I offer counted cross stitch, needlepoint, and yarns for knitting and crochet.  I also do custom framing and finishing.
Q.  Who are some of your personal favorite designers?
A.  Lizzie Kate (I love adding buttons to the designs!), SamSarah Design Studio, Amy Brueken Designs, Little House Designs, and Raise the Roof.
Q.  What types of events do you offer at your store?
A.  I do a pajama party twice a year - after the hotel shows.  I feed everyone dinner, we do a class, and then I open my suitcases with all the new products.  I also have a stitch/knit night every Tuesday evening and Friday afternoon.  We also observe World Wide Knit in Public Day and we have done a yarn bombing.

Q.  Have you ever attended a TNNA trade show, and if so what are your thoughts on it? 
A.  I love going to the trade shows!  I am currently the Chair of the Retail Council and sit on the Board of Directors.  There are so many opportunities at the shows - classes, events, networking.  I love knowing the vendors and designers in person.  I really like the convention center shows because I can see so many different things in one area - and since I also carry the yarns and needlepoint it makes it easier to see it all.  When people tell me that they can't afford to go to a trade show, I tell them that I can't afford not to go.  It sometimes just gives me a shot in the arm that I am not alone and everyone is experiencing the same problems.


Q.  Besides stitching and running your business, what are a few things you enjoy in your free time?
A.    What free time?  I stitch and knit all the models for the shop so there is not a lot of free time, but I also do some bookkeeping on the side and I do the books for a restaurant, a lottery store, and a gentlemen's club.
Q.  What are your three favorite movies?
A.  I don't know that I can narrow it down to 3 - Pretty Woman, A League of Their Own, Toy Story (all 3), Shrek (all), and Radio.

Q.  Would you share a little about your family.
A.  I have one daughter (Jennifer).  She is married to a great guy and I have 2 grandchildren.  Heather is 7 and has read all the Harry Potter books (more than once).  CJ is 3 and is my little guy.  He loves to ride his bike and play videos on their IPad.  My grandmother just turned 95 and we are having a birthday party for her in July.  It will be so much fun having the 5 generations together.

Q.  What's your greatest strength?  What's your greatest weakness?
A.  I'm not sure what my greatest strength is - maybe perseverance (I'm too stubborn to give up - I get that from my grandma).  My greatest weakness is being able to say "no".

Q.  What is your favorite holiday?
A.  Christmas!  That is the day the Lord was born.  I spend nearly every Christmas with my daughter and her family.  Since they live in Nebraska we sometimes have to deal with the weather.  I leave my Christmas tree up all year around.

Q.  How does your family & friends know you are under pressure?
A.  I try not to show it!!!

Next week we will be featuring -
Bea Brock Designs & Wasatch Needlecraft

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Norden's Needleworkers - Samsarah Design Studio & Down Sunshine Lane

Proudly Presents 

Featured Designer -


Q.  How long have you been a stitcher an how did you first learn about stitching?
SamSarah Studio Wall of Floss!!!
A.  I started stitching around 1981 while living in Palmyra, New Jersey. One of my friends was stitching and took me to a shop somewhere in southern Jersey. The first book I purchased was (I think) by Jo Packham and my mother still has the piece hanging in her bedroom. It was all on white Aida, with DMC floss and totally backstitched. I still think it’s really cute with a bride and groom dressed in their wedding finery riding a tandem bicycle. I made it for my parent’s anniversary that year.

Q.  Do you stitch your own models, or do you have model stitchers?

Patti's drawing table

A.  The answer is both. I stitch the majority of my own pieces and this is for the simple reason that I change them as I go. Just because I think a certain color of floss will look perfect in that spot doesn’t mean it is so. This is where the art part really comes in because lots of tiny adjustments happen along the way. When I’m really pressed for time, I have a couple of friends (that I can trust to tell me if something looks bad) who will pitch in and help me. They have really saved me on more than one occasion, but I truly love to stitch my own.

SamSarah Studio Quilt Works
Sewing Station

Q.  What other designers are you a fan of?
A.  Love, love, love (and in no particular order) Cricket Collection, Val’s Stuff, Monster Bubbles, Twisted Threads and the lucky part is we all live close enough we can have lunch together whenever Val herds us up for a fabulous meal at her house (Thank you Val, I will try to take a turn at some point!) I also enjoy La D Da and Ink Circles although they are too far away for our lunch bunch.

