Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Black & White: A color comparison

If you google the question "is black a color" you will find a lot of websites that report no, it is an absorption of all colors or you will find the opposite that white is actually a color. It's definitely a bit confusing to say the least! Color perception depends heavily upon the medium being used, and the receiver (our eyes are the receiver). Everyone has slightly different abilities of color differentiation and perception.

For many, black is the absence of color. From a dyers perspective, black is what you get when you combine all colors/solvents/solutions together into one. You have to have the perfect balance though because you can end up with "true black", "blue black", "brown black", etc. The same way that whites can be "snow white", "ivory white", "grey white". Even black and white colors harbor undertones.When dying fibers, true white is only obtained with complete absence of any dye or any color. White is the fresh, clean slate. Black is the accumulation of many colors into one.

White is a common color. The color of milk, bone, light, chalk, and many materials seen in every day life. It is symbolic of life, purity, innocence, Black harbors opposing symbolic ideas. It is symbolic of evil, death, mourning, loss, emptiness. What is most interesting though, is that different cultures view white and black in different ways. Some cultures use white for mourning. The yin and yang of the color debate, these colors often take on values from their opposite.

I'll close with some black words on this white page and an interesting quote or two:

"It's not easy taking your own advise, accepting what you don't like hearing, and seeing the grey amongst the black & white."  -April Mae Monterry

"When you photograph people in color you photograph their clothes.  But when you photograph people in Black and White you photograph their souls."  -Ted Grant

Friday, June 3, 2016

Sile's Dress

A tiny, baby girl was stillborn on February 28, 2016 to my daughter Maritta and her husband Ben.  She was given the  name, 'Sile'  (pronounced See-lah) the Irish name for Cecelia.  Many friends sent kind notes and offered gestures of love and kindness.  Our dear friends from Fern Ridge Collection knew of a woman in their local guild that makes beautiful burial dresses for these tiny infants.  Pattie Davidson graciously made this as a lovely gift from Pat and Peggy.

Taking the time to make such beautiful things to sell would be a wonderful item for someone to purchase, but Pattie makes these dresses and charges not a single penny.  I was in awe of her generous kindness in all the lovely details of the smocking, sewing and embroidery.  We want to thank her publicly for this gift from the hands of a needle artist who gives back in such a special way.
Maritta says:  "When I opened the package and saw the beautiful gown I was in tears, not because it was a sad moment. My tears were from seeing such a perfect dress, made with such care and love; the gown was so precious and it gave me back a memory I thought I was not going to have...the memory of a handmade gown for my beautiful daughter. Thank you for the love, and tenderness put into each and every gown you make Pattie, your thoughtfulness gave this mom a memory and a motherly moment I was in such need of at the time."

At the hospital there was a room, called the Butterfly Room.  It is filled with handmade blankets, some quilted, some knit for these tiny babies who were either stillborn or died shortly after birth.  Little dresses and outfits were also there along with tiny plush animals.  Grieving Mothers and Grandmothers can choose little outfits and a blanket for the burial.  Often they had matching sets so one set was given to the Mothers when they leave the hospital and placed in a 'memory box' with the feet and hand prints of the baby and other items. 

If you feel inclined to share your needlework skills in this way I suggest contacting your local hospital to see if such a program exists in your area.

In gratitude for the gifts from the hand and heart,

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Color Your World Wonderful in January

Here is the inspiration and our interpretation in thread for our January Club.

Mary Grosser has already started a piece using these threads.  I love the way she is
stitching on needlepoint canvas with them!
We can't wait to see what wonderful colors are developed as our club members send in their color inspiration each month!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Day One of the Twelve Days: Christmas Stollen


For Day 1 of the 12 days of Christmas, I wanted to share something with you that my family requires I make every year during the Christmas season. In fact, I have to make several batches just to satisfy them and then a few more in order to be able to give a few loaves away. I wear my baking hat the majority of December needless to say! 

