Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Four in the Hand

Mel shows us that "Four in the Bush" is now actually in the hand.  She stitched this chart I posted as a Halloween freebie using the Carrie's colors I recommended in silks. Beautiful!

And if you ask me exactly of what there are four, I will reply, "Owl-bats."

Friday, December 18, 2009

For those who have yet to BoInk

..Don't worry that the mystery is over.  Many folks are just starting.  Some did finish within hours of the final mystery piece being posted, but people everywhere are working things through at their own pace and some haven't even heard of it yet.

Liz shares her finished Book of Ink Circles, a free mystery project I offered last year which became affectionately known as BoInk.  Like many stitchers, she's changed things around a bit to really make it her own piece.  This was a great solution for those who didn't really care for the four cats in the corners, despite their authentic Celtic heritage :o)  Once the jokes made the rounds about the cats "barfing" out the ribbons, I think they lost a few fans.  (But gained a few nicknames: Barfy, Spewey, Ralph, and Chuck)

In addition to the corner knots, Liz chose a unique palette of aquas, browns, and overdyed threads on her own handpainted 18 ct. eggshell canvas.  And it's done in needlepoint - you can see that better if you click to biggify.  (Did you know that nearly all of the Ink Circles designs convert well to needlepoint?  I'm just not big into the specialty and fractional stitches.)

Beautiful job, Liz! Thanks for sharing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Designs Coming Full Circles

You'll recognize the two recent cross stitch designs at the heart of this project pair.  Both started out as a doodle, got charted out and stitched, and have now come to life in a new medium over the last week.  I used two different carving mediums.  I liked the pink "speedy stamp" better than the white "mastercarve," but I think I prefer real linoleum to the cuts-like-butter stuff.  A fairly successful project & the photos don't need much for explanation.

Friday, December 4, 2009

An Inkling of an Inkling

I've decided to give a special name to some smaller pieces that I'll be putting out.  They're going to be called "Inklings."  Twisted Heart would have been one, if I had thought of the name back then.  I love doing bigger projects, but it's so nice to have some littler ones to shake things up.  The first official one will be Fleur d'Orleans, and this is your sneak peek.

I'm debating between an oval frame and a flat fold. Thoughts?  I definitely need to find some Mardi Gras beads for the leaflet photo.  I should have the chart ready for release after Christmas, which should leave plenty of time for stitching it up before the King Cake goes in the oven.

Thanks go to Nick Pericone for suggesting I do a fleur de lys design.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Road Report: Watch out for Black Ice

For anyone doing any holiday (or even in-town) travelling in the colder climes, black ice is a definite road hazard. For anyone who stitched last year's ornament, Celtic Ice, and is prepping for the upcoming holiday, this Black Ice is much less hazardous.

I used Carrie's Threads in: Irish Kiss, Hunter, Masquerade, and Boysenberry on black Belfast linen to make this new version.  Since the fabric didn't have "windowpane" stripes on it, I added my own.  Also, since I could, I made the squares SQUARE so that the ornament can hang on point without being lopsided.  (I was totally depressed when I found last year that my 6 yards of this checked fabric was not symmetrically woven - really, weavers - what's with that!)

Strikingly different than the original, wouldn't you say.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Like Children...

Every one is special.  Every one is beautiful. Every one is unique.

This is Tanya's beautiful baby.  She stitched in on black Belfast linen using a Threadworx color called Honky Tonk, 2 over 2.

Won't you join her in her Honky Tonk Happy Dance for this Cirque des Carreaux?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Circling the Globe

Susan in Melbourne, Australia, reports happily that her Cirque des Cercles is done!  It was a Happy Dance heard round the world.  She used a variegated DMC on 22 count hardanger fabric. 

Did you know that stitchers in the southern hemisphere are required to stitch their Cirque des Cercles rounds in an anti-clockwise direction, whereas we in the northern hemisphere taken them on clockwise?  Unless of course, you are a south-paw!  The rules are completely reversed for left-handed stitchers.  Yup, those are the rules.  Seriously, some stitchers think there is a secret list of rules for stitching that include things like only stitching a piece in the colors shown, only stitching the entire piece, no personalization allowed - the list goes on.  Spoiler: there is no list; there are no rules.*

This would be a very boring blog and a very boring world without people like Susan to inject a little local color.

