Thursday, December 30, 2010

Another Christmas stocking: it's almost time for the "Befana"

One strike, and you're not out! In Italy, you have a second chance to get gifts. If you were naughty all year, and Santa brought you a piece of coal, be good for a few days and the "Befana" (an old crone witch riding a broom) just might fill your stocking the eve of the 6th of January, the day dedicated to the "Epiphany" of the visit and gifts of the Three Magi.

Here's a Christmas stocking for you, thanks, again, to the free clipart provided by Microsoft (this one is n. MC900245593, in case you want to hunt it down on their site). I turned it into a StitchPainter diagram and then a BMP to share with you for your personal, non-commerical use.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Milan Monday (18): Humility...with a crown

Milan Monday and humility...with a crown...that's good for a laugh....More......

"Humilitas" is the religious motto of the Borromeo family, and this version in Gothic script is on the façade of their Milanese family church, about which you may learn more referring to my blog about Milan:

I copied a detail of my photo into my StitchPainter program, and turned it into a BMP image for your personal, non-commercial use.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas: panettone

Ahhhh, panettone. For those of you, who have not had the delectable privilege of eating (good) panettone, yet, here's an eye-opening Christmas surprise for you.

Here's a needlepoint/cross-stitch pattern of this typical Milanese Xmas treat, which I created by uploading a photo of "paola77" into StitchPainter, then turning it into a BMP for you.

To learn more about panettone and find the link to the recipe, please go to my blog on Milan:

Merry Christmas to every one!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas stockings on the brain

Here's another Christmas stocking. I designed it in 2004 for my dear sweet husband, Mario, so look for his name, the date and my initials to replace at will.

I captured my drawing, imported it into Stitchpainter, then turned it into a BMP just for your personal, non-commercial use.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Milan Monday (17): An Art Nouveau border

Break from Christmas stuff! It's Milan Monday, and since Milan's Xmas decorations are not terribly inspiring, here's something that is: a delightful Art Nouveau border on one of the many anonymous, but delightful late 19th century buildings scattered around town.

I snapped the shot on the 11th of December, at about 12:15, imported it into Stitch Painter, and turned it into a BMP for your personal, non-commercial uses.

If you want to see the original picture, or learn a bit more about the building, please go to my "My Milan (Italy)" blog:


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas tree

Here's a Christmas tree! Finally! The original free clip art image is on the Microsoft site, n. MC900439764. Thank you, Microsoft! There were a couple of others, too. Have to find something not just cute, but which translates well into the StitchPainter diagram, which I then turn into a BMP to share with you...for your personal, non-commercial uses, as usual! Enjoy!

(Today is a special know who you are...Much MUCH love, Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year to you and to us all!)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Photoless Friday (08): Italian Needlework

Photoless Friday, once again. For a blog dedicated to needlepoint, it's not always an easy challenge, but it wouldn't be a challenge if it were easy, would it? Hopefully, over the holidays, I'll have time to get back to my study of Owen Jones. Lots of others talk about Owen Jones and his book, Grammar of Ornament. I feel the urge...More...... share my observations about it with you. (I'm also so proud of myself for having resisted the banal turn of the phrase "pricked with curiousity," given that this is a blog dedicated to needlepoint....heh heh heh, now, wasn't that a sneaky way to both say it, and resist, at the same time?!)

In the meantime, here's a link to a delightful and informative blog called "Italian Needlework."

Alas and alack, not about needlepoint, but it is about other kinds of working with the needle, from very special kinds of embroidery to lace-making, all coming from Italy. The blog owner, Jeanine, is bi-lingual, so if you don't read Italian, this will be just the thing for you to explore this gorgeous and historic world, and many of the diagrams can be adapted for your needlepoint projects.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Angel clip art (01)

Here's the first of cute angel clip art uploaded from the free Microsoft clipart page (n. MC900199651), imported into StitchPainter, and turned into a bmp for your personal, non-commercial use.

Should be an easier image to needlepoint, or cross-stitch, than an image imported from a photograph, and the image is generic enough to serve all angel purposes.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Angels...what would Xmas be without them?

I just realized that I haven't posted an angel diagram in this Xmas series, yet, so here's the first one. If you're not into the religious thing, the long cross shape should be pretty easy to turn into a trumpet.

I took a picture I snapped in July 2005 of one of the Bernini angels on the Ponte S. Angelo in Rome, imported it into StitchPainter, and turned it into a BMP, just for you and your personal, non-commerical uses.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Photoless Friday (07): More on Paternayan, or...?

Am participating in an interesting exchange about needlepoint yarns on the Facebook page Discount Needlework: Which is your favorite wool needlepoint yarn?.

