Zesty Cross Stitch Pattern – Fun and Mysterious

This suggestive Zesty cross stitch pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!zesty cross stitch pattern dark vast and zestyDark, Vast, and Zesty may sound somewhat like a double entendre, but it has a much more innocent origin. A family member got himself into an enormous financial mess that peaked when he had a life-threatening illness, and it took many of his friends and family to help dig him out of trouble (physically and financially). One person was entrusted to make an honest and extensive list of every debt and issue outstanding. When this person emailed the list to the others helping, he prefaced it by saying the list was “…dark, vast, and zesty,” which cracked me up!

Of course, “dark, vast, and zesty” could refer to a number of different situations, some more virtuous than others. I think it could add a fun air of mystery to greet your guests, with them thinking “just what the heck does that mean?” It remains a really funny line and a great reminder to find the humor in less than ideal circumstances whenever possible. [By the way, the family member is recovered and doing much better now.]

dmc coloris 24 new variegated flossesThe variegated floss used in this Zesty cross stitch pattern is the gorgeous and rich DMC Coloris 4507 Bougainvillea, available in my shop along with the entire range of DMC and Anchor variegated flosses (DMC’s newest colors, the Coloris collection, are shown at right). I also offer a selection of beautiful ThreadworX variegated flosses as well.

Variegated flosses are beautiful and by their very nature, they make every piece that uses them unique. No two people will ever use the exact same length of a floss in the same way, thus every project will have a different result! This makes creating with them an exercise in curiosity and a fun adventure. See the my series of Variegated Floss Projects to see a wide variety of projects that would look great in these color combinations!

Lightning Cross Stitch Pattern – Crafty Empowerment

This new Lightning cross stitch pattern (now available in my shop) is inspired by Serena Ryder’s outstanding song “Got Your Number.” lightning cross stitch pattern see my lightning hear my thunder cross stitch patternThe song is an empowering kick-butt break-up rocker in a similar vein as the Eurythmics’ “Would I Lie To You?” According to some online song lyric websites, this line actually is “See my lightning in my bottle” but I may have mis-heard the second half as “hear my thunder” and to tell the truth, I like it better! [No disrespect to Serena as her song kicks serious ass!] This misunderstanding counts among my favorite personal Mondegreens

The project uses white, three shades of grey, and I stitched the lettering in DMC E940 glow in the dark floss (also available in my Etsy shop). The photo below shows the project in black light and I love how the lettering glows while the white floss core of the lightning bolt pops! lightning cross stitch pattern serena ryder lyric see my lightning hear my thunder glow in the dark blacklightThe photo below shows the lettering glowing in the dark – it actually glows brighter than that but it’s tough to photograph effectively. It’s still very cool, though…lightning cross stitch pattern serena ryder lyric see my lightning hear my thunder glow in the darkI considered using a cartoon-like lightning bolt for this project but it just didn’t feel right. This project really started to come together when I started working with a photo of a real lightning bolt. I’d be curious to see how this project would look stitched on a white canvas with color in the lightning and lettering. Hm…

I’m not sure if this song got much airplay in the States as I only heard it on Canadian Broadcasting when I was very near the western Canada/US border in January 2017. However, the song is available at least on Amazon (where I purchased it). Please check out her great song and stitch this empowering lightning cross stitch pattern!

ThreadworX Variegated Floss – New Arrivals in the Shop!

ThreadworX variegated floss has just been added to my Etsy shop!threadworx variegated floss

Just look at these gorgeous combinations of color – and they’re even better looking in person. ThreadworX creates these brilliant flosses in their Southern California facility. As I live relatively close by, I’ve been lucky enough to meet the creative talent behind these combinations. These flosses truly are hand-dyed – I was greeted with a green handshake the day I visited.

The manufacturing process for DMC and Anchor variegated threads, I believe, limits the number of different colors on one skein to four. While those flosses are gorgeous in their own right, the hand-dyed process at ThreadworX allows for more than four colors on one skein. This is best evidenced by the true rainbow of floss number 1154 – Bradley’s Balloons.threadworx 1154 variegated floss bradleys balloons

When unraveled, these are 20-yard skeins composed of 20 pieces of one-yard long floss as you can see below. This is different than the 8.7 yard long skeins of DMC and Anchor that many of us are accustomed to. However, this is a similar top-quality six-strand floss that stitches up exactly the same as a DMC or Anchor floss.

threadworx skein is many one-yard piecesBelow is a sample of this floss stitched on 18-count Aida cloth in a variety of directions. The top three (diagonal, serpentine vertical, and spiral) used two strands, and the bottom (serpentine horizontal) used just one strand. threadworx 1154 variegated floss bradleys balloons on 18 count aida

Here’s the same floss again stitched on 14-count Aida cloth. The left sample used one strand, and the right used two. threadworx 1154 variegated floss bradleys balloons on 14 count aida

This floss has great quality, it was easy to handle, and it was really fun to see how the colors changed with every stitch.

At the moment, I’m just carrying the 24 flosses you see in the photo at top, however if these start to sell well, I can easily see my shop adding more colors very soon!