* Not to be confused with rules regarding copyright material. There are rules against copying others works and claiming it as your own, photocopying/scanning charts without permission of the author, etc.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Enabling by Example

So, we have all seen the lovely hand-dyed silks by Vikki Clayton, right? It's been a bit of a recurring theme in this blog.  One of the hardest things for a stitcher, can be to visualize what a variegated thread will look like when it's all stitched up.  When Vikki decided that an old firehouse in Pennsylvania was going to be a new retail location for her silk business, it was only natural that she needed some examples for the walls. 

Carol in Edmonton, AB, stepped in to help her out.  This is Ink Circles's Growth Rings (available in the March/April 2009 Just Cross Stitch magazine.)  Carol used HDF Indigo Ocean and Ricordia on 28 ct Monaco.

Not that these silks don't sell well on their own, but this sure makes a nice hook.

Carol also made up the Croakworth and Quackworth pieces and finished them as quilted hangings.

These are both fun little pieces that can be done as monochromes or polychromes.  They'd be a great way to try a new color or use some of those left over bits of silk, or Detritus Bags (for those like me who collect those HDF carrots.)

So, if you're in the neighborhood gathering silk skeins, you can see Carol's pieces in person!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This Is NOT a Tumbleweed

Regardless of what my son says, this ornament does not feature a tumbleweed.  When I told him to look at the bead in the center, he merely thought my tumbleweed had been decorated - it was, after all, a Christmas ornament.

I do like the fact that it takes the eyes a second or two to process the image. If you are still only seeing tumbleweeds, perhaps the ornament title will help.

This is the new Christmas Ornament Kit available from Ink Circles.  I'll be putting it up on my site for sale later today.  I'll be offering 3 fabric count choices.  It comes with 8 different colors of brown silk by Carrie's Threads and a few little red beads, for Rudolph's nose. $14

Wishes for peace and happiness in this season, regardless of how you choose to celebrate (or not!)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

I cite that old stereotypical line with a bit of caution, because a lot of Ink Circles stitchers are guys. There's something about the bold graphic appeal that really doesn't limit their popularity to just the girls.

But, in this case, the diamonds belong to Peg.  This is her version of Cirque des Carreaux. That's French for "Circus of the Diamonds" and it's the third in the series that started out with Cercles, which looked a bit lit a big three-ring circus.

Peg's Carreaux is stitched in variegated Mermaid Blue, which was a custom color of Vikki Clayton's Hand-Dyed Silk.   She stitched it on 40 count white Ricamo linen - all the better to show off that amazing blue silk.  I salute you, Peg, on this fabulous finish!

A bit more background on the silks:  There is a fun and slightly rabid group of silk lovers that play on Vikki's forum, feeding her their wants and wishes and enabling each other.  If enough people gang up, I think Vikki could be talked into dying about any you could dream.  You should (and can) see the lovely colors and combinations over at her site.  Highly recommended.

Needle Show Retail

Something interesting is happing on a website just around the corner.  The folks who produce the Online Needle Show, a twice-a-year wholesale show, are trying out a retail show.  Many, many vendors have each set up booths with up to 20 products.  Some booths are run by designers and vendors who will sell product directly to you, some are by designers or vendors  just as advertisement for their product (Ink Circles is in that group), and others are set up by shops.  Check it out HERE before Nov 8th, when it's over.

Perhaps you are lucky enough to have a real brick and mortar store nearby. If so, support them every chance you get!  Maybe you've found an online store that carries the things you like and gives you the service you deserve. By all means support them too.  If you don't have a LNS or ONS to call your own, use this show as an opportunity to "peek" inside the hundred plus shops there ( I count about 160 booths!). Every shop has it's own personality and it's own style of merchandise.  Twenty products won't be enough to see everything, but it should be enough to see if the shop is a good match for you.  Each shop has an email address (and probably a phone) where you can ask about availablity of those other things you might need.  You may just find your perfect match!

If you need to see which shops carry Ink Circles charts - just ask them, or check out my retailers page on the main site.  Charts are available on my website for purchase, as well.

Visit the Ink Circles booth at the show to learn how you can win a swell door prize!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mel Flashes Her Bloomers in Public!

The first two questions out of Mel's mouth when I show her a new design, are
  1. What Carrie's Threads would you use?
  2. What would it look like stitched on black?