I've learned of a brand, new to me, of my preferred three-ply wool yarn that doesn't want to deal with web-only based companies (get with the program, folks!), so their products aren't available to me.

I'd need to see and feel a sample, anyway.

Let me tell you what happened....More......

A few years ago, having a chance to return to the States for a visit, one of the top things on the list--after "hug relatives"--was "buy Paternayan yarns," already having the great StitchPainter program up and happily running on my computer.

Not familiar with that part of of town, I even had done my "let your fingers do the walking for stores selling Paterayan yarn in the area" work on the internet, prior to departure (Cosmos bless the internet). Found the store pretty easily, was in 7th heaven once again surrounded by walls of variously colored yarns. So much choice, such availability.

"I'd like a good handful of the following Paternayan yarn numbers, please." Having no time to waste, I also had done a census of my stock at home, and made "Need" and "Want" lists before leaving (the distinction partially based on the state-o'-the-wallet-of-the-moment).

"Oh," (eyes lighting for the kachink-kachink-kachink of the cash register floating before her eyes), " here. That will be $XXX.XX, please, thank you, goodbye, do come again!"

And out the door I went, so happy to have guaranteed postage- and risk-of-loss-free stitching for the months to come.

Only that, when I got home thousands of miles away, and started pulling them out, feeling them, looking at them more closely (it is such a bother to have to pull out my reading glasses every other minute...the next time I have to renew them, I'm going to take the plunge, and try graduated lenses, despite everyone's horror stories about how hard it is to adapt), they weren't Paternayan.

I won't cite the company's name.

I'm sure it's a perfectly good brand.

It's just that their three-ply yarns are a bit thicker than Paternayan, but I could have put up with that.

What really really bugs me (gives me shivers of revulsion, even) is the very unpleasant slippery feel.

Like they're kinda slimey in a dry sort of way.

Maybe it helps the yarn slide through the small holes of the canvas, but...


So, web-based only yarn stores, beware. I want a free sample (even half of one strand will do) before buying something new.

P.S., since I talk about two brands in particular, StitchPainter and Paternayan, it's probably a good idea to remind everyone that I get no kickbacks, or payments, of any kind. Just speakin' my mind (oh, that feels good, doesn't it?!).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Candy Cane (without bow)

I had found a very cute candy cane with a bow on a free clip art web site (I underscore "free," because I do want to respect copyrights). "Oh, this will be a lovely needlepoint diagram for my needlepoint friends," I happily thought to myself. Well, the person putting the (I repeat, free) image on the net had figured out how to code it so it wouldn't cut and paste.

Too bad for you, Mr. Smarty Pants ClipArtist.

YOUR work is not being perpetuated.

Instead, here is a beautifully shaded candy cane--without a bow--courtesy of other free clipart pages...More......

I uploaded it into my StitchPainter program, then turned it into a bmp for you for your--as usual--personal, non-commercial use.

If you want to find the original, look up candy canes on the Microsoft free clip art pages. It's number MC900305465.

Credit happily cited.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas garland

Here's another free Microsoft clip art (MC900234187), a real cutie, turned first into a StitchPainter diagram, then into a BMP for you.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Santa checking his list

My kindergarten teacher was right. She told my mom that I and my little friend were her two "magpies"...couldn't stop talking. I have gotten better, I promise, and even find that it's so much easier to let others do the hard work of talking, especially at formal dinners, but Wordless Wednesday is turning out to be just about impossible for my needlepoint blog. It's already hard enough for my blog on Milan (, where I'd like to be able to say where and when I snapped the shot, but for the needlepoint blog, if the original design isn't mine--as in this case--it's impossible...More......

When it's not my original design, I want to cite the source, and so if you want to see the original free clipart of this santa and his list, go to the Microsoft clipart gallery, and look up "Santa Claus." This image's Microsoft file name is, by the way, MC900098091.

Let me take this opportunity to remind you that my designs are free to you for your personal non-commercial use Microsoft shouldn't worry about 'lil ol' me making Stitchpainter needlepoint and cross-stitch designs out of their free clip art.

More to come!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Photoless Friday (06): T-Day and blessings

Oh man, I just spent who knows how much time hunting up just the right T-Day image, which also can be used for Xmas (since, ahem, I'm a little late on the T-Day countdown), and turning it into a StitchPainter diagram then a BMP image for you, when I realized that it's Photoless Friday.

Oh well. Here's a link to my Photoless Friday T-Day musings on my "My Milan (Italy)" blog, and I'll post the diagram for you, either tomorrow, or in the next couple of days, computer willing (knock on wood).


Monday, November 22, 2010

Milan Monday (16): a cherub

Monday, again, oh so fast!

