Cross Stitch Patterns from Fine Art by Scarlet Quince
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Scarlet Quince

Scarlet Quince Ramblings

Cross stitch ... art ... life

August 18th, 2009

As you can see, I am now twittering.  The latest tweets appear at the side of the blog page, or you can click the link to see more on Twitter.  This is not going to be stream of consciousness by any means, but I did think it might be a useful way to announce additions and changes on the web site between newsletters, for those who want to know what’s going on between newsletters.

I confess that I’m not very clued in or sold on social networking.  I don’t get a lot of it, frankly.  For a pretty technical person, I may not be all the way to being a Luddite, but I’m not at all an early adopter, either.  So I’m basically sticking one toe in the water here.  If the tweets are of interest, they’ll stay — if not, they will disappear.

August 15th, 2009

I see I haven’t posted any of the redwork alphabet in over 8 months! Let’s get down to it.
J took 38 days (there was time out for the Hardanger cube in there. This was the first letter with red top-stitching, but it doesn’t amount to much. I don’t really care for J.

K took 20 days. All those little chicken scratches were very finicky to do, and it was hard finding good paths through. It’s also hard to anchor the floss under it. I had to try to start and finish at cross stitching. I like the effect though.

L took 16 days and I’m neutral about it. It’s OK.  

I’ve been taking notes on the pattern pages, and I’ve lost M so I don’t know how long it took.  I’m sure it was awhile, with such a big stitched area.  I am fairly fed up with the grapevine motif.  This is the last of it though. This is another letter that doesn’t match the picture on the chart cover.

N was a headache.  Unlike all the other letters, it is 100 stitches wide but only 98 high.  This REALLY doesn’t work for my grid of letters.  Fortunately I was able to extend the pattern and it is actually more symmetric than if I had stitched it as charted (that last double line at the bottom of the legs of the N was charted as a single line). 

O is just weird.  Those are EYES.  What’s up with that?  Is this some kind of French pun?  I think the word for “eyes” is “yeux” which I pronounce “yose” (rhymes with hose) but maybe the y is supposed to be silent, and it’s really “ohs” (but what are the chances they call the letter o “oh”?) On the other hand, what else would you call it? Did I mention I don’t know French? These each took about 20 days.

I was looking forward to P because I liked the design and because of the red top-stitching.  What was I thinking?  This was the hardest letter so far.  There are a lot of weird jumps like over 5 and up 2 and I had to keep drawing boxes on the chart to figure out what they were.  And I made so many mistakes!  One line I stitched over and over and it just wasn’t ending in the right place.  I counted and checked and couldn’t find any mistakes, ripped it out, and the same thing happened.  I think I stitched it 5 times before I got it right.  But it’s pretty, and so is Q.  P took 33 days, Q 25.  (I’m not getting as much time to stitch as I used to.  I’m only averaging about an hour a night at this point.)

R took almost a month, and no wonder.  I like it though — it reminds me of filet crochet (which I can’t do).  I’m currently about half-way through S which is another mostly solid letter.  There’s a little too much of that if you ask me, although in a way they’re easier than the ones with more blank spaces (less counting).

Sorry all these photos are so whopperjawed but as you know, photographing needlework is tricky!

August 11th, 2009

Someone recently suggested a couple of Chagall paintings and they really were quite beautiful. There have been other Chagall suggestions in the past and somehow I’ve never done anything about them. Chagall’s rights are managed by the Artist Rights Society which really makes life easy — I can just send an email to my contact there and (usually months later) get a response. This time the answer came quickly and it was no, the Chagall estate will not give permission to use his work in cross stitch. It’s frustrating, because I think that if they saw the Scarlet Quince web site they might at least consider it, and I hinted that. But maybe they wouldn’t, and ARS considers it more important to protect their clients from being annoyed than to bombard them with “opportunities” they aren’t interested in.

We’ve also had No’s to Picasso, Matisse, and Magritte. I have it in the back of my mind to wait a few years and try again. Maybe then someone different will be making the decisions, or they’ll need money more, or … Scarlet Quince will be famous? You never know.

