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Showing posts from October, 2009

Free Halloween Pumpkin

© 2009 Erica Cannon

Happy Halloween!

This was spontaneous so I haven't had time to stitch it or decide what colors to use.  Yes, I know mostly orange.  But should it be a really really bright orange, orange sherbet, burnt orange?  You decide.

Halloween Circle

Up until now I've been writing about my designs chronologically.  I'm going out of sequence now because this is a good time for a Halloween design.

This was based upon my "Circle of Seasons" which I'll write about soon.  It has a snowflake in the center, then spring green leaves, flowers and along the outside fall leaves.  As I was working on it, my mind wandered on to other possible circles, the Halloween Circle being one of them.  I changed the outer fall leaves and decided to fill the center with Halloweeny designs.  The bats and the pumpking came quickly.  I even tried a bigger pumpkin in the center.  But I abandoned that when I came up with the spider idea.  4 small spiders are way too many spiders for me.  So the pumpkins became smaller and went in the inner circle.  I love the pattern the vine makes as they curl around.

The spider was a challenge.  All my initial sketches either looked dorky or too cutesy for this design.  There's nothing wrong with a cu…

Christmas Garden

I needed a Christmas pattern in the line and my other "gardens" - Sampler and Quilt - made me think of a Christmas Garden.  It was inspired by Martha Stewart and the beautiful mantles that show up in her Christmas magazines. 

I put off designing this one for a long time.  The amaryllis scared me.  It is a complex flower for the amount of space I needed to fill and I didn't want it to use outlines.  Finally, I just sat down with some Christmas magazines and started sketching. 

This time the containers where very simple done in rich reds and greens and embellished with metallics.  Many people look for excuses to add metallics to their stitching because they love the sparkle.  I typically look for excuses to exclude the metallics because I don't like dealing with them.  It ruins scissors, frays and it doesn't glide nicely through the fabric.  However, in this design the metallics where necessary.  Besides the containers, the christmas trees have metallic ornaments a…

Quilt Garden

As I worked on Samper Garden (previous post) my mind was thinking of other "gardens".  The first thing that popped into my mind was quilt block flowers.  I enjoy both quilting and cross stitch and like to find ways to insert quilts into cross stitch designs.  It's not as easy as it sounds.  At times I've thought and thought and not come up with anything so I jumped on the idea that came out of the blue.

The left quilt flower is the Windblown Square.  I've admired this pattern since the first time I saw it in a book and have wanted to use it somewhere.  It always looks as if it as about to start twirling.

The middle quilt flower is the Ohio Star and is one of my all time favorite quilt blocks.  It is a classic and not just because I was raised in Ohio.  Originally the 3 blocks where not touching but when I was drawing the pattern on the computer and cutting and pasting the blocks into position I discovered that they made an interesting pattern when placed next to ea…

Sampler Garden

Most of my flower designs have been rows of flowers.  I have many individual flowers I've charted over time but I hadn't figured out how to put them into a sampler design.

At the same time my new patio had was finished.  The soil here is not ideal for gardening so I was out shopping for pots so I could set them on the patio and do some container gardening.  It is amazing how many pots there are available - they come in all colors, sizes and shapes.

Finally, I managed to connect the two.  I could put my cross-stitch flowers into pots.  Taking a queue from antique samplers, I don't need to get the scale right or even have the flowers look realistic.

Actually, the middle flower is quite realistic.  It is a called a Kashmir Sage (phlomis cashmeriana) and does rather well in my small real garden.  It grows several feet tall.  The design is the top few inches of the plant and I put it in the equivalent of a shot glass.  It almost looks like an alien plant and is right at home on a …

Diverted by Antique Samplers

Antique Samplers - Home

I enjoy antique samplers. Unfortunatly I don't own to show. But there many pictures on the web, including the web site above.

What do I like about these samplers?

1) Alphabets - Sometimes incomplete, sometimes with missing or extra (?!) letters, sometimes multiple alphabets, sometimes capitalized and sometimes in lowercase and they even show up in a variety of stitches.

2) Motifs - Samplers come with a variety of motifs sometimes without explanation or relevance to the rest of the sampler - dogs, rabbits, flowers, trees, birds, deer, crowns. I've even seen one with a lobster.

3) Houses - Featured in many samplers they are almost never to scale. They will be towered over by people, trees, flowers, dogs, etc. - see #2.

4) Sayings - the older the sampler, sometimes the more obscure

5) Personal Info - name, date, location (some done by extremely young girls who shouldn't have the patience for such an undertaking)

6) Vines - a border of a flower or straw…

Striped Mountain Scene or "You should sell patterns"

Having made many simple striped shaped and having advanced to a striped heart, I decided to try something more complicated.  I sketched a simple mountain scene to fit in a small square and started filling it in with stripes of color to see how it would turn out.  I started with the trees and then the sky since they where simpler. 

At this point I showed it to a friend.  Her jaw dropped and she said "You should be selling patterns".  Her words echoed in my mind as I continued.  I decided to make the mountains brown with a tint of purple.  The lake was the most difficult.  I went through years of accumulated mountain pictures looking at lakes deciding what color it should be.  Lakes are reflected color and don't seem to have a color of their own.  I decided to go with lighter versions of the rest of the colors and add some simple reflections.  Luckily, it resembled a lake when I was done.

"You should be selling patterns" was still echoing in my mind.  To sell a pa…

Striped Heart

I had been doing my small color experiments with different color combinations.  For the next one I decided to stick with the same color family.  I had an overdye that ranged from bright red to white with various hues between.  I added maroon, magenta and some pinks.  While I stitched the outside border and inner cross the colors reminded me of Valentines Day so I changed the inner shape to be a heart. 

