Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

An Original Finish: Clitarita!

Posted: September 11, 2017 by zenstitcher in Stuff
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I feel pretty proud to introduce a preview of this design here at Grimalkin Crossing: Clitarita, a counted cross stitch project stitched on 28 count black monaco, using two strands of DMC cotton floss “over two.” This is fresh off the hoop, I haven’t soaked it yet to plump up any of the fibers — but that coverage is already f’n fabulous.

Design and Copyright by Alesia Matson 2017

Clitarita was inspired by the magnificent, magical, infinitely perfect design of the human clitoris, and by my love of Art Nouveau colors and curves.

I designed it because I need a new bag in which to keep my favorite deck of tarot cards + book, and because I want to make it myself. It was pretty important for the new bag to feature something I’d stitched, but the more I looked at designs that I thought might be appropriate, the more I realized that I really just wanted to stitch a clit.

A pretty clit.

So, here we are. The world could do with 100 more pretty clit designs for counted cross stitch, so like, now there’s only 99 to go.

The story behind the name is as follows: The WTFYW Cross Stitch fb group has had stitch-alongs (SAL) every month this year, and we’ve featured themes for beverages (alcoholic and otherwise), and for the sexy bits of the human body, and in a group chat I sort of recklessly (well, actually drunkenly) promised something along the lines of a mojito backed up by a vagina — Vagito — and I never could get anything right that I liked.

Then there was that depressive relapse, and I lost interest in just about everything, again. Anyway, when my current tarot card bag began to unravel at the bottom seam and I needed a new design for it, I spent about a week getting this down on paper, then reached for colors that were meaningful to me.

  • The pink is not only because some of my favorite clits are pink, but also because I made peace in my decades-long war with the color pink just generally, and wanted to commemorate that I got my power back out of it.
  • The blue is for a pair of eyes I will never see in this life, and…
  • the green is kind of margarita green so I can touch back to Vagito, anyway.

So, there you have it. Now I have to solve the ever-looming, long-delayed software issue at my workstation, because I MISS DESIGNING these things and I don’t intend to be thwarted on this any longer!

Thanks for reading along. If you are interested in stitching a version of Clitarita for yourself, stay tuned. It’s coming!


The Last Thing

Posted: June 18, 2017 by suegrain in Stuff

Here it is, folks. The last baby quilt is done. It needs a wash, the backing and trim put onto it, but the stitching is finally done. I needed a little extra encouragement to get the last 1/4 of it finished, but I did it.  (Please God, ignore the dirty walls in the picture. I don’t even know how it got splattered or what it is. Just haven’t gotten around to cleaning it off, yet. :P)

Anyway, the finish for this is quite bittersweet.  I’m relieved to have it done yet that relief is tinged with sadness that Bev isn’t here to have done it herself nor to see it done. At this time, I’m also going through my own peri-menopausal roller-coaster. I’ve had some signs for a year, but nothing that got in the way of my day-to-day. Then along comes May and now I’m gritting my teeth, biting my tongue and just trying to get through this transition, too. Make no mistake, accepting and dealing with the death of my best friend is also a huge transition and one that rather surprised me.

I’ve lost family members and friends before this. I grieved and cried, but I’ve never had any lingering sadness or active thoughts of missing them. I was able to move on pretty quickly and simply counted myself as practical enough to know that they’ll still live on in my heart and memories and it was all good.

This has been different. I was with her when she died, I helped guide her to the threshhold as any good cleric and healer would and saw her over it. I knew she was where she needed to be and yet… this heaviness still clings. This is the first time I’ve had to learn how to actually carry grief. This is not going to go away any time soon and “getting over it,” may actually never happen.

I needed to remind myself time and time again that just because this is the last favor I could do for her, it won’t sever our connection, nor will it end my grief. Having to remind myself often and sternly is why the last 1/4 took so long. I thank all my lucky stars for having a friend like Alesia I could talk to that could stand back a little and help me with a more objective (and sometimes a little more stern when I needed it) perspective. She reminded me of my lasting connection when I couldn’t remind myself.

Bev will always be a part of my life and the grief of her passing will remain and I’m learning how to carry that grief so it won’t weigh me down unduly. It’s a process and a process that is different for everyone.

I thank you all for your support, understanding, words and memes of encouragement. They have all helped a lot

P.S. – Some of you may see this more than once since FB is kinda messed up about cross-posting and the fact that Alesia has things set up to automatically share posts to her FB timeline. 😉

Rowan Stitch Complete

A Chatelaine’s Collar

Posted: January 9, 2017 by zenstitcher in Finished Stitches, Stuff
Tags: , ,

As some of you may know, a chatelaine is “a decorative belt hook or clasp worn at the waist with a series of chains suspended from it”. Click on any of those links to learn more — in eras when women didn’t have pockets, this was one way for them to keep necessary items close at hand during the long waking hours.

