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!

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!

French Liquor License Cross Stitch Pattern

This French liquor license cross stitch pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!french liquor license cross stitch pattern

 

french liquor license cross stitch pattern original signThis fun pattern is based on an enameled metal sign I saw outside the Hotel Le Tropicana in Douville, France. I thought it was a really charming sign and I immediately knew that I would stitch one for myself someday.

The number IV (4) indicates that the establishment can sell all types of beers, wines, and spirits. License types I, II, and III exist as well.

 

 

 

We stayed at this hotel as the 2014 Tour de France individual time trial (ITT) stage passed very close by. In a previous blog post, I shared a little about why the ITT is our favorite stage to watch and some highlights and videos of the Tour.

gypsy ways update 6 french sign translation failI’m going to repeat myself a bit from that same previous post: “One of my favorite finds of the summer was very near our hotel. There is a nice little campground with a lake, [and] this is one of the signs around the lake:

 

 

The 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.” Although this sign is a cute favorite, I don’t plan on creating a cross stitch pattern based on it.

I’ve always been curious about the date on the plaque – 24 September 1941. This was after France fell to the Germans in World War II. There are few other images of this plaque on the web, but the ones I have seen have the same date. So was this liquor license law something that was in legislative process before the German invasion, or was this law something that the Germans insisted upon during their occupation? I’d enjoy to hear any insights into the matter.

This French liquor license cross stitch pattern is a perfect project for your favorite Francophiles (fans of French culture), oenophiles (fans of wine), and beer connoisseurs. It would look great in a kitchen, dining room, home bar, media room – wherever good libations are enjoyed!

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!

Gypsy Ways Update 8 – Spain and France

Gypsy ways update 8 begins with us in Spain, leaving the cool green beauty of Asturias and heading south to the Mediterranean along the Costa Blanca.

Some people like the busy beaches and high rises of Benidorm, but I prefer the smaller, lesser developed towns nearby like Moraira and Xàbia (Javea) that still retain some of their original charm.
Javea - from the Cap de Sant Antoni

[Javea by Baz Richardson via Flickr]

We stay with family members who have a house in the area, and their view looking down on the Mediterranean is outstanding.gypsy ways update 8 - view from cumbre del sol

It’s a wonderful, relaxing place and a great spot to get organized for the final push and drive north back to the UK.

Driving north along the A31 Motorway between Alicante and Albacete, there are some great castles including ones at Sax, Chinchilla de Monte Aragón, and this beauty at Villena. I’m happy to say that that the Spanish government has done some major preservation and restoration work on it’s historical sites in recent years to save these from becoming ruins.gypsy ways update 8 - castle at villena spain

One building along the A31 always received my particular attention. I can only guess that it was a long abandoned inn – possibly for people traveling by horse carriage? I wish I knew! The oval shape of the upper windows is my only indication of it’s possible age. Regardless, I was always curious about the history of the building and thought it was unfortunate that the building was in such bad shape (see the before photo below on the left).

Well, last time we drove by, I was thrilled to see that the building has been completely restored (see the after photo on the right). There is now a gas station and a convenience shop and I can only hope that it is again being used as a travelers inn.

gypsy ways update 8 - old coach stop before and after

The remainder of our days driving north through Spain and France were pretty uneventful, but we were lucky to find a little jewel of a hotel – the Auberge du Port des Roches near Le Mans.gypsy ways update 8 - auberge du port de roches

The setting is ideal – it stands on one side of a small lane, and on the other side of the lane is a beautiful patio along the Loir river. gypsy ways update 8 - auberge du port de roches patioOur room was charming, the dinner on the patio that evening was excellent and beautifully served, and best of all, the proprietor loves to cross stitch!

gypsy ways update 8 - auberge du port de roches cross stitch key boardCross stitched pieces are everywhere, from the room keys

 

 

 

 

gypsy ways update 8 - auberge du port de roches cross stitch chambre non fumeurto the no smoking signs in the rooms.

 

 

 

 

Here is the proprietor with some of her pieces (her signs say “closed Sunday evening and Monday.” “Open Tuesday at 5:00 P.M.”). You can see she also has some small cross stitched and framed monograms for sale on the wall behind her. gypsy ways update 8 - proprietor at auberge du port de roches and her cross stitch

I couldn’t imagine a nicer way to complete our time in continental Europe!

The next update will start with some adventures in the UK before our trip back across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2 – stay tuned…

(Here’s a link to the previous Update 7, and the next Update 9)

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.)

Compass Needlepoint Update 1

I’m happy to say that I’ve made some great progress on my compass needlepoint project! Last time I posted about this was in January, shortly after I started stitching. Well, despite being on the road since May, I have managed to work on it quite a bit.

The pattern is based on a compass rose made of tile pieces on the patio of a charming hotel in France. The hotel is Cuq en Terrasses in the countryside near Toulouse, and it’s one of our favorite places to stay in the world. I find that one of the great benefits of travel is the nearly endless sources of inspiration for future projects.

Compass Tile WIP #1bIn the last update, I had just begun the double stitched center tile of the pattern.

 

 

 

 

This photo shows the center tile in progress, along with the early stages of the first row of radiating tiles. The double stitch used in the center tile combines a long cross stitch and a small cross stitch, so in this photo you can see I’ve completed all the long XS and have started filling in the small XS.

