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, fronyritterdesigns.com 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.

Snowflake Variations

I said I was going to stitch the snowflakes and omit the background. Shortly after I made that threat I received some new fabric. This was the catalyst to stitch the flakes. It was so exciting I spent every spare second stitching–in the dentist chair, in the passenger seat, while eating breakfast, and I even snuck a few stitches at a party while no one was looking. For Halloween I even dressed as a cross stitcher. It was an amazingly radical costume.

Here are the results of my stitching frenzy.

On the left is the mint snowflake stitched in DMC 14 ct. Stardust Aida Silver Dusted. Working with this fabric feels a little like the fairy tale where moonlight and silk are combined to make a magical fabric. (Or is this a story I imagined?) The results are subtle and beautiful.

The middle piece was stitched with my favorite fabric, which I am currently rationing until it is gone. It is Peoria Purple by Weeks Dye Works. I used a 3 ¾ circle die cut by Sizzix using the Acid free mounting board by Savage.

Wichelt just released this stunning new fabric called Riviera Coral, 14 count. When I saw it I knew it was the perfect marriage with the sunset snowflake design. I also tilted the design to see what it would look like. For the details about the supplies for each piece see fronyritterdesigns.com.

Today was my zinnias’ last day of life. Here are their final gifts to the world. They had to make room for winter flowers.

Speaking of snowflakes, as a kid did you mix snow and vanilla to make “ice cream”? I am trying to remember who conned me into that non-delicious idea. I think it was the same person who claimed that a stick is the most versatile toy in the world.

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.

Making jewelry from the cross stitch designs

Have you ever lamented the fact that you put so many hours into creating beautiful cross stitches and can only put them out for a holiday season and just a few people can see and appreciate your work? If you turn your work into jewelry then you can share your cross stitch masterpieces everywhere you go.

Here is what I used to make the purple necklace:
Fabric-Peoria Purple 30 ct. Linen from Weeks Dye Works
(I got this from The Finishing Touch in Louisville) 1 over 1
Metal frame from Spellbinders, Media Mixage MB2-0055
Beads are from my ancient bead box which include beads collected over my entire life. The lavender stones are amethyst.

To make the pink necklace:
Fabric-28 ct. Pink linen, 1 over 1
I changed the mauve colors to lighten them 814 to 3685, 3685 to 3687, 3687 to 3688
Chain-The Metal Gallery
Metal frame-Spellbinders Media Mixage, MB1-002
Lock, little key-Explorer by Traditions
Bigger keys-my charm box of things I have collected from various places.
I used two strands of DMC 814 to make cording that I lined the metal piece with as well as made a bow with it.

Think of wearing counted cross stitch as a public service. You can give others eye candy and promote the wonderful, relaxing and fun art of cross stitch at the same time.

They are here!

We are happy to announce the arrival of the first 11 designs from Frony Ritter Designs. Notice who slept late and missed the above photo, the two wine designs. Check out the website to see these sleeping beauties. These charts actually have two photos and two different instructions for stitching (except for the wine charts).

On the front is the stitched version. On the back the stitched and beaded version is shown. Inside are instructions for both. Also, for those of who who cannot get enough history, and for those of you who did not get enough history (you know who you are, speaking of oversleeping), I have included A Wee bit of History in the Celtic Series so not only will you stitch something beautiful, you can also annoy your friends with irrelevant facts.

The beads I use are seed beads and a few bugle beads from Mill Hill Beads. In addition to the standard issue happiest days of my life (marrying my husband, giving birth to children, the release of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure), I have forever treasured the day I received my first shipment of Mill Hill Beads. They are sparkly, come in amazing colors, and add depth and texture to stitched pieces. I actually like the beads added to these pieces better than the plain stitching, although both are fun and pretty. You have to see them in person to get the full effect.

If your local cross stitch store does not yet have these charts politely, but repeatedly ask them until they get them for you. Stitch away!