I wasn’t Born in Texas……

But I got here as quick as I could, as the bumper sticker says. You just don’t move to Texas, it moves into you (probably another bumper sticker). I was born in North Jersey and moved to Texas in the early 70’s, so by now I think that makes me native. Ranch, check, cows, check, drive a pickup…. you got the idea…..  Life has handed me some twists and turns of late and my writing/needlepoint inspiration had abandoned me. But yesterday, I was struck when my new housekeeper, with only three days on the job, killed a pretty big snake just outside my garden.

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This guy is a coral snake, yes he is poisonous and yes he is dangerous. But as pointed out by Harper, my spicy daughter, he is iconic. A slithery symbol of the Texas landscape. This got me thinking about all that inspiration around me! Just the striking colors in this picture stopped me in my tracks! He is the third snake this summer, the other two being more venomous cottonmouths. But the best Texas snake symbol would probably be the rattle snake, luckily one of those has not visited ….yet. Several customers in the shop have stitched snakes, including this rattle snake by Liz Goodrick-Dillon that I did several years ago……..scary….maybe this is too many pictures of snakes, might have nightmares.

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So now it is life as a cowgirl…..

 

IMG_5150My desk chair proudly displays my motto. This canvas is by Patti Mann. Life is so different than it was in the 70’s………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So speaking of the 70’s,  I have been working on my Texas Armadillo, specifically his armor.  The stitch used for his armor plate reminds me of a sport coat my Dad wore in that era, almost exactly.

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Figures and images of Texas are all over this canvas. The big Guadalupe Bass will be stitched in basket-weave and then covered with clear sequins to look like scales. We shall see…. But he is coming along.

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For fun I made each prickly pear pad a different stitch. I am thinking that the tunas (fruit) will need some dimension, but we are still talking. The blue bonnets just cried out for french knots. Done in one of my favorite new threads, several  Threadworx overdyed Kreniks. The monarch has some Flair, some beads and some turkey work, made him flashy.

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Had some issues with the grass, still needs some more beads, but now that I am a little more motivated he is starting to come together.

So be inspired by the world around you, Be Texas loud and Texas proud!!    “The last best place”, according to Ted Nugent!

 

To order any of these canvases please call us at 361.572.0088 or click here

 

Life’s a Game…

But GOLF IS SERIOUS…… at least in our family.

IMG_1371This would be my grandmother (Nana) practicing in her back yard. Got to love it.

And it was just Masters Week!!! For those of you who don’t know or don’t care this is golf’s first major tournament of the year. Last year about this time, The Redhead and I took our whole family to this prestigious event, including two of the grand kids. We all stayed together in one house (yikes!) and took turns sharing the passes, watching the players, and enjoying the pomp and the beauty of the place. Even if you don’t like golf, it is one of the most beautiful places to see.

IMG_4560My tribe last year at the Masters

And yes, I have seen a lot of golf courses…

All three of my daughters played golf in high school, even taking their high school to its first state championship (yes, women’s golf), but Sarah was the only one whose game carried on to college. Sarah is my youngest daughter, a good six and eight years younger than her sisters, she had the luxury of having her parents cart her all over the country chasing a little white ball. In high school she took the school to 3 out of 4 state championships. She played junior golf on the Nike tour and for the American Junior Golf Association in both the summers and on many weekends. She played for Texas A&M, lettering for four years. She even finished well when she played in the 2012 US Women’s Amateur, with her coach as her caddie.

IMG_0282 (2)The TV interview

IMG_0675The final putt as a college golfer, yes it was a birdie!

MO 019I think she was so good because she was part contortionist

But she elected to stay in Aggieland to get her Masters (degree) and is now a financial analyst in Dallas. Golf is now a past time. The Redhead and I miss chasing after her and the little white ball, but now I have grand kids to chase after!

When she was in grade school, Sarah asked if I could stitch a new stocking for her. She picked out the canvas she wanted. Of course it is a Liz Goodrick-Dillon, Santa & Critters stocking.

