Thursday, March 27, 2014

Merry Go Round

Introducing... a new series of Roll Your Own Mandalas. Join me for a ride on the RYO Merry Go Round. This series will feature round stained glass style mandalas. Most will be the same diameter as the previous group of square ones (115) but I'll be sure to sprinkle in some smaller rounds, as well as some corner chips to play with.

The first installment in Buried Jewels colorway
Pick a color, any color (actually you need 4)
We have a Yahoo group and a FaceBook group to share color ideas, progress shots, and wild hairs.

  • You do not have to be part of the original RYO group to join. (Pick the $35 option below.)
  • Patterns and instructions will be delivered in PDF format via your email. I will use your PayPal email by default, so tell me if you want them sent somewhere else.
  • These will use the same palette as the first group, so all of our 100+ fabulous previous combos will work.
  • There will be 7 total installments. You're looking at the first package. The other six will come out monthly at the first of the month starting in MAY.
  • Price to join the series is $35 for all 7 patterns (some of which, like this one, have more than one mandala.) Patterns will not be available individually - it's all 7 or none.
  • Bonus discount - if you did the RYO 2013 full series, I will give you $10 off - pick the $25 option below for seasoned RYO'ers.
  • If you've just discovered this RYO thread and need them ALL, you can pick the $60 option and get all 7 square installments and be signed up for all 7 round installments.
  • As always, buying in gives you access to the full library of color combinations, as well as my assistance in generating custom combos. In fact, custom work is encouraged. As we work together, I will generate and post photos of the mandalas colored with the new palette. And, within reason, am happy to adjust/tweak combos to get just the look you want.

This is what the original series RYO2013 ended up being. And remember any mandala can be redone in any color combo.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Nashville Ahead

I've been remiss at timely blogging, but that doesn't mean things have been quiet at Ink Circles. In fact, the last few weeks have been a flurry of activity as I get ready to make the grand trek to the Nashville Needlework Market. I fly out this Thursday and I'll be bringing out four new models for the show.  Below are previews of two of them. You'll also get the fourth in the Bad Neighborhood series and another called Lunation.
Peace Wheel
Peace Wheel was inspired by Kolam or Rangoli paintings, which are a most unusual and transient form of art found in India and many other Asian countries. They are drawn by hand using powdered rice or rock directly onto the ground. The artist frequently starts with a matrix of dots, then creates a path of twisty turny lines that weave around and between the dots. When the wind, rain, and walkers take their toll, the design is swept away and replaced by a new one, usually before sunrise every day.

Kolams are drawn as a blessing and a welcome to all visitors. They are thought to bring prosperity to the household and keep evil spirits away. Mathematicians and anthropologists alike have been fascinated by and study the diverse designs. Me too.

Blue Morpho
The blue morpho is a species of butterfly that lives in the rainforest and can reach an impressive 8" across. The butterflies in this stitched piece are not particularly accurate to the coloring or shape of the real thing, nor (unless you use really giant fabric) will they match the wingspan. But you should already know that I'm not into photorealism in my designs.

Since I've finally got the blogspot engine warmed up, here is a recap of two designs that I released in January.  These two should already be available from your LNS/ONS, but I'll of course have them at the show as well.

Four de Lys
Four de Lys is what happens when you say "four fleur de lys" too fast. I got to try out some beautiful new silk for this one by Treenway.

Turrets and Town
Turrets and Town was inspired by a mandala I drew. A lot of my designs begin as little doodles or inklings. Sometimes all it takes is a good pun. You never know.

Enough words, since most of you probably only wanted the pictures anyway. So, watch for these new ones to show up at your favorite shop. Feel free to let them know you're interested ahead of time so they'll bring home enough copies. Stay warm. Stitch happy.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Five Golden Rings

Hey stitchers, Ink Circles was invited to participate in the Stitchers' Village Twelve Days of Christmas event.

Today is Day 5!

I always liked Day 5 in the song, because it allowed the singer to hold ridiculous fermatas and arpegiate. It also brings back fond memories of a children's book (with CD) called the Twelve Dogs of Christmas, where Five Golden Retrievers took the spotlight. It still comes up on my iPod periodically and cracks me up.

Celtic Beasties: Christmas or Knot
If you've not checked out the Stitchers’ Village, take a few minutes. It's an online needlework community with activities, complementary charts, and a chatting area. Navigate by clicking on the different buildings to visit different shops and designers. You can sign up to be a member here.

We Had a Drawing! (Past tense)

Send an email to xxx to enter TODAY. The winner will win a copy of the Celtic Beasties:Christmas or Knot AND an ornament kit for the Huddle, shown below. I'll also accept comments made to this post as entries. I'll be drawing a winner's name tonight. (yet to be announced)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Roll, Roll, Roll Your Boat

Hey, I've just rolled out the final Roll Your Own 2013 Sequel installment (RYO Rematch - top right in the picture below.) There were 7 total, or more accurate to say 6 and three thirds. I'd like to point out that this was a fantastic deal for these charts in pdf form at $35 for the lot, with custom colorization assistance and bonus WIPpy drooling and cheering. Woot!

