Saturday, December 4, 2010

Join Me on a Free Cruise

Close your eyes and let's take a trip together.  We'll be travelling by tall ship, and the weather should be quite tropical, so pack lightly. Bring your stitching, your knitting, and few good books. Our destination?

I had never guessed such a place existed, but my friend Alison Whittington has sent me a map, so therefore it must.  She ought to know, after all, she is the Chief Mapmaker for the Interimaginational Institute for Fantastical Exploration & Cartography.

I stumbled across Alison's site when I was doing some research on antique maps for a little cross stitch project (I'll have more on that someday to share.) She draws and paints the most lovely imaginative maps, and I must say this one is more charming in person than I could even have imagined. Alison and I became friends when we recognized that the ink levels in our blood was enough to make you legally drunk in some states.  Weapon of choice? Dip pens and India Ink.

With a new baby and I'm certain a large number of Christmas and custom orders, I don't know how she found the time and energy for this gift, but it makes me feel like a Queen in my very own country.  Thank you and big hugs, Alison!

BTW, she has some wonderful prints and originals of all sorts of creative maps in her Etsy shop. I can vouch that they make very happy gifts.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Minnie shared a picture with me of a pillow she made for her older sister. Sometimes a stitched tribute doesn't make it into the hands of the one we care about, but Minnie and I are happy to report that said sister kicked cancer's butt.  Eva has this beautiful pillow to remind her that she is indeed a survivor and also that she has a loving sister.

Minnie did a great job of setting her stitching into a pieced pillow top, making it big enough to be pillow sized. The setting reminds me of a jewel.  Eva probably already said something like this to her, but I think Minnie is a treasure. Thanks for sharing your story!

The Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon Mandala is a free chart that can be downloaded from my site. It's also fun and useful to note that the ribbon colors are easily interchangeable to represent different awareness causes.  If you scroll back through the blog, you can see some lovely examples.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

I don't have to struggle too much to recognize how lucky I am. I'm extremely thankful for my family and friends, good jobs, good health, decent jobs, nice house. Knowing that I play a part in helping people make beautiful things is such a rewarding pleasure.  I realize that cross-stitching is definitely something that falls in the luxury category, rather than one of life's basic necessities, but it's the type of thing that makes life so much more enjoyable.

I'm thankful that I've been a part of your lives and lift my cup up to you today.  I hope the holiday weekend (for those in the US, anyway) brings you a little stitching time.

Tara, my friend in Portland, sent me this pictures of her Bramble and the Rose.  She used three colors of Gloriana silk on 40 count Navy Bean linen by Lakeside Linens.  This pattern is technically a monochromatic design but it lends itself well to adding additional colors for the flowery and leafy bits.  Tara maintains that she just likes "Green and Yellow" and that the Oregon Ducks had nothing to do with color choices.

So, a toast to Tara and to all of you on this day. Go Ducks!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Show Goes On

It's been a rough few weeks in the Ink Circles IT department.  My main computer suffered what was later diagnosed as a hard drive controller failure while it was repairing/recovering from a pesky virus. The tech I took it to thought the two issues were unrelated, which I hope is true, as hardware eating viruses would be a scary thing. So, I need to send it back to the mothership (Dell) for repair. I couldn't wait weeks to be back online, so I did the thing any other red-blooded American with a Costco card would do. :o)

It was more of a speedbump than a brick wall.  Most files and things were recovered from an external hard drive backup, but some things are M.I.A., like the emails in my inbox.  So... if any of you stitchers had sent photo finishes that I hadn't posted yet, please accept my apologies and shoot me another copy.

Meanwhile, the band played on.  And Cristin stitched.  She's sent me this photo of her Twisted Heart finish. She added some initials and a date to personalize it.  She used the recommended colors for thread, but worked in on a lovely shade of lilac Belfast linen.  Cristin has another version planned that promises to be even more creative and colorful, so I'm standing by!

Thanks again for everyone's patience during these past two weeks. Keep on Stitchin'

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Life's a Circus

Or, shall we say, a Cirque!

