Bead Entropy

Here is an example of the second law of thermodynamics in the variety related to entropy as the dispersion of matter (not energy) as it relates to beads.

Strangely, Salvador Dali snuck in on the last devolution, which means that when you don’t know what makes logical sense next, stick a fish or wilted clock in and call it surrealism. No disrespect intended to Dali. My dreams imitate his art every night. Well, so much for my “dalliance” with understanding how art and entropy work.

Cross stitch advertising?

As a newcomer to making cross stitch fun into a business, I decided I should probably advertise. So I gathered up my business team (offspring) and asked them to brainstorm. Thirty seconds later the following paper came sailing through the air toward me.

After being simultaneously horrified and amused this is what eventually emerged.

Now to get the word out, not just about my designs, but also about the joy of cross stitching in general, some friends have joined in the effort. A few of them are converts to stitching. Our beloved band, Ruffage, is shown here promoting the arts with great enthusiasm.

Of course I have minions. How else am I going to establish my evil cross stitch empire? Does my minion cross stitch? Yes.


Inspiration from a Painted Library

My first encounter with Leigh McCloskey and Michael Bennett resulted in a creative avalanche. Leigh is an artist, author, actor and visual philosopher. Michael is a clinical psychologist who is on faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute, co-founder of Aeolian Center, and in private practice. Together they have discovered and now share ways art, healing and psychological development are connected. Since this has been a lifelong interest for me as well, I have been energized and grateful for their approach and education in this area. I can admit it now that I designed the two wine charts while at one of their presentations. This weekend I also suffered an attack of inspiration brought on by these two amazing people.

The first time I was in Leigh’s library in his Malibu home I was speechless (for a little while) and in awe (still am). After the September 11, 2001 attack Leigh responded by getting on his knees and painting his floor. He kept going and painted his walls, books, ceiling, couch and chairs. What he did was paint a profound symbolic story of the human experience. His willingness to be obedient to the creative inspiration, as well as his bold colors have been an inspiration to me, both in painting and in cross stitch.

Here is Leigh and Michael. And yes I am getting ready to jump on his couch cushions. I couldn’t help myself as it seemed like a moral imperative and it was fun!

My oil painting teacher from many years ago was a wise man who taught me many things including that when I don’t like a painting I made to throw rocks at it (which I did a few times but mostly I put it in time out and hope it reforms itself). My painting Yoda always told me, “Ugly colors make pretty paintings.” Seeing Leigh’s colors gave me the courage to say in my mind, “Yoda I defy you (just for a few minutes) while I pick out all these beautiful colors for my cross stitches.”

I took these cross stitches, still in progress to be released for summer, back to their birthplace for a visit, to the “painted cave” as it is now called. They also visited the Malibu beach to have their photo taken and found themselves on the edge of an early morning filming set. Maybe the top half of this cross stitch will become a movie star.

On another note, how are the Olympics and cross stitch related? They aren’t. But here is a recent conversation about them.

Frony (not paying attention but wanting to be part of the conversation anyway): “What do you call that?”
Husband (patiently stating the obvious for the zillionth to time to compensate for someone else’s inattention): “Ski jumping.”
Annoying historian: I call that tempting fate.“
Husband: “It does look dangerous.”
Frony: “Everything in the Olympics is dangerous. Cross stitching is a much safer bet.”
Annoying historian: “Not the way Frony does it. You are safer walking through the Korean demilitarized zone than walking through Frony’s work area with all the needles sticking up in the carpet.”

Happy colorful stitching and watch for needles!

Learn Your Cross Stitch Personality

As an enthusiastic student of human nature, I am always interested in the newest personality test. You answer questions and are put into a category where you are a kind of animal, or color, part of the body, historical martyr or type of plankton. In keeping with the trend of personality typing, here is my non-researched, non-accuracy tested, non-standardized personality test.

When you find that you have made a mistake that requires taking out 30 stitches, do you?
A. Quietly and politely take them out before you do anything else.
B. Avoid the mistake area and work somewhere else and tackle the problem in the morning.
C. Put the stitchery in time out and work on another one.
D. Take up a new hobby, preferably one without needles.

When stitching and you are hungry do you?
A. Wash your hands before you begin so your finger oils do not get on the fabric then abstain from food and drink in order to keep your stitchery in pristine condition.
B. Pay your kids in allowance to feed you potato chips.
C. Set up a ratio of 15 minutes stitching and five minutes eating, unless you make a mistake , put your stitchery in time out then move to a 50/50 ratio.
D. Only stitch with variegated fabrics so the food stains blend in.

