Interstate Cross Stitch Road Sign Pattern

This Interstate cross stitch road sign pattern and kit are now available in my Etsy shop!interstate cross stitch road sign pattern and kit

This is just the latest in my series of US and European road sign patterns.

The stitched example, Interstate 80, is a 2900 mile route that runs from San Francisco, California to Teaneck, New Jersey. Along the way, it also passes through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Interstate-80 SignI must say that I am most familiar with I-80 from where it meets I-76 on the western Nebraska border to Newton, Iowa. Many hours of my youth were spent on long road trips from Denver to Omaha to Newton and then back to Denver, visiting family during summer vacations.

I am also very familiar with the stretch of I-80 between Vacaville and Davis, California. In my previous career, I worked on a the construction of pharmaceutical factory in Vacaville. Vacaville was a nice town, but the really good restaurants were in the fun college town of Davis, about 20 miles away.

The entire Interstate Highway System is an impressive feat of engineering. Started in 1956, the network now has a total length of 47,856 miles. It goes through some truly spectacular scenery –  a couple of my favorites are I-70 between Green River and it’s junction with I-15,

Sun Ray

 [Sun Ray by Arunas Sileika via Flickr]

and the tiny stretch of I-15 in Arizona between St. George, Utah, and Mesquite, Nevada through the Virgin River Canyon.Virgin River Canyon / Interstate 15

 [Virgin River Canyon/Interstate 15 by the Last Mortal via Flickr]

This Interstate cross stitch pattern is just the latest in my series of road signs! Thus far, I’ve created highway signs for Colorado, Alaska, California, Texas, Washington, Michigan, Florida, New Mexico, Georgia, and Utah. I hope you check out all the states and the 15 other road sign patterns – they’re a lot of fun!

Monty Python Fruit Cross Stitch Pattern

This Monty Python fruit cross stitch pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!monty python fruit cross stitch list from self defense against fresh fruit sketch

This project comes from the Monty Python sketch about self defense against homicidal maniacs armed with fresh fruit. John Cleese plays a drill sergeant training four hapless recruits. All the fruit they have trained for is on this list, plus one item deemed too “high and mighty” for their meager lot. In spite of the fact that I’ve seen this sketch repeatedly, “…and mangoes in syrup” cracks me up every single time I hear it.

This bizarre and hilarious sketch first appeared on their BBC show in a 1969 episode called “Owl Stretching Time” and they recreated the first half of the sketch for their movie “And Now for Something Completely Different.”

Monty Python’s Flying Circus ran from 1969 to 1974, creating a body of very silly and subversive comedy sketches that are still as bizarre today as they were then. If you’re unfamiliar with them, I recommend you start with either the BBC TV show, or the movie “And Now for Something Completely Different,” which is some of their best sketches from their first two seasons recreated with a higher production budget.

After their TV show, the popularity of Monty Python only kept growing. The troupe went on to create Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian (my personal favorite), and the Meaning of Life, stirring up controversy at nearly every turn and even serious academic analysis along the way.

monty python cross stitch pattern - Mind you, moose bites can be pretty nastyI have another Monty Python cross stitch pattern currently available, based on the entirely silly opening credits of their movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I also have a project in the works that features another popular sketch from their BBC show so stay tuned for that!

 

In the meantime, check out this Monty Python fruit cross stitch pattern… and the next time “some great homicidal maniac comes at you with a bunch of loganberries, don’t come crying to me!”

Gluten in Your Muffin Cross Stitch Pattern

This Gluten in Your Muffin cross stitch pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!

gluten in your muffin cross stitch pattern

The quote for this project is from a 2015 episode of Saturday Night Live with Kevin Hart as the host. The line comes from a very funny sketch about gentrification in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Kenan Thompson uttering “You actin’ like someone put gluten in yo’ muffin” just cracked me up – especially with all of the increased gluten awareness these days.

