Sunday, November 30, 2014

Smock Along -Bonus Optional Clue:

Add a wave in the middle of the open spaces on rows 2 1/3 and 9 2/3. On row 2/1/3, stitch an up cable up against the bottom of the wave from Clue 4, travel down to row 2 2/3, down cable (I added a bead) travel up to 2 1/3, up cable. Take your thread to the back and cable or outline stitch on the back to the next wave on row 2 1/3.


Stitch a mirror image starting on row 9 2/3, stitch a down cable, travel up to 9 1/3, up cable (I added a bead), travel down to 9 2/3, down cable, take the thread to the back. Continue across the row.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Las Vegas- A little history

Registration for the first SAGA Retreat of 2015 will open on Monday, 1 December at 10:00 am Central Time. The location is Las Vegas- so here is a little information about the city.

Las Vegas is the most populated city in Nevada and one of three leading cities in the US for conventions and business meetings.

Established in 1901 and incorporated as a city in 1911.

It is thought that the earliest visitors to the Las Vegas area were nomadic Paleo-Indians, who traveled here 10,000 years ago, leaving behind petroglyphs. Anasazi and Pauite tribes followed at least 2,000 years ago.

In 1829 a trader named Antonio Armijo led a 60 man party along the Spanish Trail to Los Angeles and these were the first non-Native Americans credited with entering the valley.

The area was named Las Vegas, which is Spanish for "the meadows", as it featured abundant wild grasses, as well as desert spring waters for westward travelers.

John C. Fremont arrived in the area in 1844 and his writings helped lure pioneers to the area. Downtown Las Vegas’ Fremont Street is named after him.

Eleven years later members of the Latter Day Saints church chose Las Vegas as the site to build a fort halfway between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, where they would travel to gather supplies. The fort was abandoned several years afterward. The remainder of this Old Mormon Fort can still be seen at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Washington Avenue.

1931 was a pivotal year for Las Vegas. At that time, Nevada legalized casino gambling and reduced residency requirements for divorce to six weeks. This year also witnessed the beginning of construction on nearby Hoover Dam. The influx of construction workers and their families helped Las Vegas avoid economic calamity during the Great Depression. The construction work was completed in 1935.

In 1941, the Las Vegas Army Air Corps Gunnery School was established. Currently known as Nellis Air Force Base, it is home to the aerobatic team called the Thunderbirds.

Following World War II, lavishly decorated hotels, gambling casinos and big-name entertainment became synonymous with Las Vegas.

The 1950s saw the opening of the Moulin Rouge, the first racially integrated casino-hotel in Las Vegas.

In 1951, the first atomic bomb was detonated at the Nevada Test Site, 65 miles (105 km) northwest of Las Vegas. City residents and visitors were able to witness the mushroom clouds until 1963 when the limited Test Ban Treaty required that nuclear tests be moved underground.

The iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign, which was never located in the city, was created in 1959 by Betty Willis, who never copyrighted it.

During the 1960s, corporations and business powerhouses such as Howard Hughes were building and buying hotel-casino properties. Gambling was referred to as "gaming," which transitioned into legitimate business.

In 1989, entrepreneur Steve Wynn changed the face of the Las Vegas gaming industry by opening up The Mirage, the Las Vegas Strip’s first mega-casino resort.

Official City Website with tourist information such as weather things to do

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mystery Smock Along

SAGA President, Lisa Hawkes gives more help and directions for the Mystery Smock Along!

I have received many emails asking for pictures so I will be posting a picture for each week even if we don’t need step by step photos of the stitches. So here we go with clue 4!
We are going to stitch a Trellis/Wave Combination this week. Beginning on Row 3, Pleat 2, that is not a mistake – begin on Pleat 2!


Stitch a down cable (see you just formed a flowerette from the stitches from clue 3), travel up to Row 2 2/3, travel up to 2 1/3, travel up to Row 2, up cable, down to 2 1/3, down cable, up to 2, up cable, down to 2 1/3, down cable, up to Row 2, up cable, down to 2 1/3, down to 2 2/3, down to Row 3 – 16 stitches. Your next stitch begins the sequence again and will complete the flowerette. Stitch the sequence across the Row, but do not tie off your thread. Leave the floss at the end. After seaming your ornament, you can thread up your needle and stitch across the seam to complete the sequence by stitching the final stitch on Pleat 1.