Compass Tile WIP #2

I outlined each of the radiating tiles and then used whatever floss I had remaining in the needle to start filling in. Once I ran out of floss, I moved on to the next tile. I will go back and fill in the remainder of each tile sometime later.

Here, you get to see the project next to it’s original inspiration!Compass Tile WIP #3

Earlier this summer we were lucky enough to spend a few nights at Cuq en Terrasses. It, as always, was beautiful and charming. I managed to snap a few photos of the project with it’s model in situ.

You can see that I have made the project a little more colorful than the original, but have stayed true to it’s earth tones. At this point I had completed nearly all of the first row of tiles except for the four gray tiles of the primary compass directions.

One of the reasons I stitched the primary direction tiles last is that I was having a tough time trying to figure out how to do the double stitch on them. As I have discovered through this project, double stitch works great on a square area. However, in a slightly irregular shape, it turned into quite a challenge. At some point I will write an entire separate post about how I tackled the situation…

Although once I did tackle those primary direction tiles, WOW!compass needlepoint update 1

The first ring of radiating tiles are all outlined and partially filled in, except for the NSEW tiles which are completed.Compass Tile WIP #4a

Here you can see the three colorways of brown flosses I chose for this first ring. There’s a chocolate brown, a rusty brown, and a muddy brown. You can also see that I have slightly blended the colors, mixing 5 strands of the darker colors with one strand of lighter colors. I did this to better represent the speckled color and texture of the original tiles and to add a little visual interest. The lighter colors will show up again in the outer rings of tiles as well.

You can also see the two colors I used in the primary directional tiles. The long XS are in a dark grey, while the short XS are in a dark greyish blue color. 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.

Because of our travel, I have put this project aside for a little while. However, I really look forward to continuing my work on this compass needlepoint!

[Update: More progress as of May 2015!]

[Another update: How to tackle the double stitch!]

Road Sign Cross Stitch Patterns

The latest in my series of road sign cross stitch patterns and kits are now available in my Etsy shop! This pattern and kit is based on a “No Truck Passing” sign found all over Europe.

No Truck Passing Cross Stitch

A nice feature of the photo above is that my husband actually stitched this example – his first real project! Well done, darlin’…

This is just the latest of a long series of these European road signs. I’ve been concentrating more on the US Highway signs lately, but there are some very fun patterns from Europe:

No Horns!No Horns (pattern and kit) can be seen outside some small towns in Italy. I think it would make a great gift for new moms who are looking for something a little different than the typical “Quiet! Baby sleeping” sign.

 

 

Km 0The KM 0 sign (pattern and kit), based on the sign outside a Galician bar) would make an ideal present for people starting a new phase – new grads, newlyweds, first time homeowners…

 

 

Ruta del VinoThe Ruta del Vino sign (pattern and kit) comes from the Rioja region of Spain and is perfect for your favorite oenophiles (wine lovers)!

 

 

 

Speed CameraPhotographers and your leadfoot friends would enjoy this U.K. Speed Camera sign (pattern and kit),

 

 

 

Cycle lanesand the Cycle Lanes pattern (pattern and kit) is for all your favorite bicyclists!

 

 

 

 

Cambio de SentidoOne of my personal faves is this “Cambio de Sentido” sign (pattern and kit). While it signifies “at the next exit, you can turn around to go in the opposite direction,” it looks a lot like someone flipping the bird.

 

 

Railroad CrossingTrain enthusiasts would like this railroad crossing sign from the U.K. (pattern and kit),

 

 

 

 

High Windand this High Wind Warning sign (pattern and kit) is another personal favorite. I think it’s perfect as a gift for Chicagoans, lawyers, or possibly a mother-in-law. Also, can you see this hanging in a bathroom? You bet!

 

 

All of the road sign cross stitch patterns and kits (US Highways included) are sized to fit inside standard frames, and are detailed enough to look good while not taking forever to stitch. They would be a bright and fun way to decorate an office, media room, or kid’s bedroom. The patterns can also be used to make needlepoint projects or even quilts… Check ’em out!

European Road Sign Cross Stitch Patterns

I’ve started on what I hope will be a long series of very fun European road sign cross stitch patterns!road sign cross stitch patterns - no horns, milemarker 0, wine route, speed camera, loose chippings

My husband and I have been fortunate to be able to live in and spend time traveling throughout Europe over the past 5 years. Along our travels, mostly though Spain, the U.K., Italy, and France, I’ve managed to gather photos of some unique and unusual signs (at least to us on the left side of the pond). One of my goals of 2013 is to turn many of those signs into patterns and kits. As of Tuesday February 26th, I’ll have five patterns in my Etsy shop, and more coming all the time.

I’m hoping there will be patterns that appeal to everyone – from kids to grandparents, drivers, hikers, wine lovers, newlyweds, new moms, and aficionados of the fun and unusual.

One of my personal favorites is the “No Horns” sign you see at the left in the photo. This is a road sign I’ve seen outside of some small villages in Italy. I’ve always been charmed by the antique style of the bicycle horn in the sign and it makes me smile every time I see one. The signs are somewhat rare these days, so I wanted to stitch one for myself. I think this would be a very fun “be quiet” sign for new moms with sleeping babies.