I also love the idea of the “artisanal mayonnaise” shop, which as it turns out IS REAL. Entrepreneur has an article about how the Empire Mayonnaise company of Brooklyn embraced the SNL sketch and even released a flavor inspired by it. The Wall Street Journal has an article about Empire Mayonnaise’s operation, about a year after it opened in 2012. Bacon flavored mayo sounds pretty good!

I used two DMC variegated flosses in this project – pink 4180 and blue 4022. The variegated pink was used for the flower petals around the dark pink center, and I really love how they turned out – each flower is just slightly different.

gluten in your muffin DMC variegated floss 4180 rose petals

And I am so thrilled with the variegated blue in this whimsical font – it’s just gorgeous, and looks even better in person (although as it appears in the photo at top isn’t too shabby).

gluten in your muffin dmc variegated floss 4022 mediteranean sea

I carry both flosses in my shop, if you want to take a closer look – Rose Petals 4180 and Mediterranean Sea 4022.

Nearly everyone knows someone who is going gluten free either for medical reasons or for other general health issues. If they have a good sense of humor, you know they would just LOVE this little Gluten in Your Muffin project. It stitches up quickly, it’s silly and cute, and it would make a great gift!

New DMC Floss Colors Pattern – Geometric Sampler

This new DMC floss colors pattern is a fun and quick-to-stitch geometric pattern, although it would look great with any of your favorite floss color combinations.new dmc floss colors pattern

At this time, these new flosses can only be purchased in a pack with all 16 colors. I am eagerly awaiting the day when they make them available to purchase separately, but that could be a few years away. The pack is accompanied by a few attractive botanical-themed patterns, but I wanted to make a project where I could see how the colors interact with each other a little more.

I wrote a thorough review of the new colors shortly after the pack was released in 2013. In it, I discuss the colors individually and how the colors fall into the DMC palette.DMC Floss New October 2013

If you read my post, you’ll find that my favorite additions are the purples 3886 and 3887, blues 3890 and 3891, green 3894, and yellow 3889. Within the confines of just this one pattern, my favorites to stitch with were the blues 3890 and 3891, purple 3887, yellow 3889, and, interestingly enough, the beige 3890.

One of the nice things about this project is that it uses about 10% of each skein, leaving plenty of floss to use on other patterns.

This pattern can also be used with any of your favorite color combinations. I have imagined this project with 16 colors of reds, pinks, raspberry, and orange, or exclusively in shades of blue and purple. It would make a stunning little needlepoint project, possibly stitched in petit point and finished into a pincushion. This new DMC floss colors pattern is very fun and could be used in any number of ways!

Have you purchased these new flosses? If so, have you used them in some projects? If so, let me know in the comments – I’d love to see some ways that others have utilized some of these lovely colors…

Blues Brothers Cross Stitch Pattern “Rollers”

This Blues Brothers cross stitch pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!blues brothers cross stitch pattern shit. what. rollers. no. yeah. shit

The quote comes from the 1980 movie “The Blues Brothers” starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. The movie is a classic that has achieved cult status, and for good reason. First off, it has a great plot and it’s hilarious. Also, the movie has performances by some of the best blues artists who ever existed: Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Cab Calloway, John Lee Hooker, and Ray Charles among others. On top of the music, there are tons of cameos – from Twiggy and Frank Oz to Steven Spielberg, Paul Reubens, and John Candy.

Other than Belushi and Aykroyd, the Blues Brothers band were musicians, not actors (which is pretty obvious by their speaking parts) and their resumes are impressive. Check out these articles about just three of the musicians: Donald “Duck” Dunn, Steve Cropper, and Tom Malone. Dan Aykroyd plays a mean harmonica in the movie and in real life.

This Blues Brothers Cross Stitch pattern comes from the scene just before they demolish the mall. Elwood runs a red light, the police pursue with lights flashing. Elwood sees them in the rear view mirror, and starts the conversation. Although it’s brief, it’s a brilliant little exchange between the brothers, and it’s a favorite sequence of mine in a movie full of great lines.