IMG_4551As you can see instead of bells and tassels, this stocking sports a little Aggie golf bag. Santa’s beard IS most of this stocking and is again stitched in an outline stitch with Wisper by Rainbow Gallery.

IMG_4553The snow owl was done in turkey work and satin stitches.

IMG_4556The pine cones were stitched in a buttonhole stitch with an Impressions over dye. Lots of beading and french knots, satin stitches with blending filament for the holly leaves and a beaver cuff to top it off.

But being the marooned blooded Aggie that I am, the tributes do not stop there…more kool aid.

IMG_4537Sarah’s Santa is a Texas Aggie cowboy. Amanda Lawford custom painted this one with a black lab in tribute to the Redhead’s big black lab, Ranger. The canvas usually comes with a border collie.

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Sporting a maroon cowboy hat,  I added a Aggie ‘buckle’. His fabulous beard is interlocking gobelin, again in Wisper and edged with Krenik silver. His waistcoat is done in Silk Lame Braid in a byzantine stitch. The buttons are layered beads. The Teddy bear is all french knots and the fur on Santa’s magnificent robe is sheared lamb from a wool market that I couched on.

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Santa is, of course, bringing some lucky Aggie a new set of golf clubs and the Bevo (longhorn) with his horns “sawed” off. I actually bought a toy longhorn, cut his horns off, drilled a hole in them to attach to the Santa. What any good Aggie would do….. and now we are not even in the same conference……

So again we at Past Times needlepoint would love to make this stocking and/or Santa yours! Please call us at 361.572.0088 or check us out online at pasttimesneedlepoint.com

Ethereal Sounds

It is a sound like no other. The bugle of an elk. A majestic animal that can weigh 700 pounds and stand nearly 9 feet tall, a bull elk is a imposing, scary, really unbelievable sight. During the rut and hunting season bulls and cows call to each other (often all night long!) in a process of herding up into groups of several cows and one bull.

I am not a hunter, but everyone else in my family is. Over the years this Yankee turned Texan has learned a lot about hunting and the benefits of managing wildlife.

One of my gals and very good friend who frequents the shop is Miss Barbara. She and my Other Redhead, Kathleen are probably my most prolific stitchers.   Barbara is also one of the biggest hunters I have ever met. Her family owns several ranches and she has hunted everything. But when she visited us in New Mexico during a stitching retreat, we found out she had never hunted elk. Well we had to fix that! And so it went…..for the next two years, nothing. First year there were too many other hunters and then a mountain lion roamed through the ranch, that really messed things up. Second year, a poacher came on the place and killed an elk right out from under her….geez.

So then we decided to call in the big guns, (figuratively!) my daughter Harper and her husband, Eric. Eric has been hunting elk in northern New Mexico most of his life, and specifically on our ranch for several years. He and Harper know the ranch well and knew just where to take Miss Barbara.01efeee2cebe821b8124c9d725408545faeba94a7b01234e25e87b03fb56d7355b4ae8d8bb1eff749c49Yes, three was a charm, and yes this would be Barbara, Harper and I drinking champagne, in the woods, in the dark, after one clean shot took the largest spread ever from our ranch!! Love it. Love you Bobbie!

My son in law Eric is a patient and gentle person with a wicked dry sense of humor (where was he when Harper was in high school !?!?!?, but that is another story). Eric is currently the tallest member in our family, and as chance would have it, he also has the biggest stocking. This wasn’t intended, it just happened.

IMG_4338 Being the hunter that he is, choosing his stocking was easy.  Another Liz Goodrick-Dillon stocking, this is Woodland Christmas. The original canvas had a deer with a much smaller rack. The first thing my husband, The Redhead, told me is you have to “fix” those antlers. So the ones on Eric’s stocking are a little bigger, a little heftier.

IMG_4344The background is a squared eyelet stitch, hopefully depicting snowflakes. The edging on Santa’s robe is a massing of french knots (I love french knots), kind of a shearling look.

