Friday, November 28, 2014

Open letter to Amanda

Hello Amanda,
   I'm not sure what your financial and moral situations are that led up to you joining the Chinese pattern sharing forum. I don't have any vendetta against you in particular, you just happened to be more obvious than most of the thieves so it was easy to single you out for example.
   It always leaves me with a knot of anger in my stomach when I see my charts posted up on the sites for the downloading.  Seriously, how would you like to see something that you've spent hours developing as a saleable product being passed out for free. Actually it's worse than just giving them away for free. To download them, I know that you have to further propagate the piracy by uploading different charts to the forum. I wonder who you sold out to download my pattern.
   My daughter's college doesn't take "gold coins" for her tuition. The grocery store doesn't accept them either, nor the vet, nor the power company. Perhaps you think we designers are swimming in dough from all the legal sales and don't really miss the gravy. If you were to look at how many of my charts were posted in that forum, and calculate how many downloads each, and how much lost sales, you might be surprised at how high the figure was. Perhaps you don't realize what a small percentage of the retail price from a legal sale ends up in an account from which I can pay for those groceries.
   From your Facebook pictures, I can see you have a young son. Are these the lessons you are teaching him? He'll grow up to be a real gem, I'm sure.
   I particularly like the way you waved your arms around and Facebook deleted everything from my timeline, including my own photos. It's as if NOTHING happened there. I called you out as a thief, with the hard evidence to back that, yet somehow I was the bully. But not before 4,000+ people saw what you did. 
   There's not much I can do to stop the root problem. Those foreign sites don't comply with legal requests and takedown notices. You've changed your screen name, as if that will protect you or somehow hide you from view. Lawyers to chase infringers and shut down sites don't work within the salary limits I have, and further dealings with you will only depress me.
   Besides there is a different morally decrepit soul over on Google docs that I'm turning my energies toward today.  She somehow thinks that if she recharts my patterns into the cross stitch program herself, that she can copyright the output. And as I speak, a friend just sent an email pointing out that some bitch on Pinterest is sharing scanned images.  Ah what a respected and rewarding career.

May karma bite you on the ass,

Monday, November 10, 2014

Where did October go?

Somehow in all the hubbub of preparing for the big Trail of Orts tour, I neglected to update the blog and the Roll Your Own Wiki with the latest mandala in the series. The charts went out to all the subscribers on October 1st, but nobody else got to see and I didn't preview it in the typical variety of colorways. October was the 7th and final installment in the Merry Go Round RYO series. These were all named after lines of latitude, and October was the Arctic Circle. Whether or not any visible cues from where I drew my inspiration still remain distinct in the design is open to your judgement, but these always do end up being a study in abstraction.

Arctic Circle in its titular colorway:
Navy 336/312/334; Christmas Green 701/703/472;
Jade 561/562/564; Desert Sand 632/407/950.
Here she is in some of our other colorways. It's always fun to see how the different colors tend to accentuate one part of the design or another. As usual, it's going to be a tough choice to pick colors for stitching.
Top Row: Clean the Fan, Orchids, Halloween
Middle Row: Zaszlaja, Basil, Tropic of Cancer
Bottom: Seahawks, Fall Daisy, Geode

RYO charts are now available only in printed form from your favorite shop or directly from my webshop.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

November New Releases

Two new charts for November.  If you ran in to me on the Trail of Orts Tour, you will recognize the Spot On set of mini-mandalas that I brought along.  Susan at Red Gate Stitchery makes these very cool little drilled pendants of wood and acrylic and my thoughts immediately ran to tiny kaleidoscopic jewels that would fit just perfectly. You can ask your favorite LNS to stock or special order the pendant blanks, or you can buy them directly from Susan in her Etsy shop. The chart is $10 and should be available from your favorite shop.

DMC and a few hours to make a sweet little necklace!
 The Stitchers' Village is sponsoring a series of charts themed by asking where several designers' ideal home would be.  Ink Circles was #3 in their series, with the chart Village Square. (Rosewood Manor and Glendon Place were #1 and #2.)  "My village home is in a small town full of parks and trees and flowers. I can easily walk to the bookstore, the stitching shop, and the pub." I stitched it in Gloriana's Bluegrass Silk (you'll need 2 skeins) and Picture This Plus Icon Belfast linen, but it will obviously adapt to many a combo.
Village Square - #3 in the the Village Home series.
So, wherever it is that you call home, I invite you to pour a mug of your favorite brew (be it coffee, tea, or beer) and sit for a while and stitch. I'm pretty sure you deserve a little break.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Trail Leads Home

It's taken a few days to get everything back to normal after our ort-sprinkling journey across the country. Cathy Habermann of Hands On Design joined me on a seven stop hop that took us to two shows and five LNS shops in between.
We started in St. Charles MO at the Celebrations of Needlework.
I taught a class the silk-sequencing technique
I've been playing with. Alyse is showing off
her finished class piece.

