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!

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!

Hexagon Table Runner Project

This hexagon table runner project was inspired by a number of things.

hexagon table runner project

First, I was just itching to play with my fabric stash. After several years of working solely on cross stitch and needlepoint projects, I wanted to play with the colors and prints of fabric again. I do love my stitching projects, but my heart really sings when I see fabrics juxtaposed in interesting combinations.

All Points Patchwork - coming soon!Second, I had never tried English paper piecing (EPP) before. When my friend Diane of Craftypod released her latest book, All Points Patchwork, I was intrigued by the technique. I was too busy with other projects to participate in any of the EPP blog hops at the time of the release, but working with EPP had been lingering in the back of my mind ever since.

Third, I wanted a table runner! I thought that a pair of my wood file cabinets could use a splash of color on top. With those three inspirations in mind, I set out to make my own EPP hexagon table runner.

Before I go further, I should explain that I had not yet purchased All Points Patchwork when I created this project, and I sure wish I would have. It is a treasure trove of all things EPP: tools, techniques, tips for creating with each shape, and design ideas. Further into this tutorial, I’ll share some things I would have done differently if I had read the book first.

Design

The design of this project was adapted from this “Modern Hexie Table Runner” project by Laura Hartrich. I liked her use of multiple background fabrics and a hexie layout that created gaps in the pattern to reveal the background. Her project is great; however, where her hexie layout was asymmetrical, I wanted to create a symmetrical arrangement. And where she used a simple applique technique to attach her hexies individually to the background, I was wanting the full EPP experience to join my hexagons together before appliqueing them. laura hartrich modern hexie table runner

I knew I wanted to use 1-1/2 inch hexagons so that this first attempt at EPP wouldn’t become too hard to manage. I also knew that the top of my two file cabinets measured just under 43 by 19 inches, and I didn’t want this project to overlap the edges of the cabinets at all. After some experimentation I ended up with this layout:

hexagon table runner project dimensions

1-1/2 inch hexagons “on their sides” as shown (rather than arranging the points at top and bottom) measure 2-5/8 inches high, so 5 rows add up to a total of 13-1/8 inches. A single 1-1/2 inch hexie measures 3 inches wide; however, 3/4 inch of the width of the NEXT hexie overlaps with the first hexie. Therefore, every column of hexies adds only 2-1/4 inches of width to the project. The seventeen columns of hexies shown here adds up to (3″ + 16 x 2-1/4″) 39 inches.

IF I HAD READ THE BOOK FIRST, I would have used hexagon graph paper from the beginning. Regular graph paper just didn’t get the spacing of the hexagons correct. This led to quite a mess that I didn’t catch until much later in the project when I removed the templates behind the hexies. I had to take out a bunch of seams, re-insert templates behind eight of the hexagons, re-position and re-attach five hexagons, cut all new pieces of background fabric, and I was left with barely enough backing fabric to do a wrap-around binding for the quilt. Lesson learned: use hexagon graph paper!

Fabrics

hexagon table runner project fabrics[Note: this photo shows the hexies BEFORE I sewed them together!]

The design was pretty well established so then I scoured my fabric stash, looking for candidates. I’ve been on a light blue kick for a little while now so shades of blue feature prominently. I also knew that this runner would be on a stained wood surface, so I wanted a few browns in the mix. From my collection, I ended up using fabrics 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, and 9. Then it was off to my local fabric shop to find prints for the background and the backing. There I found fabrics 3, 6, 7, and 10. I think it’s a good and slightly funky mix!

Background

I used fabrics 3, 6, 7, and 10 in the pattern you see below (10,3,7,6,10,3,7). I knew that 6 was going to be my backing and binding fabric, so I used only one piece of it in the center as opposed to the two pieces each of 3, 7, and 10.hexagon table runner project background

The background pieces were cut at 13-1/2 inches tall by 6-1/2 inches wide. That left enough for a 3/8 inch seam allowance between the pieces and an overall usable width of just over 40 inches. It turns out that I needed every bit of that 40 inches as the combined width of the hexies sewn together was 40 inches, one inch wider than the 39 inches I calculated. I think next time, I’d cut the pieces 14 inches tall by 6-3/4 inches wide, just to be safe.