Stollen (pronounced stolen, as in I stole something) has European roots. The original recipe did not call for almond paste but the filling is what takes this bread to the next level. We eat it for breakfast, we eat it as a snack, and we eat it as a dessert. I have one recommendation, heat it for a few moments in the microwave if you have it a couple of days. The center becomes so gooey and warm, the bread re-awakening to a more tender slice. 

So what is it exactly?

Christmas Stollen is rich, dessert like bread with rum soaked dried fruit. It is filled with an almond filling that takes this from plan old fruit bread to simply delicious. I think that this bread is better than other "stollens" because there is potato water and mashed potato in it. It makes the bread so soft, so tender. This recipe is quite a bit more effort but it is definitely worth it.  If you make it, please share on the blog with me or on facebook at the Threadgatherer's page- I would love to hear what you think or if you have questions. 


1/2 C mashed potato, freshly made
1/2 C potato water, reserved from cooking potatoes 
1 1/4 C scalded Milk, cooled
3 t instant yeast
7 1/4 C bread flour
1 1/4 C butter, room temperature
1 1/3 C sugar
2 t salt
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t almond extract
2 1/2 C fruitcake mix from King Arthur Flour (this is NOT
the usual fruitcake mix from grocery store)
find at
1/2 C Rum or Brandy
1/2 C slivered almonds or almond flour
1 pkg almond paste 8 oz
1 T beaten egg
1/2 C additional sugar
1/4 t almond extract
 Powdered Sugar

Combine fruitcake mix with rum or brandy and let sit for several hours.  May use apple juice if you don't want to use alcohol, but the alcohol cooks out in the oven.

Sponge:  Combine potato water, mashed potatoes, scalded milk, instant yeast and 2 cups flour.  Combine and form a smooth dough.  Let rest, covered for 2 hours.
Combine all the sponge, the sugar, and extracts.  Stir in 1/2 of the  softened butter.  Using a dough hook attachment mix well.  Combine the salt and 2 C of  flour, then add to dough, mixing well.  Add remaining  soft butter.  Add remaining flour (you may not need all of the flour).  You want a soft dough that does not stick to your hands.   Add fruit mix to the dough.  Add either the slivered almonds or the almond flour at this time.  Knead dough well and put into a greased bowl and cover with a towel and let rise for a couple hours.  You can cover with greased plastic wrap and let sit overnight at this point.  If you do put it in refrigerator, then allow it to come up to nearly room temperature before proceeding.
While dough is resting, combine the almond paste, 1 T of beaten egg, 1/2 C sugar, 1/4 t almond extract.  Form a stiff dough consistency and divide  4 parts.  Form logs and  wrap in plastic wrap.  Put into refrigerator until ready to form loaves.
Divide dough into 4 parts.  Roll into a rectangle about 7 x 9" and place one filling log in the center.  Fold over the dough lengthwise, with the top edge set back by about half an inch.  Press firmly to combine the dough where folded over.  Repeat with remaining 3 dough parts.  Place on a parchment lined pan.  Cover and let dough rise for about 45 minutes.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  The Stollen won't double in size but will look somewhat 'puffy'.  Bake for about 30 minutes, checking after 25 minutes.  You want it to be golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes on rack.  While still warm brush loaf with melted butter and dust heavily with powdered sugar.  Cool completely and then re-dust lightly with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Two New Loves

Who would think that I would have these two items as 'new loves'. . .
I really like Heinz' new Sriracha Ketchup  - so much that even if I have two other bottles of regular ketchup in the refrigerator I'll open a new bottle of the Srirascha if I don't have any remaining.  The other new love is my IPhone.  Just got it today! 

I've been using a hand-me-down phone from Maritta,  one I could barely get past 'just learning how to answer', and don't ask me about putting the phone in 'airplane mode' and my issues getting it where it would ring again while on a business trip. . . .  I told Maritta I wasn't going to get a new phone unless it was 'totally free' - I lied, and I love it thus far. 

