Tuesday, August 19, 2014

St. Charles Recap

Jiggity Jig. I'm back from market. Whee Whee Whee! So, you ask, how was the trip? What did you buy? What did you sell? What freakishly large stinging insects did you encounter?
An extended flight delay was brightened by a
troop of Elvii on their way to Las Vegas.

New stuff from Ink Circles:
Bee's Knees
Another Bad Neighborhood:
Miracle Grow
#5 in the series
As always, you might have to look closely to get it.
Rejoice in the variety that abounds -
Diversity in Beer
The Big Red Ship of Life is sailing into a port near you.
My attempt to tastefully use WDW Blaze Orange.
Only available through shops that attended this
market for the next 30 days.
2014 RYO Mandala Series
made the move from PDF to print only
Can't help but bring a few things home.
New colors from WDE, Gentle Art and WDW
SamSarah's Steampunk Sea Serpent
Heartstrings' His Eye is on the Sparrow + threads
And a few things for Mum from Gigi R. and Queenstown Samplers
And I leave you with the thought that these things are merrily buzzing about in downtown St. Charles. I like last year's katydid better.
And I don't think he grew up in Bad Neighborhood #5.
Happy stitching, and may your needle be the worst thing that gives you an accidental little poke.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Monthly Mandala: August 2014

As summer zips by and we flip another calendar page, I roll out the next installment of the Merry Go Round series. Stitchers are still welcome to join us, although the "mystery" part of things is 71% out of the bag (i.e., 5 of 7 revealed.) It costs $35 to join, or $25 if you do/did the 2013 series, for 7 of these color customizable charts.

August's offering is "Tropic of Cancer," being named after the latitudinal line as all of the other circles in this series. You may think I missed the boat because the zodiacal calendar has Cancer ending not in August but on July 22nd, but perhaps I was deferring to the Sidereal calendar which puts August 1st smack in the middle of the sign. Whatever your opinion on my astronomical and geographical ramblings, I hope find that the chart speaks well enough for itself.

Tropic of Cancer: number 5 in the 2014 Roll Your Own series
New colorway: Cancer -  817/350/352, 935/469/471, 3834/3835/3836, 632/407/950
This one seemed to look great in every palette I tried on it. Here are 15 of our established combinations to get you started (or to hopelessly bog you down in equally wonderful choices.)
Too many options? I think not!
Row 1: Candy Ducks, Long Jacket, Floral Hues
Row 2: Owl Optimizer, Solas, Poiple
Row 3: Garand, Honey Bee, Anchor Moss Rose
Row 4: Revenge, Emerging Hues, Halloween
Row 5: Buried Jewels, Darkside Duck, Orchids
Your stitching horoscope: I see all of your x's crossing in the same direction and little pieces of colored thread everywhere. You are having trouble locating a particular skein of floss that you bought. You will clean half of the house looking for it, then decide to go the the LNS and buy a duplicate. While there, you will decide to reward yourself with a few other goodies as a reward for doing that housework.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


I had actually forgotten that I did a piece for this until the finished book showed up in the mail! It's a sweet book with a lot of well-designed projects, IMHO.  I see a number of designer friends' names in there, too, which makes if feel like a group collaboration.

Hardback book on the shelves now.
You'll like the way they divided the projects up by planned color palettes - we got to choose which section fit our piece. I picked purples and gold.  I used DMC, but you could easily sub in overdyes or different colors.
GIngerbread Flourishes by Ink Circles
So if you're looking for a collection of Christmas patterns that extends beyond an ornament collection, have a look at this book. It would also make a nice gift for a stitcher.

P.S. You still have plenty of time to finish something BEFORE Christmas. ;-)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

And in the Magazines

I've got three new holiday pieces popping up in the magazines this season.  Look for a new Halloween Mandala in the the Just CrossStitch special Halloween 2014 book. This is the fourth year I've done a piece in this series.
Ghostly Mandala by Ink Circles
For some reason I think of Scooby Doo when I look at it.  This series was all done with dark but not black threads on varying backgrounds. Any one of them, but this one in particular, would look really neat stitched on the new Glow in the Dark fabric produced by Fabric Flair.

Changing seasons and dropping down to ornament size, I have a piece in both the JCS Ornament 2014 Issue and the Preview Issue. You can see my mistletoe peeking out at the bottom on the Ornie issue. It's not on stands yet, but you can preorder from just about any shop.
Stained Glass Mistletoe

The Preview issue (JCS August 2014, which is out now) had the companion Holly piece.

Stained Glass Holly

Happy holiday stitching,

Monday, June 30, 2014

Enter the Dragon

Here is the July installation in the RYO Merry Go Round series. If you are wondering what this project is all about and want to join, I've written up a Wiki page with the relative information just for you. 

Constellations, not just earthly locations, can be associated to latitude positions. Good thing, because there aren't as many interesting latitude lines on earth as I'd hoped when I themed the 2014 series. Astronomer David Pratt offers, “The north ecliptic pole lies in the constellation Draco, and has the equatorial coordinates 18h (270°) RA, +66.6° decl. “ The word “Draco” is from the Greek draconis meaning “dragon,” and the constellation is symbolized by a coiled serpent or dragon. At one point, numerologists were all abuzz that "666" (admittedly 66.6) corresponded to the Dragon.

