Vive la Resistance!

Posted: January 25, 2017 by zenstitcher in Finished Stitches, Subversive
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My “zen break” today included finishing this.

The design is mine, and there were mistakes in the chart that I had to fix on the fly, but overall, I’m happy with how this came out. It’s stiched on 32 count cotton evenweave, with two strands of DMC cotton floss stitched over two threads. 

After it comes out of the soak, it’s going to become the cover for my little bluetooth keyboard. I’ll be wresting our sewing machine into submission (it hates me) (and that’s mutual) to stitch some kind of material around the border, and finishing it with some elastic, I think, to provide a little “grip” around the edges.

Shit. “Rebellion” is abotu two stitches higher than “place is.”  Grrr…. Not fixing it now.

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A Chatelaine’s Collar

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

A Woman’s Place

Posted: January 3, 2017 by zenstitcher in Chart, Subversive
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Okay, so I did a thing. I owe the idea and the font for this from one Nicole Iaquinto, of my subversive stitchy-sisters on Facebook. The rest I pretty much worked out on my own using skull sweat and StitchFiddle.com.

BIG IMPORTANT UPDATE: This is where the original idea for this project originated: https://www.etsy.com/listing/487007120/a-womans-place-is-in-the-rebellion-pdf  The stitcher-artists’ name is Jenna Palmieri. I’m so sorry I couldn’t find this info before I did the post, but I’m super-happy to include it now. 🙂

In honor of Carrie Fisher, who is and always Princess Leia and General Organa. And dedicated to all those Princess Generals who are in our lives, every day. ❤

Creative Commons Copyright 2017 -- please credit Alesia Matson and Grimalkin Crossing with the find.

My gift to the fabulous community of cross stitchers for 2017

Clicking on the image should take you to the media page and the full-size PNG.

I also made a PDF available, hopefully, by clicking this link.

It is not awesome, and I apologize for that. I’ll be replacing it with a better version when I get some software that will run on my Ubuntu 14.04 setup.

I have left room for a little customization at the bottom on either side. Light sabers would hella cool, for instance. 🙂

I’ll be stitching up the first model for it here shortly. If you beat me to finishing a version, let me know?

My Fond Farewell to 2016 

Posted: January 1, 2017 by zenstitcher in Finished Stitches, Subversive
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…or something.

This is how I felt about it.

Yeah yeah, good things happened, too. Blow me. We ran out of nasty adjectives for 2016 in September and have been making them up in sheer improvisational rage ever since. I make a practice out of not wishing my life away, and even I’M glad to see that calendar roll over, at long last.

My subversive tribute to 2016 was stitched using The Country English Posture Alphabet of 1782 — holy mother of whatever, click that link if you haven’t read up on this find yet — which, of course, had subvert me please written all over it. I mean that almost literally, because on the little rhymes that were originally published with these dudes were included on the back. Tell me this isn’t a dude just begging for it:


Anyway. GET FUCKED is stitched on ivory 14 count aida cloth using two strands of DMC stranded cotton flosses for the x’s, and one strand for backstitches.I modified the charts with some further subversion by actually giving them skin tones that weren’t paper white. And then, of course, some of the hands underwent surgery to reflect with greater accuracy my complete distaste for the year just past.

Unfortunately, I’ve got a tall stack of things that have to be framed before this can be. I’ll post another pic when that happens, hopefully sometime in a much happier 2017 for all of us.

A Little Holiday Stitching

Posted: December 28, 2016 by zenstitcher in Finished Stitches
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I did gift a few stitchies this season. When my niece Xtina reached out to me after the US election, it turned out to be one very sweet silver lining to what otherwise has been a shit-show of a year. She and her wife and their two kids are an adorable family, and I hope one day to see them all in person. 🙂

I did these for the kids, Phoebe and Elijah:

Elijah’s Santa Star is by Kooler Design Studios’ “I Love Santa” ornament collection. It’s stitched on white 28 count monaco, “over two” with DMC cotton flosses. then personalized it with his name and the year. All x’s done with two strands of floss. Back stitches are done with one strand. I finished it on self-stick foam mounting board, covered the back with craft felt with my trusty hot glue gun, then hand-braided that fucking cord because my fucking cord winder was fucking MIA and don’t get me started on where it turned up, just yesterday.  😦  Anyway, I tacked down the braid with more cotton floss, then fastened three jingle bells to the top because Christmas.


