Sunday, March 8, 2015

An Afternoon with designer Jeannette Douglas

I have the most exciting blog post I think I've ever written to share with everyone today.
Please note that this is my personal summary of the day and my thoughts.

My friend Christine (right) and I (left) had the absolute thrill and pleasure of spending the afternoon (yesterday) with cross stitch designer Jeannette Douglas (middle)!!!
Now most of you are (I hope) saying to yourself, oh yes I know Jeannette's work. But in case you aren't read on for more about her, her designs and my fabulous afternoon with her, and head over to her site to see her collection of designs.

How did this come about? 
Remember the blog post I put up in January about how I really wanted to afford Jeannette's class being taught in my hometown, Calgary for EAC this year? But that the cost was a wee bit too much for a two day class and only one project?
Well, believe it or not, someone sent Jeannette a link to my blog post asking her about the project she is teaching; and she read my post! Following reading my post Jeannette contacted me via email letting me know she totally understands being in her thirties and having little money to do a large cross stitch event. From there she invited me to bring a friend and come for afternoon tea!!
To say I was shocked, excited and flattered would be an understatement. I was actually in (happy) tears sharing the email with my DH and telling him that I couldn't believe she had bothered to read my blog post nevermind, be so kind as to offer her personal time to me!!

Setting it up
So we discussed a time and day. February is a busy month, and we decided that the week after Jeannette had been at Nashville Market would be perfect! As she could share some Nashville experiences, discuss new designs, and (of course!) sell us her new designs that were released that week. When she indicated that we could shop from her studio I was over the moon!!

The Meet and Greet
I'd known for some time that Jeannette lived in Calgary. She is a born and raised Canadian (which I find so cool as she is a big time designer!). She is absolutely doll to chat with. Christine and I left there saying to each other, "OMG she's our kind of people!". There was zero snobbiness in Jeannette. She instantly invited us in to her home for tea, had some goodies from the best bakery in town (her friend owns the bakery!) and invited us into her studio/office to chat. She was so genuinely excited to meet us! And of course, we were giddy like school girls to meet her.

The Studio
Wow, is the first thing! Every color, from so many different thread companies including; Thread Gatherer, Crescent Colors, Gloriana, Waterlilies, Waterflowers, and so much more!
If you're familiar with Jeannette's designs then you know that they are all about color, especially variegated threads (my favourite!). Drawers of fabric including one of her (and my) favourites Lakeside Linens.
One wall (that is behind us in the first photo) is covered in her own stitching of others designs. Her favourites include The Drawn Thread and Shepards Bush. I feel that you can really see that inspiration in each of Jeannettes designs.
With a perfect sized table in the middle we sat down to chat.

About Jeannette
I learned so many interesting tidbits about Jeannette during our conversations including:
- she does not own a sewing machine, and (like me!) does not sew. All her finishing is done by hand!
- she used to be a nurse in psychiatric wards her in Calgary, in her previous career
- she has no full-time staff that help her. Jeannette does almost all aspects of the business herself including; designs, charting, filling store orders, putting together thread packs (when her occasional helpers aren't around) and so much more!
- her husband also works from home and so it's like they never leave their house! (lol)
More tidbits about Jeannette below.

The Designs
Jeannette chatted with us about her designs and color palettes a little bit (Seasonal Sampler shown right). Including disclosing that pink is far from her favourite color (probably why I love her designs so much). Her charts are so detailed because each one (even little ones) have speciality stitches in them. Some of which she has modified or created herself!
Interestingly, she stitches most of her designs herself and uses them as the models. She brings in a photographer to shoot the pieces but sets up the backgrounds, mood and focuses herself. Plus she takes the time to set-up the graphic design of her covers herself (alongside some help from her graphic designer daughter). This is one talented lady that is aware of all aspects of her business.

It's clear in chatting with Jeannette that she cares a lot about her customers and fellow stitchers. She wants to give a solid product that can be enjoyed, loved and appreciated. Her instructions are flawless in the designs I have done of hers and so I know that there is a lot of attention to detail put in them. Buying a Jeannette Douglas design is always a learning experience as there are different stitches in each one. One of the reasons I love her stuff is the challenge to learn new stitches!

Jeannette never repeats herself. We discussed that she has less Christmas patterns than most designers and I loved her response that, she hopes she is more creative than just choosing holidays over and over again. For me that was such an amazing statement!! While I love Halloween, Autumn and sets of seasonal pieces; sometimes you need something different. Just like the modern piece (shown left) that I purchased called Numero. It's DH approved (which is rare) and I will be doing it up for our entryway at home. These types of unique ideas are something that Jeannette clearly tries to come up with each time she sits down at her desk to design a new pattern.

However, don't get me wrong, a great banded sampler, four seasons set or holiday themed piece is always a great choice for any designer; and Jeannette is no exception to that.

Thread Packs
One of the keys to Jeannette's designs is the thread packs that go along with them. As her designs always include variegated threads, usually silks, sometimes wool and other different weights purchasing a thread pack can be critical to her designs. Now that's not to say you can't put together the colors yourself or modify them a bit, but really why would you want to!? :)
In my experience Jeannette's thread packs always have more than enough to complete the design even if you're not a thrifty thread stitcher (which I am not).
The key to it it all... Jeannette knows how much thread to include because she's (in most cases) already stitched the design herself! It's brilliant!

