Halloween designs

If you are looking for some cool autumn cross stitch designs, check out the Fall issue and the Halloween issue of the magazine Just Cross stitch. Frony Ritter Designs has a piece in each issue, both shown below. The sampler was inspired by the spiders who appear in my garden in the late summer doing acrobatics on their home made high wires. And the Spell check was inspired by my musings about what happens when witches make “spelling” errors. To get your copy of these magazines, go to your nearest store that sells cool cross stitch stuff or look on JustCrossStitch.com.

This week I spent time in the cross stitch deprivation chamber, otherwise known as the kitchen, making 100 cupcakes for the Grand Poobah of the Royal Order of the Water Buffalo (Flintstones reference) otherwise known as my dear husband who is engaged in one of his many endeavors to “leave the world better than I found it.” Why the coke bottle? These cupcakes are Jack and Coke.

Repurposing for cross stitch

Yesterday I bought some new candles and as I was removing the burlap packaging it began to strangely take on the look of cross stitch material. (You know how everything looks like food to the starving man? This was something like that.) So I frayed the edges, used six DMC strands and stitched the first word that came to me. I stitched a witch accessory on the side, wrapped the burlap around the candle, wrapped orange baker’s twine around the burlap and put a bat button on the bow. The entire process took about forty five minutes (minus five for a snack break).

Sewing Camp

Frony Ritter Designs went to sewing camp. The counselor (my Sister DeDe) taught me to turn my designs into little bags.

In addition to sewing, camp activities included picking wild flowers, roasting s’mores, snipe hunting and playing tricks on the counselor. At the end, the Kingsmen/Dennis Mitchell Band, (remember their song Louie Louie that was so popular the FBI investigated because they feared the indecipherable lyrics were indecent?) played for us so we could exercise our feet, not just our hands. Here is the band and Oregon friends displaying some of Frony Ritter Designs which included sewing. (Check out the two mini me dolls that look just like their owners). My camp counselor has taught at the sewing store owned by Kingsmen Todd McPherson in Salem, Oregon called Whitlocks, more proof that music and stitching go together like gooey marshmallows and graham crackers.

Speaking of stitching musicians, there is also a cross stitcher in the Celtic Tribal Rock group called the Wicked Tinkers. They are all holding up cross stitch charts but to find out which of these guys stitch you will have to go to one of their awesome concerts and ask. The zombie van? If you have seen the television series Grimm you know that Portland is full of weird creatures that sometimes need to be controlled. I just don’t know why that van was following me.

Batty About You

Time to begin your fall stitching. Batty About You chart is now available. As in all but two of my charts, instructions include both stitching and using a combination of stitching and beading.

I couldn’t squeeze in the history of bats and Halloween on the chart so I can tell you now. The ancient Celtic people used to make huge bonfires to ward off evil spirits at what we now call Halloween, and they called Samhain. It was the end of their year and a time the boundary between the material and spiritual world was thinnest and spirits and other wispy, scary things would come around. But bats also came around, to eat the bugs that were attracted to the light of the fire. That is the reason I made the Celtic knot a fiery color, to attract the bats.

The saying I used was a childhood phrase of endearment I remember hearing a lot, although I had to shorten it, because “you’re driving me batty” was too long. Feel free to change the words, or even leave them off.

How to Create a Cross Stitch Design

Here is a quick summary of how I design cross stitch patterns. I suspect not everyone does it this way. But here is one way, which may help you to create your own patterns.

1. I bring grid paper wherever I go that I may have to sit longer than ten minutes (except work). Making things in squares seems irresistible, for other also. I just doodle and see what happens. I usually also bring colored pencils. The piece in the picture was drawn during a two and a half day lecture. The lecture was great, but I listen better if my hand is drawing.

2. I then color my drawing. I did not like those colors and I was daydreaming of the rich yellows and oranges of autumn so I changed it. Because of the color change I took out the loops and put in leaves. But I realized the spaces were bat shaped so I figured bats were meant to be there. I added the frame and words later.

3. I stitch my first design from my hand drawn design. My first one had a blue background because I wanted it to look like the night sky and because blue and orange are complimentary colors. But it was too dark for the bats to show up well so I changed the background to green.

