Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The birth of a new idea - Stitches CD

We introduced Stitches CD Volume I in June at the Indianapolis tradeshow. We are delighted to say it was a huge success.
We've received wonderful feedback from the shops and stitchers who are using it. Several have asked us how we came up with this idea.

Just 20 years ago we were lucky to have a few great needlepoint books. Jo Ippolito Christensen's book was the bible for stitchers and then there was Pageant of Pattern which is today, still a classic. The techniques were there and we were doing some cool stuff.

But now!!! There are more and more books on the horizon and new and different techniques to be explored. So the question in my mind was what's next? So many designers publish stitch books and do a fabulous job. I wanted to do something different. Look at things outside the box.

So, Stitches CD was born. This is a joint collaboration with Kathy Holicky. She loves to draw stitches. I don't. I however, like to use stitches. I wanted all my stitches to look alike. So, we worked out a system and created our 300 favorite stitches. We then saved them all as single page cds and put them on a single cd for your enjoyment.

All the stitches are arranged in a series of pdfs by name and again by stitch type. That's a handy feature.

Okay, so you are saying but, I don't want to stitch in front of my computer. I like my big comfy chair. True. So, print out your stitches for this project, nice and big so you don't have to squint and toss them in the project bag with that project. No big heavy book to carry around. Just a couple of sheets of paper. Doodle on them. Take notes on them. Toss them when your done. Print new copies when you need them. Do you travel for work, copy the cd to your laptop and never be without. Now this idea is starting to excite me.

Once we had that much done, we decided to take it a step further. The illustrations existed so why not give everyone access to them? It's just like clip art for your computer. Why not stitch clip art?

There's so much talk about copyright these days and designers should be protected. You can't copyright a stitch or a sequence of stitches. You can however copyright a diagram. All of our diagrams are original. Once you buy a copy of the cd you are free to use the sttiches however you like. You may put them in a newsletter, put them in a stitch guide, print them on a t shirt. All we ask is that you respect our copyright on the illustration and give us credit. A simple tagline "Stitches CD Volume 1 © Ruth Schmuff" will do the trick.

There you have it, the birth of a new idea - Stitches CD.

We're working on Stitches CD Volume II now with even more stitches. It will debut in January, so stay tuned as that project comes to fruition. Could you have imagined 20 years ago getting your stitches on cd? Next we'll be able to beam them into open air like in the matrix.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Welcome To My Blog


I thought it might be interesting to start a blog that talks about the design end of needlepoint and how mucch it has changed and is changing over time.

If you have come to this blog via one of my websites you already know me. If you found the blog elsewhere you very well may not know me. So let's start there.

I have been stitching and crafting as long as I can remember. It's just what I do. I was never one to just sit still and watch tv, I always had to be doing something else. My mom would crochet and is now an avid needlepointer. She gets to stitch more than I do! Her mom also crocheted. Remember all those teeny tiny handkerchief edges and wonderful lacey tablecloths and doilies? Well, that's what she did. And then there was my Aunt Elsie, she stitched all the time and I do mean, all the time. She did crewel work, kit after kit after kit. Many she stitched several times (I wish I had one of those now, but I was just a kid). She stitched so many pieces that the walls in her house were covered top to bottom with her stitching.

I took my first formal Needlepoint class when I was in 6th grade. Okay, other kids play outside, I stitch.

I went on to college, attained a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts. I even painted and exhibited my own abstract watercolors for a while. Maybe one day those paintings will be recreated in needlepoint.

In 1990, Kreinik Manufacturing moved their corporate offices to Owings Mills, Maryland and I became their Design Coordinator. This was a great opportunity for me to learn about thread and the industry and to meet many talented designers.

In 1994, I left Kreinik to pursue a new vision. I wasn't sure what would happen, but it certainly has been an adventure. I began freelancing as a Graphic Artist and that soon turned into my own design and marketing firm, Plum Creative Associates, LLC. It's a wonderful business and I work with many great people. I wouldn't trade them for anything.

But being a true Gemini and having more than a little A.D.D., I wanted more. I was still stitching and had been designing counted canvaswork. I sold designs to many needlework magazines. I also published my own chartpaks, plus those of several other friends, to sell to shops nationwide. The industry goes through many cycles and Counted Canvaswork (while beautiful and so much fun to design and stitch!) just wasn't a cost effective business. I needed to regroup if I was going to stay in the industry.

So, in 2003 my dream came true of being able to start a hand painted needlepoint design business! Needlepoint is my first love. I love the painted canvases and bringing them to life with stitches and threads. I work a little differently than many artists in the industry. I do not actually paint the canvases myself. I am the Creative Director. I come up with concepts and then work with very talented illustrators to bring them to life. So what you ultimately see is my vision translated through their hands. All of our illustrations are then charted for needlepoint and stitchpainted - giving you the highest quality and easiest canvases to stitch. There's no guess work for color or stitch placement with these designs!

I still get to stitch many of my designs and develop stitch guides for them so that stitchers can follow me or create their own art. My goal is to create art that appeals to all ages... but especially to the thirty and fortysomethings. We need to keep the art alive and exciting - It's not your Grandmother's Needlepoint!

I currently live in Towson, Maryland with Karl, my partner of 20 years and one of the amazing illustrators of the needlepoint canvases. We have 4 cats - Jasper, Tigger, Hunter and Harold. They know they are in charge of the house and are gracious enough to let us live with them. One day soon they may have to share their home with a puppy (shhhh! don't tell). Mom is well and not far away, putting up with my requests for more stitched models for the tradeshows. The joys of being an only child - a mom who doesn't have to divide her time.

Thank you all for helping me realize my dreams... and for sharing yours with me! The Needlepoint business is thriving as is the Graphic Design business and we are having a wonderful time!

Until next time.
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