The colors in the border of my pattern are a small nod to the red stars and light blue stripes of the Chicago city flag. Director John Landis said the movie was “conceived as a love letter to the city” and it’s true.

If you haven’t seen “The Blues Brothers” before, I can’t encourage you enough.

Gypsy Ways Update 7 – Asturias

Gypsy ways update 7 covers our time in Asturias, the beautiful central part of the north coast of Spain. To the west of Asturias is Galicia and the pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela. To the east is Santander, Bilbao, San Sebastian, and Basque country. But in between, roughly centered around the city of Oviedo, is the lovely province of Asturias.

Many people envision Spain as being dry and hot. While parts are like that, Asturias is part of what they call “Green Spain.” It has beautiful ocean beaches that quickly sweep up into magnificent mountain scenery. It’s climate is wetter and cooler than most of the rest of Spain, and that makes it a great place to be for the hot summer months.La puerta a la melancolía. / The door to the melancholy.

[La puerta a la melancolía, by O.M.A via Flickr]

We stayed in the tiny mountainside town of Carrea, outside of San Martín de Teverga. This is what the town looks like from a higher spot:gypsy ways update 7 - the tiny village of Carrea, near san martin de teverga, asturias

In this photo, the village looks bigger than it really was. If you consider that at least half of the roofs seen are for barns and other structures, the village probably consisted of not more than 30 houses.

This was the view from the front of the house, looking over our neighbor’s patio and the roof of her barn over the valley and the mountains further inland. gypsy ways update 7 view from the house in carrea asturias

We had lots of friends roaming around – cats, dogs, chickens, horses, cows, a goat, and these noisy but cute donkeys:

Within easy drives there was outstanding mountain scenery. This was on the border between Asturias and the neighboring province of León (my photo doesn’t really do it justice):gypsy ways update 7 - view on pass from Asturias to Leon

Just above Carrea is the tiny Santuario de Nuestra Señora del Cébrano, and we happened to be there for their annual procession.

The bread and flowers that are on the poles are auctioned off along with other items later in the afternoon and the proceeds go to support the Sanctuary throughout the year. In the background, you can see the bouncy castle for the kids. What you can’t see is that behind the sanctuary to the left, there is an enormous bar tent. As is typical of events in all of Spain, the party for this event went until the wee hours of the next morning – we heard the band shut down at about 1:00 AM, and the party sounds finally died down at about 3:00.

Asturias has more than just mountain scenery as it has a very beautiful coastline as well. There are beaches, such as this one – the Playa de Poo (really!) near Llames. gypsy ways update 7 - the playa de poo near llames, asturias

For me, the most beautiful scenery along the Asturian coast are the places where the land meets the sea most dramatically.gypsy ways update 7 - near the bufones de pria, asturias, spainI took the above photo on a day with calm seas… however when the seas are rolling, this area gets pretty interesting. Over time, the ocean has carved tunnels of different sizes up through the rock to the surface. These holes are called “bufones.”

On a calm day, you will hear the wind rushing through the fissures and it sounds like the ground is breathing (pretty creepy, actually). You might see a little water vapor once in a while. But then there are days like this:

The video gives a much better sense of the scale of the cliffs and the people on top of them. It’s awe inspiring!

Fabada AsturianaLike all areas of Spain, the Asturians are extremely proud of their land, their culture, and their food. While their meat and fish are superb, I enjoy their Fabada Asturiana immensely. It’s a delicious mix of beans, spices, sausages and meats that you won’t find anywhere else.

 

And then there’s the sidra. The climate of Asturias is much better suited for growing apples rather than grapes, so instead of drinking wine, you drink sidra (cider). Ah, but you don’t just pour it into a glass and drink it slowly like a beer… you want it to get some bubbles in it first. This is the way…

They pour about an inch of sidra at a time, and you drink it right away. If you don’t drink it fast enough, it will oxidize too much and be spoiled. Most bars have buckets or drains to pour off the extra. You could study the whole culture that revolves around sidra for years!

