March 10, 2014

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St. Patrick's Day is next week and the store displays have gone green. That gave me an idea for today's newsletter. When I wrote about the color blue, many people commented on how interesting the article was. Green is my second favorite color perhaps because Emerald is my birthstone. So, I thought maybe it was time to investigate the color green.

What do you think of when you hear the word "green"? If you said nature, spring (especially if you have been affected by the Polar Vortex), Ireland, or saving the environment then you are in the majority. It is not surprising that we think of spring or nature, since "green" has the same root as "grass" and "grow". The English use of the word green is over 1300 years old. However, green might not actually be green in some languages! Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese characters blur the distinction between blue and green.

Let's talk a little color theory. Humans consider the primary colors to be red, blue, and yellow. These three colors are important because human vision is trichromatic, which means the human eye has three color receptors. Wouldn't it be interesting if our color receptors were three different colors, like purple, red, and green for example? Many birds may have four color receptors which changes the way in which they see colors also. Going beyond the primary colors, you get the secondary colors, orange, purple, and green. These colors are created when you combine two primary colors. People have done entire doctoral projects on colors and color combinations, so it is best we stop here. I think we are all familiar with the basic color chart and often incorporate it into our stitching whether we are aware of it or not.

Green has had a long history in art and textiles. I am not sure how the experts know this, but apparently Neolithic people had a green dye for their clothing. However, there was no green pigment in their cave paintings….hmm. Ancient Egyptian artists used a mineral called malachite which they into a fine powder. The color green was very important to this culture and had its own hieroglyph, a papyrus sprout. had this graphic showing the hieroglyphs for several green colors.

At that time, paintings portrayed people with green faces to indicate good health…which is interesting because a green face today makes you think of illness, for example, green around the gills. Apparently English folklore had a role in assigning colors to health. That's where we also get a blue face for depression, a red face for anger, a rosy face for health, and yellow for disease. I thought "gills" referred to fish, but the term "gills" was used to indicate the area under the chin and jaws. Other sayings you might recognize are "filled to the gills" (full) or "loaded to the gills" (drunk).

Did you know that the back of the US Dollar has been green since 1861. This was done to help eliminate counterfeiting.

In ancient times, there was not a green dye for clothing. Instead the cloth was first dyed with saffron, making it yellow. Then the cloth was soaked in a blue dye. By the Middle Ages, green clothing was worn by the wealthier classes of people like bankers and merchants. However, creating a reliable green fabric dye was still an issue. This was a problem because some people were required to wear green. Various types of vegetation were used to dye the cloth, but the color faded rapidly in sunlight or washing. By the 16th century, the best process involved dyeing the cloth blue and then yellow. While artists continued to use malachite, verdigris was the green pigment used by monks, made by soaking copper in wine. This is the green color that copper roofs and statues take on when exposed to the elements, especially salt water.

Finally in the 18th and 19th centuries, synthetic dyes were created. One popular color was known as Paris Green. It was used for paints, wall paper, fabrics, and even food coloring for confections. There was only one small problem, it was lethal. The color contained arsenic and people who wore clothes dyed with this product tended to die at an earlier age. Even though the poisonous aspects were known for over a century, production was not banned until the 1960's!!! To read more about Paris Green, check out this article on the Jane Austen's World blog.

Did you know that the US Food and Drug Administration still has not approved a natural source for the color green. Chlorophyll is used sometimes in cosmetics and medicine.

Green entered the political world in the late 1900's. The Green Party in Europe stood for the new left politics rejecting socialism and communism. Greenpeace began in 1971. Their mission is "to defend the natural world and promote peace by investigating, exposing and confronting environmental abuse, and championing environmentally responsible solutions." Another modern use of green is the green cross designating European pharmacies. Many towns are proud of how much green space, or parks and gardens, they have in their towns.

Green also makes some people think of love and hate. William Shakespeare used the expression "green-eyed monster" in Othello. A huge urban legend developed around green M&Ms. They were reported to be an aphrodisiac. It became such a widespread rumor that in 1995 the Mars company cashed in on it by creating the seductive green mascot. She remained the only female M&M mascot until 2012, when Ms. Brown was introduced.

Colors have an emotional impact also. Green is considered to be a positive color with a nurturing spirit. That may be because blue gives an emotional calm and yellow a mental clarity. As in earlier times, green is associated with wealth and abundance. However, that can be taken to extremes to become materialistic. Another source said that green revitalizes us when we are exhausted. I will have to give some thought to this. I wonder what would happen if I would decorate my office space in green? Would I be more organized? I know when I added green plants at home in the rooms with the white walls, the rooms seemed more inviting. Perhaps there is something to emotional attributes of green.