We were allowed to browse Jeannette's charts, thread packs and embellishment sets (all meticulously organized) and shop right from them. So naturally I had to go all out (stitch from stash be damned on this day, DH had sort of agreed ahead of time, lol). All the photos you've seen in this post are of patterns I purchased.
I picked up some older patterns, thread packs for patterns I already had, and a couple of her latest designs including the gorgeous "English Rose" sampler (shown right). This design was just released at Nashville and I feel oh so tickled to have it so quickly!
I left with a huge addition to my stash, but what I know will be hundreds of hours of enjoyment (which is worth more than the two day class, as pointed out by my DH!).

A Farewell
We stayed late into the afternoon as it was just so much fun. 3+ hours after we had arrived we paid up for our shopping and started to pack up. Jeannette was still thrilled to have us (or she's an amazing actress, lol) and even mentioned us returning again at some point. A day when we could bring our stitching with us and continue chatting!!
I walked out of Jeannette's home feeling so blessed and special for having a rare opportunity to not only chat with her one-on-one (with my friend of course) but to also have experienced her home studio and be given a window into her personality, ideas and life.

I don't know that I could possibly find enough adjectives in my vocabulary or even with the help of a thesaurus to describe what an amazing day it was. Christine and I discussed on the way home that today was a rare treat, and better than any birthday we've ever had!!   :)

Jeannette Douglas' designs are available at almost all major needlework shops or online sites (or request your shop to bring in her stuff!). The biggie online shops like 123 & ABC carry her stuff. As well as one of my personal favourite US online shops; all her newest designs are available through Karen's shop. Thread packs are listed in drop down menus for each pattern.

Whew, that was a record long blog post. I even tried to keep it short but just too much to share! 
Thanks for reading this far, and as always Happy Stitching! 


~Narita said...

WOW! What a wonderful day you had! I can just imagine how much fun you had.
I did the same fun thing with Judy O'dell (Just a Thought) I had offered to help her put kits together, so I got to stay the whole weekend at her house. It was soooo fun.
Designers really do have the best stash! All the threads!!! And all the charts and kits, etc.
Oh what fun!!!

Rachel Tomkins said...

Wow! How did you manage to keep that quiet? You and Christine obviously had an exceptional day out and one that will live with you forever. To meet someone so warm and genuine must have been an amazing experience.
You picked up some wonderful stash too. I bet you wanted more though! When you stitch the pieces they will be even more special and help the memories come flooding back.
I think, under the circumstances we can allow you to blow you SFS budget!!

Blu said...

OMG that sounds amazing! It's so obvious that you and Christine had a wonderful time. Jeannette sounds so warm and friendly.

Mrs. GraceWorks said...

Oh, Mel, I am SO pleased for you!!!! It sounds like you had an incredible day and I'm just so glad that you were able to go and chat and shop!! You do so much for all of us with all the work on Stitch from Stash and it makes me happy that you had this treat!!

I look forward to seeing all your new starts. I love that owl one!!


Leonore Winterer said...

Wow, what an awesome day, and what an awesome lady! I didn't even know her patterns before, but I live the English Rose one you got. I agree, to hell with SFS if an opportunity like that opens up :D

Clare - Aimetu said...

I'm delighted for you Mel - you deserve this treat, you do so much for other stitchers. How lively of Jeanette to ask you - I love her designs too. Fantastic memories to treasure :-)

Loretta said...

All I can is "Wow"!!!

Malinda said...

Best blog post ever! What a special memory!

D1-D2 said...

What an amazing experience. If she ever comes to the Creative Festival I'll have to make sure to take her classes.

Gillie said...

What a treat, I have several of her designs, think I need to start one with the story of your lovely day still fresh in my mind! Love the 'sort of' agreement from DH!

We are lucky enough to have Judy Whitman from JBW Designs in our guild......she must be related to Jeannette, lol, as just as nice!

Brigitte said...

Oh my, this must have been the perfect afternoon. And all that great stash that you brought home with you. Thanks for sharing this special experience.

CJ said...

Thanks for sharing.


Kate said...

Oh WOW! Sounds like you have the perfect visit, I'm so pleased for you both.

Faith... said...

WOW how lucky you were! Sounds like a truly fantastic day and what a great new friend you have made. Hope you get to spend more time with her soon. Lots of wonderful stash you got there :) Also it is great to "see" you and what you look like!

Kerri said...

What a memorable day! I had a weekend class with Jeannette in Florida about 10 years ago I guess. She designed the Sunshine State Sampler, which I finally finished last year. But I totally agree - she is just delightful in everyway! Warm, funny, creative and just a genuine lovely person.

So happy for you and I would definitely go back and stitch for an afternoon. I work from home and it can be very isolating so having a friend over is a treat!

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

Oh wow, how amazing! What a lovely woman Jeanette is and such gorgeous designs. I really like the seasonal one, they are my pet love!
I was so impressed by Jeanette's kindness that I had to tell hubby about it, something I rarely do LOL.

Deb said...

Congrats on meeting your designer!!
SFS would be the furthest thing from my mind, too!
Love the seasonal design. Will have to look that one up.
Great update and lots of great info!

Stitchinowl said...

OMG, what a treat to have afternoon tea and chat about stitching with the designer! I saw the English Rose Sampler chart at my LNS last weekend. Seeing it again on your blog is making me want to go back and buy it. :)