Xtina told me that her daughter liked mermaids, and purple. Armed with that, I can whip up just about anything. 

Design template from The SnowFlower Diaries

The template for this comes from  The Snowflower Diaries‘ Summer Mermaid chart. As you can see, I’ve taken a few liberties with the design and color choices. These are all cotton flosses, stitched on light blue 28 count monaco “over two.” The mermaid’s booby covers and fishy parts are done in one of the DMC variegateds (can’t recall the number just now, ask in the comments if you’re interested and I’ll look it up). The flower stem is a variegated green from The Gentle Art. The rest are standard DMC, color fast and no-fuss for as long as I’ve been stitching with them. 🙂 All x’s done with two strands of floss. Back stitches are done with one strand.

I finished this in similar fashion to the Santa Star. This one needed an extra layer of backing between the glued-down fabric and felt, so I cut a piece of chipboard (non-corrugated cardboard, like cereal boxes) to size and sandwiched it between the two. Then the edges were hella rough, so out came the purple 1/4″ ribbon to seal that off and neated it up a bit. Then the hand-braided cord, tacked on with floss, and more jingle bells because why wouldn’t you.


Now for the super fun part. I had to improvise and problem-solve on the fly to get these finished and I’m hella proud of them.

Stitchy design by Marie Barber. The rest is all me.

Upcycled aluminim tins make excellent gifts as gift boxes.

I’d stitched the Mackintosh Roses project twice, I loved it so much, and have been sort of waiting to give them as a pair, because I’d never have been able to decide which to part with, otherwise. They were from the UK magazine Cross Stitch Collection. I’d subscribed to their digital version for a couple of years, and probably will again, honestly. I really like the designs they feature, and got more to stitch out of those digital mags then I’ve got time to stitch them in, especially now. These were stitched on two different kinds of 28 count Irish linen, over two, using two strands of DMC cotton flosses for the cross stitches, and one strand for back stitches.

Measure measure measure omg cut!  I hate cutting that close to my stitchies, as anyone who knows me will tell you. I was successful, not once but twice, then sat down with a big glass of wine afterward, to calm my nerves. After I got settled, I used Fray Check to seal the edges, and brushed a little Modge Podge for Fabrics over some carefully measured squares of craft felt both to stiffen them and to provide something a buffer between the linen and hot glue.

The gift boxes were aluminum tins. They looked something like this:

We don’t recommend this product, fwiw.

Now, who ships plastic-sealed flea collars in pressed aluminum tins, ffs? I dunno, they didn’t work so great for our dogs, but the tins had way too much potential to be pitched in the recycling bin. Then lo and behold, I found myself with a need for two gift boxes. 

Steel wool to scrape off the gloss and some of the dye in the paint, then tape off where it fits together because the paint would just get rubbed off with use, anyway.  Several coats of bright white spray paint later, I had them inside to line the tops and bottoms with craft felt. I filled them full of assorted LIndor Chocolate Truffles, tacked the stitchies down to the tops of the tins with hot glue, and squee’d a little at how awesome they looked.

Xtina sent me back a pic of them, where they’re living in their new home. I couldn’t be any more tickled.


Now, for the subversive part of the post.

  1. DMC had a mentorship thing going for awhile (this is before their Commonthread thing). I got a spiffy pin for applying, and also some tiny beginner kits to use to teach counted cross stitch. I pitched four of them into that box before I shipped it. The famly that stitches together can be subverted together — that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. 😀
  2. GET FUCKED went into the soak just a little while ago. So glad I started using Fabricare (you may know it as Orvus) on my stitching, HOMG. What a huge difference it’s made. I used to use whatever dish soap I had on hand with a splash of hydrogen peroxide, but not anymore. I can never quite believe what all comes out of the fabric and flosses after a few hours. Makes me realize just how dirty an old broad I am, but I really don’t want that kind of grime preserved for posterity. :-p

Subversive Outlets

Posted: December 12, 2016 by zenstitcher in Funny, Subversive
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It’s a day to be officially subversive. See this link for the Women & Allies Nationwide Day of Protest‘s FB page for more information, if you’re curious. I do have to run an errand into town later to pick up free flat rate postage boxes, but I’m resolved to spend no money and do no banking today. It was impossible to arrange for fall-back care for my MiL (that’s going to be a recurring theme, btw) so I could go to a march, but that doesn’t stop me from taking out my subversive impulses on a good cross stitch design.