Here are a few of my favorites thus far:

threadworx 1039 variegated floss autumn leavesAbove is ThreadworX 1039 – Autumn Leaves. It’s a gorgeous mix of browns, gold, rust, and dark gray. I can only hope that this photos does it justice, as it is stunning!threadworx 1039 variegated floss pastel bouquet

This subtle mix of pink, yellow, gray-green, and purple is ThreadworX 1078 – Pastel Bouquet.threadworx 1068 variegated floss hawaiian flowers

This combination of greens and purple is 1068 – Hawaiian Flowers, although it really reminds me of the beautiful Jacaranda trees that bloom in Southern California in the late spring. threadworx 1044 variegated floss chili peppers

ThreadworX variegated floss 1044 is a spicy blend of greens, dark red, and rust named “Chili Peppers.”threadworx 1032 variegated floss brown sugar and spice

1032 – Brown Sugar and Spice is a subtle mix of light browns – from white chocolate through milk chocolate and dark chocolate shades. It reminds me of seeing timeless geologic strata in bright desert light. Once again, I hope the photo does this floss justice as I really adore this one! threadworx 1053 variegated floss dreamscape

The last one I’ll highlight for now is this ThreadworX 1053 – Dreamscape. It is indeed a dreamy combination of purple, greens and light blue. Lovely!

I hope you check out the ThreadworX variegated floss and all of the variegated flosses I carry in my Etsy shop. Also check out my six-part series on a million different ways to use variegated floss in craft projects from needlework and quilting to furniture, jewelry, home decor and much more!

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.

DMC Coloris Variegated Flosses

The new DMC Coloris variegated flosses have just been added to my Etsy shop!

dmc coloris 24 new variegated flosses

These 24 flosses are outstanding additions to DMC’s already excellent line of variegated threads. These are all true multicolor combinations, where most of their predecessors have more subtle color combinations.

These are so new in the States that it’s a little tough to find information about them. DMC USA has not updated their website yet with Coloris information, however the DMC UK site has a little information and five free charts.

I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when opened the boxes containing these flosses – it was so fun! I’m sure my husband got tired of me repeatedly saying “oooh” and “wow” as if I were watching fireworks. But these combinations are just so different and striking that I couldn’t help myself.

Here are a few of my early favorites…

DMC 4501 ColorisDMC 4501, called Fleurs des Champs (Wildflowers), is a springy blend of watermelon pink, green, and light teal. It reminds me most of the inner layers of a watermelon rind.

 

 

 

DMC 4502 ColorisDMC 4502 is called Camellia and is a springy combination of bright pinks, green, and light blue.

 

 

 

DMC 4506 ColorisDMC 4506, Primavera (Spring), is a gorgeous blend of green, blue, and yellow.

 

 

 

 

DMC 4507 ColorisDMC 4507 is called Bougainvillea, and it’s a gorgeous group of teal greens, blue, and dark pink. It reminds me most of peacock feathers.

 

 

 

DMC 4523 ColorisDMC 4523, Vent du Nord (North Wind), is a lovely combination of light purple, light blue, and sandy browns.

 

 

 

DMC 4520 ColorisOne curious note: I think DMC 4520, called “Christmas Story,” is identical to the older DMC 4042 “Very Merry.” I will have to compare them in more detail, but in the meantime I’m wondering why they repeated this combination.

 

 

These DMC Coloris variegated flosses are just lovely and I really look forward to stitching with them. I also think they will look great in any of the multitude of crafts that can be done with variegated floss (check out my six-part series on variegated floss projects!).

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!

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. 

Willy Wonka Cross Stitch Pattern

This Willy Wonka cross stitch pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!willy wonka cross stitch pattern so much time and so little to do

This pattern features one of the famous quotes from Gene Wilder’s character in the 1971 version of the movie. As the visitors to the factory have just walked in the door and are removing their coats, Willy says: “So much time and so little to see. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it. Thank you.”

Only after I stitched the photographed example did I realize that I got the quote slightly incorrect! In my mind and on IMDB.com the line is “…so little to do,” whereas the line in the movie is clearly “…so little to see.” Nevertheless, this project will appeal to fans of the movie and to busy people everywhere (and who of us isn’t busy?).

photo of gene wilder as willy wonkaThe border of this pattern is a homage to the floral fabric in Willy Wonka’s waistcoat. With it’s purple, pink and white flowers on a background of black and light purple, it’s an enduing part of Willy’s ensemble.

 

 

 

 

 

On Spoonflower, there are two separate versions of this fabric, as well as two different “Golden Ticket” fabrics, a reproduction of the “lickable wallpaper” fruit pattern, and a rather unusual fabric of Willy with the Oompa Loompas.

If you’re unfamiliar with the movie, it’s based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. At it’s release in 1971 it received good reviews and fared decently at the box office. Since its release for television and home video, it has become a cult classic with quite a few devoted fans.

Dahl didn’t like this version of the movie, saying it strayed too far from his original book. One can understand his concerns, considering the change of emphasis from Charlie to Willy, the introduction of Slugworth as an enemy, and the inclusion of seemingly random literary quotes from various authors. I’ve also heard that the lyrics of the Oompa Loompa’s songs were completely different than what they sang in this this first version.

willy wonka cross stitch pattern so much time and so little to doDahl’s family was much happier with the Tim Burton-directed version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp from 2005. Although they are much different movies, I happen to like them both. Ah, but when it comes to quotable lines, the 1971 version certainly takes the (chocolate) cake.

 

This Willy Wonka cross stitch pattern is perfect for all fans of the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and for all of us with hectic schedules.