Here is Cirque des Cercles, as performed by the lovely Beatrice using only Navy Blue Jobelin evenweave, 4072 variegated DMC and her own bare hands!  Well, technically she probably used a hoop, a lamp, and a needle, but it sounds much more dramatic the first way.

And now, may I direct your gaze to the ring near the elephant cage. You may remember back in March when the daring Stefanie showed us her Cirque des Cercles and gave us a glimpse of diamonds to come?  Let us say the months of hard work and training have paid off.  Here, never before seen in its entirety, on this blog: Stefanie's Cirque des Carreaux!

Ladies and Gentlemen, won't you give these two ladies a hand, . Woot Woot! Now, watch as Gregor, the Human Cannonball prepares for this next death-defying feat.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Word Association

I say Quaker. You say...since you are likely a stitcher if you're reading this...something like "sampler" or "Ackworth".  But that's not much of a game, is it?  Let's try again with a random non-stitcher. 
I say Quaker.  You say...







I see the game has kinda gone to pot.


Hungry for the Oatmeal  Quaker? Fill your bowl at the Online Needlework Show that starts Thursday the 21st.  The show is wholesale only, so you'll need to ask your favorite shop to get a copy for you. ($10 suggested retail price.)  It's stitched with 2 skeins of Belle Soie silk in Briar Patch on 32 ct Vintage Pearled Barley by Lakeside Linens. You'll want to pick some of that up too.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Celtic Needlebook - Freebies in Action

Marianne shows us here that a little ingenuity can lead to a great finish.  She used one of the complementary Celtic knot designs from my site, adapting it from a square to a rectangle to suit her needlebook application.  I had the chance to meet Marianne during a recent trip to visit the Northwest Sampler Guild in Seattle.  What a super friendly and talented group of ladies!  Her stitching (and knitting) was exquisite, as you can see in the pictures she shared below.  Thanks, Marianne for the inspiring photos.

Now, here is another of my freebie graphs that Cathy in Virgina has stitched. I love those colors on the black, and it's our friendly ubiquitous DMC (variations)!  What is your favorite way to finish up a square like this into a small?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Stop Copyright Abuse Now

You're going to hear a lot more about this - hopefully everywhere you turn.

All I can say is that it sure bums me out to catch wind of one of my patterns posted on one of those sharing sites.  My artwork is really crappy when I'm bummed. You don't want crappy designs, do you?

Here is a new website that has sprung up specifically to champion this issue:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Getting to the Point

And there are a LOT of points on this one.  This is Cirque des Triangles, stitched by Nadia in Vikki Clayton's Hand-Dyed Fibers - 1 strand of silk over 1 thread of her 27 count black fabric. That silk color just shines out on that black, doesn't it!  What a beautiful job, particularly considering the scale and the dark background. It matches her Cirque des Cercles that we got to see earlier.  Cirque des Carreaux is in the queue, naturally.  Thanks for showing us your picture, Nadia!  Your wall must have an amazing wall of finishes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Moon Juice

A few thoughts I've collected and wanted to share regarding the new moon charts.

Here is a version of the ornament in the Sept/Oct 2010 JCS issue. This was stitched by Ashley, who had this luscious purpley hand-dyed fabric in her stash. It's Purple Twilight by Youthful Hands.

It would obviously work well for any "sky" colored fabric that wasn't too dark.

Ashley used GAST Pebble for the moon color, and it really brought out some nice depth.  That's going to make a lovely ornament - thanks for sharing the pic, Ashley!

My buddy Mel, who likes to stitch all my charts on black, was not phased by the inability to stitch this one on black.  She bounced right in with the suggestion of a Glow in the Dark moon.  Awesome idea!

Now, if you haven't seen Masquerade yet, it is a new chart that has the same cat/moon thing going on with a new twist. Unfortunately, the pictures on the web are so small and the effect is so subtle, it's hard to tell.  So  here is another shot that gives a close up of the skim milk and the cream swirling together in the moon.  I normally hate pictures so big you can count the stitches, but on some of these things it's either that or try to make you fall in love with a thumbnail.