Samsarah Studio Office and Design Stations

Q.  Have you ever exhibited at or attended a TNNA trade show, and if so what are your thoughts on it?

A.  Yes! I’ve been exhibiting for years at both the convention center shows and the cash and carry/hotel shows. So far this year I exhibited in Nashville and Columbus with new designs in the works for Baltimore already. I am a huge fan of everyone gathering together in one spot to show our new pieces, mingle with other designers, re-new friendships with shop owners and teach or learn from new classes. Since I’ve expanded the business with Quilt Designs, I also exhibit twice a year at International Quilt Market and sometimes the shows are so close together, I have to pick one or the other.  At any market, the connections that are made are so much more valuable than how much was sold. I always come away with a new opportunity that would not have been available to me had I not attended. To me, it’s truly an investment in how well my business will do in the coming year. And this year in Columbus, I learned to knit! (Thank you Penny.) Something I can do just for me, even if my skill level is not so great just yet.

Q.  Where do you see your company in five years?
Samsarah Studio Quilt Works Cutting Table
& Button Pack Station
A.  I’m hoping that I can keep the size of the business manageable. The last two years have seen phenomenal growth at SamSarah, for which I am truly thankful, but I don’t want to have to move to a larger location and hire employees. Right now, if I wake up at 3 am, I can just go up to one of the studios and start working. My daughter Sarah packs all the accoutrement packs, which is a huge job and that helps me immeasurably. The Big Guy is my go-to man for daily bank and post office runs and even wants to drive me around when I’m sleep deprived and have errands to run. I’m not sure if he is protecting me or the other folks on the road!


Q.  Do you have any pets?
A.  Over the years we’ve been fortunate to share our home with many dogs and cats, sometimes as many as two of each. When my mother was living with us, we had three male cats all at once and I don’t recommend that! When mom moved to assisted living, Lover Boy went with her (yes, that’s what she named him!) Earlier this year we had to say good-bye to one of our cats, Max. His kidneys just gave up. He has a grave at the edge of our woods, topped with a heavy slab of tree trunk so the other critters can’t disturb him. We still have one male cat named Bones, because that was all there was of him when he brought a dead mouse up to our back door. Of course, we took him in! Bones
sits behind me, on my office chair, when I’m on the computer (which is a lot) and we keep each other warm. He’s now about 15 years old.

Q.  Besides stitching and designing, what are a few things you enjoy in your free time?
Patti and her loving husband Kurt
A.  Free time? Now there’s a good goal.  I keep little project bags packed up for when I’m sitting in one of my mom’s many doctor’s waiting rooms (think perforated paper birds.) One of the best parts of doing that is I’m still productive while taking care of my mom, plus it has the added benefit that as soon as I get everything out and ready to go, they always call us back to sit in the exam room. And if I pull it out in the exam room, the doctor always arrives sooner. I know this to be true! I do have books on my Kindle that I can access from my phone as well. When I’m really tired, but my brain won’t be quiet, I read. Nothing too deep. Summer beach reading books are my favorites (even in the winter.) I’ll find a author I like and read everything I can find. Just finished another Harry Bosch novel this morning. And I’ve recently discovered Audible.com. Now I can stitch and “read” at the same time. Technology is grand!

Q.  What kind of music do you like to listen to?
A.  Rock and roll cranked up loud!! I also pick certain songs based on the beat if it corresponds with the speed I run. I have several 30 minute play lists on my iPod for running on the treadmill in the winter - or, like now, when it’s too hot to go out on the trails. Mick Jagger singing “Start Me Up” begins my favorite run. Has all this loud music affected my hearing? What?

Daily Life Series
Q.  What would you do if you won the lottery?
A.  I’d build a place dotted with cottages for artists of all types, with studio and exhibit space, communal meals to make sure everyone eats something (hopefully healthy and organic,) visiting doctors, dentists, creative folks and fitness trainers to provide care and keep us learning with fun classes. All residents would have a “job” to pay for their stay, such as cooking, gardening, maintenance, or animal care. The majority of time would be spent pursuing creativity. Stays could be short term like a sabbatical or permanent. There would be a little shop where residents could sell their work in person, as well as an on-line shop,
so they would have money to buy more art supplies. And finally, I’d hire a competent staff to manage the place and keep the peace, so I could spend my time in the studio too.