I found this bit of unintentionally smutty, intentionally hilarious cross stitch memorabilia in storage this weekend. I’m finally passing on the boxes of vintage 80’s charts to someone who is willing to pay postage to have them, and that’s a very good thing. While I was there, I pulled the plastic bin of personal stash I’d been keeping there to bring home, and look what was right near the top: charts for the Country English Posture Alphabet from 1782!

via Grimalkin Crossing

“or, the Alphabet turn’d Posture-master”

It could only have been smuttier had they been naked.

Here’s the introduction and a bit of context from the inside of this oversized, folded-in-quarters chipboard chart:

The woman who had it before me had taken scissors to it and trimmed off the margins except for one, where she 3-hole punched it for binding. And on the back, we learn that there were RHYMES for each letter that were published with the original lithograph. They’re unbelievably bawdy to modern eyes. Here’s one I whipped together last night, just to scratch my itch over it:

via Grimalkin Crossing, pleasing every sex since...?

Swear to gawd, that’s exactly what the rhyme says.

So today, as my act of subversion, I’m putting together such festive sayings as “RESIST” “GET FUCKED” and “GO FUCK YOURSELF” and getting prepared to enjoy some hilarity while I do.

If Pam Neely is still alive and you know her or of her, please convey my utmost regards. This is cracking my shit right up and the possibilities here are practically endless.

Progress, Book of Ink

Posted: December 9, 2016 by zenstitcher in Progress Pics
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This is the penultimate block, and it’s the craziest so far. Insanely, stupidly difficult. As designers go, Tracy Horner is a freaking sadist, and I love her charts so hard. Yes, I know what that says about me. Go on, judge me. But get a look at this, first:

Every tiny stitch HAS to be right.

The greens and golds in the frame (only) are one strand of DMC cotton floss + one strand of DMC Light Effects — and this is why I tell every stitcher I know to STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM DMC LIGHT EFFECTS. Go with Kreinik, for the love of your own sanity. I even made the same mistake with those little blocks with the red patterns, because I’m completely insane and that’s why it’s taken me six years to finish this, so far.

deep breath

A happier subject are the corner kitties — I use an alternate pattern for the cats, and I changed the colors to honor my Libby kitty. She was just barely not a kitten anymore when I started this. Yeesh.

No more complete pics of this project until I get it completed. Partial shots only, to whet your appetite for more.

Or something like that.

Festive Mermaid Ornament 

Posted: November 25, 2016 by zenstitcher in Finished Stitches
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Keeping with the stitching to preserve what’s left of my sanity. My niece reached out to me after the election and we’ve been able to reconnect and catch up a bit in the days since. She’s one of the few younger folks in the family who’ve spoken up to say that she likes my stitching – and that she had a couple of kids who’d appreciate receiving hand-stitched ornaments. 🙂 I hope it’s true.

I took the template for this from a summer mermaid chart from the Snowflower Diaries and had a ball making changes based on what I’d been told of her preferences. What fun.

Looks like a party to me!

This is 28 ct light blue monaco, stitched over 2 with cotton flosses. The flower stem is a variegated green from The Gentle Art. The rest of the flosses are DMC. 

I’m still mulling how to finish it. There’ll be another pic when the get that part sorted.

The Journey Back Begins

Posted: November 13, 2016 by zenstitcher in Stuff
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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]

Limbo

Posted: November 11, 2016 by zenstitcher in Grey Cat Dreams
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It’s 0430. I’ve been in that wretched limbo between drunk and hungover for about two hours. Finally got up to sit it out, downstairs. My little grimalkin is competing with the keyboard for my fingers. Oh goody, she let me snap a pic.

A purrfect companion

Why am I not asleep? It was like, the whole point of getting so deliberately shit-faced last night. I do it sometimes to induce a full-on breakdown, in a controlled way, so I can put myself back together the next day and get back to work. Only, it’s not going so good, this time. This time, I woke up in the middle of the night, caught between the act and its consequences. It doesn’t actually work, like this.

I’ve been trying to get back to Menelon. The way is shut.

I know why the gate slammed closed. I know why I’m in exile right now. It’s because I’m afraid, and because I’m grieving. I feel trapped. That’s got to be my task, this day.I’ve got to reopen the way. Somehow. 

But probably not until I’m done puking my guts up.That’s just karma.

There are always prices to be paid. For acts of fear, and for acts of cowardice.