Charts for this one will be available this weekend to those lucky shops attending market in St. Charles.  The real full moon is Thursday and that is the day I start my trip there.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Waya To Go!

My kids always complain, "That's not fair!"  They are quite familiar with my standard reply, which was a gem frequently used by my old XO. He'd say, "You're right. A fair is a place you judge pigs."

BTW, a fair is also a place that they judge cross stitch.  And it just so happens that Waya kicked some serious butt at the Tennessee Valley Fair this year. She entered three Ink Circles pieces and took home three ribbons - two of them First Place.

She stitched them all with the charted colors 1-over-2 on 40-count linen. "Growth Rings" won first place for Counted Cross Stitch on Linen. "Tanglewood" won first prize in Counted Cross Stitch, Novelty or Fantasy.  "I Still Do" won third place in Counted Cross Stitch, Primarily Flowers. 

All I can say is your work is beautiful, Waya.  Way to go!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More horses to bet on

Hi Everybody!  Have you all met my Mum? (Cindy waves back to you all.) She has been busy designing fabulous Scandinavian-style sweaters, hats and mittens.  You can visit her site Norsk Needlework and see them all (and order pdfs for the knitting patterns), but I wanted to share her newest project with my stitching friends.

Her sweater (modeled by the lovely Patti): Wild Blue Horses

And the part you might like even better:
This is "Fjord Ponies" and she's allowed me to release it and sell it as part of the Ink Circles line.  It's cross stitch and back-stitching in seven shades of Vikki Clayton's HDF.  I'll be bringing both her and the model with me to the TNNA wholesale show in St. Charles next month for the official release party.

By the way, this will make three generations of Ink Circles designers. :o)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bonnie's Trifecta

Bonnie was gathering up her recent finishes to take to an open house at her LNS, when she realized that all three pieces were Ink Circles charts.   Blackstone Fantasy Garden, Kaleidoscope, and Growth Rings (which just happens to be available for purchase as a stand-alone chart now - it was previously only available in the magazine issue.)  What an awesome collection of finishes, Bonnie!

 So my final question: Was this Win/Place/Show ticket a coincidence or proof positive of the efficacy of the subliminal messages that are imprinted on every chart?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Taste the Rainbow

If you thought Kaleidoscope looked nice in 31 shades of DMC, imagine how spectacular it looks in Vikki Clayton's Hand-dyed silk. One of the big HDF advantages is that any pattern written for DMC can be converted directly to HDF. In addition to a whole array of lovely variegated floss colors, there is a direct match up for all of the DMC shades.

Juliette shares a photo of her chromatic masterpiece done with Vikki's silk on 36 count antique white linen with us here. Wow - that is beautiful.  Thanks for brightening my day, Juliette, and congrats on the spectacular finish.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Love Triangle Exposed

Well, I love this chart. Toni loved this chart. Some of you probably love it too.  Is that not a Love of Triangles?

Toni took the monochromatic Cirque des Triangles chart and used a beautiful fall palette to color the individual triangles. Look at that symmetric gold to yellow shading in the center. Is that not exquisite?  What a beautiful balance of colors and shapes.  Thanks so much for sharing your photo finish with us, Toni!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Gentle Bouquet

This is Karen's first Ink Circles design, Bloomers.  Let's join her in a little happy dance, then nod our heads solemnly and acknowledge the path of addiction that she has willfully stepped onto.

Just a note from me on how I had to scan my catalog page 3 times before finding Bloomers on it because the contrast in colors/fabric were so different than my version. Gotta love them all! Don't be shy about customizing.

BTW, if anyone wants to make the joke that they can see Karen's Bloomers - feel free. :o)

Thanks for sharing, Karen!  May you find many more little x's in your future.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Tribute for James

Natalya won't have the chance to give her loving tribute to her fiance James. He had been battling leukemia since 2002.  After three rounds of fighting the cancer with courage and determination, he lost his battle to an infection that his weakened immune system just couldn't shake. When James passed away seven months before their planned wedding day, his body was cancer-free, a small consolation to them both.
Orange is the awareness ribbon color for leukemia and lymphoma.  Against the black fabric, these bright colors just ring with a vibrancy and energy that must have reflected their life together.  Natalya used the time working on this biscornu as a chance for her to reflect on what had happened and how she could continue on. James is now her own personal angel and we hope to use his example to continue the fight for a cure.
This chart is available for free here. I am honored to be connected in this small way to such stories of caring and strength. Thank you for sharing your story, Natalya.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Are you aware?