I can already turn it off and on by myself and add contacts!  Also, it has that feature that means the kids won't get such cryptic text messages from me anymore since I can 'talk' and the phone will 'type' it for me.  I do believe that I will have to  either occasionally type my own so that they will maybe get my usual text message where out of 20 words, two or three might be real words and the rest - well I knew what I was telling them.  I guess in a pinch I can just make up a few really far out words since I think the phone will type what I speak - guess I'd best go practice that to see if it really works.  I wouldn't want anyone to think the real Cece or Mom had disappeared.  

Darn it anyway, I just learned that I missed my opportunity to be on Ellen - Mariah said she was having a program on text messages from Moms.  I could have definitely won.

Tomorrow I'll try my best to get off the phone and back to the dye pots!

Until Later,

Monday, October 19, 2015

Color Your World Wonderful Club

Over the years one of the top questions we've been asked by shop owners and retail customers has been "Where do you get your inspiration for your colors?".  Our answer has changed over the years, from looking at the particular thread line to see what color families are missing to finding inspiration from a picture, or a theme we are doing for an upcoming tradeshow.  We have had so much fun creating colors.  We would like to offer you lovers of the needle arts the chance to say "that new Thread Gatherer Color, it was my creation!".  We are starting a limited edition Silk 'n Colors thread club with colors each month designed by you! 
 The club will be called 'Coloring My World Wonderful'
This is how it will work.  The first twelve people (or shops) who sign up will get the chance to choose (in the order you sign up) one month out of the year for 2016.  These twelve people will take inspiration from nature, a photo,  place  or other inspiration such as gift wrap etc.  Send us your inspiration (with at least 3 colors) via email or the mail,  (ideas:  paint chips, a snippet of fabric,  a picture from a magazine) by the 15th of the month prior to your month. The official first shipment comes out January 2016.
 Thus, if you have January as your month we must have your color choices no later than Dec 15th, and if your month is February 2016 we must have your color inspiration no later than January 15th and so on.  We will create one multi-color and two other colors (probably solids) to compliment the multi.  Each person in the club will receive 3 limited edition colors each month.  The club will be a year long commitment.  The retail special price of this club is $15 per month plus shipping charges via USPS.  In the US this will be $2.  International customers will pay actual shipping charges.  We will include a special gift four times during the year with your club. 
 All colors created  become our property and we reserve the right to name the colors and add any color to our regular line.  There is a small fee of $5 to join the club. You will be required to sign a contract for a year ($15.00 per month plus shipping for a year).  Email Cece at: to join using subject line of email:  Color My World Wonderful Club.  Shops may also join the club,  and we will advise you of your wholesale price when you email or phone us.  There are many color inspiration boards on Pinterest if you need assistance in choosing your colors.   Here is an example of a color inspiration board:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fiona's Beautiful Stitching

I loved the idea my daughter, Maritta posted on our facebook page inviting you, our best customers, to send us an email with a design stitched using our Silk n Colors.

I opened an email from Fiona McKinnon of Melbourne, Australia with this picture of her beautiful work.  It is a design of Tracy Horner's of Ink Circles, called Solitaire.  Fiona stitched it using our SNC 102 Grape Soda on 32 ct. Belfast Linen.  I'm sure you agree that the color is simply stunning in this design!

There is a touching story regarding this stitching of this piece in Fiona's words:  "I started it for my boss's wife, she fell ill last August, and sadly passed away in February.  Far too young and a very gentle, kind and loving lady.  I finished it last month, had it framed, and gave it to Peter, in loving memory of Ann Elizabeth Carpenter, he was very pleased."

Fiona wrote:  "I love the rich colors in The Thread Gatherer range, my favorite colors are purples, pinks and reds."  She is working on another Ink Circles design using our Regal Orchid color.  Fiona says visiting lovely needlework stores in the U.S. in on her bucket list.  Thanks Fiona for sharing with us.  Her work is the perfect example of taking one of our colors you love and using it in any design of your choosing which then makes the design uniquely yours! 

Still dyeing, threads that is!
Until Later,