Modern Tumbling Blocks Quilt – New to my Shop

My new modern tumbling blocks quilt turned out wonderfully! The 3D effect looks great and it’s even better in person. The colors are just as rich and vibrant as I had hoped. If you’re interested in purchasing this pattern, it is now available in my Etsy shop!modern tumbling blocks quilt
Plate Tectonics : Core Deco 2015.The inspiration for the quilt comes mainly from the works of graphic artist Matt W. Moore. I am absolutely enamored with his use of color and his eye for pattern.

As my quilting expertise is limited, I would not yet try to create quilts as complex as some of his pieces. Even if I were a great quilter, I would never infringe on one of his copyrights. However, his work is a great place to find seeds for other creative expressions.

At right is a woven throw blanket from his Core Deco line. I love the colors and design so much I just had to buy one! It looks great in the same room as my modern tumbling blocks quilt.

Modern Tumbling Block Quilt – Fabrics

I used all solids for this quilt, trying to maximize the three-dimensional effect. I started with a jelly roll of bright Kona solids, and then added fat quarters of deep purples, teal, jet black, and a ombre collection of royal blues. Here are all of my blues – at top the royal blues, in the middle are navy blues, and at the bottom are a sky blue and a blue with a touch of purple in it. modern tumbling blocks quilt - blue fabricsYou can see I certainly shied away from using many pastels. A few light pinks, blues, and greens worked fine but I tried a lemony yellow for some of the orange blocks and it was just too light to stand up to the other bright colors.

Here are the series of plum pinks I used:modern tumbling blocks quilt - plum fabrics

I used two types of green – a kelly green and a celery green. If you look above the kelly green blocks are fine. However, if I were to do this project again, I would find a darker celery green for the “dark” side of the block.

Below are the series of teal colors I used:modern tumbling blocks quilt - teal fabrics

Modern Tumbling Block Quilt – Techniques

I used English Paper Piecing (EPP) to put this quilt together, and for guidance, I used and recommend the excellent book All Points Patchwork by my friend Diane Gilleland.

Before I started this project I had only used EPP once before, on my hexagon table runner project. When you read that blog post, you’ll see how valuable her book can be, as I share lots of things-I-would-have-done-differently-if-I-had-read-her-book-FIRST.hexagon table runner projectOne of Diane’s recommendations is to use pre-cut paper templates, and for the sheer volume of templates necessary for this bigger quilt project I gladly took her advice. I purchased my templates from PaperPieces.com. If you’re not too familiar with EPP, you will be BLOWN AWAY by the variety of pre-cut paper template shapes they offer.

If you’re interested in purchasing the pattern for my modern tumbling blocks pattern, please be aware that it is a pattern only. It includes the chart, how many pieces of each color you may need, and some ideas on the order in which I put the quilt top together, but it does not include any cutting, assembly, quilting, or finishing instructions. Diane’s book and many others have excellent instructions on these topics that I need not try to re-create.

Below you can see my new modern tumbling blocks quilt in it’s new habitat near my Persian Flower project. I never get tired of looking at it – it’s visually enticing and very contemplative. I love it with the colors I used and I’d also enjoy seeing it in other color combinations as well. I think a version in earth tones like rust, gold, brown, green, and red would be very striking.modern tumbling blocks quilt at home

Kansas Sunflower Cross Stitch Pattern

This Kansas sunflower cross stitch pattern and kit of a state highway sign is now available in my Etsy shop!kansas highway road sign sunflower cross stitch pattern

The stitched example, Kansas Highway 7, is part of the Glacial Hills Scenic Byway also designated as part of the official route of the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail.kansas sunflower cross stitch pattern state highway sign

The sunflower pattern is easily one of the most interesting state highway signs in the United States. Many state highway signs feature plain squares or circles, but the folks in Kansas showed a little creativity when they generated this design.
Southbound K-99 near Alma, 4 May 2017

[Southbound K-99 near Alma by John Roever via Flickr]

Whether you’re a Jayhawker, a frequent visitor, or just a fan of the state, this Kansas sunflower cross stitch pattern and kit would be a great way to create a reminder of a favorite drive or place in “The Sunflower State.”