It's never easy to know what to say to a friend who has recently been diagnosed with cancer or some other major life-affecting problem.   I think everyone has heard of the pink ribbon used for breast cancer awareness, but were you aware how many other ribbon colors have been adopted by various cause support groups?  I've been unable to pull up a single website that is all encompassing in it's table, but a little Googling will lead you to the color for which you are looking.

Sometimes a stitched token is a perfect gesture of understanding and caring. Christine's cousin was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, which is represented by a "pearl" ribbon. Christine had already worked this chart with the pink ribbons in the original design and a second time with yellow ribbons, so she knew how perfectly it adapts to other ribbon colors. This chart is a freebie I posted a few years back - you can download it here.

She worked with her LNS owner (Gitta's) to come up with this knockout combination.  She stitched it 2 over 2 on 32 count Belfast linen (cobblestone) using Anchor variegated 1302 for the lacework, and Anchor 276 and Kreinik 032 #4 braid (1 'strand') for the ribbons. The ribbon borders were done in Mill Hill Petite Glass Beads #42027 (pink metallic) and 40123 (pearl).

Christine did a beautiful job on this most personal masterpiece that her cousin will cherish as a special treasure. Thanks for sharing the picture of your finish, Christine.  I send my wishes to your cousin for strength and recovery.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sandy Still Does

Sandy and Larry sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

Fifty years ago, Sandy told Larry, "I Do." Coming up later this year, the happy couple will celebrate their golden anniversary.  Finishing this sampler was a rather big accomplishment, although it pales next to that of finding the right guy and hanging on to him through the ups and downs that fifty years of life together will bring.

This anniversary sampler is called "I Still Do."  I stitched it for my own 20th anniversary, but it can be easily customised for any dates and color schemes that work for your special year.  The chart also includes a non-anniversary motif layout.

Sandy used a variety of Vikki Clayton's hand-dyed silks in shades of reds for the motifs with gold silks for the numbers on a 36 count linen from R&R. To finish up this beautiful tribute in an equally beautiful way, Sandy enlisted the framing services of the one and only Jill Rensel.

Congratulations, Sandy, on finishing this wonderful piece - it it exquisite. And on a bigger note, congratulations to you and Larry.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Membership Has Its Privileges

Or so the old ad copy read.  Ink Circles has a mailing list that I use to update folks when new things are coming their way, events coming up, and sometimes to share a little love.  In a recent mailing I included a free cross stitch chart called Celtic Swirls.  The chart is still available to download for newcomer folks when they sign up for the newsletter (see the Ink Circles home page.)

Julia stitched her version up quickly using silks from a D-Bag (detritus = left overs, end bits, unlabeled, and other mish mosh) of Vikki Clayton's Hand-Dyed Fiber. This type of pattern is a perfect way to use up some of those little extra bits of fiber. Once stitched, a small square like this can be finished up as a biscornu, an ornament, a needle book or a number of other goodies.  Thanks, Julia, for sharing your photo. It looks great!

Just a reminder for stitchers in Australia, the design will need to be reversed such that the spirals go in the other direction. Cheers.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Don't Eat The Stitching

Mmmm... the fibers used for this one make me want to whip up a batch of my favorite Marbled Chocolate Buttermilk Scones. 

To stitch this version of Cirque des Carreaux, Em used 28 count Buttermilk Lugana fabric with Carrie's Thread in Chocolates. It came out positively yummy!  Thanks for sharing the finish.

Friday, June 4, 2010

St. Charles Ho!

(As, in "Westward, Ho" not in reference to street walking ladies from Missouri, and actually, it is a trip eastward for me.)