July 30th, 2009

I decided to put Oxford pavers around the pond. Ideally, this would have been decided and done when the pond went in. The pond should have been countersunk so the bricks would be level with the ground, and they should have been concreted in place. With the water and fish, it’s too late for concrete, and way too late to countersink the pond. So I GLUED the bricks with Gorilla Glue (they had a sign in the brick section about “don’t forget your masonry adhesive” so I figured that was permission). I didn’t get the masonry adhesive because it said it doesn’t bond to fiberglass or plastic. The glue should hold well enough. It’s possible to pull the bricks off but the glue is strong enough to keep the bricks from getting knocked into the pond accidentally. I backfilled around the bricks with mulch.

I added the water dish because the birds were having trouble reaching the water in the pond to get a drink. (There’s a water dish on the deck, and a bird bath, but doves are pretty dumb.) It took the birds a while to discover the water dish but now they really like it. There’s a lot of bathing going on.

July 1st, 2009

We’re having a respite from the glaring sun, hundred-degree temperatures, and endless blue sky with a couple of cloudy, gently rainy days.  I did a lot of work in the back yard over the weekend and now it is a pleasure to look back there.

The pond was ringed (until this weekend) with more-or-less flat limestone rocks that came out of the hole when we dug the pond. But you couldn’t mow up to the rocks without hitting them or getting grass clippings in the pond (and the grass clippers I bought have stayed in the garage, in nearly new condition), so over time the grass around the pond got very tall and wild and you couldn’t see the rocks at all. This weekend I picked up all the rocks (stacking them responsibly on the deck so they don’t kill the grass), dug up all that tall grass, and mulched around the pond. Some other kind of stones will follow, maybe pavers. Now the turk’s cap looks like a little woodland instead of a neglected lawn border. We also moved the yellow iris (the color is strictly theoretical; it never blooms) away from the edge of the pond in the hopes that the racoons will leave it alone.

I’ve also been reading about rain gardens. Isn’t that a pretty name? Very evocative. I have just the spot, on the uphill slope from the pond. The idea is that you dig into whatever slope you have, making a level area, and use the dirt to make a berm on the downhill side. Then you plant (preferably native) plants in there. This catches the water when it rains and holds it so that it can soak into the ground instead of running off. It’s suggested that you put it downhill from a downspout, but our downspouts aren’t in good places, for the most part, while the area above the pond gets the runoff from several yards uphill from us when it rains. I can make a rustic little stone wall from the leftover pond rocks along the outside of the berm.

I always seem to wait until it’s 100 out to do any yard work. I think what happens is, when it’s 85 it’s too hot and I think I’ll wait for a cooler day. When it gets to be 100, I know it will never be cool again, or at least not for months and months, so I might as well dive in.

The fish are enjoying the rain too. They get very active and chase and splash when it’s raining. One goofy fish was burrowing into the pond filter, which is dangerous — sometimes they get stuck and die in there. I whacked it (gently) with a stick but it wouldn’t come out so I had to wade in and haul it out by its tail. It may have been looking for a place to lay eggs. We are short on submerged plants at the moment.

June 10th, 2009

I’ve been quiet for a while — I’ve been visiting family, having friends to stay, preparing to protest my property taxes, working on getting a new roof, worrying about a sick cat.  Oh yes, and tracking down pirated patterns.

Here’s the funny thing:  I have found most stitchers to be the nicest, friendliest, most helpful, and most honest people around.  So why don’t they understand that copying patterns and “sharing” them is wrong?  I’m not thinking so much of the people who post all over the place that they will share with complete strangers, or the people who sell scans of patterns on eBay.  Those people know at some level that what they’re doing is wrong and have rationialized it — they’re helping designers by giving them free advertising, or the designers charge too much so they deserve it, or whatever.  I’m thinking of the people who would never dream of doing something like that but WILL give a friend a copy of a pattern they’ve bought (and then the friend gives another friend a copy…).   I recently found one group where people chip in, buy several patterns (all different) and then they each get a copy of each pattern.   And they admonish their members not to go sharing with people who don’t share their values, whatever those are.  Would they go into a needlework store and while one person pays for a pattern, all the rest stuff a pattern into their bags and sneak out?  Of course not.  That would be stealing, and it would be wrong.  What I can’t figure out is what difference they see in what they’re doing.