Stitches Etc. is right there in historic downtown St. Charles.
Hanging out with Cathe Ray from Needle in a Haystack, Gail Zumwalt of
Stitches Etc, and Cathy Roginela of Inspired Needle. The Cathe/y contingent were
all in town for the Celebrations show.
Susie has an amazing shop in Evansville IN.
Stitches From the Heart, the second shop on the route, was filled to the brim
with good stuff. Our little table was equally packed. We could have spent days there.
The Stitchin' Post in Nashville was shop #3. Again, we got to meet some
amazing ladies and see a wonderful LNS.
Anyone would be happy to be able to call this their LNS, and we were
lucky to have a little shopping time here.
Cindy welcomed us at shop  #4 - Dixie Darlin in Pigeon Forge. She was getting ready
to join us at Stitching at the Beach, our final stop.  You might know Cindy from her design
work as Foxwood Crossing (lots of sleds) but she also keeps a fully stocked
shop in a historic touristy area.
It was easy to see why stitchers living a four hour drive away call the Stitch & Frame Shop
 in Rock Hill, SC their "local" needlework shop.  We even had a few of the not-so-locals
drive up for the day to meet us on our trip.
Stitch & Frame's building was perfect for a shop - light and airy, with high windows,
ledges and cubbies everywhere that were filled with models.
Cathy drove up and brought in her finished 99, which included
a custom bottle she swapped in. I love it!
And onward to the Ocean.
Stitching at the Beach is a lovely retreat with a shopping boutique area in the room.

I got to see a few friends from the Branson retreat last summer,
as well as meet a few friends from Facebook. Many of them brought
in finishes. Such nice work - I am so proud!

I have such wonderfully nerdy fans! And such accomplished
stitchers. All of Janel's work on the table there is over 1.

We kept busy enough that not much actual stitching was done, and we left very few orts in our wake. The weather at Myrtle Beach was fabulous, and after days of driving in the torrential rain that was very welcome. Wish we could have found a little more time for the sand, but we enjoyed every minute of it.

I have no clue whether factors will ever align to let us plan something like this again, so I am truly thankful to everyone that came out to meet us and all the beautiful shops that opened up their doors. What a trip! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Trail of Orts

"Trail of Orts" is officially booked! Cathy Habermann of Hands On Design and I had both signed up to show at two different retreats/festivals this fall. When the dates were finally announced, they turned out to be only a week apart. So, rather than attempt to fly back home and immediately turn around and fly off again, we decided to make a road trip of it. We're inviting everyone to join us in the fun.

We kick off with the Celebration of Needlework in St. Charles, Missouri, the longest running show of its kind.  I'll be teaching a class on using and understanding variegated threads and will have a booth with lots of models to see in person.  It's set up boutique style in the hotel room suites, where everyone builds a mini-shop in the front room and sleeps in the back room. This show is open to the public unlike the TNNA shows I've been doing. There are many rooms and areas where stitchers get together and hang out between shopping sessions and classes. Then...

We've set up Meet and Greet events at shops all along the way. We'll each bring in a collection of models and charts, and will be anxiously awaiting meeting stitchers and seeing what they are up to. The shops and times are listed above - I hope folks will be able to break away from whatever they're doing and come by to visit. Then...

We arrive on the Atlantic coast at Myrtle Beach,South Carolina, ready for the PALs Stitching at the Beach retreat. This is the 17th year that Down Sunshine Lane has organized this event, and I must say it sounds like they've gotten the formula right. Stitching. Beach. It's a combination of various scheduled activities, a merchant mall area, and plenty of relaxed stitching time. This is my first time, but Cathy has told me how much fun it's going to be.

I must say this is the most planning and thinking ahead I'm having to do. I'm probably over preparing in some areas, but I've never had to be stocked for seven events in a row. We've got some new little surprises and special things that we'll be revealing along the way, so even if you can't meet us on the trail in person you can follow along on our blogs and facebook pages.