Kansas is just the latest in my series of State Highway signs! Thus far, there’s Colorado, Alaska, California, Texas, Washington, Michigan, Florida, New Mexico, Georgia, Utah, Montana, Louisiana, an Interstate sign, a US highway sign, and more are in the works. Until then, I hope you check out all the states and the other road sign patterns I’ve created – they’re a lot of fun!

Louisiana Highway Cross Stitch Pattern

This Louisiana Highway cross stitch pattern and kit are now available in my Etsy shop!

louisiana highway cross stitch pattern

The stitched example, Highway 182, is a part of the Louisiana Bayou Byway, a scenic route between New Orleans and Lafayette. The website MyScenicDrives describes the Byway as “bayous, birds, and beignets.”

Stretches of Highway 182 were part of the “Old Spanish Trail,” an auto trail that stretched from St. Augustine, Florida, to San Diego, California. There is an Old Spanish Trail 100 association that is organizing a cross-country motorcade in 2029 to celebrate the route’s one hundredth birthday. Their charter is to “locate, revitalize, and preserve the roadway, businesses, and historic sites of the original 1920’s Old Spanish Trail auto highway.” louisiana highway cross stitch pattern old spanish trail map

Whether you’re a Louisianan, a frequent visitor, or just a fan of the state, this Louisiana Highway cross stitch pattern and kit would be a great way to create a reminder of a favorite drive or place in “The Pelican State.”

Louisiana is just the latest in my series of State Highway signs! Thus far, there’s Colorado, Alaska, California, Texas, Washington, Michigan, Florida, New Mexico, Georgia, Utah, Montana, an Interstate sign, a US highway sign, and more are in the works. Until then, I hope you check out all the states and the other road sign patterns I’ve created – they’re a lot of fun!

Deeds Not Words Cross Stitch Pattern

This Deeds Not Words cross stitch pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!deeds not words cross stitch pattern suffragette bannerThis was one of the mottoes of the women’s suffrage movement, as seen on the massive banner in this photo:deeds not words cross stitch example suffragette banner

Although the image is black and white, I imagine that the banner was in the purple, white, and green colors of the British suffrage movement. The three colors symbolized loyalty, purity, and hope.

Women worked so hard for the right to vote. They were jailed, went on hunger strikes, and even died for the suffrage rights women hold today. This right is something no woman should take for granted. I was encouraged recently to see women in the House of Representatives and Senate wearing white in honor of the suffragettes (in other photos and articles you’ll see some women wore purple as well).deeds not words cross stitch democratic women wearing whiteWhile “Deeds not Words” was a rallying cry for the more militaristic suffragists, I am by no means advocating violence. Instead, I hope this pattern will inspire us to demand action from ourselves, others, and our elected officials. Anyone can talk about “what needs to happen” while it’s a precious few who actually take steps to create positive change. I hope this Deeds Not Words project may serve as a reminder to do just that.

Bill Hicks Cross Stitch Pattern “Life is Only a Dream…”

This Bill Hicks cross stitch pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!bill hicks cross stitch life is only a dream and we are the imaginations of ourselves

Bill Hicks was a comedian who died in 1994 of pancreatic cancer. You might not expect such a metaphysical quote from a comedian… only if you’re not familiar with Bill Hicks’ work. He was controversial, biting, and certainly not for those with delicate ears. At the same time, he was often spiritual, philosophical, and personal.

This project is only a part of a longer quotation of Hicks. Although he stopped using drugs in 1988, he still espoused their use, saying ““I’ve had some killer times on drugs.” He railed against the war on drugs and on the media focusing only on negative stories about drugs. Hicks instead hop[ed] for a different perspective:

[As if giving a news cast] “Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration—that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imaginations of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.”

anchor 1345 variegated flossOn a more superficial note, I filled the stars in border with seven different variegated flosses. The one I had really been wanting to try is Anchor 1345, called “Blue Hawaii,” and it didn’t disappoint. In fact, it’s gorgeous and you can see it in the star in the upper left corner of the pattern.

I stitched some of the stars filling in a serpentine way and some in a spiral way, and it was interesting to see how differently the colors pooled. For example, all three were the same color, Anchor 1345, but the star in the upper left corner was stitched serpentine in horizontal rows, while the fourth one below it and the first one from top right were stitched in a spiral.