What fun!  The idea also worked for monochromatic color schemes.  I immediately started thinking of other shapes and colors I could do the same thing with.  They are all still ideas in my head, but I did make some more hearts with different colors and talked a friend into doing some.

The pattern makes a cute valenitnes day cards.  This pattern is for sale at

Bad Color Days: How to Fix

Sometimes it's hard to come up with a new color scheme.  Sometimes it's easy.  One recommended method is to start with a known color scheme and work from there.  Quilters will find a fabric with a bold, colorful print.  The rest of the fabrics will include shades from the first fabric.  Embroiderers will start with a colorful overdyed thread and use it to select more colors.

I did one such project a few years ago.  We started with an overdyed thread and then chose 4 or 5 colors from that overdye.  The project involved an oak/acorn theme and I wanted green and brown to be included in the colors.  I chose this beautiful overdye:

Besides brown and green, there was red, orange and yellow.  With great excitement I started stitching.  I stitched some more and something happened - the colors where changing and not in a good way.  They began to look like a bad 70's color scheme with rust, harvest gold and avocado.  My excitement turned to disappointment.  I knew I could not look at …

Cross Stitch: Squares, Lines and More

This flower is from my "Antique Flowers" Sampler.  It is very similar to another flower in my "Les Fleurs des Bois Sampler".

Whats similar?  The flower shape is identical.  What's different?  Color - the antique flower is stitched with a dark muted purple.  The contemporary flower is stitched in multiple brighter purples.  The stems are very different.  The antique flower stem is stylized and made exclusively from cross stitches.  The contemporary flower uses a few cross stitches with some backstitches and half stitches thrown in.  It is more delicate and realistic.

A few simple choices drastically changed the look of the flower.  Whatever shape I design, either simple or complex is shaped by many decisions.  Color affects the mood - pastels, brights, darks all have a different look.  What stitch do I use?  All cross stitches?  Do I add backstitching or not?  The half stitches are more work but they smooth out the edges so the design isn't as boxy.

A lot of…

Diverted by Freezing Fog and Drizzle

The world is covered in frost.  The roads are too icy to drive on, so I didn't.  The ground is almost too icy to walk on, but I did.  I wish they would come up with a camera you can work wearing mittens.  My fingers are cold!

This is my wild rose bush but it looks more like gumdrops.

Diverted by Christmas Ornaments

Every fall I make some Christmas Ornaments.  Even though it is way too early to think about Christmas itself the changing of the seasons triggers the desire for more ornaments.

This year I pulled out some red wool I dyed with Kool-Aid this spring at a local quilt store.  (No, I don't remember which flavor, I wish I did)   I took a spool of thread and traced on as many circles as I could.  I grabbed some green, white, pink and red flosses and started stitching.  This is another one of my random stitchings.  I didn't know what I'd end up with when I was done.  If I had some more red wool, I think I'd have made some matching stockings.

A Gallery of Eyelet Stitches

In my previous blog on the Antique Flower Samper I mentioned eyelet stitches.  I thought I'd devote this blog to the elegant eyelet.

The stitch pulled slightly to distort the background fabric.  Here is the A of an Antique Alphabet.  It was stitched by my friend Pat.

And here are eyelets used in the center of a Kloster Block on a Hardanger border.

A basic eyelet is done over a grid of 4 threads by 4 threads.

This eyelet is freestyle without following the grid of the background.  The stitches where padded to give them a totally different look.

Here is an eyelet flower.  These eyelets are done over a grid of 4 threads by 5 threads.  Notice the stitching is placed on a yellow background which shows through.

Another eyelet flower.  Eyelets can be combined with other stitches to form designs.

Colored eyelets combined with Pulled Thread.  Another technique where the background is distorted to create a textured pattern.

Antique Flowers

My "Les Fleurs des Bois" was full of bright, contemporary flowers.  I had made some flowers that didn't fit in with that sampler that I still wanted to use.  At the same time I had visions of an eyelet alphabet.  Eyelet stitches are different from cross stitches.  You can purposefully pull the thread tightly while stitching to distort the fabric and leave a hole.  Some antique samplers are done entirely with the eyelet stitch.  So, the basis for my next sampler was an eyelet ABC.

Going with the antique theme, I pulled out a brown piece of linen.  This limited me to light and dark threads only.  Anything else was not visible on the background.  So, I was able to design some white flowers.  I also borrowed another theme from antique samplers - vines!  Vines never seem to line up on top of each other and I enjoy the patterns that they make.   I repeated the eyelet stitch in white flower.  These flowers are so stylized that the don't resemble real flowers so I don't c…

Prospector's 2009 - Les Fleurs des Bois

A whole 10 years had passed since my original Prospector's and I wanted to do another flower sampler to mark the anniversary.  The theme of Prosepector's this year was "Trees" and the seminar was in Boise and called "Les Bois Adventure".  I wanted to stitch flowers and I wanted to follow the theme.  So, to make the design work, I came up with the title "Les Fleurs des Bois" - the flowers of the woods.  That settled, I needed to pick the flowers to include so I pulled out all my flower identification books and started doodling and sketching.  I had more flowers than I could use.  The flowers I ended up using are all bright and colorful:

Shooting Star - This is a flower I saw first in flower books as a child.  It wasn't until I traveled to the right part of Colorado that I saw them.  Shooting Star has always been one of my favorites.  Unfortunately, it doesn't grow on the plains and foothills where I live.  It is in the higher elevations near…