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?

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.

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.

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.

Results:
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.