I knew I was going to applique on the edge of the hexies and I knew there was some probable un-quilted space between the hexies and the edge of the runner. I also knew I wanted to anchor down the background a bit before I appliqued the hexagons. So at this point I layered my batting and backing fabric, pinned the layers (you can just see the white pin heads in the photo above), and quilted in the ditch between the seven pieces.

Templates

hexagon table runner project templatesTo create my own hexagon templates, I used Incompetech’s graph paper generator to make an original template on normal office paper. I cut out a hexagon and then traced it repeatedly onto manila file folders to make the templates. This tracing probably made the hexies a smidgen larger than they should have been, and this may be why my sewn hexies together measured 40 inches wide rather than the 39 I calculated. IF I HAD READ THE BOOK FIRST, I may have followed Diane’s recommendation that beginners use precut templates; however, with so few hexagons necessary for this project, I might still have created my own. Next time, I would make them with much greater precision, possibly printing the Incompetech hexagons directly onto the file folders.

Hexagons

hexagon table runner project fabricsThe layout calls for 38 hexagons. Although I made some (11) hexies from the background fabrics, I made the remaining 27 from the other fabrics. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Fabric 1: 5
  • Fabric 2: 4
  • Fabric 3: 3
  • Fabric 4: 5
  • Fabric 5: 4
  • Fabric 6: 2
  • Fabric 7: 3
  • Fabric 8: 4
  • Fabric 9: 5
  • Fabric 10: 3

Fortunately, even before Diane published her EPP book, she uploaded videos to YouTube that perfectly explain how to create hexiessew them together, and then remove the paper templates.

hexagon table runner project first hexieAfter watching these videos, I started basting my own hexies with ease! Once the fabric was cut, it took me less than three minutes to baste a hexie. I couldn’t believe it was so easy, and I felt silly for not having tried EPP before. At right is a photo of the first hexagon I had ever basted – it was a proud moment!

 

 

 

 

After all the hexies were basted, I laid them out on the background and played with their arrangement. I didn’t want any of the fabrics to overlap themselves in the background, and I wanted to balance out the location of the dark and light fabrics. This was the result:hexagon table runner project hexie layout

From here, I sewed the hexies together using Diane’s video instructions. After a good steam pressing, I removed the templates and was ready to applique the big piece of EPP to the background.

Applique

I took a great deal of care to lay out the EPP on the background: noticing where the pieces in a column lined up with the background seams, making sure that the top and bottom edges of the pieces were horizontal, and ensuring that the extreme left and right points were centered vertically. I then pinned the everlasting crud out of the EPP to make sure that it wouldn’t shift as I appliqued.

I first sewed around the seven gaps in the EPP and then sewed down the entire outline in one long take (see the red lines in the figure below).

hexagon table runner project applique

IF I HAD READ THE BOOK FIRST, I would have appliqued about 1/8 inch from the edge. As I did it, I appliqued about 5/8 inch, and I’m seriously considering whether I should resew it at the recommended 1/8 inch. The table runner looks fine as is, but if I were to wash it, some of the fabric on the back of the hexies might slip out and that would be a hassle to fix. I also think it would look a little better with the 1/8 inch distance when viewed up close.

I cleaned up all my thread ends and then buried the tails between the layers of the quilt.hexagon table runner project thread ends before and after

Binding

Last, I did a wrap-around binding (where the backing fabric becomes the binding) with a blind stitched finish on top. Unfortunately, I didn’t leave myself much fabric to do the wrap around, but I did manage, barely, to make it work. Just don’t look too closely at those corners, please!

Here is my new table runner in it’s new habitat, on top of its file cabinets, mere moments before it was filled with all the debris of modern life.

hexagon table runner project 2

I love it, and I’m looking forward to making more in the future. Maybe some holiday-themed hexagon table runner projects will follow!

US Highway Cross Stitch Pattern

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

us highway cross stitch road sign

The pattern is based on real US highway signs. The stitched example, Highway 89, is a roughly 1250-mile stretch from the Montana-Canada border to Flagstaff, Arizona. It is nicknamed “The National Park Highway” as it links seven national parks including Glacier National Park in Montana, Yellowstone National Park in Montana and Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks in Utah, and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It also provides access to numerous other national park areas including national monuments.Bryce Canyon

[Bryce Canyon by Suzanham via Flickr]

Another fascinating location along Highway 89 is Thistle, Utah. According to Wikipedia, it is “a ghost town that was destroyed by a lake resulting from a landslide in 1983.”Thistle, Utah

[Thistle, Utah by Rick Smith via Flickr]

The US numbered highway system was approved in 1926. Before then, “auto trails designated by auto trail associations were the main means of marking roads through the United States.” With names like the “Bee Line Highway,” “Glacier to Gulf Motorway,” and the “Old Spanish Trail,” these trails’ names definitely sound more romantic than their numerical replacements.