IMG_4343In most of my Liz stockings there is some form of animal. Usually, I use Wisper by Rainbow Gallery in random straight stitches for the bodies and using the same threads, I basket weave the faces. For these stockings I am always searching for the more realistic, traditional look. But the big cap to this one is the Canadian coyote hide cuff. I like the look and feel of real fur (of course, I do). If you have put that much time and money into an heirloom piece, it doesn’t seem right to put fake fur on top. For hides that I do not already own, I go to glacierwear.com, they offer amazing quality hides at fair prices, not cheap, but fair. The hide on this piece was huge! So, therefore the stocking is huge. It was suppose to match the coyote on the heel, but I think it may have overwhelmed him.

As usual we at Past Times would love to make this your own! Please click here, or call 361.572.0088 and we can get it on its way to you!

I do not like to excercise

My mother always said you should not hate. Well redundant exercise comes close. I mean a big soft chair, good light, an empty canvas and a needle…you see where I am going. But my husband, the Redhead drags me to the gym every morning so we can walk around in circles, this is in an effort to keep me healthy.  I’m just not so sure…..

But healthy is a necessity for my oldest daughter and her family. She is type 1 diabetic and her husband, Dutch is lactose intolerant, so they have chosen the Paleo lifestyle. Eating right and getting enough exercise is paramount for them and my grandchildren, Davis and Dylan (Madam Crazy Hair). Dutch owns his own gym in their hometown. He is an Olympic weight lifter and we are all very proud of him and his accomplishments, plus the job he does training others in this pursuit.

But just because we differ in our thoughts on rote exercise, we are not at odds on much else. Dutch is the best Dad my two grand kids could of ever had. AND he has to take care Meggie, a VERY big endeavor…we sure don’t want to lose Dutch. So when my children have gotten married and changed their last name, that is when I feel that things are solid enough to put forth the big effort and make a “son-in-law” stocking.

Dutch loves to fly fish. Something I also like to do, but neither of us really have enough spare time for. IMG_4274But that made deciding on the perfect stocking rather easy. Of course, another Liz Goodrick Dillon piece, this Fly fishing Santa was easy for me to stitch. Santa’s coat is more maroon than red (a nod to Dutch’s time at Texas A&M) and embellished with real flies (hooks removed).

IMG_4276Santa is heading home to Mrs. Claus with dinner in tow. The early evening sky in this canvas was a big challenge for me, I wanted the essence of a true New Mexico sky at dusk. This called for a lot of overdyed blues with pale purple. Combinations of Waterlilies by Caron Collection,  Silk ‘n Colors from Thread Gatherer and a lot of patience.IMG_4279More overdyed threads with the creel. Impressions by Caron Collection done in Lazy Roman. Plus more “reel” flies. It was very entertaining for the Redhead to explain to clerks at quaint little fly shops why I wanted flies that did not match what was biting that season…….

IMG_4277This was also the first time that I tried open work stitching. More overdyed thread in a T stitch over the rocks. It looks like I spent hours dealing with shading, when I just let it show through.

Love ya, Dutch!!

To do this stocking for yourself or loved one please click here for the pasttimesneedlepoint.com or call us at 361.572.0088. We would love to oblige.

 

Crazy Hair, I don’t care…….

Have you ever loved something so much that it hurts??? That’s what happens when you get grandchildren. Dylan is my 18 month old granddaughter. She has the most laid back personality of any of my grandchildren. Always a plus. But she does have a little something going on with her hair….

It actually started out pretty straight, with a little wave but then….around October…for some unexplained reason….it really went wild.

IMG_3967Curly, unruly, disheveled, generally crazy hair…

So we have tried to contain it with what we call the “volcano hairdo”. Here is one of my favorite shadow pictures of she and her Aunt Boo Boo!