How many cross stitches are you working on at any given time?
A. One. When you were a Bluebird (a pre-Campfire Girl) you learned through the Bluebird Oath (wish) that you “complete what I begin”.
B. One simple, small one and one big, complicated one. Oh yeah, and a Christmas ornament.
C. How many stitcheries can be in time out at any given time?
D. One and you only work on it when you go on vacation and you usually lose your needle in the hotel room carpet and it ends up in someone’s foot.

Are you a cross stitch pattern hoarder?
A. You reward yourself with a new one when you finish one, unless, of course, you find a good sale.
B. You have some stitchery projects from every decade: psychedelic circles from the 60s, an orange owl from the 70s, mauve and dusty blue geese from the 80s, florals from the 90s, crosses from the last decade, and from now on, Frony Ritter Designs.
C. Between all my stitcheries in time out and buying all the sparkly, pretty new fabrics and threads, you have enough to fill a small Uhaul.
D. One–and that one is on probation.

When you go into a cross stitch store:
A. You greet the owners politely and ask them about their kids, dogs, recent surgery, etc.
B. You like to take classes, learn new techniques, and find out the goings on around town.
C. You run excitedly from one new item to another, stuff them into your basket and then under your shirt as you try to pass your stash off to your partner as just a little recent weight gain.
D. The person taking you to the store has promised you either an ice cream, a pedicure, or happy hour following this ordeal. Oh yeah, you also need replacement needles as you lost yours in the hotel room.

If you answered mostly A: The Nicely Organized Stitcher. You are a happy, polite stitcher and always have your work in order. You would never find knotted up blobs of floss in your cross stitch bag, but you wouldn’t judge anyone else who did. You need to buy Frony Ritter Designs charts as you would not complain about any potential imperfections.

If you answered mostly B: The Faithful, Friendly Stitcher. You are a cross stitcher’s best cross stitching friend. You are easy going, don’t buck the trends, and make the best of any cross stitching mess. You like to mix your friends and your hobbies. You should buy Frony Ritter Designs for you and a friend.

If you answered mostly C: The Frenetic, Fun Stitcher. You remind me of a cartoon character, like maybe Daffy Duck. There is never a dull moment for you or those around you. However, there may not be much room for others around you since you are also a hoarder. (True confessions–this could be me). But, you wouldn’t want your things to get lonely. Get some of my charts also.

If you answered mostly D: The Almost, and hopefully Future Stitcher. No, don’t give up! Relax! Take some yoga classes then go to the home of Stitcher A and get encouragement and snacks. Then buy some charts from Frony Ritter Designs as they are not too difficult and fit easily into luggage. Bring an extra needle though.

A Christmas gift for You

For you dear readers who have endured my strange perspective on life and art, I would like to show my appreciation by giving you a gift to help you celebrate the holiday season. On my website, I have the instructions for this ornament.

Here is a wee bit of history about this type of art. It is variation of a Pictish style. Picts were a group of late Iron Age, early medieval Celtic people from northern and eastern Scotland. Most historians believe they were called Picts because of the pictures, or tattoos they had on their bodies.

Now, the closest I have become to being a Pict was as a kid, when I was delighted to get a tattoo out of the Cracker Jacks boxes. You know, the ones where you lick the back of your hand, and press the tattoo so hard that it breaks 18 out of the 27 bones in your hand. I would walk with my tattoo obviously showing so the adults around me would comment, then say, “Yeah. I got this in Naam. I got blitzed one night and in the morning, there it was.” I was so convincing, I almost believed myself, other than that I was 7 years old and had no idea what the word blitzed meant.

If you would like to see some diagonal artwork that is a little similar, you can look back to the 9th century in the Gospels of Mac Durnan. The Gospel of Lindesfarne also has some diagonal work like this.

For those of you who do decorative painting, here is a pouch for a pen you can paint.

I used Deco Art paints, and Mill Hill beads for the necklace part. This could also be painted on paper for a bookmark or wood.

I have noticed when people talk about their favorite Christmas memories, it almost always involves crafting or creating something. Listen, and I bet you will hear the same thing.

Tiny Cross Stitching

Cross stitching 40 stitches to an inch (1600 per square inch) really is as fun as I had hoped. Here are some tips to make it easier.

1. Use 40 count silk gauze. I got mine from Needle in a Haystack. Cathe sells it by the inch. The holes are huge and it is easy to get the needle through. You can also use 40 count linen but you have to use one strand of a thinner thread than DMC. With silk gauze you can use DMC.
2. Stitch in good light, like sunlight. If you live in a northern climate that gets grey in the winter, I can think of no better excuse to go south for a vacation. Pitch it like this, “Honey we need to take a vacation to Hawaii.” “Why?” “So I have good light to make tiny cross stitches.” “Well of course dear.” What spouse can resist such a compelling argument?
3. Use a half cross stitch or tent stitch. (I know whoever named the diagonal stitch a tent stitch did not observe my tent erecting skills. If so it would be called the “pathetic heap on the ground” stitch.) An added bonus is that you can finish your cross stitch in half the time due to doing half a stitch.
4. Do not look up from your work often so you have to refocus tiny again. In fact, if you look up into people’s faces after working for awhile, it will feel like you are being attacked by Mt. Rushmore.
5. You can make gifts for others by making your cross stitches into jewelry and see whether they wear your gift or regift it to the aunt that they are always complaining about.

