Sunday, April 28, 2013

Iris on Celadon & a New Blog Feature and a Giveaway!

Iris on Celadon


Yea!! The center motif of Iris on Celadon is complete and now I can settle into a nice rhythm of stitching the background pattern. I'm very happy with this design, it has the movement and balance I always seek and since I'm always weak for purples and greens together I'm very satisfied with the colors I chose for it.

I've decided to add a new feature to the blog that I hope you'll enjoy. Our lives need to include things for the sheer delight they give us and I plan on sharing some of those things that make me smile and add some beauty to my life. They are things I feel great enthusiasm for so this feature will be called -

My Enthusiasms!

For my first post I want to tell you of something particularly lovely that I've only recently discovered. I've mentioned in the early days of this blog that I love fine fragrance, Heart Note Alley being born of my affection for them. Most of my life my knowledge of scent was minimal and it wasn't until a friend visited Paris and sent me some really lovely scented Roger & Gallet soaps that I began to learn more. Thanks to the internet I was able to discover the story of the company and how I might order more soap and that is when I fell down the fragrance rabbit hole! LOL

Sites like Basenotes, Fragrantica, MakeUpAlley, and Luckyscent are some of the main portals!

To my amazement I found that there was now a whole new world of perfume that did not depend on big department stores and million dollar marketing programs to sell their creations. Products that were not focus group studied to create a concoction a big company deemed marketable, but liquid magic in a bottle that a true artist created. Artists gifted in creating formulas using everything from ancient recipes to modern innovative manipulation of molecules.

If your fragrance frame of reference is only the bottles you've sniffed with familiar names on store counters, I'm happy to tell you that there is a whole wonderful world out there of 'niche' fragrances that will take you to places you'd only dreamed of. Scent is the most immediate of the senses, going directly to our brain and its effects can be so profoundly felt it can have an incredible influence on how we feel. Many people have what they call their 'comfort scents' and I assure you I have mine. :)

One of the notes that I particularly love is violets and their lovely leaves and while quite a few of some of the best 'noses' have created some very nice violet fragrances they all suffered from being too light weight and too fleeting. When you spend good money on a fragrance you want it to possess two things - longevity and good sillage (sillage is the French term for the wake of a boat, in other words the scent you trail as you pass by) So it was with some trepidation that this could truly be achieved with that lovely note of violet that I obtained a sample of a new fragrance by one of the best niche perfume companies, Atelier Cologne.

Atelier uses natural substances for their fragrances but they incorporate some very unique ways of manipulating the molecules to create some of the most unique and beautiful scents you'll find anywhere. They received a challenge to create a new fragrance to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Galleries Lafayette in Paris. A stunningly gorgeous place crowned by a purple glass dome.

Thus was born Sous le Toit de Paris which translates to 'under the roof', a most appropriate name for a juice inspired by such a setting!

After reading the reviews I had my hopes up that I might finally find 'my violet' scent and when my sample of Sous le Toit de Paris arrived I was NOT disappointed. I think I actually heard a chorus sing when I applied that first spritz to my arm. There it was, THE violet I was seeking, like a soft deep moss lined bed in the forest I fell into the most beautiful soft pillow of violet I'd ever dared to hope for.

Hours later I would sniff my arm so it could happen to me all over again, and it never let me down. Violet fragrances are very calming and quiet, some find them a bit melancholy and only wear them on rainy days, and while this has a lovely romantic tinge to it, it is to me a place of escape into beauty and peacefulness.

I've shared my latest enthusiasm and I'm going to offer a 5 ml decant of Sous le Toit de Paris as a giveaway! Post a comment with a request to be included in the drawing and next Saturday I'll put your names in a hat and pick a winner. I Hope you'll share some of your own enthusiasms )

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Changing Cross Stitch Concepts

What do you think of when I say cross stitch? My bet is most would say it is something done for holidays, special occasions (weddings, births) or samplers that have infinite versions of the types of pieces young girls did long ago to show their stitching skills. Let me say first of all that all these things are great and I've done my share of them. However it is just this kind of mindset about cross stitch that led me to begin making my own designs.

I wanted to stitch patterns that weren't designed to meet some 'industry market focus group' findings. Truly, I've seen in various design forums that there is much discussion about such studies in order to find out what is selling. Take a look at any large retailer of cross stitch patterns and I'm sure you can figure out what the outcome has been. To me there is a rather mind numbing sameness that is being offered in the market today.

I want to give stitchers an alternative and hopefully a new way of seeing what cross stitch can be. It can be art that comes from inspiration and I don't mean famous or not so famous works of art that have been photo imaged into software. It can be something unique that hangs on your home or office wall that people don't even recognize as needlework until they get close enough to see the threads.

But changing that concept of what cross stitch can be is not simple or easy, some are just resistant to it because it challenges their view of what it is and to many minds should remain, usually something small, sentimental and familiar.

I've been blessed to have found Creative Poppy and its editor, Pascale Dejardin, who took a chance on my designs even though they didn't fit the mold. Pascale has been a great source of encouragement and I want to extend my thanks for her willingness to feature my designs and hopefully help some to see that new concepts of something so familiar is possible.

Work on Iris on Celadon is progressing and I decided that in order to give it a look of being a piece of pottery that it needed some dimensional feel especially to its background. I'm using a few shades of one color and alternating them through the background pattern to give it a feeling of depth and I'm happy with the result.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New Free Pattern!

Stitch Count - 150 x 150

While I was designing the Log Cabin Four Seasons series of patterns, I played with two different designs for Summer. This pattern wasn't selected for that series, but I liked it enough to offer it on its own. It is being presented as one of my free patterns and it can be downloaded here.

I hope you'll enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Iris Celadon Progress

Iris Celadon

Yes, this is a large piece, but I'm amazed at how fast it is stitching and how much I've enjoyed doing it. Once the initial few rows of the patterned background are established it has been fun to follow the pattern as it grows and I can just glance at the previous stitches without having to check the chart too frequently.

The chart will come with the usual DMC cotton stitch equivalents, but for the model I'm using HDF silk floss. The colors I'm using are Yerba Mate #3135 for the background pattern, Sue-Purple #6117 for the Iris and the border, Umber #4355 for the gold in the Iris, Gold Rush #4229 in the border, and two Isle Greens for the leaves #3211 & #3209.

This design was inspired by a beautiful porcelain vase that recently appeared on one of my favorite programs, the Antiques Roadshow, shown on PBS stations in the US.
Makuzu Kozan Porcelain Vase, ca. 1898

When the same intricate repeating pattern used in the vase appeared again in one of our Korean Historical Dramas (Shin Don in this case) I knew I had to make it a feature in the next design.
Emperor's collar

Proving once again that inspiration can come from the simplest of sources.