The next update will cover a bit more of Spain, and then our travels back north through France and the UK as we start our way back home.

(Here’s a link to the previous Update 6)

No Speed Limit Cross Stitch Pattern

This no speed limit sign cross stitch pattern and kit are now available in my Etsy shop!no speed limit cross stitch road sign pattern

This is the latest in my fun series of road sign projects. In fact, this was created as a result of a custom order request from someone who had seen my other road sign patterns. It turned out so well that I thought I’d add it to my shop!

Autobahn - No Speed Limit (End Posted Speed Limit) SignThe pattern is based on a German Autobahn road sign. Yes, there are places where there are no speed limits, however the recommended top speed is 130 km/hr (81 mi/hr).

 

 

It’s perfect for your favorite speed demons and Sammy Hagar fans… from the way back machine – do you remember “I can’t drive… 55!”? [Caution: Cheesy 1980’s music video]

This fun no speed limit cross stitch pattern and kit are good for beginners and more experienced cross stitchers alike! With their crisp lines and bright colors, this and the other European road sign patterns are perfect for decorating kids’ rooms, media rooms, and offices. I also have a fun series of individual United States highway signs that is a continuing work-in-progress.

Polaroid Cross Stitch Pattern

This Polaroid cross stitch pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!polaroid cross stitch pattern

This was just pure fun for me. This lyric from the OutKast song “Hey Ya” has always cracked me up. And the song itself is just pop-funk-dance perfection – admit it, you’ve danced to this song!

After doing some research on the Polaroid logo, I tried to find colors for the border that were as close as possible to the originals. Especially with the rise of Instagram and their Polaroid-esque logo, the rainbow colors are almost instantly recognizable. They are striking against the black background I used, but they would look good on other color backgrounds as well.

When I first stitched the font, I used a metallic blue floss that was nearly the same color as the blue I ended up using. Unfortunately, the metallic was just a little too hard to see against the black background. However, I imagine that other metallic flosses would look terrific in this project.

Lend me some sugar. I am your neighbor!

Alright alright alright alright alright alright alright alright alright alright alright alright alright alright…

Gypsy Ways Update 6 – France and Spain

Gypsy Ways Update 6 finds us moving north west out of Italy into France and then south west from there into Spain.

We passed quickly through the Italian and French Riveras. Although the scenery is beautiful, driving on the motorways in the area can be pretty intense. As I usually describe it, it’s “bridge tunnel bridge tunnel bridge tunnel bridge tunnel…” as the mostly two-lane road cuts through the mountains and valleys along the Mediterranean coast. Below is the best photo I could find that encapsulates the E80 Motorway experience…IMG_0080

 [image by Tim Twelves via Flickr]

Just west of Nice, we cut up into the hills and stayed overnight in the lovely village of Le Rouret before heading further west through the rugged canyons and beautiful scenery of the Parc Naturel du Verdon.gypsy ways update 6 parc naturel du verdon canyonsOur next destination was the area around Douville so that we could see a stage of the Tour de France. The penultimate day of the 2014 Tour was an individual time trial that started in Bergerac and ended in Périgueux. The individual time trials are, in our opinion, the best days to watch the Tour as the riders go past one at a time, rather than in one or two big groups. This video gives you a taste of what the experience is like:

The publicity caravan that precedes the race itself is hilarious! Here’s a few of the vehicles from a previous year (bear in mind these are not parade floats – these things fly by at about 25 miles an hour, flinging samples out at the crowds):gypsy ways update 6 tour de france publicity caravan vittel 2014

gypsy ways update 6 tour de france publicity caravan st michel chickengypsy ways update 6 tour de france publicity caravan xtraThis last one for Xtra laundry detergent is outrageous. I’m not sure if you can see them, but this “float” features scantily clad young men pole dancing (and yes, they are wearing safety harnesses). The publicity caravan is a lot of fun!