Road Trip!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fan Love

I was recently delighted to see that the number of likes on the Ink Circles Facebook page had grown to the 3000 mark. I decided that this deserved a big thank you.

About this time, I was sharing some photos of stitching on wood and a friend (waves at Julia) pointed out that Red Gate Stitchery's skinny bamboo blank looked perfect for a T.A.R.D.I.S.

Occasionally there is a minor kerfluffle to bring it into the light, but many stitchers do not realize that practically every chart they see that pays tribute to a movie, a TV series, a superhero, a band, a song, anything to do with an empire run by a mouse wearing pants, etc., needs to be properly licensed to be legal. The ferocity with which the trademark holders swoop down on you depends on a few factors: their own in-house legal budget, how prominent/obscure the violation is, how much they think the artist is going to make, and whether Mercury is in retrograde.  Licensing is extremely expensive and really inhibits the commercial level cross-stitch designers from getting in the game. Swarms of hobbyist designers play (or are) ignorant and put up infringing charts for sale on Etsy or their blog or wherever.

So, absolutely no TARDIS charts coming from me. I offer instead a complimentary chart of this generic substitute: Perfectly Ordinary British Police Box. ( I really did look it up to ensure that a generic version did exist and they weren't invented just for the show.) No trademark. No money changing hands. No problems.

Click here to download my PDF.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Horse Latitudes

Picking an obscure grouping for the 2014 RYO series has been an interesting and educational exercise. I probably should have confirmed ahead of time that there even were seven named lines of latitude that would provide inspiration, but this way I have the opportunity each month to do a little research, a bit of digging, and some playing around.

The titular Horse Latitudes are actually a matched set, between 30 and 35 degrees both north and south of the equator. Rather than one specific latitude, each is a band of latitudes characterized by the type of air current. Wikipedia offers much maritime discussion and a few different possibilities on the origin of the name which involve sailors and dead horses (both literally dead and figuratively dead.) See - you learn things when you cross stitch.

I've worked a team of horses into this mandala. They are subtle, and in fact are winged, as in the immortal (thus very not dead) Pegasus. I figure they can keep Draco company. As always with these RYO charts, any of the existing color palettes can be plugged in with an extremely high success rate.

The topmost version in blues and greens is called Door: 3750/931/3752, 3847/3849/472, 561/562/564, 500/502/3813. (Inspired by this Design Seeds Photo.) The second one down is in Geode: 347/3712/761, 3834/3041/3743, 413/414/415, 312/334/3841, inspired by this Design Seed photo.

Here is Horse Latitudes in Victorian (600/602/605, 349/351/743, 3842/3760/3761, 911/913/955.)

And of course, it's still fun to make new palettes. Here is a short example of how you do it.

1) Find a photo, a fabric, a flower - something that you like the look of. This example was suggested by a friend on facebook. I tried to find the original poster to give credit, but it has been share a ton through Tumbl and such and I gave up pulling the thread. It brought a smile to see the Facebook share had come to my friend by way of Patricia Polacco's page - she was one of the kids' favorite author/illustrators when they were young. I also particularly like the message in this photo. The news media seems to be a constant stream of bad things happening due to racism and intolerance. (Be good to each other!)
2) Find four distinct colors in the photo. You do not have to pick every color you see, just four dominant ones.
3) Now find a dark, a medium, and a light for each of those four colors. You do NOT need to see them in the photo, and the four you picked above can be the dark, the medium, or the light of their respective families. Access to a DMC color card or a drawer/wall of threads makes this easier.
4) Plug and Play.
Here are the six Merry Go Round mandalas in the "Human" palette: 355/356/754, 938/400/3776, 3340/3341/967, 838/840/842.

Here is another example, starting with a photo from the website Design Seeds. You might notice that I like that site and use it for color inspiration often: 
Bonus Bits that come with this chart!

Horse Latitudes in Carrots:
3340/725/727, 349/350/351, 895/3346/3348, 915/3607/3609.
I really like Carrots!

One more round to go with this series. 

RYO charts are now available only in printed form from your favorite shop or directly from my webshop.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

St. Charles Recap

Jiggity Jig. I'm back from market. Whee Whee Whee! So, you ask, how was the trip? What did you buy? What did you sell? What freakishly large stinging insects did you encounter?
An extended flight delay was brightened by a
troop of Elvii on their way to Las Vegas.