As stitchers, those who still practice an art with roots back in antiquity, we can relate to those particular needs. As the endlessly entertaining obsessions with needle minders and scissor fobs roll through my online communities, I have to remind myself that these things remain popular because, when you’ve got your hands full of hoop, fabric, needle, and floss, the last thing you want to do is take off across the room to retrieve the damned snips you left over on the bookcase.

With that in mind, I wanted to share a photo of a precious, precious gift I received years ago, from the woman who taught me how to cross stitch:

Sampler Chatelaine's Collar

Stitched for me by Janice Chamness

My last name at that time was also “Chamness.”  🙂  I put this away years ago in an attempt to preserve it, though I still use those fancy Gingher snips and that brass needle case, every time I stitch.

That’s a linen band. The alphabet is the old one without a J or a U, like the Country English Posture Alphabet of 1782. And every one of those stitches is f’n perfect.

Janice was a model stitcher when we met, and her work was displayed all over southern Ohio and southeastern Indiana — maybe as far as Illinois because I remember that’s where her mother was from. And when I was pregnant with her first grandchild and asked her if she could stitch the birth record she said (and I hope I remember this to my dying day), “No, but you could.”  Then proceeded to teach me how.

That was just over 33 years ago now. She made the chatelaine’s collar for me in 1989, when it was clear she had me hooked. 😀

I’ve got it out again to wash in Orvus, then wrap in acid free paper before I put it away. But it was nice to handle it again, and think loving thoughts for that wonderful woman who introduced me to this craft. Love you, Janice!!

The Journey Back Begins

Posted: November 13, 2016 by zenstitcher in Stuff

I slept for most of eight consecutive hours last night.

Michael took me by the hand and showed me the way back through the gate to Menelon. I wrote for six hours, yesterday. I worked out on my yoga mat. I ate two hot meals, and drank coffee. I tasted all of it, for the first time since Tuesday.

I’m getting there.

If my gassy dog doesn’t kill me first. [gags]

When Your Best Friend is AWESOME

Posted: November 10, 2016 by zenstitcher in Besties, Stuff

Sue knows me better than any other woman on this planet. 😀  I ❤ her so much.She keeps giving me reasons to be grateful, even in a year as overall-shitty as this one has been.

I love you, SueSweet. Which you knew, before you sent me this HELLA awesome brew mug, with lid, that I’m making a cup of coffee for RIGHT NOW. smooch 

Thank you. In a week where I feel like a stranger in my own country, you’ve reminded me that there is still a whole lot to love. HUGS!~

On a Lighter Note

Posted: November 9, 2016 by suegrain in Stuff

An update on the Spring Sampler. Worked on this during my vacation because several issues made it difficult to work on the new project. Though I could only concentrate enough to put in about 50 stitches today, I’m still making progress. Tonight, I’ll pick up the last of Bev’s baby quilts and see how much work I can do there.


For All Who Woke Up Afraid [blog post]

Posted: November 9, 2016 by zenstitcher in Grey Cat Dreams, Information, Stuff

This is my tarot card of the day. For the real America, the America in which I live, this is going to be our card for the next four years. The message is extraordinary, and I’ve included it below.

The Five of Wands

This art is Marie White's and she is FABULOUS.

The Five of Wands, Mary-El Tarot

Here is the interpretation of the card, typed in by me. The grammar and phrasing are Ms. White’s:

A Lion is a great and powerful symbol for the Sun, with his corona of radiant mane, his domination of the landscape, his heart and roar, which according to the Proverbs of Hell is a portion of Eternity to great for the eye of man to behold.

This is the fire in the forest, Lion in the forest, is a fire in the temple, broken off piece of the sun; a burning, blazing, consuming and hungry source of life and energy, ancient and unfaltering. We tend to it, keep it, and pass it to our children. It is strong and old, it always perseveres and never gives up, nor is it ever tamed.

It is present in men and women, in the temple of our body. In the garden of paradise that resides in our breast. This is the lion that lays with the lamb. Aslan. The pure innocence of a child, or a unicorn, ox, aleph at the start of life, divine and untouched is in contrast to the omega-Lion, who has experience and through perseverance, wisdom and hardship been tempered and grown a great and courageous heart.

The fire from the 4 of Wands now has a face, a lion, a will, life of its own, individuality. It has direction, force, and determination. It is the tip of the spear wielded by the Archangel Michael to fight dragons in the 6 of Wands. This is your purpose, direction, Will, and Life.