Did you know that the standard traffic light was designed around the color red because it meant danger? Green was then chosen since it would not be confused with red.

Since this newsletter started out because of St. Patrick's Day, let's talk blue. Yes blue! Blue was the original color associated with St. Patrick. In the 1800's Ireland became known as the Emerald Isle because of its climate and lush landscape. The leprechaun is an Irish fairy who spends his days making shoes and causing mischief. Up until the 20th century, his coat used to be red, not green!

How does the iconic 3-leaf clover fit into St. Patrick's Day? St. Patrick was said to use the clover to illustrate the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A three-leaf clover was easy to find because things in nature tend to be created with leaves in odd numbers. Each leaf is said to have a meaning. The first leaf is faith, the second hope, the third love, and if you find one, the fourth leaf is luck! You have to be lucky to find a 4-leaf clover because there is only 1 for every 10,000 3-leaf clovers! By the way, the term "shamrock" is an English term. The Irish still say "clover".

The shamrock is a popular design in needlework. Hanky Panky has a new Hardanger embroidery design, St. Patrick (1116E). I knew Ruth has been designing Hardanger patterns for many years, so I asked her it. Here is what she told me:

"About 45 years ago, I attended a rural Project Meeting where Alvia Quinn displayed tables of her Hardanger. It was new to me and I sure did want to learn this new stitchery. I signed up for 12 night classes with Alvia and tried to get a few friends to go with me for this 2 hour drive. No one wanted to go with me. At the classes there were instructions and diagrams on a blackboard but no printed sheets or books. It was hard to remember all of the instructions the next day. There was not even a store that sold the fabric. I convinced a store 50 miles from me to carry white and ivory 22 count fabric. Later I had classes and materials at my craft store and all of my friends took lessons.

In a few months I will be 86 and I start every day with a cup of coffee and stitch hardanger. My day ends the same way and I manage to sneak in a couple more hours of stitching in the afternoon. My designs come from various inspirations. I learned to crochet when I was 19 and will create similar designs in hardanger. Many times my need for a special occasion doily has not been designed yet and I will think about it for a few months and then draw a rough sketch, a first graph and then start to stitch on a fabric. The design will take many turns as it does not always look as good on cloth as the graph did. Sometimes I will discard my first two cloths before the third cloth is looking good. If I am not happy with the design no one else will like it either. Also my background on various crafts learned when operating my craft store for 13 years has inspired me to change flat hardanger into dimensional (Christmas ornaments). Because hardanger is geometric designs I find it my challenge to design curves in my designs.

My husband Jerome passed away a year ago. I have two married sons and my first born daughter that passed away from cancer 10 years ago. Now I enjoy life with 7 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. There are other duties for me such as customers, mail orders, designing paper punches and miniature flower for miniaturists and housekeeping to keep my life interesting and fulfilling. Loving to Live, Ruth Hanke"

How did Ruth come up with her shamrock design? She said she had stitched a shamrock 10 years ago and never did anything with it until she wanted a St. Patrick’s doily. She had to dig thru all her drawers to find it and then worked it into the doily.

New Designs from Ruth

Psst... Hardanger books & patterns are on sale for a limited time!

Okay, so now it is your turn! When looking at products for this newsletter I found we had over 35 pages of green threads and embellishments on the website. Rather than having them hanging around, I thought it would be cool to see what people can create. So, we have come up with a challenge. Using green threads and embellishments (beads, buttons, and Treasures) that we carry, stitch up a Shamrock or two.

Show Us Your Shamrock Contest Rules:

There will be five needlework categories (Cross-Stitch, Embroidery, Canvas, Hardanger, and Other) and you can enter once in each category. When your project is done, take a photo(s) to submit, fill out this entry form and email (or mail) it to me by April 30th. Your name will be put into a drawing for a chance to win a $20 gift certificate in each category. Plus all the entries will be shown in a future newsletter.

Download the Contest Rules »

The project can be an original design or a published design that you substitute the threads and embellishments on. The background fabric(s) or materials can be anything you choose. Your project should be finished as if you are ready to give it away. So, your project might be an ornament, bookmark, towel, framed piece, or bell pull.

To get your creative juices flowing, I designed a Shamrock that is embroidered in the Swedish style of Hallandssom (stitching from the Halland region.) Here is the chart. You are welcome to use it to get started, or change up some elements to make it your own.

People Making a Difference

Today I am featuring Greensburg, KS, a town that was almost wiped off the map by a tornado in 2007. What makes this town so special is that it took the "Green" in its name seriously and came back even stronger as a brand new, sustainable city. Here are just a few of their accomplishments: Home to the most LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings per capita in the U.S. First city in the U.S. to use all LED streetlights.

