Cross Stitch Patterns from Fine Art by Scarlet Quince
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Scarlet Quince Ramblings

Cross stitch ... art ... life

So near, and yet so far
Friday, July 25th, 2008

Fruit crate label
I really tried to finish the fruit crate label in time for the framing sale. I took most of yesterday off and just stitched and stitched. I gave up about 10 PM last night with probably only 300-400 stitches left to do. I could possibly still finish it today and get it to Ginger’s but it will need to be washed, dried, and ironed so I’m just going to let it go. There will be another sale, and anyway, it’s such a small piece, it won’t be as expensive to frame as the other Scarlet Quince pieces I’ve done.

I felt very decadent stitching in the daytime — I usually only stitch at night. I watch (sort of — you know) movies while I stitch, and when I turned the TV on, there was “It Came From The Sea” with the beautiful Faith Domergue battling giant octopi and male prejudice about what women are capable of (it would have been more convincing if she hadn’t screamed like a banshee when she first saw the monster, but I guess ya gotta have the girl scream). I didn’t notice the first time I saw this movie but they economized by only building one octopus arm. Then I watched a lot of movies I had recorded at various times. There was “The Green Years” with a young Dean Stockwell, which was terrible and I don’t know why I recorded it. “Ecstasy”, which is the German film in which Hedy Lamar had a nude scene (she goes swimming, leaving her clothes draped over her horse’s saddle and doesn’t tie up the horse — bad plan). Though it had subtitles, there was almost no dialog so not a problem to watch while stitching. Unhappy ending, BTW. Also “Brief Encounter”, made in wartime England with Trevor Howard. He’s a doctor who meets a woman at a train station and they fall in love although they both have families. They spend about three afternoons together very innocently making themselves thoroughly miserable, then he takes himself off to Africa to avoid any more temptation. After all this I need a break from stitching, or at least from movies. As you can probably tell, Turner Classic Movies is my channel.

Back to the fruit crate label
Thursday, July 10th, 2008

I have taken up work on the fruit crate label again. It’s amazing how BIG 18-count stitches seem after working on the 22-count Ariosa. And how stiff and scratchy the aida seems. I have been stitching on nothing but 18-count aida for about 6 years and I got unused to it in only a couple of weeks.

I just got an email from our local needlework shop that they are having a framing sale in 2 weeks. Can I finish this by then? I’m maybe 1/2 to 2/3 done. I really doubt it.

On a recent Antiques Roadshow, a guy had a whole lot of orange crate labels — brand new, unused. They were so beautiful. Some were salesmen’s samples, with just the art work. Apparently printer’s reps would visit growers and show them these templates for labels, and the grower could pick a picture that went with their brand, or maybe think up a brand that went with a picture they liked, and they’d add the appropriate text. Afterwards I checked on eBay and there are a lot available there. I really like orange crate labels. Must … not … bid … I mean I could, they’re not expensive, but I have too much stuff already, and I need what little wallspace is left for needlework. :)

Blackwork ABC
Monday, July 7th, 2008

I have been drooling over a great Art Nouveau ABC in blackwork for over a year. I saw it in the Online Needlework Show and loved it but it was priced per letter and was pretty expensive for the whole thing. This spring there was a new price for the whole alphabet and I snapped it up! It’s by Dessins DHC in France. They seem to do a lot of blackwork in France and a lot of it is lovely. I’ve never done blackwork before and wanted to try it. You can see the whole alphabet here.

Here’s my progress so far:

I took this along to Tennessee since my former travel project is now on a scroll frame. Although it’s a big piece of fabric, I figured that since there are no color changes it was simple enough to do in the car. I’m stitching it on Victorian Red Ariosa Fine which is a 22-count blend of 63% cotton, 37% rayon. I had a time figuring out how much fabric I needed because the chart specs were very confusing. It says it was done on 11-count black aida and came out to 18 cm on a side (per square). If it was really done on 11-count fabric, the squares should be about 9 inches which is about 23 cm. I finally decided that they don’t know how many centimeters there are in an inch. However, somewhere along the line I also decided that the squares are 96 stitches on a side. There are really 100, but the 10s lines are not very pronounced, and they gratuitously added 2 rows of blank squares around the edges of the chart. Naturally I didn’t realize this until after I had cut the piece of fabric I ordered, marked the starting point, and started stitching. So instead of having 3″ borders I was going to have a 3″ border on the left and a 2″ border on the right. But not to worry, I changed my spacing between squares from 10 threads to 8 and decided that I will finish it as a banner rather than framing it, so I don’t need very much on the sides anyway.