KEYWORDS: Strength in opposition, perseverance, unwavering, unrelenting, powerful, great of heart. Conquer through heart, integrity, greatness. Point of no return. Tip of the Spear. Show of force. Righteous force. Force now beyond your control. Reality bearing down on you. Trail blazing. Even if you are getting beat up right now, you were made for this and have the skills to succeed.

REVERSED: Bloodlust. War. Violence.


The dragons she mentions in the 6 of Wands, the ones this energy is gathered to fight?  “Darkness and ignorance from within.”

I don’t know how yet, either. But I’m here at my home today, searching for the courage to leave my house. No apologies for that, if you know me at all, you know the battles I’ve fought just to survive depression, this year. Seven months ago, I was suicidal. This morning, before I looked at that card, I felt as if I were right back there again, that the last seven months hadn’t happened at all.

Now, I’m beginning to feel cornered. The door to Menelon slammed shut on me last night. I’ve got nowhere else to go, and a family full of bigots, mysogynists, and hypocrites that helped to put me in this place. I’m getting MAD, kids. And that’s a good sign — I’d rather turn this shit out, than in again.

Do me a solid, and leave me a comment here. Not on Facebook. Not from Twitter. I can’t even leave my house right now, there’s no way I’m looking at the rest of the bigots and and mysogynists on social media. If you’re scared, sad, depressed, or even angry, don’t be afraid to say so. We’ve got to reach out to one another today and find ways to stay strong until the shock passes.

DMC Matte Finish Floss!

Posted: November 8, 2016 by zenstitcher in Information, Stuff

HOMG I’m dying, here… 

I love playing with texture as well as with color when I stitch. When I consider beginning any project, I’m also thinking about which flosses can be switched out for a metallic finish, or the super-saturated sheen of a silk floss, looking for where a change of texture or reflectiveness can improve the aesthetic of the design.

Imagine my delight when I opened an email promo from DMC this morning and found this:

I honestly can’t wait to get my fingers on this stuff. Each fiber I’ve ever tried has a unique “feel,” as well as a distinct sound when it’s pulled through cloth that’s been stretched tight in a hoop. These tactile pleasures are part of the experience for me as much as the visual impact of the result. Discovering something new like this in my hobby does a bit to redeem 2016 from the “crap status” ranking it so richly deserves.

Thanks, DMC.


Celebrating a Life

Posted: September 22, 2016 by suegrain in Stuff

In January of this year, my best friend of 35 years passed beyond the veil. I wrote a little about it then, and some later in the month (a note titled Dreaming a Little Dream if any are interested in finding it on my FB timeline). Then, I went quiet on the subject as I processed the whole experience further.

I lovingly finished the cross-stitching on two baby quilts Bev had in the works before she died. I’m currently working on the third, and the work has allowed me to process a lot of my grief. Not all by any means, but enough that I could hold things together as we gathered the weekend of her birthday, this month. With a few exceptions, those gathered were part of that core group we formed a little more than 30 years ago. Some of us had remained in the area, with brief (in the grand scheme of things) forays out into the wider world outside Ventura, CA. 🙂  Others broke away more or less completely for a while and still others broke away, yet remained in frequent contact. It was good to spend time with everyone again, to reminisce and to catch up more fully.

One by one, a handful of us got up to speak, to give a eulogy and to honor the woman now gone from our lives, yet not our hearts. I didn’t think I would say anything. Theresa, Sascha, Joe and Moondance said basically everything that might need saying. I did speak, though and I know that, towards the end (if not all the way through), I made it more about me and what I was going through than I did about her.

I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t. How do you summarize 35 years of close friendship to someone that acted more like a sister to me than anything else? We fought, cried, laughed and loved for all that time. I just don’t have the words, even with a vocabulary as broad as mine is, I. Just. Didn’t. Have. The. Words. But I think I’ve found some in the time, since.

Several people spoke of her fighting spirit and she definitely had that. She fought you when you were the hardest on yourself. She fought FOR you when you needed it. And yes, she fought you tooth and nail when she thought she was right about something. If she was right, she tried not to gloat, not always successfully. 😉 If it turned out she was wrong, she accepted defeat like a warrior – which is to say not always gracefully, but she did accept it.

She fought herself, perfectionist that she was. She needed someone to fight for her against herself as much as she fought for those she cared about, too. Yes, she fought cancer and ultimately lost that battle, but she also won. Her struggles brought her family back together again. We’ll probably never drift so far away again, even if we only keep in touch digitally or by phone.