IMG_2368And then dancing with her Momma……

Hair under control….sort of

I have always pushed my kids to find out the sex of my grandchildren so that I could make sure on “Baby’s First Christmas” there is the perfect heirloom stocking. In our family Christmas is all about the stockings. Whenever we see things throughout the year that are stocking “worthy” they are purchased and stashed till the big night! In my world, that can mean several senior moments and you may end up with two of the same thing…..IMG_2264All our stockings with Santa and nine reindeer

So Dylie is my second granddaughter and fourth grandchild. Her momma wanted her stocking to coordinate with the rest of her family and her Mimi wanted it to be “pretty”. So we decided on this one:

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Of course another Liz Goodrick Dillon canvas, Enchanted Santa. I added lots of bling to this one. Santa has a velvet coat trimmed in snowy white fur, lots of beads, crystals, pearls, stars and snowflakes. Everything is pretty encrusted…..

IMG_4237Santa’s beard and the horses mane are both done in an outline/stem stitch again. To me it is the stitch to make them look like real hair. On 18 count canvas the beard is done in one strand of Wisper and the mane is in two strands of Splendor, both by Rainbow Gallery.

It seems the horse is wearing most of the bling:

IMG_4242He has pearls surrounding his conchos, stars and crystals covering his bridle. Even more crystals on the reins and breast plate.

The mittens that Santa has on are not what Liz painted on the canvas. I could not get my mind wrapped around the checkerboard looking mittens. After one or two attempts, I settled on covering them with a jacquard stitch. I often change colors or cover up things that don’t work for me. Even though the artist paints the canvas one way, you are the final say in how it will turn out.

Well…just in…literally from Mountain Shadow and Sharon Hall!

IMG_4257Dylan’s Garden, also known as Amy’s Yellow Garden by Birds of a Feather! Doesn’t it look amazing! That pink glitter mat is perfect, just the thing to enhance such a crazy piece. Plus the hand painted frame, so whimsical…

I think it is just the thing to compliment my crazy haired girl!

As always this canvas and more can be purchased at my website, just click here.

Harper is Spicy

My middle child.  Says a lot right there, right? Beautiful, brainy and feisty, Harper has always made our life interesting. I have often thought that she may be my most artistic child. She has an amazing talent as a photographer (I wish she had more time for that pursuit) and luckily for her checkbook, she is also very good at finding oil and gas as a geologist.

Harper and her husband Eric are also talented bow hunters. True hunters. There is a huge challenge in out smarting an animal in his own neighborhood with just a bow and arrow to protect yourself.  Often they come with in just yards of an elk. A massive creature that can weigh upwards of 700 pounds with a spread of antlers of 2-3 feet. Needless to say I do not go with them.

Iphone pics 2013 836But not last year. Finally it was Harper’s turn. She shot the elk at dusk. She and Eric tracked him until they could no longer see. Being the talented hunter that he is, Eric had placed several flags and markings along the trail, so we were able to continue the hunt the next morning. And find him we did! Harper and I were jumping up and down!

I stitched Harper’s stocking when she was still in high school.  Test is a word that comes to mind when thinking about Harper’s time in high school, I was always being tested.  That’s where the spicy came in. Spicy, yes Harper is definitely spicy. Absolutely love this kid….

So I found the perfect stocking:

IMG_3891This is Liz Godrick Dillon’s Chili Pepper Santa. Spicy, of course. Stitching this Santa face taught me a lot about face colors. Now I am always in search of the perfect skin colors. If it is too dark it looks like Santa got beat up, too light and he looks washed out. Sometimes the threads may not even be the same kind, same dye lot or from the same manufacturer. I re-stitched this face at least three times.

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Again his beard is my favorite beard stitch, outline or stem stitch. You will see that through the years the random stitches look better when they are stitched closer together. Sometimes I literally push them over and it is almost like I stitch on top of each other. Unfortunately the thread that was couched for his collar is no longer available. Rainbow Gallery has some that will probably work well though.

IMG_3892Often using overdyed threads, I like to use slanted satin stitches for holly leaves and random straight stitches for pine needles. Makes it look so realistic.  The conchos are real.  I love little “found” things to add to canvases. These came from ebay, I am betting that you could google up some similar.

Okay, now to catch you up….

The yaks are here!!!…. and settling in.