Way back before I got the fabric, I experimented on a piece of 22-count fabric I had and decided not to do the crosses with 2 threads as specified. You can stitch with 2 strands but it completely covers the fabric and I actually liked the effect of 1 strand which lets you see the x’s (if you look closely enough). Of course I forgot all this by the time I got started stitching, but now I’m on track and doing everything (x’s and top-stitching) with one thread. It’s a little tricky because stitching over 1, there is a tendency for the floss to slip along the fabric threads. To make the x’s behave, I’m completing them as I go. For the top-stitching, I just have to be careful and not pull the floss too tight.

If you wonder how I could see to do this in the car, mostly I couldn’t. I really need a magnifier even for normal-sized stitching. My glasses don’t let me focus close enough to see so I just take them off and stitch with my nose. But the interstates are not as smooth as they ought to be, so this worked better when we were visiting and I was not being bumped up and down.

It goes pretty fast — this is about 2 weeks worth of progress and I have used almost one skein of white floss. You don’t have to refer to the chart all that often, but some of the squares are almost solid stitching so I really have no idea how long it will take. I plan to put this aside and go back to the fruit crate label when I get to the end of the first skein.

Something in black and white
Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

I still don’t know if I have succeeded in reaching the M. C. Escher people. I sent another fax asking them to email me about whether they got the first fax or not (and if I am reaching someone other than the Escher company, to email me anyway). So far, nothing. But in the mean time, I remembered this old thing, “All is Vanity” and thought it would be a good test for a black-and-white chart.
All is Vanity
I used to see it often at flea markets and antique shops. It’s a lady looking at herself in the mirror but the overall effect is of a skull. It must have been very popular at one time but I’m not sure whether people took it as a moral comment on vanity or if they thought it was funny.

The artist drew it in 1892 when he was 19, and went on to have a fine career as an illustrator but this is his most famous work. How sad to peak at 19, or for people to think you did!

There’s a curse on my cross stitch
Friday, May 30th, 2008

Is it possible for cross stitch to be accursed?

I just finished the large piece I’ve been working on for the past year — “Figure Five in Gold”. I’m not quite sure what I want to start next so I went back to a very small piece that I started last summer for something portable to take traveling. It’s the “Fruit Crate Label” and I have been working it on a hoopFruit Crate Label. I thought I would leave it on the hoop but quickly got annoyed. It’s a very small hoop and there wasn’t as much room as I like for manipulating the needle while anchoring the floss. Since I wasn’t using the scroll frame I put “Fruit Crate” on it.

First of all, I sewed it on crooked so that the fabric wouldn’t tighten. I was anxious to get stitching so I left it that way for one evening. I made 3 stitches of one color, then switched to a color that occurred in several places around the edges of what I had done so far. I did all those stitches and as I was putting the floss back on the bobbin, noticed that it wasn’t the symbol I had been stitching. I had picked up a bobbin, it had the wrong symbol, and I used it anyway. So I got to rip all that out. Net for the day: 3 stitches. The next night I took the piece off the frame and carefully measured and marked so I could put it on straight. I got it very straight, but it still wouldn’t tighten on the left — the hoop had stretched the fabric. And I continue to make mistakes, more mistakes than I’ve ever made stitching. When I’m not actively stitching with the wrong color or in the wrong place with the right color, I’m finding mistakes I made previously. It’s not an especially complicated chart. I just don’t know what’s wrong with it unless it’s a case of demonic posession. Probably if I checked in the middle of the night I would find the scroll frame spinning around on the stand.

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