Some designs end up looking quite awesome on black fabric.  This is her Bloomers in Carrie's Thread, on black - almost unrecognizable from the original pastels on brown that I had chosen.  Carrie's Threads includes a number of options that are really vibrant and make this piece "pop" on the black.  The colors that Mel used are not exactly the same placement as the list on the web I suggest because I was ditzy and forgot to write down what I sent her and floss-tossed it a second time.  Consider this Exhibit A to means there are MANY possibilties in any piece and you can relax and pick what colors YOU like. It'll be smashing! Be sure to send me a picture.

Now, that free chart that was posted a few days ago...after considerable playing around with colors, I decided it really didn't look great on black in the five color version.  As a monochrome, it looked neat in any of many colors.  Not wanting to squelch anyone's attempts, I would love to be proven wrong and be shown a super conversion on black.  Meanwhile, I'll just post the answer to Mel's first question.  The Carrie's threads I like for this are: Soot, Peach, Pina Colada, Dried Sage, and Garnet.  I like the slightly dusky palette on this piece and picked muted shades.  It could easily be pepped up to Raven (Black) and a full-on Rainbow for the highlights.  It could also be done as a monochrome using a variegated thread.  You decide.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Speaking of Colorful...

EeKoon sent me a picture of her beautiful and vibrant version of Nine Lives.  Where I used some boring grays, she chose to really liven things up with this bold Oriental color scheme- which is not hard if you have a bag of HDF silk to inspire you.  She used black, a mystery gray, Sea Wrasse (green), Dragon's Blood, and Terra Potta in the centers.

The centers are actually the Chinese character "shou" for long life.  She tells me this is one half of her anniversary piece, so we all wish her a long and happy life and marriage.  And, we eagerly await the other side of this tapesty, which, I am told, is Perigrination done up in an equally stunning alternate colorway.  An unexpected pairing, you might say, but the symbolism is strong and represents their marriage of East to West. Perfect.

Getting Flakey

The new issue of Gift of Stitching came out today.  It includes a flakey new ornament by Ink Circles that was stitched back earlier in the year when our Aussie friends would have actually been seeing snowflakes.  Snowflakes are a very popular theme in ornaments - but why are they always silver and white, I asked.  When you hold a snowflake up to the sun you can see a whole rainbow of colors.  My husband, the physicist, would give a very technical explanation that involved reflection and refraction of light.  I prefer to just say, "wow."

Here is my tecnhnicolor snowflake.  Get the pattern for "Sherbet Flake" in the November Gift of Stitching magazine.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Four in the Bush

Happy Halloween.  Trick or Treat?  If you picked treat, you may download this chart for free.  It's show in 5 colors, but it actually looks quite cool with just the darkest color stitched.  Darkest color requires 2 skeins.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Tiny Bit of Growth

Linda Barry stitched this tiny masterpiece on 40 ct. linen over 2.  Once again, Vikki Clayton's Hand Dyed Fibers steal the show.  What a lovely combo - it's Marque des Cercles and Garnet.  This chart is called Growth Rings and is currently only available in the March/April 2009 JCS Magazine issue.

After completing the delicate stitching, Linda cleverly repurposed a framed mirror from Target to create this bold finish.  It's always so nice to get such a high-end framing job look without paying through the nose!  Any stitcher I know has a few better places to spend their money. 
Trivia time: Did you know where the name  "Marque des Cercles" came from? Vikki's silks all get such interesting names!  This one is a tribute to Marc Davis and his use of DMC 111 in stitching the chart Cirque des Cercles.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Katie Still Does

Twenty years ago Katie said, "I Do" to JMA.  And now, two decades later, they still love each other - even considering her addictive hobby of making endless rows of little x'es on giant pieces of fabric.
To celebrate and commemorate, Katie used assorted DMC and Carrie's Threads on Flax colored 28 count Cashel Linen to stitch I Still Do.  Undertaking this project is no namby-pamby event, but neither is marriage. Congratulations on your success in both, Katie!

I'll try to have something equally spectacular from Ink Circles around when they hit their 50th.  Meanwhile I send my wishes that they may enjoy each other's company and enjoy having this heirloom on their wall.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My Mum Is a Star

This is Garden Stars, as wrought by my Dear Mum. She used an assortment of Carries Threads, adding in a spot or two of color where she felt like it.