This Bill Hicks cross stitch pattern is perfect for everyone who appreciates counter-culture ideas, alternative spiritual philosophies, variegated embroidery floss, and of course, Bill Hicks.

If you’re interested in seeing some of his work, below is a clip from The Late Show with David Letterman. At the taping in 1993, Letterman and CBS decided that his material was too controversial and his performance was not aired. However, in 2009, Bill’s mother was a guest on Letterman and they aired his set in it’s entirety. [Warning: this is not for the easily offended]

Think for Yourself and Question Authority Cross Stitch Pattern

My Think for Yourself and Question Authority cross stitch pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!think for yourself and question authority cross stitch pattern

The inspiration for the pattern comes from a famous quote from Dr. Timothy Leary. He was a psychiatrist who advocated the use of LSD for therapeutic uses, and he was a counter culture icon from the 1960’s until his death in 1996. In fact, Richard Nixon considered Leary one of the most dangerous men in America. In the 60’s he popularized the phrases “turn on, tune in, drop out” and “think for yourself and question authority”.

The pattern features a mirrored pair of fun 1960’s pop art style flowers that I intended to bring a little color and flair in juxtaposition to the more serious nature of the quote. Pop art started in the 1950’s, bloomed in the 1960’s, and the style of these flowers could easily be seen in the works of artists such as Peter Max and the animation team behind the Beatles‘ movie Yellow Submarine.

Of course, I don’t advocate that we all drop acid and form our own psychedelic religions while skipping in and out of jail. However, the idea that we read, research, and think for ourselves and question all kinds of authority (political, religious, economic, et al.) is certainly valid. And if the political culture of 2016 is any indication, it appears that a little 1960’s-style peaceful counterculture would be a welcome change.

Let this think for yourself and question authority cross stitch pattern be a good reminder to have some healthy skepticism of authority.

MST3K Patrick Swayze Christmas Cross Stitch Pattern

This MST3K Patrick Swayze Christmas cross stitch pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!mst3k patrick swayze christmas cross stitch pattern

The inspiration comes from the the classic Episode 321 – Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. The lyrics are from Crow’s song “A Patrick Swayze Christmas,” performed by Joel and the ‘bots during one of the host segments. It was inspired by Crow’s favorite movie, Road House, starring Patrick Swayze. With it’s references to barstools, action sequences, and Santa drafting his will, it’s a modern holiday tradition!

In 2013 Reddit and Joel worked with acapella group The Lost Keys to create this version of the song:

Joel’s reaction at end of the video is a funny reference to another outstanding MST3K episode, Pod People.

mst3k patrick swayze christmas cross stitch patternThe cross stitch captures their usual silhouettes, plus with Crow’s red nose, Joel’s ivory scarf, and Tom’s blue and white snow globe noggin from the sketch. It also has the draped gold garland and the Christmas tree from the set, and I added a colorful string of lights around the border. This project was a lot of fun to put together!

 

I know that for many MSTies (fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000), including myself, the holiday season is not quite complete without a viewing of this hilarious episode.

mst3k turn down your lights cross stitch patternI have two other MST3K themed patterns available. One is the “Turn down your lights…” pattern you see at right. This image unfurled at the beginning of Mystery Science Theater 3000 from Episodes 201 – Rocketship XM to 404 – Teenagers from Outer Space. It’s a welcome and happy sight to the fans of the show.

 

mst3k cross stitch pattern the answer my friend is blow it out your assThe other pattern is this “The answer my friend, is blow it…” which is a funny quote from Episode 614 – San Francisco International.

 

 

 

 

For those of you who have read this far and don’t have a clue as to what MST3K is, read this Wikipedia article. A MST3K revival just became the biggest Film and Video category Kickstarter project of all time, raising $6.3 Million for 14 new episodes in 2016. Can’t wait…

This MST3K Patrick Swayze Christmas cross stitch pattern is perfect for all MSTies past, present, and future.

Keep circulating the tapes!