All of the RYO 2013 mandalas
What a lot of fun it has been in the group, and will continue to be for the next 6 months or so as we continue to stitch and mashup colors. If you've somehow missed out on joining up to now, the group is still open to new members. If you're waiting for some sort of printed version - that will be next year sometime (and won't include the 100+ color combos we've test driven.) Big thank yous to everyone who's been a part of this project.

Roll Me Another One:
My Yahoo ID is

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Flower Power

Do you remember the very first thread that you used for cross stitch? A lot of you are going to answer DMC, or maybe Coats & Clark (Anchor,) both of which have been the big players in the market with over two centuries of thread spinning history.

I've been happy this week to reunite with one of the first flosses that I encountered as a little girl.  As it turns out, they not only are still making it but have added some new colors.  In the early 70's my Mum ran a little shop out of our house that sold imported Scandinavian & Icelandic knitting wool and Danish embroidery kits.  I cut my teeth on Eva Rosenstand and Danish Handcraft Guild (or as they call themselves, Haandarbejdets Fremme) pieces.

My Danish Flower Thread stash (228 was a popular color!)

Bit of trivia for you - "Eva Rosenstand" is really a dude. He used a fictional first name and his Mum's maiden name because (assumedly, and probably correctly) he felt a female's name would sell the product better. Whatever thread Eva Rosenstand kits use, it is really nice. I still have wads of it left over from kits that I use for small random (non-commercial) projects. It is a 6-ply cotton that shines, feels, and works up similarly to DMC.

This other stuff, the Danish Flower Thread - totally different and beautiful animal, and is the subject of today's post. It makes no attempts to be like DMC, although DMC had a brief foray into trying to have a product like this Flower Thread (I still have a full set of DMC's version relegated to the "discontinued - don't use for new designs" box.) Flower Thread is not shiny - it is soft and matte. It is non-divisible, just thread your needle and go. It's coverage is roughly the same as using 2 plies of DMC, so it works as-is on fabric counts of 28 to 32 (over 2.) I can't visualize this stitched on anything but plain (not over-dyed) linen. The natural linen pairs so well and keeps the simple, clean look. The colors are soft and even and very relatable to the original design subject matters and dyeing materials: flowers and plants! And, I'm not sure how to put this, the colors seem more sophisticated than DMC colors - they have more depth.

And they don't immediately lend themselves to grading out into color families the way DMC does, with lights and darks and steps perfectly spaced in between. With the Flower Thread, you might find a nice green and see a few shades that are lighter green, but one has a hint more yellow and the other a hint more gray. The names and numbers give no clues as to how shading might play out. If you've played around on a computer and generated colors using the HSV model (Hue, Saturation, and Value) you would recognized DMC families as exercises in sliding the value knob up and down. Flower Thread colors are more complex and richer and families occur using a CYMK dart board. This makes it more challenging a design effort, but more rewarding a result. Danish designs have a very clean style, and these colors just sing. Have a look at some pieces by Gerda Bengtsson, the Grand Dame of the guild, if you are unfamiliar with the style.

I was so happy to hear from my friend Marty, owner of Danish Needlework, on the subject. Her store is one of the few places where you can find the original Danish Flower Thread in the states. If you need something, it's probably best to call her - the website for the store is a little, ahem, underdeveloped at present.  But her review of the flower thread is spot on.

It's worth trying to put your hands on some. Perhaps with Marty's help I can introduce a new design with a kit option. I'm also wondering how well it would play together with Caron Threads's Wildflowers.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cross Your Eyes for Luck

Something new, maybe you've seen these already, but definitely something fun to try so I wanted to share with my fellow stitchers.  Janis Note from Noteworthy Needle has introduced a novel product line for stitchers. Her kits include either sunglasses or readers in varying strengths that she has drilled to allow stitching on. I picked a pair of pickled peepers.

She provides a chart (with two versions, but you are limited by where the holes are to get too creative,) a block of beeswax for conditioning your thread, a special needle for weaving in the ends, a rubber needle puller because you will need it, and a case to protect them when you aren't wearing them.  Her instructions are very clear and it only took an evening to stitch them up.

I just saw a post from her that she is introducing more patterns options, so you'll be better able to seasonally accessorize. Let your favorite needlework shop know you're interested and they can order some in. I think they'd make a cute gift (either stitched or unstitched) too.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Trade Show in Your Computer

Howdy. It's time once again for that cross stitch and needlework trade show that shows up on the interwebs and tempts you with all those lovely new stitchy things. Starting tomorrow at 2 Eastern time, this link will go live:

Only registered shops will be able to purchase directly from the web pages, but it's open for anyone and their cat to peruse. So feast your eyeballs, take good notes, and contact you favorite shop to make your selections.

Ink Circles will be releasing one new chart, Pepper Tree. You might have seen this in my recent post where I gave a review of the Sulky Blendables thread that I used to stitch it. Suggested retail is $8. I'll of course have all of my other recent charts, and you simply have to ask your shop for any of those other charts that aren't in the show. The booth is limited to 30 product slots - I have a hundred more beyond that, and all are still available.

Pepper Tree  - available at the online Needlework Show.