Stitch a mirror image beginning on Row 9 with pleat 2, stitch an up cable, travel down to row 9 1/3, travel down to 9 2/3, travel down to row 10, down cable, up to 9 2/3, up cable, down to 10, down cable, up to 9 2/3, up cable, down to 10, down cable, up to 9 2/3, up to 9 1/3, up to 9. Continue across the row. Again do not tie off, but save some thread to stitch pleat 1 after the seam is sewed.


Beads: If you beaded every other Triple Crown in clue 3, bead the first stitch on rows 3 and 9 of the sequence so the entire flowerette is beaded. If you beaded the horizontal stitches on Rows 3 ½ and 8 ½ in Clue 3, bead the horizontal stitches on rows 2 and 10.

Bonus optional clue coming later this week!

What's in a Name- Midnight Oil Smockers

The largest refining of crude oil in the US is Exxon/Mobil located just outside of Houston in Baytown situated along the Houston Ship Channel.

The name “Midnight Oil Smockers” was chosen by our founding group because with young families the members seemed to do most of their smocking late at night, burning the midnight oil.

The logo, an oil lamp, represents the heritage of grandmothers and great-grandmothers who stitched by lamplight after the day’s work was done.

Thanks to Tawn Hunka for the orgins of her chapters name. Let us know about the origins of your chapters name. Email me at


Friday, November 21, 2014

Stash and Storage

Following on from ‘Where SAGA Members Actually Sew’, we’d love to see your Stash and Storage!

Take a photo of your Stash as it is (don’t tidy it!) and Storage of your sewing notions, buttons, fabric etc. and email them to

We can all benefit from other people’s ideas, so even if your storage solution isn’t perfect, it may help someone else organize theirs! Let’s see how many ways there actually are to store lace, thread, ribbon and buttons!
Here's one to get us started (and no, it isn't my stash!)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mystery Smock Along Clue 3

Clue 3: We are going to stitch a Cable Trellis combination this week. Beginning on Row 3, pleat one, just under the pleating thread, stitch a Triple Crown: up cable, down cable, up cable.


Travel down to Row 3 ¼.

Travel down to Row 3 ½

Stitch a Down cable at Row 3 ½.

Travel up to Row 3 ¼.

Travel up to Row 3 and repeat the sequence from the beginning.

Stitch a mirror image beginning on Row 9, pleat one, just above the pleating thread, stitch a down cable, up cable, down cable, travel a ¼ step up to Row 8 ¾, travel ¼ step up to Row 8 ½, stitch an up cable on Row 8 ½, travel down to Row 8 ¾, travel down to Row 9 and repeat the sequence.

Bead options: You have two options for beads on this clue. First you can place a bead on each of the horizontal stitches on Row 3 ½ and Row 8 ½. Alternatively, you can place three beads on the first Triple Crown on Row 3, skip the next Triple Crown (remember I said this is a 16 stitch repeat) and continuing across the row, beading every other Triple Crown.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wes visits Thimbleberry

Thimbleberry chapter of SAGA meet the first Tuesday of the month at a church in Fairfield, Connecticut. The November programme is always a Christmas ornament and is lead by a chapter member. So Wes went along to visit the chapter members.

This years ornament was from an old issue of SAGANews (before my time) and was the winner in a SAGA 2000 ornament contest. Barbara Ellis' design, 'Blended Curves', is an intermediate project. What our programme leader, Lisa Hawkes (SAGA President) had not anticipated was that the chart in the magazine was graphed wrongly, so she had to take time to redraw the erronious area for us-wonderful!

But then, working from the directions form the magazine, a couple of other errors were found in the written text, but between us we finally worked it all out and there should be a couple of completed ornaments to see at our next meeting!

The design is very pretty and everyone picked different colours to smock with, but we all agreed a colour photo of the original design would have been a great help!

I encourage you to look back over past issues of SAGANews for projects you can use for chapter programmes. Either thumb through your own copies or visit the SAGA website where many back issues are archived in the Member's Only' area.

And I apologise ahead of time for any errors you might find, but it is all part of the learning curve!
This is my ornament-A work in progress!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Coming to your mail box......

SAGANews Volume 35 Issue 4 is in the mail and on it's way to you!

This issue contains information about the Smock Across America Las Vegas Retreat as well as a wonderful lace smocking design, a Christmas bishop  and some cute angels to embroider!
As always we'd love to know if you have received your copy and if you enjoyed it!