I've taken the plunge and am planning to have an Ink Circles booth at the TNNA St. Charles, MO show in September.  This is one of the big trade shows for the industry.  Lots of logistics to work out, but I am quite excited after having walked the Nashville show in February.

One thing that dawned on me, was that I didn't have my own stitched model of Cirque des Cercles.  I know I don't have to/can't bring models for everything I've ever done, but that is the first thing many people think of when they hear "Ink Circles." I had made arrangements to use Marc Davis's for the leaflet cover and there was no looking back. I've been working on this version now. It's on R&R antique cotton 40 count linen using a limited edition blue/black Carrie's Silk. I would normally never stitch a model with an LE, but this is a monochrome and has been on the market long enough that everybody has probably seen some version of it.  The color is way off - the linen is really quite golden.  Hoping someday to have my own done...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pillow Talk

Judy is a repeat offender and the evidence is right there in her bedroom. 
She's stitched the Cirque des Cercles pattern three different colorways and has fitted them out as these lovely pillows.  Some friends have called her crazy for stitching the same design over and over. Those with a proclivity toward making bad puns might even go so far as to say that she has made her bedroom into a three ring cirque.

I personally think she did a brilliant job!  I know how difficult it is to pick color combinations for monochromes like these.  I change my mind and have second guesses every time I see someone's amazing personal version. With these charts, it almost becomes a different design when you change colors around. So, why settle for stitching it once?  As an aside, from the looks and scale of things, I would guess the little guy on the right is stitched over one thread and is stitched on black. Wow to all three!

Fortunately, we don't have to justify to anybody. Besides, Judy, your friends don't really think you are crazy - they are just jealous. :o)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Awesomeness Overload

I've gotten behind in sharing the wonderful photos you've sent me. Rather than delay further and dribble these out one at a time, I'm going to blast you with a full salvo of awesomeness.

Robyn finished her Namaste bell pull.  She found a lovely heart shaped end piece with a crystal in it.  People laughed when I had to admit that the "special findings" I used were actually just pieces from a cannibalized necklace from Pier 1. I'm still wanting to put one of these chakra mandalas on a t-shirt using waste canvas.

Carol was already a big HDF fan, so she did her Growth Rings in the recommended HDF colors then had this beautiful round frame added. She entered the piece in her guild's Annual Juried Show.  She was tickled to find that the piece won a Judge's choice blue ribbon.  Later she learned it also won the Stitcher's Choice Award!  What an honor to be recognized by both the ANG certified jurors as well as here guild peers.  Congrats, Carol!

Tanya just got her Cirque des Cercles framed up. It came out beautifully with the Hydrangea thread from Threadworx. She used Ocean Depths fabric by Sparklies.  I've not heard of that fabric company before ==> sounds like a mission!  I'll bet the combination is even more amazing in real life.  Great work Tanya!

And this is the second time in a week that I've heard of people using Sulky thread for cross stitch. As you can see, it works great!!!  This is Cirque des Carreaux by Lynn. She used Blendable 30 wt American Antique on Antique White 25 ct Lugana. It is one over one. If you click the biggify button, you can see just how lovely the thread variations came out.  Definitely a spectacular finish, Lynn!
Congrats and thanks for sharing.

Now, Christine finished her Growth Rings and it takes on a wonderful new look in her choice of colors.  It's so much fun to see the same pieces done up differently.  She used DMC variegated 4240 (dark blue - purple) and Anchor variegated 1325 (pink - purple), on antique white linen 36 count, 2 over 2.  Big happy dances with Christine!

Much beautiful work here, Ladies!  Thanks for sharing it all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

She's All Heart

When Chelsea needed a double-lung and heart transplant in January, her friends on the Love2Stitch Bulletin Board knew that she was going to have a little down time while she recuperated.  They put together an amazing care package filled with all of their best wishes and some cross stitch goodies.

When Chelsea was ready to stitch again after the operation, she said she selected This Heart of Mine  (THOM) from their package to work on because of the title and because there weren't any color changes.  She picked Gloriana silk in Midnight on some Crossed Wing 28 ct linen, 2 over 2.  Chelsea did an amazing job, especially being shaky and weak (and likely experiencing better living through chemistry.)

