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

Cross stitch ... art ... life

Confounded Inflation
Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

There’s so much other financial bad news lately that inflation has not been getting much attention, but I’m here to tell you it’s alive and well. Since I buy the same items for Scarlet Quince over and over (envelopes, labels, ink, etc.) I have the opportunity to notice prices going up. (In “real” life I tend not to notice until things reach a pain threshhold and then I don’t know for sure what the price used to be, though I’d swear that mushrooms used to cost a whole lot less than $5 a pound.) Since I’m trying my best not to increase Scarlet Quince prices (and I do feel like a lone voice in the wilderness) my shopping process is this: I go to the last place I bought, say, envelopes; notice that the price has gone up; spend a bunch of time looking for someone with the same thing or maybe an equivalent for less; buy the envelopes someplace else and still pay more. I never gave any thought, all the years I worked for companies big enough to have a purchasing department, how much work went into keeping that supply closet stocked. All these price increases mean that reordering something, which should take 5 minutes, usually takes several hours.

Fortunately the internet makes it much easier to comparison-shop, although one of my vendors, a big office-supply chain (I won’t name them but they’re one of the big 3) has an irritating way of having drastically different prices in their store than on their web site. Although their store is only 4 miles from here, I often end up ordering online from them, because their store prices can be 30% higher than their online prices. What sense does that make?? Maybe they figure that anyone who shows up at the store is desperate and will pay whatever they have to. They used to have free shipping on orders over $50 but now they add a fuel surcharge to all orders (they claim it is “some” orders but no matter what I’m getting, there it is). I wouldn’t mind if they changed the minimum for free shipping to $75 but this double-talk of still having free shipping and the fuel surcharge is somehow not a shipping charge drives me crazy. (Not that the shipping was ever free; it was and is built into their prices.) I shouldn’t complain because even WITH the fuel surcharge, my online orders cost less than if I picked them up at the store. But I hate that kind of weaseliness. (This is the same place that was out of my ink one time, suggested I drive to a much farther distant store to get it, and when I asked what good their in-stock ink guarantee was, I was told that it wasn’t a GUARANTEE guarantee, more like “if we’re out, we’ll be really apologetic”.) Weasels!

Last week I thought I had found a good deal on cover stock (for pattern covers). I felt a positive glow all weekend that not ALL prices were going up. Well, yesterday it arrived, and — yep, you guessed it, I ordered the wrong thing. Actually the price of floss labels has held steady since I started offering them, and while the shipping charges have fluctuated, they have been fluctuating down (only a little, but it’s something). So that is one tiny bright spot.

Lady with Unicorn: Sense of Eternity
Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

I’ve been working on the next Lady with Unicorn now for, oh, forever.  Weeks.  I’m not sure if this one (it’s Sense of Touch) is in worse shape than the others or if my standards are getting higher.  You can see in this picture that there’s a large area at the bottom that is faded or stained.  There’s an area to the left of the lady which also seems abraded — maybe damage where the tapestry was folded for a long time.

Lady with Uncorn: Sense of Touch

What you can’t see at this size is that there is just a lot of discoloration and spottiness everywhere.  The red was originally a uniform color, I’m sure, and I hope to be able to get it back to something resembling that.  It won’t be absolutely uniform — part of the tapestry look is the color variations — but on the other hand, there shouldn’t be 100 reds.  I didn’t do this for Sense of Hearing or Sense of Taste but have had something of a change in philosophy since then: to the extent possible, I think the cross stitch patterns should reflect the art as it was originally created. Obviously there can be technical problems with doing that, as well as with knowing how it once looked. But, for example, paintings have a tendency to turn yellow and/or darken with time, and fabric fades (especially greens and blues). Yellowed and faded colors can be fixed; dark colors that have turned black can’t. Once the detail disappears, it’s gone (until the original painting is cleaned).

Another thing that is odd about all these tapestries is that they’re darker at the top than the bottom (aside from the faded areas).  This may be due to problems with photographing something this large, although you would think that they would have set up good lights.

The New Yorker had an interesting article a while back about photographing the Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries at the Cloisters.  They took them down to wash and repair the backing and photographed them while they were soaking (they had made a tub big enough to soak them flat).  They photographed them in sections, thinking that the sections would be easy to tile together, but it turned out that the tapestries were creeping the whole time they were in water.  They ended up hiring a couple of mathematicians who used a supercomputer to put the pictures together.  You can read the article here.

