"What newer designers and product creators (fabric or floss dyeing, etc) out there have you discovered and recommend?"
Well, given I have taken over two years "off" from stitching, I have to say I am not really following designers/stitching products these days so I haven't discovered anyone/anything new, nor would I dare to recommend any.
In March, we were challenged to do one stitch a day minimum, every day and I decided it would be one way to test my hand's endurance (it cramps badly after about one hour of trying to grip objects) and get back into a stitching routine.
Because I can't see that one stitch blackwork a day makes much sense and I wasn't sure I could guarantee more than that, I decided to go with my travel needlepoint and see how far I could take it. Since there is at least one road-trip/long weekend away form home in March, this made especially good sense (in my mind at least).
Here is the starting point:
After seven days, and 1570 stitches (minimum daily count was 145, maximum was 387), the middle border is now complete (with less than one half or a single pre-cut strand of the called-for color left! Whew! This is an OLD kit and I don't have any yarn in my stash of left-over needlepoint yarns that matched that color!):
There will be backstitching on both the pot and the palm but I will leave that to the very end, perhaps after blocking the piece, as it is clearly VERY distorted by being hard-held while stitching.
Now to the background...
Week four was essentially dedicated to the first and lightest of the three background colors, although there were a few stitched on March 28 that started color two... The weekly stitch count was 1511 (maximum - 315 , minimum - 25):