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To start off there are 12 of them. We are learning lots about them, first off they eat a lot, 3 bales of hay a day, but then all the grass is covered with snow. They have a pecking order, kinda look like buffalo with a horse tail and are very tame.

Will let you know how they progress…….

The Yaks are coming

Santa Fe is beautiful whens it snows. The chile ristras and boughs are just starting to come out for Christmas decorations and now they are covered in a light dusting of snow.  My husband, the Redhead and I have come to Santa Fe for business and are having dinner and a glass of wine at a nice restaurant.  This rare occasion is because he went to visit a yak farm today.  Apparently, I need some yaks and it is far better to inform me of this over a nice dinner and a glass of wine. It has taken over thirty years to turn this Yankee city girl into a cattle woman and now you want me to do what?!?!?….. Maybe two glasses of wine.

In an effort to keep our ad valorem taxes low he has been researching animals we could raise in the mountains. We tried raising steers for several years. The mountain lions loved that. Then he looked into buffalo. They can fend off coyotes and mountain lions, but they can also bust a fence and run for miles. Yeah right, we border the national forest…. nope. So now it looks like the yaks are coming. Yaks are healthy as a meat source and once a year you can comb them and use their down to process into yarn. Okay I’m into fibers, I could maybe go for that. But we shall see…..the saga continues……

So in the mean time I have finished a backgammon game board that my oldest daughter started…..

IMG_3978This piece was way too fun. The original set came with game pieces that we have not been able to find anymore (part of the problem when it takes so long to finish something). So I think I will try to make some pieces with FIMO to look like the middle medallions.

IMG_3979Needless to say we will have to wait and see how that turns out……

I also finally finished Dylan’s garden!

 

IMG_3992Just a wild as my crazy haired granddaughter….

So I thought my favorite was the springy blue stem on the big tall flower, but that little rainbow snail with the bobble eyes has stolen my heart!!!

IMG_3993As you can guess with all those little beads and things it would be way too tempting for an 18 month old to pick all that off, so it won’t be a pillow anymore, it needs to framed.  So off to the finisher, when they come back I will let you see how they turn out…..

 

 

 

 

 

My other Redhead

Kathleen is my alter ego. I want to grow up and be Kathleen. She lives on her ranch with all her animals and stitches in bed with her dogs most afternoons.  She has beautiful red hair very similar to my husband,  the Redhead.  I am hoping my granddaughter Dylan will have red hair.

Kathleen was my very first customer. She came in before the store was even finished and my inventory was spread out all over the place. She hasn’t slowed down yet.

IMG_3818My life and Kathleen’s run very linear. When she comes to visit we talk about cows, horses, dogs, oh yes and needlepoint. My favorite Kathleen story was when she needed to shred at her place down by the coast. She was lamenting how to get her tractor down there. “How big is the tractor?” I asked ” I don’t know, pretty big.”  she answered. ” Well, Kathleen, do you think it would fit on a forty foot?” “Oh I am sure.” she said.  “Okay, I will have Sherry bring the forty foot to your house.” Done. So later on that month her sister comes in from California and exclaims how great everything looks now that it is mowed. “However did you get that tractor down here Kathleen?” the sister questioned. “Well, I just went to the needlepoint shop….”

Full service, I just love that Kathleen….love you too…..

So Dylan’s Garden and I are back talking. I found some stitches to work into the background, finished the flower on the left and the big one in the middle.

IMG_3860IMG_3859Love the pom poms in the middle. They are glued in there with fabric glue. I am very new with working with Silk Wrapped Pearl Purl, so don’t look too close….

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Got some ideas for the flower on the right, needs a few beads….

Next time we will see what happens with all those leaves and stems……

As always we would love to have you call 361.572.0088 or visit our website pasttiimesneedlepoint.com to purchase this canvas or anything else we could help you with!

Blackie is a one ton

Though I may be obsessed with needlepoint, I have an extreme fetish for pick up trucks.  Yes, another Texas icon. This manifested itself in high school when I first saw a Ford F-150. Done deal.