Sharing my chair
Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Now that the temperature is sometimes below 90, Lucky has decided that it’s too cold. He has taken to sharing my chair most of the time. He wonders why I’ve gotten up:
He has a funny way of getting into position and he always does it the same way. If I’m sitting all the way back in the chair, he walks around on my desk applying cathair to the monitor with his tail, gazing at me and making soft complaining sounds.  As soon as I make room, he steps onto my lap and then goes around behind me, always facing my left. Then he reaches up and grabs the back of the chair with his claws and folds himself into a U. If he’s not satisfied with the amount of space he has, he pushes at me with his back feet until he gets more room. Usually he has at least 2/3 of the chair and I’m left sitting on the edge getting a numb butt. If I move to get a little blood circulating, he usually manages to acquire a little more real estate. But he really doesn’t want me to leave — if I get up, he follows me talking and talking. He just wants me to sit with him and keep him warm. I personally am not finding it all that cool. I’m looking forward to truly chilly weather, because then he’ll probably want to be on the monitor. (How do cats with flat-panel monitors keep warm in the winter?)

He’s a very affectionate cat, and he likes to be close.  Maybe from his point of view, it’s finally cool enough so that he can be comfortable sitting with me.  We also sit together on the sofa for a while each evening and if I’m late he complains. He sleeps with me when it’s not too hot for him.  If I get too hot and move, he gets up and packs himself against me again.  It’s nice when it’s cold, but we do have this different idea of what constitutes “cold”.

Waiting for Ike
Friday, September 12th, 2008

I’m waiting eagerly to see if Hurricane Ike will come through here. Originally Ike was predicted to turn south after it hit the Texas coast, then predicted to come straight through Austin, and now it’s predicted to veer sharply northeast. We aren’t even certain to get any rain, let alone any “interesting” weather. I hope they’re just wrong about that — why should it make a sharp right like that? It has gradually been clouding up today as the storm approaches and we may get some rain from the edges of the storm even if the main storm goes elsewhere. Rain just does a better job than sprinklers, so I’m hoping for a good steady rain — I can pass on roof-destroying hail and tornadoes. (We’ve been watering all summer and a lot of stuff was half dead until we had a couple of inches over a few days about a month ago. Then all the flowers went “Zowie!” and burst into bloom again.) We’re at the top of a hill so it can rain all it likes, as far as I’m concerned.

I understand the National Weather Service is telling people around Galveston that if they stay, they “face certain death”, and yet some people figure they’ll ride it out. I think the NWS made a mistake throwing down the gauntlet that way. Texas has a lot of pretty ornery people. They should have said that Ike has the power to confer zombie-hood, and anyone who doesn’t want to spend eternity eating brains should evacuate.

Along the highway, signs on the northbound side direct refugees, and on the southbound side, warn us not to go to Houston. Usually that’s just common sense — I normally avoid Houston at all costs, but seeing that sign did make me think it would be interesting to go to Houston and see some weather. No, I’m not going to — like I have time anyway.

ABC Progress
Sunday, September 7th, 2008

I’ve finished the top row of blocks in the blackwork (redwork? whitework?) ABC. ABC progress
I apologize for the mediocre picture but as usual, I took the pictures, moved them to the computer, and looked at them later to discover that the focus could be better. I would have started over but unfortunately I left the camera on so the batteries are dead (the camera shuts off automatically but apparently not when it’s connected to the computer). AND although I have 4 or 5 battery chargers and several sets of batteries, some of which I think don’t work, I can’t even find most of them right now. I probably just need to start completely over with new batteries and chargers. I think one charger got zapped and has destroyed whatever batteries I put into it subsequently. Some of them seem to charge in other chargers (at least the lights eventually go from green to red) but they don’t work in the camera. Anyway — if I ever get some more batteries charged I’ll try for a better picture.

Here’s a detail of some of the topstitching.
Topstitching detail

Mansard RoofI am tempted to put this aside and start working on another Scarlet Quince for a while, but I can’t decide what I want to work on next. I’m leaning toward Hopper’s Mansard Roof at the moment.

Splendid I was also thinking about “Splendid”

or “Still Life with Fruit and Pocket Knife” but I feel like I have done enough fruit or a while. So temporarily I’m racing ahead to the letter D while I try to make up my mind. I know some people have a good system of rotating from one project to another but I suspect if I start something else, I’ll finish it before I come back to this — so maybe I should just finish this!

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