Compass Needlepoint Finished

Here’s my compass needlepoint project finished and framed!compass needlepoint project compass rose finished

persian needlepoint kit and pattern ancora imparoI’m absolutely thrilled with the result. It’s just gorgeous, and as good or better than I even imagined. I designed this compass rose project in 2013, hoping it would be a quicker project than my earlier Ancora Imparo needlepoint. However, once I got into the design of this compass, I realized that the number of stitches necessary would be roughly the same as in Ancora Imparo. So much for being quicker!

I started stitching this compass project in January 2014 and finished up in February 2016. It didn’t take up all of my crafting time during that period as I was working on other, mostly cross stitch, projects concurrently. This compass needlepoint even crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice! I have vivid memories of working on this project while sitting on the patio of a house in the mountains of Asturias, Spain.

This project was inspired while we were traveling in Europe; it is based on a compass rose made of tile pieces on the patio of the charming Cuq en Terrasses hotel in France. The hotel is in the countryside near Toulouse, and it’s one of our favorite places to stay in the world.

Here you can see the needlepoint early in it’s execution, next to it’s model.Compass Tile WIP #3

You can see that I made the project a little more colorful than the original, but stayed true to it’s earth tones. At that point I had outlined and partially filled in nearly all of the first row of tiles except for the four gray tiles of the primary compass directions (north, south, east, west).

One of the reasons I stitched the primary direction tiles last is that, as I did in the center circle, I wanted to use the double stitch in that area. As I discovered through this project, double stitch works great on a square area; however, in an irregular shape, it can turn into quite a challenge. To conquer that challenge, I created a helpful tutorial on how to tackle the double stitch.compass needlepoint compass rose close up 1 double stitch

Above, you can see the two colors I used in the double stitch. The long cross stitches are in dark grey, while the short cross stitches are in a dark grey-blue. When I was choosing colors for this project, I thought the blue would make a nice visual compliment to all the earth tones without contrasting too much.

compass needlepoint compass rose close up 2Above you can see that with the all of the brown flosses, I slightly blended the colors, mixing 5 strands of one color with one strand of a contrasting color. I did this to better represent the speckled color and texture of the original tiles and to add a little visual interest.

You can also see the Tent stitch used in the radiating tiles of the center square, the Hungarian stitch used in the background of the center square, and three of the stitches used in the border blocks. In total, I used 20 different needlepoint stitches. The reference book I used for the stitches is an old favorite of mine, 101 Needlepoint Stitches and How to Use Them by Hope Hanley.

To read more about the execution of this compass needlepoint, here are my posts over time: Getting Started, Update 1, Update 2, and Update 3.

The pattern for this project is now available in my Etsy shop, and it could also be made into a custom needlepoint kit as well. While I love the earth tones in the stitched example, I think this project would look great in lots of color combinations. Please contact me if you would be interested in seeing some other color options with this project.

My husband and I may not be able to spend all our time at Cuq-en-Terrasses, but now we have this compass needlepoint project as a beautiful reminder of our wonderful stays there. There are also a few more of their patio tile patterns that would make great needlepoint projects… stay tuned!

MST3K Turn Down Your Lights Cross Stitch Pattern

This MST3K Turn down your lights cross stitch pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!mst3k turn down your lights cross stitch pattern

This image unfurled at the beginning of Mystery Science Theater 3000 from Episodes 201 – Rocketship XM to 404 – Teenagers from Outer Space. This span includes three of my personal favorite episodes: Cave Dwellers, Pod People, and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. “Turn down your lights (Where applicable)” is a welcome and happy sight to fans of the show.

If you’re not familiar with Mystery Science Theater 3000, it is a classic comedy show that originally ran from 1988 to 1999. It cleverly skewered terrible movies with it’s characters making funny comments during the movies and performing sketches during the intermissions.

It won a Peabody Award in 1993 and was nominated for several Emmy Awards. To this day it remains popular and maintains a large cult-like following. It is so popular, in fact, a MST3K revival recently became the biggest Film and Video category Kickstarter project of all time, raising $6.3 Million for 14 new episodes in 2016. The casting for the new episodes includes Jonah Ray as the host, with Patton Oswalt and Felicia Day as the new “mads.” I just can’t wait to see how the series continues!

mst3k cross stitch pattern the answer my friend is blow it out your assThis is my second MST3K themed project, the first being this funny quote from Episode 614 – San Francisco International.  It’s a terrible movie, cleverly skewered by Mike and the ‘bots. It was written as the pilot episode of a series that lasted six episodes. The TV movie appeared in 1970 and featured Clu Gallagher, Tab Hunter, Van Johnson, and David Hartman. When it went to series, Lloyd Bridges played the airport security chief, a role he spoofed later in the movie Airplane!