Monday, November 10, 2014

What's in a Name?

I live in Connecticut, the Constitution State. There are no heirloom sewing shops nearby, just JoAnn Fabrics, Michaels and Hobby Lobby. We do have a few quilt fabric, needlepoint and knitting stores, but these are few and far between.

But we do have the Thimble Islands!

The Thimble Islands is an archipelago consisting of small islands in Long Island Sound, located in and around the harbor of Stony Creek in the southeast corner of Branford, Connecticut.

Map of the Thimble Islands
The archipelago of islands made up of Stony Creek pink granite bedrock were once the tops of hills prior to the last ice age. As a result, the Thimble Islands are much more stable than most other islands in Long Island Sound, which are terminal moraines of rubble deposited by retreating glaciers

Known to the Mattabeseck Indians as Kuttomquosh, "the beautiful sea rocks,

The first European to discover the islands was Adrian Block in 1614. Legend says that Captain Kidd buried his treasure here, causing intermittent interest among treasure hunters who believe they have unearthed a clue to its location, although more interest is generally paid to Gardiners Island, 30 miles away.
Although they are said to be named for the thimbleberry, a relative of the black raspberry, that plant is seldom seen in the area, and is more frequent in northern New England. Other species of blackberry and raspberry, however, are sometimes referred to by residents of the area as thimbleberries.
cap, plant, black cap,

And I belong to Thimbleberry Chapter of SAGA, which is named for the thimbleberry bush.

Do you know how your chapter name came about? It is a fun thing to research-let me know what you discover!

Friday, November 7, 2014

More Smock Across America

                                        Lori Popelka smocked on Orange Beach, Alabama.

Where will our next Smock Across America photo come from?
Email your photos to

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mystery Smock-Along Clue Number 1

I hope you are ready to get started! Here is some background information and then I will have step by step photos of Clue #1.

Background: We pleated 11 rows. Rows 1 and 11 are holding rows. We will be smocking rows 2-10. You may have pleated ½ space rows, but those are not included in the count, so as you are reading the directions, DO NOT count those rows. Your ornament is going to be symmetrical, so to the extent that affects your color choice, you now know.

Left-handed Smockers – since the ornament is symmetrical, you can just start on the right hand side of the fabric and follow the directions as written. Leave as is or turn your ornament over when you are finished.

Strip your floss: I have cut an 18 inch piece of floss and have separated the individual strands. I am smocking with 3 strands. You can use more or less strands depending on your thread choice.


Insert your three strands of floss in your needle – mine is a number 7 Darner – and smooth your floss. I do this by using a piece of felt that I wet with water and wring out. It straightens out my floss so I get a nice smooth stitch. Knot your thread. I wouldn’t do this with metallic threads.

Needle coming up in the center of the valley between pleats one and two and just below the pleating thread on Row 4

Clue number 1 is to start on Row 4, with an up cable and cable across the row. I am coming up in the valley between Pleats 1 and 2, just below the pleating thread of Row 4. I want to hide my knot and get into the correct starting position.

Here is a second picture of where I came up to get started.

    Needle going from right to left to get into position to start the first stitch.

To get in the correct position for my first stitch, I insert my needle through the first pleat from right to left, again just below the pleating thread. Now my needle is at the correct depth to take my first stitch.

      Up cable needle is horizontal and the thread is above the needle.

Keeping the needle horizontal, and the working thread above the needle, stitch through the second pleat, again just below that pleating thread and gently pull the thread taught.

  Down cable needle is horizontal and the thread is below the needle.

Again keeping the needle horizontal, but the working thread below the needle this time, take a stitch through the next pleat.


Continue to cable all the way across Row 4, just below that pleating thread, alternating up and down cable stitches. You should end with a down cable if you didn’t skip any pleats, or stitch any pleat twice.

On Row 8, we are stitching a mirror image of Row 4. Begin just as you did on Row 4, but instead  keep your working thread below the needle and start by stitching  a down cable. As you stitch, this time keep your stitches just ABOVE the pleating thread. You should end with an up cable. HINT: as you are smocking your mirror image row, keep checking Row 4 above, the stitches should be lining up with each other. This will let you know if you skip a pleat, or stitch one twice.

See you next week with the next clue. Happy Smocking!