It is also the time of year to make your Christmas cards. Here is my progress. I found these flower dies from Spellbinders and decided to challenge myself to make it into something Christmas like.

Speaking of challenging oneself, I was in a Victoria Secret store. I don’t know why. I picked up a pair of paper angel wings. I don’t know why. I sprayed some perfume on them. I don’t know why. Angel wings remind me of my kitchen. I don’t know why. I took them home and realized I could make them into a gift tag. Then I knew why. Here they are.

Bead Euphoria

A lifelong interest in glass seed beads has turned into a bit of an obsession recently. It all began at a craft store in San Jose in October where my senses were pleasantly assaulted by two end caps full of Delica Beads. I stood admiring the colors and trying to figure out how to disable my husband’s watch and sense of time so we could avoid the inevitable pacing and famished looks he puts on after several hours of waiting in art or craft stores. I purchased a tiny fraction of what I longed for. I immediately began to imagine all the cool things that I could make with them as I salivated like a Pavlovian dog at a bell choir concert.

Even at my favorite Berkeley art store, where I find all sorts of fascinating items, I still daydreamed about my stash of beads. I was a little distracted by a man in the store dressed in chainmail and a shield affixed to his backpack, which is quite reasonable since you never know when an artist will go crazy and stab you with the 10/0 nib of a Koh-i-noor pen while shopping in an art store. While I was examining some of his Celtic jewelry he decided the appropriate response to my close proximity was to start a conversation which resulted in the acquisition of my all time favorite business card. Among other marketable skills, he cites rescuing maidens and ravaging chocolates.

Even during a concert with my favorite band, the beads I had stared at for hours were coruscating at the edge of my consciousness. (Coruscate means to sparkle or flash. I am trying to make good use of all the words of the day I learned from the time my first child was an embryo until the last SAT was taken. Now they get revenge by giving me words of the day in Sanskrit, Middle English or computer geekese.)

The next day was torture as I and my beads were separated due to taking a continuing education class in San Francisco for my profession. The speaker sounded like an adult in a Charlie Brown Special, while I was scheming how to get more beads. Bursting out of the class like a kid on the last day of school, I rerouted the trip back home to return to the magical bead store to get more beads.

Here are some of the results, using my new beads and charts I have released. On my website you can get the conversion from DMC floss to beads. The barrette is a chart on my business card which is not as interesting as chainmail man’s card, but you can make something from it.

Snowflakes are here

It is Christmas time for cross stitchers. And Christmas is Easter time for cross stitchers. And Easter is Halloween. The birth of a baby is time to stitch it’s wedding sampler. Well, almost. But we have to be thinking ahead. So I have released snowflakes in October so they will be ready for the tree in December.

The first thing you will be asking yourself, if you cut out paper snowflakes at school to tape to the windows in first grade is “Hey, doesn’t she know that snowflakes are six sided?” I do. But, always looking to feel in good company with my imperfection, I learned that less than .1% of snowflakes actually have perfect symmetry. I have joined mother nature in creating imperfect snowflakes. So, I have used artistic license and made two of them with eight sides.

Artistic license means that if you are an artist you can make anything you want, any way you want and then name it what you want. It’s a pretty cool perk of the profession. Imagine if a plastic surgeon, orthodontist or the person who paints the lines down the middle of the road did that! The limits are when you try to produce an “artistic license” when you are pulled over by a cop.

As with the other Celtic designs, I stitched these on 14 count aida. I also stitched one using stitching and Mill Hill beads on perforated paper. Directions for both are in the chart. They can also be stitched on 28 or 30 count linen and made into jewelry.

I made one of the snowflakes mint green because I dreamed about a mint green snowflake. Unfortunately, my dream didn’t stay still long enough to get the shape exactly, but this is close. Mint green reminds me of wintergreen and wintergreen reminds me of snow. The sunset snowflake is what I imagine a snowflake to look like if it were to fall while reflecting a sunset. And the Celtic flake has a ribbon woven around it. Ribbons are a weakness of mine. I try to use them everywhere I can get away with it. Living in a male world has severely limited my ribbon mania, as even twine is too “girly” for them.

Use your artistic license and try changing the colors you use. Or eliminate the blue background and stitch them on red or green aida. I will. I’ll show you when I’m finished with them.