This MST3K Turn Down Your Lights cross stitch pattern is perfect for all MSTies (fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000) present, past, and future (and for everyone who has a lot of dimmer switches).

Keep circulating the tapes!

React with Love Cross Stitch Pattern

This React with love cross stitch pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!react with love cross stitch pattern

This project is my reaction to the enmity, conflict, and ignorance in the world. If we react to certain situations in a positive way, toward kindness, trust, and understanding, the world might be a happier, more constructive place. [Of course, there are situations where love is not the immediate answer. For example, I don’t advocate welcoming physical threats to ourselves, our families, or our friends. That’s not what I’m addressing here.]

It can be overwhelming as there is so much conflict out there: between religions, between nations, between political parties, between neighbors, between co-workers, and even within our families. I find that concentrating on individuals rather than groups helps alleviate some of that overwhelmed feeling. Every two people have something in common, if only the fact that we exist. Even from a meager beginning we can develop our commonalities into a better understanding. This project can serve as a gentle reminder to work toward this goal.
handshake

[Handshake by Sakina-san via Flickr]

In an interesting coincidence, a conflict has come up between me and a good friend while I’ve been writing this post. This friend said that putting all Muslims on American soil into internment camps, much like the US did to people of Japanese ancestry during World War II, is a good idea. I was flabbergasted and deeply disappointed; how could someone I consider a friend espouse such a ugly, fearful idea?

My reaction? To be perfectly honest, my first reaction was not “with love.” It was disgust and exasperation as my husband and I argued fruitlessly against his idea. The next day, my reminder to “react with love not fear” kicked in as I started really thinking about what to do next.

My main thought was: EDUCATE MYSELF. Because I didn’t have the best information on hand at the time, I didn’t know how to respond intelligently or even coherently when my friend first brought up his awful idea.

I feel there are two big points to address: the first is about Islam and Muslims vs. radicalized Muslims, and the second is about the about the idea of internment camps. I happen to be friends with a really lovely Muslim couple, and I will ask if they can lead me to information that will address the first point. As for the second point, I happen to know that Japanese-American actor George Takei (he played Sulu on Star Trek) was in an internment camp as a child during WWII. He is an internet powerhouse and a champion of fighting the idea of internment camps, so I will search the internet for his most persuasive arguments on the subject.

DSC_0287

[Manzanar by Jason Neville via Flickr]

Will I then share these pieces of information with my friend? You bet. How will I do it? I’ll present the clearest, most succinct and rational ideas I can find and ask him to read them. Will he read them? Maybe not, but this is a person who generally respects my ideas, so I have hope that he will. Will this information change his mind? I don’t know, and that has to be okay.

Even if he doesn’t change his mind, my understanding of two big topics will expand. In the future, if I am confronted by anyone else with similar prejudices, I will be better able to react with love and in a more constructive way.

Self & Conflict

[Self & Conflict by Soul Patcher via Flickr]

My story above is just a tiny instance of conflict between a handful of people. Think globally and look at a situation as complex as the unrest in the Middle East. There are thousands of years of root causes of the violence there, from religious differences to political upheaval, from oil to opium, and countless more. It would take a multitude of scholars’ lifetimes to unravel the web of conflicts and truly understand all of the major points of view. How does one react with love toward something this overwhelming?

Obviously, there are no simple answers (how I wish there were). But this is a good example where focusing on individuals rather than groups helps me. I find myself often thinking about war refugees and their situations. If we act toward a refugee family with fear, with ignorance, distrust, and isolation, then they may have good reason to become our enemies. However, if we greet the family with love, with a desire to understand them better, with kindness and compassion and with opportunities for work and education, then they may have have good reason to become our friends.

Like I said above, every two people have something in common, if only the fact that we exist. The most simple acts of kindness can open up channels of understanding between people. I hope that this react with love cross stitch pattern may help remind us of that idea.