I realize that people don’t understand copyrights and copyright law.  Here’s the Cliff Notes version:  books, magazines, cross stitch patterns, music, movies, and basically anything else that comes printed on paper, on a CD, on a DVD, or that you can download, is copyrighted.  That means it’s dishonest as well as illegal to make even one copy, no matter how broke your buddy is, how urgently they need it, how over-priced you think it is, or how little harm it seems to be doing.

You CAN sell or give away a pattern you don’t want provided that you do it in a way that doesn’t increase the number of copies in circulation.  If your copy is clean because you can keep your place without marking the pattern, or because you never used it, go for it.  If you have a clean original because you photocopied it and marked up the copy, then you can’t give away or sell the original.  It’s that simple.  When you scan a pattern and upload it to the internet, you have effectively made an infinite number of copies.

The sad thing is that this hurts more people than just the designer (and some designers have had so much trouble with piracy that they’ve given up designing).  All the time I spend reporting copyright violations to web sites that enforce copyright (though they aren’t proactive about it) is time I can’t spend designing or adding tips and techniques to the web site.  And sadly, some web sites won’t do anything about copyright infringements, which leads to a great deal of angst and stomach acid.  I wish I could rise above it, but it’s hard.

I get requests all the time to sell patterns in electronic format.  No waiting for the mail!  No postage costs!  Well, this is the main reason I don’t and will not ever do that.  If someone is going to pirate a pattern, they’ll at least have to make the effort to scan it.

“Pirate” seems like such a harsh word for people who, really, are very nice and well-intentioned.  But what else would you call them?  Thieves?

Kind of a downer, I know.  I myself am very discouraged.

April 29th, 2009

The oak pollen has been very, very bad lately.  I’m forced to interact with it to some extent — the catkins land in great piles and if they aren’t swept up you just track it into the house, plus it stains everything yellow-green.  I swept one day wearing a mask but forgot about my eyes — big mistake.  I need a hazmat suit.

The pollen got so bad last week that I thought I had caught a cold — sneezing, coughing, itchy/watery eyes, tired to death, and all the rest of it.   We’ve had some rain which should have knocked the pollen down but didn’t, because — duh — it didn’t rain indoors.   The rain has made it cool and humid, and for exactly this situation we got a room dehumidifier a couple of years ago (when you want it less humid but don’t want to turn the AC on at the temperature that would be required to get it to run).   So I turned it on a couple of days ago, went to bed, and in the morning I was WELL.  Seriously.  I feel SO GOOD, it’s ridiculous, it’s miraculous.  I guess the pollen is caught by the water vapor in the air and the dehumidifier just pulls it out of the air along with the water.  Me and my dehumidifier.  We’re buds from now on.

March 29th, 2009

We had a thunderstorm the other night with a tornado watch, and began getting marble-sized hail almost immediately. We were watching it hail when a BOOMING sound began on the roof. We couldn’t think what it could be, but then the biggest hail I’ve ever seen began landing on the deck and in the yard.

Hail stones

Naturally we had to collect some.  The largest ones weighed 4 ounces and were almost as big as a baseball (a hardball, not a softball).  Just imagine the wind required to keep hail aloft until it weighs 4 ounces!  This kind of hail isn’t unusual in Austin but I’ve never seen it before, although I’ve seen cars that have been pummeled by large hail.  People who were caught out in their cars this time had their windshields craze on the first strike and disintegrate on the second.  And just about every year there is a swath of houses getting new roofs because of hail damage.  We had to have the roof replaced only 3 years ago due to much smaller hail than this.  I hope the newness of the roof means that it survived.  We haven’t checked yet, although I can see that our next-door neighbors, who also had a new roof 3 years ago have some broken shingles.