Route 66 is probably the best known of all the US Highways, although it was officially removed from the highway system in 1985. It spanned roughly 2450 miles from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. Before the numbered highway system, this path included parts of three trails: The Lone Star Route, the Ozark Trail, and the National Old Trails Road. It was the migration path for thousands of people during the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s and again during World War II. It inspired both a popular song, “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” and a successful TV show in the 1960’s. Eventually, the growth of the Interstate Highway System rendered Route 66 obsolete, however many parts of the old roadway have been specially designated as “Historic Route 66” and set aside for preservation.Route 66 Hackberry (Arizona USA)

[Route 66 Hackberry (Arizona USA) by Perry Tak via Flickr]

I can easily customize this pattern for any of your favorite highways. Create a reminder of a favorite drive or road trip with this US highway cross stitch pattern and kit!

This pattern is just the latest in a series of US and state highway sign patterns. Others in the series thus far include Colorado, Alaska, California, Texas, Michigan, Utah, Florida, New Mexico, Georgia, Washington, Montana, and an Interstate sign… Check ’em out!

Compass Needlepoint Update 3

Once again I’m happy to share more progress on my compass needlepoint project!

compass needlepoint update 2In the last update, I had finished all of the radiating tiles and was ready to start filling in the background and the borders.

 

 

 

Here’s my latest photo – she’s looking gorgeous!compass needlepoint update 3

All of the border tiles are outlined, and I’ve started filling them in as well as the background. The four corners will be the same double stitch as the center circle and the four primary direction tiles. All of the other border blocks will have a different needlepoint stitch.

Compass Needlepoint Project WIP #6aHere you can see a bit more detail of the individual stitches. At the top, I’ve used Cashmere stitch worked diagonally. Next one down on the left is the Parisian stitch, and the Fern stitch below that.

I’m using the Hungarian stitch with ivory thread in the background of the center. It’s lovely, but it is really challenging to keep the pattern flowing in the tight areas between the blocks of color!

Compass Needlepoint Project WIP #6bFrom the top of this photo you can see the Brick Cashmere stitch, the Oblique Slav stitch and the Byzantine stitch. I had to add an extra element to the Oblique Slav section as the stitch with the thread I’m using didn’t cover the canvas quite enough. It still looks great, though!

 

 

 

 

I’m still very happy that I have slightly blended the colors, mixing 5 strands of the main colors with one strand of contrasting colors. I did this to better represent the speckled color and texture of the original tiles and to add a little visual interest. This looks good in the radiating tiles, but I think it looks even better in these border blocks.

The next step is to just keep filling in the background and occasionally take a break to have some fun filling in the border blocks with interesting stitches. I would LOVE to have her done by the end of this year (2015) as I have some other very cool needlepoint projects ready to stitch. However, this one has to get finished first!

The previous updates (Update 1 and Update 2) have info on the inspiration for this pattern – a patio tile pattern at the beautiful Cuq en Terrasses hotel near Toulouse, France. Take a look!

Montana Cross Stitch Pattern – Arrowhead Road Sign

This Montana cross stitch pattern and kit are now available in my Etsy shop!montana road sign cross stitch arrowhead

 

Montana Highway SignsThe pattern is based on a Montana Secondary Road sign. The standard Montana Highway sign (shown at right) is a bit plain, so I thought this Secondary Road sign with it’s cool arrowhead pattern would make a much more interesting cross stitch pattern.

 

 

Montana Rural Road #323I can easily customize this pattern for any of your favorite Montana roads! MyScenicDrives has good information about Montana.

[Montana Highway Signs by Jimmy Emerson, DVM, via Flickr]

Country Road Take Me Home

[Road leading from Bozeman Montana, winding through the Bridger Mountains by Kim Tasjian via Flickr]

287

[Looking north towards Ennis, Montana along US 287 by Madison76 via Flickr]

Road

[Glacier National Park by Lue Huang via Flickr]

Create a reminder of a favorite drive in Big Sky Country with this Montana cross stitch pattern and kit!