Greensburg is 100% renewable, 100% of the time. All of the electricity used in the City of Greensburg is wind energy. Water in this part of Kansas is a very precious resource. They conserve every drop with low flow fixtures and native plantings in their landscaping. They also collect rainwater for use in irrigation and in some facilities, as grey water in toilets.

Their story is very interesting. Greensburg GreenTown has published an online GreenTour Book to learn about the green buildings in town as well as an introduction to concepts related to sustainable building design. Each page offers information about the building and an introduction to two or three green features related to that building.

Greensburg community leaders have been meeting with Joplin, Missouri, to help them rebuild as a Green Town after their devastating tornado in 2011.


Green Foot Soak


Pamper yourself on St. Patrick's Day with this lovely green foot soak.

  • 1 cup Green Listerine – actually any color of Listerine will work
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2-3 cups of warm water to cover your feet
  • Bucket or pan large enough to put your feet in

Let your feet soak for 10 minutes. When you remove your feet you can gently use a pumice stone or scrubbing brush to remove the dead skin. Rinse your feet. Apply your favorite body lotion.

Rye Party Puffs


I tried to find something different yet still with a St. Patrick theme. Here is a fun recipe from the Taste of Home website. If I can do it, you can do it!

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • Caraway seeds

In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring water and butter to a boil. Add the flours, parsley, garlic powder and salt all at once; stir until a smooth balls forms. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat until smooth.

Drop batter by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Sprinkle with caraway. Bake at 400° for 18-20 minutes or until golden. Remove to wire racks. Immediately cut a slit in each puff to allow steam to escape; cool.

  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 packages (2 ounces each) thinly sliced deli corned beef, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons minced chives
  • 2 Tablespoons diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon spicy brown or horseradish mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 10 small pimiento-stuffed olives, chopped

In a large bowl, combine the first eight filling ingredients. Stir in olives. Split puffs; add filling. Refrigerate. Yield: 4-1/2 dozen.

Sale Products

Many of these products are clearance and won't last long! So grab them while you still can!

Green Fabric

22-count Victorian Christmas Green Hardanger Fabric

22-count Almond Green Hardanger Fabric

Hunter Green Monk's Cloth

Grass Green Monk's Cloth

Hemstitched Linen Square – Green

Hemstitched Linen Towel – Green

Green Projects

Christmas in the Pines with Green Fabric

Forest Blanket

Grasshopper Pie

Wild Rose Doily

Think Green Kit

Green Gadgets

Canvas Basket with Stitching Supplies

Itty Bitty Ditty Bag

Ditty Bag

Xtra Flex II Craft Light

Stitch Happy 3 Pocket Tote

Mini Designer Magnetic Board

Sidehopper Jump Scissors

Handy Caddy Organizer

6" Green Worm Wood Frame

Little Froggy Scissors Fob

Mesh Bag with Green Trim


Learn Needle Tatting Step by Step

Complete Book of Tatting

Oh My Stars!

Needle Tatting CD

Elegant Tatting


Today was a Total Waste of Makeup

We're Not Gossiping

Needle Flutters Kit-Princess

Ocean Dreams Beaded Pen

Coffee or tea?

Have a Drink on Me

Pansy Pincushion

The Teaberry Strangler (Novel)

A Silver Needle Murder


Fun Flags: Coffee Break

Coffee Compendium

China Blue Sampler

Did you check out the Fiber Frenzy sales? This week we are featuring many of the Rainbow Gallery Gold Rush threads. Gold Rush threads are chainettes. This makes them soft, but they can unravel. Some hints for stitching with a chainettes thread is to use a larger needle than you would normally. Be sure to stitch straight up and down which reduces the drag across the fabric. More than likely the end of your thread will be unusable, so don't have a lot of tail past the eye of your needle.

Another tip from Rainbow Gallery is to apply a drop of Fray Check (6622) to the end of the threads once it is in the needle.

Rainbow Gallery has four sizes of Gold Rush.

"The number after the Gold Rush logo denotes the size of canvas for which the yarn is best suited. A word about Gold Rush XS, try this on both 11 count Aida and 18 count canvas. It is a very versatile yarn. This metallic can be used to replace 4-5 strands of blending filament for those who do not like to ply up. The problem of filament curling up on itself will be solved when you use Gold Rush XS. (Gold Rush 12: -10-13 count canvas); (Gold Rush 14: and Variegated Gold Rush 14: - 13-18 count canvas); (Gold Rush 18: - 18-22 count canvas); and (Gold Rush XS: - 18-22 count canvas)"

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