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 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 7 – Asturias

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

(Here’s a link to the previous Update 6 and the next Update 8)

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.)

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.