4. I keep my strength up with the frequent ingestion of snacks. The brain likes to utilize glucose when it thinks. And snacks make a person happy. Generally speaking, kids are the happiest people on earth and they love snacks. Coincidence?

5. After stitching one piece, I put the design on a computer program. The two I like best are PC Stitch and Patternmaker but I have used several more. I print it out and stitch the piece again.

6. I submit my chart, finished pieces and a pile of opinions to my graphic artist, otherwise known as son. He and my husband photograph them. Then my graphic artist and I get in many respectful, polite power struggles wherein we try various background colors and he vetoes my ideas until we come out with a chart. I give it to my mother-in-law to stitch and may stitch a few more times on other fabric backgrounds. We correct mistakes we find and hope we found them all. (There were some typos in a few of the early ones so my quest is to make a perfect chart.)

7. My printer sees me coming and runs for the Advil bottle. He has patiently taught me a lot about printing, paper and color over the last year. As you can see, he prints a proof of the chart that I stare at for a few days, hoping any mistakes will announce themselves, and then I call him and say, “print”.

I made the first drawing 11 months ago, and this chart will be back from the printers next week. Now you know this chart’s journey from conception to birth.

A Tiny Box

Ideas are like yawns in my family. When one person starts it, everyone joins in. Recently I was having a riveting conversation about perforated paper–well more like a monologue since I was the only one talking. A friend at the end of the table was so bored she was weaving like a snake in a charmer’s basket, almost face planting in her soup. However, my offspring, who has been trained from the womb to love making things, perked up. He said, “give me some of that stuff. I’m going to make you a box to cross stitch.” And so we did the exchange–my perforated paper for his idea. Here is what happened.

Specifics on how to make this are on the website, www.fronyritterdesigns.com. under the category of Free Charts. It is quick to make and the box is tiny so you don’t have to have a huge house in order to own it.

More Wine Tags

It is possible to have too much wine, but not too many wine tags. For those of you who would like immediate (cross stitch) gratification, you can quickly stitch the shell and the seahorses from the Dolphin Play charts. Use leftover perforated paper, thread and beads. Stitch in different colors, four shades for each shell so people can tell which wine glass is theirs. I also did four rows of each of four blues, dark at the bottom to light. The tags are Quickutz die cuts on acid free card stock, glued on with acid free tacky glue.

Here is also what’s going on in the garden. The Nellie Moser clematis was accidentally pruned to the ground a few months ago, and here she is, four feet tall and showing off! And the Columbines come back in their shady little corner every year.

A Mother’s Day conversation:
Husband: Happy Mother’s Day!
Me: Thank you. And thank you for all your hard work in making this day possible for me, turning me from a carefree young lady into a mother.

Son: Happy Mother’s Day!
Me: Happy turning me into a mother day, just by your very existence.

So, Mother’s Day is a group effort, as it takes a lot of people for a mother to exist. So we can all celebrate each other. (I know I will be celebrating everyone again on Father’s Day.)

Summer Cross Stitching charts are Here!

After stitching these patterns many times using different fabrics and beads until they felt just right, these patterns just came home from their birthplace at the printers. These babies are ready to go to their new homes all over the world.

These patterns, colors inspired by Leigh McCloskey’s library (see February 23 blog for a reasonable explanation), will get you ready for summer.

Pictured are several different versions of the patterns. When I stitch I get fabric envy and want to know what the piece looks like stitched on other backgrounds. Each piece is stitched five times, using different fabric to get exactly the look that feels right. (And one more time by my mother-in-law so she can proof the patterns.)

The difficult part is “product testing”, which means asking unsuspecting victims which stitchery they like best. Here are some of the responses.

Lee and her faithful stitchers at Uniquely Yours in Grants Pass: Evenly split about which fabrics they preferred.
Jeannine from Acorns and Threads in Portland: She slightly preferred the brighter colors.
My science friends: Don’t care about the fabric but like the Entropy blog.
Everyone else: That blog was incomprehensible.
Me: I love the stitching on Granite perforated paper with beads.
Neighbor: Who are you? How did you get in my house?

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.

Evilly.