Thursday, April 3, 2014

New Stuff

     I'm just not feeling like myself lately, and I think it's because I can't find anything. We have warehoused all of our publications in a corner of my husband's building for years. (After 15 years it was a very large corner, I might add.) He retired last month and had to empty out a 5000 sq. foot space full of computer parts and equipment. Of course, this meant that Blackbird Designs had to move too. Barb and I picked a weekend in the middle of March, rented a truck and moved our patterns to a smaller warehouse. We sized down to about 800 square feet. Luckily we have very tall shelving...12 foot in fact. The heavy kind of shelving that holds lots of 25 lb. boxes of books.
    The day we picked was sunny and warm. Lovely....if you can call any day you have to move lovely.

     Rosy Morning, pictured above, arrived the day before our move, and I was able to ship out most of them before we packed up. This pattern is in your local cross stitch shop now. Unfortunately, I already have a correction note to let you know about. We really try hard to catch everything before we publish it....but sometimes we make a mistake.
Stitch the bird body, positioned on the right side of the house, with GA Toasted Barley.

Guess what just arrived in the quilt shops? Plum Sweet! It's our newest release from Moda fabrics. I can hardly wait to open my bundle and begin working with this line. The colors feel like spring, and after our winter I could use a bit of spring.

We used this fabric line to make the Alphabet Quilt from the Spell it With Fabric Blog Hop. If you didn't get a chance to download all of the patterns, check my posting of Feb. 26, 2014 for details. There is still time to get all of the patterns.

We have another Reward of Merit we are getting ready to release next week. Below is a quick peek.

Until later!


Friday, February 28, 2014

We have a winner!

Joan it's you!

Looks like someone "Plum Sweet" is in Joan's family! Joan you best get busy, I know that sweet girl needs al alphabet quilt! E-mail me at with your address and I will ship out the fabric to you. 

Below are some pictures of our new Nashville market releases. 

 English Garden is our limited edition kit. This sewing bag kit also included fabric from our newest Plum Sweet line.

The Garden Fair is a kit that Hoffman Dist.packaged and sold at market for us. All of the floss needed for this project is included. Your local cross stitch shop can be purchase this from them. This box is just the right size for my garden seeds. All I need is a bit of warm weather to plant them.
Topiary In Bloom is the newest pattern in our Reward of Merit series. The colors of this go well with the English Garden sewing bag.


     The vintage sampler above is one of my favorites. I am attracted to antique and vintage samplers just as I am drawn to old, worn books. Each has a tale to tell, each has something that catches the eye.
     Sweet borders combined with bird motifs at the bottom of the piece struck my fancy, as did the letters and numbers, separated by dividing bands.
     But those features are not what made me purchase this sampler. Rather, it was the bright scarlet initials in the middle of the piece that popped out at me and made me get out my checkbook. Those initials matched mine before I married.
     I will probably never know the name of the girl who toiled over this sampler. For, just as finding the last pages of a book missing, that part of the story was separated from her work. The booklet below has the pattern for the large sampler, the pincushion and sewing box.

Many thanks to all who participated in the contest! Hope you all had a chance to visit all of the blogs and get all of the patterns for the Alphabet Quilt!  

Until later,


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

     X marks the spot! Welcome to Blackbird Designs for our day on the Moda's, Spell it With Fabric blog roll. X is our letter of course, because we love cross stitch.
     Above are some pictures of our booth from Fall Quilt Market, 2013. We used all of the letter patterns to make the full alphabet quilt using our Plum Sweet fabric line. We love how it turned out. (I just wish I had a granddaughter to wrap up in this quilt!) We also made a table runner using the letters, and spelled out "Plum Sweet." There are too many things on our market table for you to really see it in the pictures above. Check it out in the picture below, on my dining room table. I think a birthday table runner would be fun. Pick your favorite words and sew a special banner for the one you love!

     Get our letter X pattern here.

     Still have some of my Christmas ornaments up? You bet! I think I'll take the snow flakes down when the weather warms up. Might be in June or July the way our weather has been here.

     Need a bundle of Plum Sweet? Leave a comment and I will run the random number generator and pick a winner on Friday. I think there is almost enough to do all the alphabet in this bundle! You will have to add a bit for the borders....and the good news is this line will be in the shops soon. Go here for a picture of all the prints.
     Below are the listings for everyone in the Moda blog hop. Check them all out for the remainder of the letters and prizes too! 

Vanessa Christenson -


Setting Directions -
Winners Announced on ALL Designer Blogs listed above

Need the earlier postings?  Catch up here:

Lauren + Jessi Jung -

Me and My Sister Designs -

Primitive Gatherings -

Until later,
X  X X X...  Alma

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Snow Day

     It's a major snow day here in the midwest. The only time I've been out of the house was to feed the birds. Since there has been lots of time to work on the computer today, it felt like a good time to update the blog. I've been very remiss and haven't shown the latest two Loose Feather patterns. So, here they are:

     Barb designed "The Country Life," and it was the Loose Feather pattern for Jan. I love all of the animals in the yard. When my kids were home for Christmas they saw a pair of foxes in our hedgerow. I think I might have to stitch this one! It should be in the shops now.