New stuff from Ink Circles:
Bee's Knees
Another Bad Neighborhood:
Miracle Grow
#5 in the series
As always, you might have to look closely to get it.
Rejoice in the variety that abounds -
Diversity in Beer
The Big Red Ship of Life is sailing into a port near you.
My attempt to tastefully use WDW Blaze Orange.
Only available through shops that attended this
market for the next 30 days.
2014 RYO Mandala Series
made the move from PDF to print only
Can't help but bring a few things home.
New colors from WDE, Gentle Art and WDW
SamSarah's Steampunk Sea Serpent
Heartstrings' His Eye is on the Sparrow + threads
And a few things for Mum from Gigi R. and Queenstown Samplers
And I leave you with the thought that these things are merrily buzzing about in downtown St. Charles. I like last year's katydid better.
And I don't think he grew up in Bad Neighborhood #5.
Happy stitching, and may your needle be the worst thing that gives you an accidental little poke.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Monthly Mandala: August 2014

As summer zips by and we flip another calendar page, I roll out the next installment of the Merry Go Round series. Stitchers are still welcome to join us, although the "mystery" part of things is 71% out of the bag (i.e., 5 of 7 revealed.) It costs $35 to join, or $25 if you do/did the 2013 series, for 7 of these color customizable charts.

August's offering is "Tropic of Cancer," being named after the latitudinal line as all of the other circles in this series. You may think I missed the boat because the zodiacal calendar has Cancer ending not in August but on July 22nd, but perhaps I was deferring to the Sidereal calendar which puts August 1st smack in the middle of the sign. Whatever your opinion on my astronomical and geographical ramblings, I hope find that the chart speaks well enough for itself.

Tropic of Cancer: number 5 in the 2014 Roll Your Own series
New colorway: Cancer -  817/350/352, 935/469/471, 3834/3835/3836, 632/407/950
This one seemed to look great in every palette I tried on it. Here are 15 of our established combinations to get you started (or to hopelessly bog you down in equally wonderful choices.)
Too many options? I think not!
Row 1: Candy Ducks, Long Jacket, Floral Hues
Row 2: Owl Optimizer, Solas, Poiple
Row 3: Garand, Honey Bee, Anchor Moss Rose
Row 4: Revenge, Emerging Hues, Halloween
Row 5: Buried Jewels, Darkside Duck, Orchids
Your stitching horoscope: I see all of your x's crossing in the same direction and little pieces of colored thread everywhere. You are having trouble locating a particular skein of floss that you bought. You will clean half of the house looking for it, then decide to go the the LNS and buy a duplicate. While there, you will decide to reward yourself with a few other goodies as a reward for doing that housework.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


I had actually forgotten that I did a piece for this until the finished book showed up in the mail! It's a sweet book with a lot of well-designed projects, IMHO.  I see a number of designer friends' names in there, too, which makes if feel like a group collaboration.

Hardback book on the shelves now.
You'll like the way they divided the projects up by planned color palettes - we got to choose which section fit our piece. I picked purples and gold.  I used DMC, but you could easily sub in overdyes or different colors.
GIngerbread Flourishes by Ink Circles
So if you're looking for a collection of Christmas patterns that extends beyond an ornament collection, have a look at this book. It would also make a nice gift for a stitcher.

P.S. You still have plenty of time to finish something BEFORE Christmas. ;-)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

And in the Magazines

I've got three new holiday pieces popping up in the magazines this season.  Look for a new Halloween Mandala in the the Just CrossStitch special Halloween 2014 book. This is the fourth year I've done a piece in this series.
Ghostly Mandala by Ink Circles
For some reason I think of Scooby Doo when I look at it.  This series was all done with dark but not black threads on varying backgrounds. Any one of them, but this one in particular, would look really neat stitched on the new Glow in the Dark fabric produced by Fabric Flair.

Changing seasons and dropping down to ornament size, I have a piece in both the JCS Ornament 2014 Issue and the Preview Issue. You can see my mistletoe peeking out at the bottom on the Ornie issue. It's not on stands yet, but you can preorder from just about any shop.
Stained Glass Mistletoe

The Preview issue (JCS August 2014, which is out now) had the companion Holly piece.

Stained Glass Holly

Happy holiday stitching,