It wasn't until she got home that she saw the heart hidden in the motifs.  I can imagine that she had a whole lot on her mind during that time.  We all understand also that sometimes it's nice just to make one x. Then another. Then another.  The bigger picture eventually comes into focus.

Chelsea, I'm not sure if the physical therapists allow happy dances, so we will energetically dance one on your behalf while you continue in your recovery. That is a fantastic and inspiring story - thank you for sharing it with us all.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Online Show Wrap-Up

And thus concludes another edition of the Online Needlework Show. Ink Circles had four new designs hit the streets. Turkish Delight came out just beautifully - I've posted a giant picture on my main website so you can see how amazing the Belle Soie thread colors worked.  I was humming Blue Rondo a la Turk the whole time I was designing this.

This is what it looks like should you decide to stitch it and hang it in portrait mode.  You are allowed to do that, you know.

My Daughter's project, The Pretty Little Dust Collector seems to have been well received.  We're donating 50% of the profits to our local no-kill animal adoption organization Pet Over-Population Prevention.  She is excited to be able to take a check with her during her next volunteering day.

The new stuff will be showing up in shops this week, then at the distributors shortly.   I won't be adding them up on my site for direct orders until mid-May in attempts to encourage you to shop at your LNS.

Door Prizes - Yeah!
The following lucky ducks got the big prizes: Marlene Ackerman, Tara Fidler, Rachel Morton, Judy Royan, Cari Smith, Bonnie Coleman, Cheryl Ann Peterson, and Faith Nichols.  Everybody else who entered should have received by email a new complementary Ink Spot design.  If you didn't get yours, check your spam box or drop me a note.

Just for the record, our favorite color is overwhelmingly BLUE, followed by Purple, then green. We are fascinated by newborns of any species and the intricacies of flowers and birds.  And there are a lot of Monty Python fans out there. If you didn't get that last comment, you didn't get it earlier either - don't worry.

Friday, April 16, 2010

When the Saints came marching in

Ashley in Baton Rouge is a big Saints fan and knew on first glimpse of Fleur d'Orleans that she had to make a black and gold version to celebrate her team.  She's been stitching a long time and commented that it is a perfect relaxing but creative way to end a tiring day.  So, with her GAST Classy Copper and Wrought Iron thread and a piece of Weeks 30 count Cappuccino linen, she set out to work.

And just as the Saints went on for a fabulous win at the Superbowl, Ashley has her own fabulous win in this framed piece.  And we all know, folks from Louisiana know how to Happy Dance!  Nice job, Ashley, and thanks for sharing your finish.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Quackin' and a BoINKin'

Tara's just gotten this one back from the framers.  Quackworth is a Quaker sampler with a little play on the Ackworth School samplers that we hear so much about.  The Quackworth School is a school for local waterfowl.  There is a companion piece from the Croakworth School available. If you biggefy the picture, you can see the fun color of floss she used - it was a limited edition silk Pumpkins and Black Cats.  The mat colors really make this piece lovely.  I understand her folks in Ontario are the lucky recipients.

Tara's other finish is the Book of Ink Circles (BoINK).  I'll be lucky enough to see Tara and the finished BoINK in person in a week (gosh, only one week away now!!!) and I can't wait.  BoINK was a free multi-part mystery that we did a while back. The chart is still posted on my site, if you are interested in stitching the piece.  Tara said she may even frame this one for herself, rather than put it in the trunk with the other finishes she has kept. 

So, for how many else of you does this hold true: The pieces that you give away get framed and your own keepers sit unframed?  I'm guilty of that too, and how I interpret it is thus.  Stitching makes us happy.  Sometimes the focus is about having that finished item to give as a gift, but often it is just the process of making something that we really enjoy. 

Thanks for sharing these, Tara!  May you all enjoy your stitching.  BTW -You might be happy to hear I am working on a new free mystery project.  The Portland GTG crew may even get a sneak peek.