Blackie, as I affectionately call her is my current craze, a 2011 Ford F-350. Yes, she is a female, I have never trusted a male to take me where I am going. The current in a long line of big rigs, she can haul with the best of them! Load of cattle, no problem, tractors on the flat bed, sure thing, but also just me, Karma and Bruzr (my two dog sidekicks) headed home after work.

The Redhead (my husband) is my enabler. Over the years trucks have been the norm for various gift needs. One year I received a Deuce and half, a two and half ton army truck that, in later years he dubbed too small, so now I have a 5 ton Army truck that my grandsons adore. My grandson Trace has named her “Wrecking Crew”  and Davis, who is three isn’t even as tall as the tires.

Davis and "Wrecking Crew"
Davis and “Wrecking Crew”

Another of my favorite rigs is a 1963 restored Power Wagon. She did a stint as the fire truck for the small town of Stonewall, Texas. Now she just carts grand kids over high mountain roads in search of various adventures. She is my avatar! See her in my profile.

The Coleman is a 1962 snow plow, who lived most of its life on the Taos ski mountain before coming to retire with me. A cacophony of colors, but a true workhorse (most women are, right???)

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Coleman

As you might guess Blackie is black, which is my favorite color, or as Elaine (who runs the shop) told me black is not a color, but the absence of hue. Well anyway it is still my favorite. Several years ago I finally stitched a stocking for myself.

It, of course has a lot of black. This Liz Goodrick-Dillon stocking was just so striking I had to stitch for somebody!IMG_3807

I consider myself more of a “realist” stitcher. I love fanciful stitches, but Liz stockings just seem to scream the need for life like. Most all of the Santa beards that I stitch in stockings are solid outline (or stem) stitch.

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The poinsettias were quick work in an angled satin stitch, same for the leaves and then just a few beads for the centers and the berries.

I just love his beard flowing thru the pine needles.

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Santa with Poinsettias can be purchased by clicking here, calling 361.572.0088 or logging on to pasttimesneedlepoint.com.

 

Yard Rage

Texas has lots of symbols and icons… pickup trucks, lone star beer, longhorn steers and armadillos to name just a few. Believe me these are not the warm fuzzies played out in soft plush toys. I am talking about armadillos. This cast iron armored menace can lead to many late night escapades at my house. A single armadillo can totally tear a yard up in one evening. Being nocturnal they attack in the wee hours of the morning, then under the guise of looking for slugs and bugs, they can totally demolish my whole yard. This of course mainly happens when festivities are planned and after all the gardening is “done”.

My ranch in South Texas is run by one amazing lady. Sherry is often my accomplice in various adventures, one of which is armadillo hunting.  Lest I offend anyone who is not familiar with an armadillo, this is no easy task. Though not very smart, bearers of bad eyesight and general malaise, they are still very wily. It is true hunting.

We have tried angling wooden boards from their hole into a trap. Nothing will make you madder than waking up the next morning to the boards all over the yard and everything dug up again.  Poison, plugging up the homes, but… Plan B….. Sherry sets her alarm to 3 in the morning, gets her AR-15 (a lot of gun for an armadillo, but now she is mad) turn on all the lights in the yard and hunt down that little toot. Sherry is of medium stature with long blonde hair, so you need the picture in your mind of her in her nightgown and cowboy boots, toting that big gun.

Gunshots at 3 am are not the norm at my house, but not unusual either. Annie Oakley of course sent that guy to better yards in the great beyond. So when Melissa Shirley’s Armadillo came into the shop that “gotta have it” fever struck again and now he will be the next project, a memorial if you will. Of course full of Texas icons, I am most fascinate with the monarch ( I think I will stitch him first). We will have to make him pop!

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Then I think next will be that large mouth bass. Got some ideas…..we’ll see where it leads.

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Full of pecans, horny toads, mockingbirds and bluebonnets I am thinking I can get over the armadillo.

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So if you want to follow along please get online to pasttimesneedlepoint.com or call 361.572.0088 or just click here. We would love to stitch along with us! (No guns please).