This pattern is just the latest in a series of state highway sign patterns. Others in the series thus far include Colorado, Alaska, California, Texas, Michigan, Utah, Florida, New Mexico, Georgia, Washington, and an Interstate sign… Check ’em out!

Camino de Santiago Cross Stitch Pattern

This Camino de Santiago cross stitch pattern and kit is now available in my Etsy shop!camino de santiago cross stitch pattern

This project is a perfect way to commemorate a journey along the Way of St. James. The scallop shell has long been the symbol of the Camino, and it serves both practical and symbolic purposes.

The shell served as a makeshift bowl for water and food, and pilgrims would often take a Galician scallop shell on their return home as proof of their journey. The grooves in the scallop also symbolize the different paths the pilgrims follow on route to their one destination – Santiago de Compostela, legendary home of the apostle St. James’ remains.

Iglesia de Santiago de Compostela - Galicia - España.The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is in the province of Galicia in northwestern Spain.

[photo by Marcelo Jaramillo Cisneros via Flickr]

There are two main routes to the cathedral. There is a more inland route through Logroño, the Rioja region, Burgos, and León. Rioja is one of my favorite places – I wrote about it near the bottom of this post on our 2014 travels.

There is also a more coastal route through Bilbao and Santander, and then through Asturias and Galicia. I wrote about Asturias in another post on our 2014 travels – it’s simply gorgeous.

I was lucky enough to go inside the cathedral during a special mass. At this mass they used the massive 80kg (176 lb) censer (incense burner) called the “Botafumiero” that requires several people, the “tiraboleiros,” to operate. The censer is attached to a rope that then swings via a pulley across the cathedral transept. The tiraboleiros swing the censor nearly to the ceiling!

camino de santiago cross stitch - censer in action in cathedral

From the Wikipedia article, “One explanation of this custom, which originated more than 700 years ago—although incense has been used in Catholic ritual from the earliest times—is that it assisted in masking the stench emanating from hundreds of unwashed pilgrims.”

As with many travels, it’s not necessarily the destination that is important – it’s the journey you take to get there. I hope many of you will use this Camino de Santiago cross stitch project as a way to create a reminder of your journey.

Gypsy Ways Update 10 – QM2 and Cross Country

Gypsy ways update 10 begins with us boarding the elegant Queen Mary 2 at Southampton after a wonderful time in England and Western Europe.Queen Mary 2 Ocean Liner II

[Queen Mary 2 Ocean Liner by Gerald via Flickr]

The QM2 is a truly magnificent ship. And everyone is quick to remind you that this is an “ocean going liner” and certainly not a “cruise ship.”

I’ll repeat a bit from an earlier update – “The main reason we take the QM2 is because they offer kennel service, and if we’re doing some extensive traveling, we like to bring our dog. Transportation by water is not my favorite as I get terribly seasick (even on a lake), but as a way to get across the Atlantic with the dog and all of our luggage (as much as you can fit in your cabin is allowed), it’s a great way to go.

“The dogs are restricted to a small area on the ship (deck 12, starboard aft), and they have to learn to do their ‘business’ on the teak decking, which can be challenging for our four-legged friends. There is a full time kennel master who takes outstanding care of the dogs and keeps the kennels very clean and comfy, and we’re allowed to spend time with the dogs for various stretches totaling 7 to 8 hours a day. All the dog people get to know each other and the other dogs as we spend most of our days together in the kennels.”

In that previous update, I promised to share a few more photos, so here they are…gypsy ways update 10 - qm2 kennels on deck

The door to the kennels is open and you can see that the gate at the fore end of the kennel deck is closed to keep the pooches inside. The kennel masters bring out chairs and provide blankets to help keep everyone warm. In fact, my dog Scully is the lump under the blanket closest to the camera.gypsy ways update 10 - qm2 kennels inside

If it gets too cold outside, this is the area inside where we can sit. Scully is the black and tan one at the right. Her best dog friend this trip was Watson, the french bulldog on the chair to her left. Next to Watson was his person, Claire.gypsy ways update 10 - qm2 kennels dog life jacket

Here you can see Scully with her life jacket on (and looking a little not-too-sure about it). Behind her, scratching the Spaniel, is the kennel master. They have life jackets in all different sizes for the pets.