Q.  What changes would you make if you could go back in time?
Witch's Pantry Series
A.  Truly, I feel that whatever happens, good or bad, shapes who you are, how you react, and reveals your true character. Because of that, there’s not much I would change. There is one thing I know I would do differently if given a magic ticket back in time to the year 2000. My father fell and broke his leg (after recovering from a hip fracture) and landed in the hospital. My mother called on a Saturday afternoon and I asked if I should come out to Arizona where they lived. She said, “No! He’ll think he’s dying, save your money for when he really needs you.” They took him off his blood thinner so they could get him ready for surgery to repair his leg. He died alone of a stroke on Sunday night. I know I couldn’t have stopped it, but I would be there, holding his hand, when it happened.

Featured Retailer 

Q.  How long have you been a stitcher and how did you first learn about stitching?
A.  I started stitching when I was 8 or 9 years old.  A friend of the family had a teenage daughter named Kathy, who made a small stitched ornament and gave it to my mother for Christmas.  She had used a wooden ring, painted gold, to frame it.  I was totally fascinated by the stitching, and I wanted to learn how it was done.  Kathy taught my mother, who then taught me.  I've been stitching ever since.
     My mother still has that ornament and I have the very first pieces we stitched, along with the first patterns my mom bought - all from the 70's.  We moved away and I didn't see Kathy again.  A few years ago at Christmas, I spoke to her on the phone for the first time in more than 35 years.  I thanked her for teaching my mother and I how to do something that has become such a large part of my life.
     Ray doesn't stitch, although I know he could if he wanted to.  He would rather make things with wood and metal than with threads & fabric.  He can answer most stitching related questions, and is very good at color conversions and substitutions.

Q.  How long have you been in business?
A.  We started Down Sunshine Lane just over 9 years ago.  Though it's not a business venture, we've had Cross Stitch Pals, www.crossstitchpals.com, for over 15 years. 

Q.  What types of products do you offer?
A.  We maintain an extensive in-stock inventory so we can ship orders quickly.  We stock patterns, kits, all types & brands of fabrics, and the complete lines of WDW, GAST & Crescent threads.  We also stock Mill Hill Beads, Kreinik threads, scissors, needles and many other types of accessories.  We try to process & ship orders within 24 hours.  Special orders are always welcome. 

2011 Retreat Featuring Paulette from Plum Street, Tanya from Scarlett House, and Marie from Blackberry Lane
Q.  What are some of the biggest changes in the industry you've seen since you've been in business?
A.  We've gone from new releases each month to new releases every week.  Self publishing is easier now, so there are more new designers joining the industry than ever before.  That keeps things fresh and interesting.  It's great for the customers, because they have more choices.  For shop owners, it means more investment to keep everything in-stock.  That, unfortunately, may be one of the reasons so many brick and mortar shops have been closing, which we find very sad. 

Q.  Is there an event or promotion that you offer that you feel is incredibly successful that you'd like to share?
A.  We run sales several times a year and maintain sale pages on our website with reduced price items throughout the year.  The 15th annual Cross Stitch Pals retreat is in Oct. of 2012.  We have always hosted it, but Down Sunshine Lane has been sponsoring the event for the last three years.  It's a great time for stitchers, designers and stitching related companies, who have supported the event with either their presence, or by donating items to be given away as prizes.  Because of their support, more stitchers now know about their shops, designs and products.

Q.  Besides stitching and running your business, what are a few things you enjoy in your free time?  
A.  I like to stitch or sew while listening to audio books, read and make cards.  Ray likes to read, write fiction novels, and play the guitar.  We also enjoy spending time with family.

Q.  What's your favorite holiday and why?
A.  Christmas!  I love the reason for the season and everything that goes with it - the decorations, food, and spending time with family.  I could decorate ten Christmas trees with my collection of ornaments, many of which are hand stitched! 

Q.  What are your three favorite books?
A.  I can't pick 3 books, but I can pick 3 authors.  Jane Austen, Diana Gabaldon and Dorthea Benton Frank.  Ray reads a wide variety of authors & styles, but Jim Butcher is one of his favorite writers.

Q.  What are your three favorite movies?
A.  Mine are Pride & Prejudice, It's A Wonderful Life and Gone With The Wind.  Ray doesn't really have favorite movies, but he prefers the action/adventure and Sci-Fi genres.

Q.  What kind of music do you like to listen to?
A.  We both love music and it's always playing in the background many hours a day.  You might walk in and hear Aerosmith, but the next song from the iTunes library might be "You Raise Me Up", by Josh Groban.  I prefer classic rock (late 70's/early 80's).  Ray's tastes lean toward old Jazz standards & Blues, but we both listen to a lot of different styles of music.