Garden Stars was actually one of the first designs published by Ink Circles. Rather than take the year it would have required to get models physically stitched for my first few charts, I took the short cut of using a computer generated picture for the leaflet cover. If I had it to do over, I'd do it the same way, but if I need to have Garden Stars reprinted you can bet that I will upgrade the cover to this beautiful model!

This chart predated my introduction to over-dyed thread so it called for the ubiquitous DMC. Later, developing a conversion from DMC to Carrie's Threads was an entertaining and growing process for both Carrie and me. She had only a handful of greens in her color line at that point, so you can imagine her reaction when I presented this chart with its twenty-odd shades of green. Actually, imagine any individual dyer being asked to do that - can you see their faces turning a bit greenish. At a minimum their hands would be green. Carrie rose to the occasion wonderfully and today her color line reflects those efforts.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This Heart of Barbara's

Barbara stitched This Heart of Mine using Vikki Clayton's Hand Dyed Silk on 32 ct Bittersweet jobelan fabric.  The silk color she picked was Exemplar Flannel Dark.

This is the same color combo used in Growth Rings and it looks just as smashing on this piece.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lucky Number 7

Ink Circles is proud to be participating in the Stitch Your Heart Out Campaign.  One aspect of this campaign is to have 12 different designers make special charts in a series, to be released once per month.  If desired, the projects could then be combined into a special "designer encyclopedia." The lovely month of August, 2010 will be the 7th of 12 installments and will be powered by INK CIRCLES.  I am just tickled to have been invited to participate in this first year.

The campaign is designed to promote women's heart health awareness and will directly support a charity called Carol for Heart. More info on Carol for Heart is on that SYHO website.

Stay tuned for updates on this campaign.  In addition to the 12 new charts, there will be much fun for stitchers and non-stitchers, as well as a few surprises to be announced. 

Friday, October 23, 2009

How We Do It in These Parts

Michelle is a native Texan, where they know a good cowpoke when they see one.  She changed the color scheme a little bit to fit her decor and stitched them on these adorable bandana-trimmed pillows.  Meet her custom Beau Leggy and Calamity Pippi!

Pat's Blue Ribbon Day

Pat in New Mexico shows us her version of Cirque des Cercles.  Isn't this a beautiful combination!  Well deserving of the Blue Ribbon she won in the Southern New Mexico State Fair.  Check out Pat's blog to see more of her stitching here.

Time Contraction in the PDX Space-Time Continuum

Here it is the 23rd already! How did that happen? The Online Needlework Show that ended last week went just swimmingly and things have wrapped up there with the exception of the couple hundred door prize messages still in the inbox. I was able to keep up with them the first few days, but as orders came in (and I played hookey for the weekend) they piled up until their inertia held them fast. I'm a glutton for punishment and asked for meaningful input the I intend to read, not just a "send me your name and I draw randomly" scheme. So - there is still hope if you entered!

My trip that weekend was to visit my not-so-local Local Needlework Shop in Portland - Acorns and Threads. They were having a grand Open House Event that I was lucky enough to coincide with my Ink Circles trunk show there.

All of the new models were unveiled to a crowd that was big enough I was concerned what the Fire Marshal's opinion might have been. Of course, the stitchers were there not just to see my stuff - there was a wagon load of new things brought back from the St. Charles market and a few other guests of honor!

When the throngs finally had their way with the interceding pile of limited edition Belle Soie skeins, I got to meet Sharon Crescent. She had a number of lovely models done up in these lovely silks. Maybe it's because I am reading The Maltese Falcon, as part of our "The Big Read" library program, which makes me think of Bogart, who in a different movie (Casablanca, of course) says the phrase that comes to mind. "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

I was also lucky enough to meet fellow designer Jamie Beam of Knotted Tree Needle Art. Acorns & Threads was her old stomping grounds, but it turns out that her current home is only an hour away from me. We won't have to drive four hours each to meet up next time (which will be soon, I'm sure)!

I hardly put a needle to cloth the whole weekend due to all this gabbing and eating (I should have snapped a pic of the dessert table, it was as popular as any of the featured items!)...er "networking." My dearest daughter, who now looks forward to these road trips as much as I do, is not much for socializing and snooping. She pulled out her Frederick the Literate and stitched away. The most common comment was about her young eyes.

All in all, a lovely trip.