Roofing company signs sprouted the next day like mushrooms after a rain.  It’s a great town if you’re in the roofing business.

March 13th, 2009

I’ve been informed by someone from France that the word “poëtes” which appears on our new chart of Chat Noir is not a French word and that it should be “poètes”. Here’s the funny thing: I didn’t make this up, it is the way the original poster read. Further, it’s pretty clear that, although you sometimes see printed material where part of a character didn’t print, the umlaut is not a broken accent; it’s a deliberate umlaut. (I’m sure the French don’t call it an umlaut, but I’m not opening that can of worms.) So why did the poster say poëtes?

I had a lot of trouble translating the French because I don’t speak French and the online translation services I tried translated some words but not all. Sometimes you can work translation software backwards by guessing what a word means, giving the English, and seeing what it translates into (or at least you can eliminate words that way). But none of the words I could think of relating to poets, poetry, poems, poetry readings, translate into poëtes. Finally I got what I hoped was the gist from a web site giving some background on this poster, but I’m sure it’s not a very exact translation.

I just did a Google search for poëtes and found it on some pages that appear to be French. If I copy it into French-English dictionaries they either say it isn’t a word, pretend I really entered poètes, or change or remove the ë and tell me that poates (or in one case, potes) isn’t a word. I can believe that but it doesn’t help.

If I thought the original poster was somehow just WRONG, I’d change the umlaut to an accent (and since the chart contains a couple of accents, this is something any stitcher could easily do whether I change the chart or not). But it seems like a French poster, produced in France by native French speakers, somehow must be correct even if I can’t prove it.

As they used to say in Dear Abby, sign me … Baffled In Austin

March 11th, 2009

I just got finished updating the map, which necessitated figuring out how I created it in the first place. This has been on my to-do list for a long time but I was spurred on to get it done by a request from one of my wholesale customers. She sold a chart to someone who lives in Baker Lake, Nunavut, who was very anxious to have his own X on the map. Although the map really reflects the locations I’ve sold to directly, I was happy to fake up something for someone living in such an out-of-the-way place.

Map of Baker Lake, Nunavut

Have you ever heard of Nunavut? If so, you must be Canadian (or better at geography than I am). It turns out that it was only separated from the Northwest Territories (which I have heard of) in 1999, so I have a little bit of an excuse.

My main excuse for being so ignorant of geography is that I was in grade school during the cold war and what we had was military-industrial geography. Our textbook took the same approach to each country we studied: first, how many square miles it was. Then, since they realized that didn’t convey much, they would superimpose an outline of the country on an outline of whatever part of the US it was closest in size to. This was supposed to make it fun. But knowing that Remotistan is about the same size as Nebraska also doesn’t convey anything (except maybe a veiled suggestion that Remotistan sure doesn’t amount to much; countries that got compared to Rhode Island were obviously ridiculous). They would tell us what language or languages were spoken there — if it wasn’t English, there was an implication that the residents had got it wrong. We covered the form of government they had: democracy (correct) or other (incorrect). Then they would get down to a list of the products considered useful to the US. This always seemed to be grains and metals and minerals, no finished goods. The implication seemed to be that yes, the country might make precision-engineered cars or fine linens or fancy chocolates, but whatever they made, we could do it better. Sometimes they had a picture of apple-cheeked children in funny clothes, but that was about IT. I suppose we were shown where the country fit on the world map, but if you haven’t absorbed the location of country A, learning that country B is just to the east of it doesn’t help. (You can’t explain what chicken-fried steak is to someone who doesn’t know what chicken-fried chicken is.) It was really quite ugly and in a way I’m glad I didn’t learn anything. I certainly hope that geography is no longer being taught that way. But bit by bit, I’m filling in the gaps, and I’m glad to know where Nunavut is!

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