Like I said in the previous update, most of our day revolved around the open kennel hours. There were events scheduled every hour of every day all over the ship, but we spent as much time as we could with our dog. After the kennels closed for the night, we went to dinner, saw what was happening in the ballroom, and checked out the jazz in the Chart Room.Queen Mary 2, Greenock

[Queen Mary 2 Chart Room by Rob Lightbody via Flickr]

After eight fun, elegant nights, we docked in Brooklyn and started our US journey. For that road trip, I actually recommend that you read the first update of this trip, in which we traveled from west to east. This time, however, start at the bottom of the page and work your way back up, as that is almost exactly how we returned to the west coast.

We did visit lots of friends and family along the way, including stops in Boston, Chicago, Iowa, Omaha, and Colorado before arriving back home. One highlight was something I had never seen before – the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. I only had time for a quick walking tour of Forest Avenue, but I will go back to take a more thorough look. gypsy ways update 10 - frank lloyd wright frank w thomas house forest avenue oak park illinoisThat beautiful note wraps up this series of posts on our travels in 2014. It was an amazing trip and I’m so grateful that we have the opportunity to undertake something this extensive. However, I will say that it is always nice to come back home.

If you’re curious about other parts of the trip, Update 1 covered our trip across the United States west to east, Update 2 was our Transatlantic crossing west to east, Update 3 talked about the UK and Greece, Update 4 was in Switzerland and Italy’s Cinque Terre, Update 5 was about Italy, Update 6 covered the French Riviera, the Tour de France, Basque country and the Rioja area of Spain, Update 7 talked about Asturias, Spain, Update 8 was the Mediterranean Costa Blanca and driving north through France, and Update 9 covered some great sights in England.

If you have any questions about any part of the trip, please feel free to ask. We have some definite favorites that we are happy to share!

Gypsy Ways Update 9 – London and the UK

Gypsy ways update 9 begins with us just arrived back in the UK from our adventures in continental Europe. At this point we joined my Mom who had never been to the UK before. She arrived a few days before we did, and in that time she visited the Sandringham Estate, which is the Queen’s home in Norfolk.Sandringham House 23-05-2011

[Sandringham House by Karen Roe via Flickr]

While she enjoyed the Estate and the grounds (and their delicious apple juice), the setting is informal, and she was also wanting to see a little Imperial opulence. So we took her to Windsor Castle!

Parts of Windsor Castle truly are spectacular. Despite the volume of visitors it receives, the grounds and gardens are immaculate,gypsy ways update 9 - garden at windsor castle

and the State Apartments are stately, indeed.The Crimson Drawing Room - State Apartments at Windsor Castle England

[The Crimson Drawing Room by mbell1975 via Flickr]

In November 1992, a fire destroyed or damaged more than 100 rooms at the Castle (the Crimson Drawing Room shown in the photo above was completely gutted). There are fascinating tales of chains of people, staff and volunteers, passing furniture, works of art, and manuscripts to safety, and the restoration work is a tribute to the craftspeople who executed it so beautifully.

Mom and I spent two full days in London. We started with museums, namely the massive and impressive Victoria and Albert Museum with it’s emphasis on art and design. The V&A is so big that I asked her to pick out one part of the museum that she wanted to see in particular, and she chose the Jameel Gallery of Islamic art. In that gallery is the beautiful Ardabil carpet that no other than famous designer William Morris recommended that the museum purchase.The Ardabil Carpet on display in the Jameel Gallery, V&A

We also went to the unique and unusual Sir John Soane’s museum. He was an architect who collected objects of art and architecture from around the world. His home is full of these pieces, and “in 1833 Soane negotiated an Act of Parliament to settle and preserve the house and collection for the benefit of ‘amateurs and students’ in architecture, painting and sculpture.” It was a fascinating place. antiquities gallery at Sir John Soane's museum

[Antiquities Gallery at Sir John Soane’s Museum by Arwen O’Reilly via Flickr] 

Of course, we visited the area around the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) and Westminster Abbey.Houses of Parliament & Westminster Bridge.

[Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge by Apostolis Giontzis via Flickr]

We toured Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, the modern construction of the original Globe Theater from Shakespeare’s time. The new theater is about 750 feet from the original building that was torn down around 1644. Here you can see that much of the roof is open to the sky, and the floor of the theater has no seats – it’s standing room only!gypsy ways update 9 - shakespeare's globe theater

We went to Greenwich, home of the Old Royal Naval College with it’s twin domes designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The Cutty Sark resides there, and the Royal Observatory that houses the Greenwich Meridian at 0 degrees longitude is less than a mile away. However the real stars are the Chapel and the Painted Hall.

The Chapel interior was originally quite plain, but after a fire in 1779, it was redecorated in the Greek revival style you see here:
Inside the Old Royal Navy Chapel

[Inside the Old Royal Navy Chapel by Nicholas Schooley via Flickr]

The Painted Hall is a real treat. It was originally intended as a dining hall for naval veterans, and it took the artist James Thornhill 19 years to paint the interior. At completion in 1727, the space was deemed far too grand for it’s original purpose, so it sat mainly unused for most of the next 70 years. Today it is open to the public and used as a space to hire for formal dinners and occasions.
The Painted Hall, Greenwich, London, England

[The Painted Hall, Greenwich by Joe Daniel Price via Flickr]

The last location we visited in London was the beautiful and sobering “Blood Swept Land and Sea of Red” at the Tower of London. One ceramic poppy was handmade for every British fatality in World War I and all 888,246 poppies were installed in the moat around the Tower gradually between July 17 and November 11, 2014. All of the poppies were sold and the proceeds were split between six service charities.gypsy ways update 9 - poppies at the tower of london

After our time in London, my Mom had to go back to the States, but my husband and I did a little more traveling in the UK before we boarded the Queen Mary 2. We visited a family member who lives in the lovely town of Bovey Tracey in Devon. From there, we drove into Dartmoor and had a pub lunch in the beautiful, tiny, and ancient village of Widecombe in the Moor.
Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Dartmoor

[Widecombe-in-the-Moor by Baz Richardson via Flickr]

We also visited a friend who lives in Meads Village, Eastbourne near the chalky cliffs of Beachy Head. Another pub lunch was had in the nearby town of East Dean, famous for being the retirement spot of Sherlock Holmes. In the photo below, the house he “lived in” is at left in the fore of the photo, and the Tiger Inn pub is easy to see with it’s bright umbrellas.
Tiger Inn, East Dean

[Tiger Inn, East Dean by Dave_S. via Flickr]

The next post will be the final chapter of these travels, covering our time on the Queen Mary 2 and our trip back across the US on our way home. Stay tuned!

(Here’s a link to the previous Update 8, and to the next [and final] Update 10)

Compass Needlepoint Update 2

I’m happy to share more progress on my compass needlepoint project!

compass needlepoint update 1On the last update, I had outlined and partially filled in all of the first ring of radiating tiles and had completed the double stitch in the primary direction (NSEW) tiles.

 

 

 

After finishing up our travels last summer, I was able to start working on this project again, and I’m SO pleased with the progress thus far:compass needlepoint update 2

All of the radiating tiles are complete! Here you can see the first, innermost ring in the three darkest colors, the second ring in three medium colors, and the third, outermost ring in the two lightest colors.compass needlepoint update 2 detail

Now you can see all of the colors that will be used in this project. There is the dark grey and dark greyish blue color of the primary direction tiles. Then there are the chocolate brown, rusty brown, and muddy brown of the first ring. The second ring has lighter shades of the chocolate brown and the rusty brown plus a dark gold. The third ring has a lighter gold color and a very light rust, nearly peach color.

You can also see that I have slightly blended the colors, mixing 5 strands of the main colors with one strand of contrasting colors. I did this to better represent the speckled color and texture of the original tiles and to add a little visual interest. I must admit that this looks better than I had originally imagined – it’s really wonderful in this project.

The next step in this compass needlepoint is to define the edge of this center part of the project and the surrounding border tiles with what I’ll call a “grout line.” After that, I’ll fill in the border tiles using some fun and interesting needlepoint stitches, and then I’ll fill in the entire background of this center section. I can’t wait to see how this tribute to one of our favorite hotels, Cuq-en-Terrasses, turns out – stay tuned!

Update: Progress Update 3 is here!