One of my favorite finds of the summer was very near our hotel. There is a nice little campground with a lake, this is one of the signs around the lake:gypsy ways update 6 french sign translation failThe English part of the sign really means to say “Swimming in the lake is prohibited,” so one can only assume this is just a spectacular web-based translation fail.

After the Tour, we were lucky enough to spend a few nights at one of our favorite hotels, the charming and relaxing Cuq en Terrasses near Toulouse. There one of my work-in-progress needlepoint projects was able to meet its inspiration (click here to read more about the project).Compass Tile WIP #3

From there we went over the Pyrenees mountains into Spain. Just before the tunnel that forms part of the France/Spain border, traffic was stopped by a flock of Basque sheep.gypsy ways update 6 basque sheep on the road through the pyreneesThe drive through the Pyrenees and into Jaca, Spain is full of gorgeous mountain scenery. Jaca itself is a lovely small town with a well-preserved star-shaped fortress that has a dry moat frequently visited by deer.
ciudadela 1

 [Ciudadela by Angel via Flickr]

From Jaca we moved on to the beautiful Rioja area of Spain, famous for its wines. Other than the city of Logroño, the area is mostly small towns surrounded by thousands of acres of wine grapes. A good spot to survey the area is the hilltop town of Laguardia. On a fall day, the colors run everywhere from dark brown and purple to gold and light green. The grapes go on seemingly forever.gypsy ways update 6 rioja spain in the fall

A few other highlights in the area include the town of Cenicero (which translates to “ashtray”), where, during the grape harvest, you will never see so many tractors loaded with grapes going back and forth through the middle of town. Navarette is a town along the pilgrimage Way of St. James, and the gilt baroque altarpiece of it’s church is impressive.

One of Rioja’s most striking features is quite modern. The Hotel Marqués de Riscal was designed by Frank Gehry. Some might argue its stylized grapevine shape is out of place in the ancient village of El Ciego, but I disagree. Regardless, its curves, colors, and textures are intriguing and vary from every viewpoint.gypsy ways update 6 hotel marques de riscal el ciego spainNext update will have more interesting places in Spain!

(Here’s a link to the previous Update 5, and the next Update 7.)

Life Sucks Cross Stitch Pattern “…so why not be a schmuck?”

This Life Sucks cross stitch pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!life sucks cross stitch pattern life sucks so why not be a schmuck?

This quote comes from Chevy Chase movie “Modern Problems.” The antagonist, played by none other than Dabney Coleman, has an incredibly abrasive personality. At one point in the movie he says “You gotta understand something. Life sucks, so why not be a schmuck?” He uttered the line in a slightly southern drawl, which makes it just that much richer.

Dabney Coleman probably is best known for playing jerks. Among other roles, he was the evil boss in “9 to 5,” the womanizing soap opera director in “Tootsie,” and a government spy director opposite Tom Hanks in “The Man with One Red Shoe.” In Modern Problems, he plays Mark Winslow, a Dr. Phil type therapist who calls everyone “a manipulatin’ son-of-a-bitch.” Here’s a clip of him in character:

According to IMDB, Dabney has said that “I’ve played good guys and nice guys, but the truth is I’d rather be nasty than nice. The bad guys are always better written and more fun to play.”

Modern Problems may not be the most popular of all of Chevy Chase’s movies, but it surely has some funny moments thanks to a talented cast that included Patti D’Arbanville, Mary Kay Place, Nell Carter, and Brian Doyle-Murray.

I personally don’t subscribe to the idea of being a schmuck (at least not on purpose). In fact, my Life Sucketh Not pattern released earlier in 2014 more accurately reflects my philosophy. However, there are those curmudgeons out there – tactless, sometimes rude, and they really don’t care if they offend someone. This project is for them!

This Life Sucks cross stitch pattern stitches up quickly and is good for beginners and experienced stitchers alike! As a fun touch, I used DMC Variegated Floss 4210 (Radiant Ruby) for the lettering and in the flowers and it turned out prettier than I had imagined.