Easter Wine Glass Tags

If you are hosting an Easter celebration, and if your guests may imbibe fermented juice of the grape, and if there is a chance the glasses may get mixed up and you contract hoof and mouth disease or mono, and if you want a cross stitch project that you can finish before the next ice age, then this project is for you.

These stitched pieces are from the Easter Egg charts. You just stitch one of the components of the chart on your leftover perforated paper. You can either use the colors on the chart or use up the renegade threads that lurk in the bottom of your stitching bag and refuse to return to their home country.

I also recommend laminating the finished pieces since the wise guy who invented wine glasses was either a prankster or wanted to sell more wine due to spillage. Why would a concoction that makes you lose your coordination as you drink it be served in a cup on top of a long, skinny stick on a tiny inverted saucer that is as unstable as a banana republic?

The tags are made with cutouts using die cuts from Lifestyle Crafts and Spellbinders. Also, don’t forget to use acid free paper and glue to put together your project because you do want your tiny works of art to last until the next ice age.

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!

Springtime flowers and stitches

Now that you have eaten all those chocolates in that heart shaped box, it’s time to work off all those calories by cross stitching. And it is time to stitch your St. Patrick’s Day and Easter pieces.

I will share with you some stitching ideas, as well as the newest show offs strutting their stuff in my garden. That does not mean the snails. The snails and I are fighting a dual to the death. One or the other of us has to go. (Yes I know those were Oscar Wilde’s last words about his curtains, but I believe I shall have slightly better luck than he did with his curtains with my snail battle.)

For you decorative painters, I have added a free design to my website, www.fronyritterdesigns.com under painting. It is a tiny pouch necklace, just large enough for you to store your fortune in. Also shown is the egg stitched on a tea towel. And, of course, the two eggs are pictured with both the stitched and the stitched and beaded versions.

Here is a pink version of the Tulip Egg chart. While I was product testing (which means asking my 7 traveling companions whether they like the pink or the lavender egg), they vetoed the pink and chose lavender. They vetoed a lot of other things I liked as in my choice of restaurants, entertainment and music. I was in the mood for some Eastern European Russian Jewish music and felt they should expand their repertoire. You can veto my choice of color also, and change the color to pink or yellow or peach. On the website I also stitched one onto perforated paper and stitched the year at the bottom. I stitched the Lily Egg on 40 count mesh and found a cameo made by Martha Stewart to put it in.

Finally, in my wildly passionate love affair with beads, I have converted the Shamrock to Mill Hill Magnifica beads. Conversion is on the website. I used a blanket stitch and sewed it onto a muslin bag available from Stampin’ Up. It’s funny to me that people look at the cross stitch, but they touch the beaded pieces. It’s like they are Braille and to really see these they must be touched. I have heard a strange chorus behind me all my life that goes something like this, “don’t touch”. ( Someone around me must touch stuff a lot). I didn’t like that song, so my new one is “do touch”. I hope you sing it with me.

Happy Stitching!

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.

Kiss Me I’m Irish

Frony Ritter Designs has another design for you to stitch for your loved ones. You can also at the same time brag about being Irish, even if you are not, since the saying goes, “Everyone is Irish for a day”.

Since there was not room in the chart for a wee bit of history, here it is. Most historians think that the origin of the saying, “Kiss me I’m Irish” goes back to the Blarney Stone, which is a block of bluestone built into the wall at Blarney castle in Ireland. Kissing the Blarney Stone is supposed to endow the kisser with eloquence, although since millions of people have kissed it, I think it merely endows one with a nasty mouth fungus. I tried it anyway, just to see if there was any magic in that old stone after all. An even better idea was to go to the bottom of the castle under the stone to see how much loose change falls out of the pockets of unsuspecting stone kissers since there is a scary gap between the wall and the floor. Before they had safety rails and charming Irishmen to hold onto you while you kissed (they also periodically sterilize the stone which was what I waited for before I kissed anything), you risked your life to get the gift of eloquence as not just your money, but you could fall down the gap.

The belief is if you can’t get to the Blarney Stone to kiss it, kiss the next best thing, an Irish person. But if you are not into kissing, the back of the chart has the piece stitched without the border. This version is a combination of cross stitch and beading. Instructions for specific fabrics and finishing is on the website, fronyritterdesigns.com. Did the stone confer on me eloquence? I think I didn’t kiss it long enough.

Make your own Valentine

If you want to make sure your sweetheart doesn’t throw away the Valentine you make her or him, stitch it and frame it, or put it on an easel. Here is the perfect pattern for it. If you want to tell someone that you love them, but are too shy, say it in stitches. You will have about fifteen hours of stitching to either chicken out or get up the courage to give it to them.

You can make this as a wedding present. You can stitch it and replace “I love you” with the couple’s names, and the wedding date. You can also personalize the bottom line for someone, making it impossible to re-gift the stitchery, unless of course, they find someone else with the same name and they happen to love them.

You can stitch this piece in 28 or 30 or a smaller count and make a necklace. As with all the Celtic pieces, there are instructions for both cross stitch and a combination of stitching and beading on the charts.

So show your love in stitches!

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.