     My Friend's House is at the printers now. It's the pattern for Feb. and will be at the distributors soon.

I have to show some pictures sent to me by Theresa Venette of Shakespeare's Peddler.

She writes:
I stitched this for my friend, Jennifer, for Christmas this year. I thought you might like to see it! :)  On one of the pictures, you can see my pliers -- I had just finished framing it!  I stitched it on a 30 count R&R Reproductions hand-dyed linen with the Sampler Threads. Jennifer is a professor of Anatomy and Physiology, so I really liked that there was a quote on there about education. She was tickled pink to get it.
     Many thanks Theresa for sending your pictures. What a lucky friend!!! This sampler is from our booklet Maria Selby Humphrey - 1831.

Moda Blog Hop begins Feb. 17th.

This one will be fun. Look for details soon!

Keep warm!


Monday, December 23, 2013

I'm a Bit Smitten

     I've been in the kitchen making all kinds of cookies this past week and I had to share my favorite of this year's bunch. I found this recipe in Land O Lakes cookie recipe collection for 2009. These Christmas Pistachio Bites are just perfect. I've used tons of walnuts and pecans in cookie recipes, but this is the first time I've used pistachios. The green color of the nut adds a bit of extra pizzazz!

     The dough for these cookies is rolled into a log and refrigerated until firm. The cookies are then sliced to give the round, "coin" shape.

Here's what you need:
1 cup Land O Lakes butter (Anything with a cup of butter has to be good!)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pistachios ( I found mine at Whole Foods. You want the unsalted and shelled varitey.)

Mix the butter and brown sugar and beat at a medium speed until creamy. Add the flour and extracts; mix until dough forms. Mix in the pistachios until evenly distributed.

Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a 10" log. Wrap each log into plastic food wrap and refrigerate for 3 hrs. or overnight.
Heat your oven to 350 and slice each log into 1/4" slices. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool completely.

 6 oz. almond bark
1 tsp. shortening
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pistachios
parchment paper

Microwave the almond bark and shortening until melted and smooth.
Dip each cookie halfway into the warm coating, shake off the excess and place on the parchment paper. Immediately decorate with pistachios.

You can't go wrong with these!
 The plates are from Anthropologie. I couldn't resist! (Calligrapher Canape Plate)

Until later,


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December's Loose Feather Chart

     We've had a dusting of snow and lots of cold weather which made us cancel our travel plans to Spring Green, WI. Barb and I hoped to begin work on the next Loose Feather patterns while we were gone. Now we will have to figure out another plan for getting together to work.

      Thanksgiving was busy around here. All of my kids came for turkey, mashed potatoes and all of the trimmings. Luckily they each have a special dish they prepare, and since Dave grills the turkey my job is fairly easy now. My assignments are the pies, some side dishes and preparing the table....not too bad! We invited some friends to make the day fun. (Above is pictured the youngest three of my four children. The oldest was watching a football game on TV and couldn't tear himself away for a picture.)

      Dave finally got the tree up this morning. Although it isn't decorated yet it still gives the house that fresh pine scent. I never think I'm going to get it all done, but luckily everything seems to work out just fine. Today I'm making Christmas cookies and I have to run to the grocery store soon to get several items I forgot. (Isn't that always the way?)

     Thinking of all of you and hoping you are enjoying the holidays. Hope you are able to save some time for yourselves and family during this crazy, wild, stressful and fun season!
     December's Loose Feather pattern arrived at the distributor's today. It should be in the shops soon!

Until later!


Monday, November 11, 2013

I'm sorry for the delay in posting our newest patterns. I returned from quilt market in Houston, TX, unloaded the van and then drove right back to Houston. My husband and I moved his mother to Kansas City this past week. The movers are unloading her furniture into her new apartment today. I have just enough time to post on the blog, go to the warehouse and ship some books and patterns and finally help Dave's mom unpack. This move is a bit hard as she has been in her home for 40 years and she's 91 years old. She's remarkable for her age though!
The above pattern was last month's Loose Feathers (#4) and is now in the shops. The large leaves are done with the satin stitch. They change as the light is reflected on the smooth surface of the stitch.
This is number 5 and will be in the shops very soon. 

Give Thanks is the second in our sewing box series. The designs are mounted into a 6" wooden box made by Stephanie Elmer of  Lone Elm Lane - Early Wooden Wares.

I used 1 yd.of  Norfolk Pine - Medium rick rack from R & R Reproductions for added detail. The pincushion pictured above is also in the pattern. It's framed with tiny chenille trim (Norfolk Pine also) stitched along the seam line. These patterns should be in the shops soon. Pictured below is the first in the series which was released in August. The stitched pieces are easily removed from the box top making it easy to celebrate each season.

Until later dear friends!