Why did she fight so much? The obvious reason is because she cared and wanted the best for those she loved. It lead to clashes, of course, but the core of why she did it was love. She wanted her chosen family to stay with her always and fought for that, too, even if we fought back and drifted away because our paths were not hers and vice versa. She understood that, but still fought to keep us close.

Like all of us, she was a complex person who was shaped by her experiences, good and bad. She had a difficult time forgiving a fault, yet when she did, she did it more or less completely. She had a musical, creative soul, yet a severely critical one for her own creations. She was loving and supportive and a fierce lioness when she had to be. We all knew her pretty well, because she was so open with all of us, once we became part of her family. Yet, we also had different relationships with her, too. Together, we bring those pieces into a cohesive whole.

To celebrate that tonight, I will open a bottle of her wine to celebrate my own 52nd birthday. I will raise a glass to my heart sister and soul twin, I will continue to mourn the loss of her physical presence in my life and I will, most importantly, celebrate that I had such a presence in my life for such a long (yet all too brief) time.

Continue your journey, my friend. I have no doubt we’ll meet up again somewhere down the line.


Posted: September 1, 2016 by zenstitcher in Grey Cat Dreams, Stuff
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This is one of my earliest coherent memories.I can’t think what’s brought it to mind lately, but in idle moments I’ve found myself remembering this, and pondering.

I was around age five to six, right in that bracket of starting kindergarten and being away from my mother for extended periods for the first time. We lived in a little house on Drake Drive, and my younger brother Chris must have been toddling around somewhere at that time, too. I was sitting at mom’s dressing table, in the bedroom she shared with dad, facing the mirror while she brushed my hair. It was wavy, just darkening from the butter-blond it had been since I was a baby, and had been bobbed to about shoulder length. There was sunshine and birdsong, so it had to have been warm enough to have the windows open, and she must have been looking at my face in the mirror – I think I had been playing with something on her dresser, not looking at her or my reflection at all. 

She said to me, “I love how you always have a smile on your face.”

I love my mother so much, and always have, though I don’t suppose it looks much like love to anyone who has their mother in their hip pocket – or who is trying to be in her mother’s – all the time.

I remember feeling surprise as I looked from her face in the mirror to my own reflection. Sure enough, there were tiny little curls at the corners of my mouth. I’d never noticed them before. It had never occurred to me that there was any other way for my face to be, until that moment.

Surprise turned to puzzlement. Thinking about it for a second, I let the corners of my mouth relax into a straight line, and it felt so damned odd. For that fleeting moment, it didn’t even feel like my face anymore.

And then, in the mirror, I saw my mother’s smile collapse. I think I must have felt something from her, some moment of horror or self-blame, perhaps. I know I remember that second moment of surprise, as if I’d been caught doing something wrong. I remember – I  remember – smiling for her again, right away, hoping to make it right again, or at least better.

She smiled, relaxed, and I don’t remember anything else about the incident except that, when I put that smile back on, it didn’t feel the same. My face didn’t feel the same. 

I didn’t feel the same.


Metaphor moment coming up here. I live my life in and with an awareness of symbols – from the tiny little marks signifying color changes on a cross-stitch chart all the way up and out to my daily life and what’s going on in the world around me. If it’s a problem for you on any level, you know how to click out of here. I promise, I won’t even know. As it says up there on the label – close to zero fucks left to give. Take what you need, peace be with you, I’ll leave a light on for you.


It feels like that moment was a fall from grace.

Perhaps the moment stuck with me because I’d made it so long before anyone pointed it out to me – in other words, I was simply old enough to remember it. And, maybe it’s also true that this was a fundamental moment, and a profound sequence of choices, and that I’ve been recapitulating them and  living with the consequences, ever since.

A lot has happened for Sue and I both in 2016, but do you know, after I dragged myself out of that most recent depression sinkhole, and figured out that I wanted to live after all – and after my soul cried out for help, and after the help arrived in the form of exquisite art arranged in cards with SYMBOLS I can work with (thank you)…

…and after the work had been happening for awhile…

…I discovered one morning, as I was elbow-deep in dish soap, that I was smiling and had been for some time, without knowing it. I felt that old, familiar curl in the corners of my mouth, and remembered the girl in the mirror, and that first, unknowing step she took out of innocence and ignorance. 

This smile feels like a very good one to wear every day, like something I can dress up for special people and occasions. It’s gentle, but it’s also kinda warm, and sexy, and sometimes mischievous, too – I look at it in the mirror and think, “Wow, baby, where have you been all this time?” 

Ah, well. It took me half a century, almost, to find my way back to the garden. 

As it turns out, that’s right on time.