Draco 66.6 for July 2014 Merry Go Round series

Don't worry if you're not into numerology, astronomy, dragons, and such. I try to keep the imagery suggestive at best and completely subliminal if the color are chosen in certain ways. So perhaps you see the dragons and the ladies - perhaps not. It stitches up beautifully in any case.
A few more colorways:
Original Draco /  Revenge / Long Jacket
Mardi Gras / Candyduck / Starfleet

And not to worry that you're not getting any bonus corner chips this month. The old ones pop in without a fuss and look great, keeping the overall square to the same 115 stitch size.

Draco in the In Memoriam colorway with corners from Equatorial Orchids

Draco in the Buried Treasure 2 colorway with Capricorn's corners

Monday, June 2, 2014

Equatorial Orchids

It's spring and everything is fresh and new. Too new - I've got too many fresh ideas that I'm having a tough time juggling them all. The Roll Your Own series, is one with published deadlines so it rises to the top of the to do pile. Even so, I introduce the June installment a day late.
Equatorial Orchids - #3 of 7 in the 2014 RYO series
For some blindingly brilliant reason, I decided these should all be named after lines of latitude. Something punny about "great circles," I imagine. So this month, I picked the equator and tried to convey some lushness of the tropical flora. Shown above it a new color scheme called Orchids, but as you'll see below, it looks great in other combos too. The more color combos we make, the harder it gets to pick one.

Equatorial Orchids in the following RYO colorways:
Garand, Candyfloss, Owl Optimizer
Solas, Darkside Duck, Lemony Hues
Revenge, Bridal, Buried Treasure 2
If you are new to this Roll Your Own concept, you can read more about it here and purchase the charts. These series are (unlike my regular charts) offered as PDF files.

Although I didn't break it out in each separate preview above, the corner chips and the center bit can be used to make additional options as in past rounds.
Extra things you can do with the center and corner chips.
Have fun. Stitch faster.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Next Big Thing

Often when I finish up a new piece, folks will ask me what the next big thing is.  With Reflections of Paris and Elegant Squid just released, I can honestly say the next thing is truly BIG. Bigger than anything I've ever done. I love it, and I hope you do too. Here is the story.

A few years ago I was introduced to a beautiful form of needlework called the Tampan Ship cloth that were woven in Sumatra in the 18th and 19th centuries. I'm not going to give a whole background, but I'll point you to a few articles that I enjoyed (1)(2)(3) for more info on their history.
A Tampan ship cloth
The writings all indicated that these beautiful artifacts were no longer being made and the samples remaining were largely in tough shape, as they were actually used by the people who made them. Comparisons have been made with embroidered samplers, including the Dutch Amager samplers.  Of course one of the reasons I was drawn to these cloths was the complete use of the space. I like my needlework to be dense - look at my Ink Circles pieces and you won't find a lot of open areas. I like the way motifs fit together.
Amager Panel chart by Needleprint:
similar motif density in a monochromatic embroidery

I decided I needed to make a cross stitch version of a Tampan cloth. It would be technically impossible and undesirable to make a direct reproduction of one for many reasons. The weaving has a different aspect ratio than cross stitch. Look at how many different line slopes there are! The cross stitch would have to be huge (we're talking a couple thousand stitches wide) to give a thread for thread reproduction.
Also, the repetition. That's a lot of big red fish. Many of these cloths include the same figures over and over, often doing a mirror image of the whole ship so it could be draped over a table/alter/coffin/? and be seen oriented correctly on both sides. Some of these cloths had to be made by the same person or school, as the designs are as identical as handwoven can get. I thought I was looking at two photos of the same cloth on this one until I started looking very closely. I took my initial layout from the twins below, but was soon scrounging other cloths for more interesting and diverse figures and motifs to substitute.

I couldn't resist all of the adorable and strange little animals that decorated the different cloths. Look at the alligator, and the little monkey things, bizarre camel birds, octopi, and godzilla. Look at the topmost picture in the post at the little flying goats/reindeer. Every inch has such interesting creatures. I suggest you Google the topic and spend a time looking at the highest res photos.
As I studied all of the images I could find (big thank you to all those universities and museums that have high resolution images of their entire collections!) I tried to make sense of what the images were. What were the people holding? Men with spears - were those the warriors? Are those ladies or just Hammer pants? Were those stringers of fish and drying herbs hanging everywhere? That must be an umbrella, and that a hut. Are those angry warriors brandishing their masculinity (a detail I chose to omit from my version?)  And little filler patterns, stars, and plants everywhere.

This is what I ended up with after months of inspired charting. I'm excited to order silks and get stitching. My big dilemma at this point is that it is large: 345 x 421 stitches, with about 62,000 x's. That is large enough that even many of my die-hard fans will take a pass on purchasing a chart. I think it would be prohibitively expensive to have a model stitcher help, given expected sales levels. I think it's going to be a fun stitch with so much variety and detail, but it's going to take me forever. So it maybe just a personal piece for now, but I love it. I know there are a lot of lovers of big red samplers out there that I can share it with someday.
The Ship of Life - original sampler design by Tracy Horner of Ink Circles
based on motifs from antique Tampan Ship Cloths (c)