Here's a cherub in a half-circle frame on a building in Milan. I uploaded my picture into StitchPainter, then turned it into a BMP for you.

(If you want to know more about the image, please see my other blog, My Milan (Italy),, thanks!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Photoless Friday (05): how do YOU organize your yarns?

I am organized in certain areas of my life and house. My desk is usually a mess (though, really, I do know--pretty much--what are in those piles organized by subject matter), but my needlepoint yarn drawers are pretty darn tidy...More......

One small drawer is dedicated to my patterns that I worked up in StitchPainter together with the inspiring material, the one, or two, ready-made patterns I have bought (and never made up, but I sure do enjoy looking at them!), lots of inspirational photos in folders, a couple of small nice frames picked up on sale (why do they never work for the project at hand?), the roll of masking tape to finish off the edges while working the canvas, a couple of extra needles (never at hand when desired, but always THERE when searching for something else), and a sample of plastic canvas I wanted to try for seeing how to needlepoint tissue box covers and Christmas time gingerbread houses (maybe if I combined those two concepts, I'd actually DO it), my Paternayan yarn sample color chart with some handwritten notes. That's about it.

The other two somewhat deeper drawers are dedicated to my spare yarns, each grouped by color families into clean big baggies. I'm still working on some colors bought 15 years ago, folks!--those are the ones I should start using to do the outer two stitch rows just for firming up the stitching, you know, the rows that get sewn into the margins, so unseen. I have a pretty good sample of typical colors I use, though it always seems that there's never enough of the one I want for any particular project (especially cream, as I use that a lot for backgrounds).

Wish I had more space, but it looks like the situation is going to go the other way. I've got to move in the next couple of months (Cosmos help me), and those drawers are now going to be needed for pesky things, such as clothes.

I do have some clear plastic containers that will probably have to do, and go under the bed. Yuck. But the available space (and budget) is what is is.

I'm tellin' ya, if I win the lottery, my new house is going to have a huge bedroom just for my needlepointing and sewing supplies and activities.

How do YOU organize your yarns and other craft supplies?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Milan Monday (15): a garland (and a time-space experiment)

Here's a garland on a local's also a time-space experiment to see what date and time is posted on the blog message...mine, or of the HQ of blogger.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Photoless Friday (04): Mid-term report and ruminations about art

A mid-term report and some ruminations about art...More......

Mid-term report: my current needlepoint point project is going as slowly as molasses uphill in January. Life is getting in the way, and probably will continue to do so for at least a couple of months. Plus, needlepoint is pretty slow going, even in the best of times. Please be patient, and I'll continue creating diagrams for you in the meantime.

Now, for some ruminations about art.

If you read this blog (all three of you!), you'll already agree with me when I say that needlepoint (and cross-stitch and sewing and knitting and...) is an art form.

Art critics and art historians are finally recognizing these forms as equally important as traditional painting, sculpture and print-making. It's not easy...not even for me, as an art historian, who needlepoints. Why they didn't before opens up a whole other can o' worms (depreciation of "women's work," for starters, when women did not have the opportunities to learn and to practice that men had, so it was a double bind situation, and so on and so forth).

I don't want to dwell on the negative aspects.

Rather, I want to present a positive step towards recognizing these media as equally valid art forms. Though for knitting, the "Dritto Rovescio" ("Front Back") exhibit at the Triennale gallery in Milan a few years back was a big step forward. The site's in Italian, but no problem, the pictures are universal:

I also want to point you to my Photoless Friday ruminations on art on my "My Milan (Italy)" blog, in the hope that they might be interesting to you, too:

What are you working on?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Milan Monday (14): Yet another piece of (lovely) grillwork

Another lovely snippet of Milanese wrought iron, this time just right for a cushion.

I snapped the photo, turned it into a slightly tweaked StitchPainter diagram, then turned it into a bmp image for you.

(To see more information about this grill, see “My Milan (Italy)” blog:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Milan Monday (13): a river goddess

It's raining. It's dreary. That doesn't make for uplifting photos. Or needlepoints. So I decided...More...... hunt through my files for something cheerier. What could be better than a recently restored river goddess?

Here she is in all her glory, turned into a StitchPainter diagram, then a BMP image, just for you!

If you want to know more about the sculpture, see my other blog: My Milan (Italy) (
Have fun!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Photoless Friday (03): The Needlepoint Museum (online)

All it took were the two magic words, "needlepoint" and "museum"...More......

and I fell hook, line and sinker (there ought to be a similar needlepoint related phrase!).

This is a really zany web site, not a "real" museum, which displays scanned needlepoint projects, sad and funny, bright and dull, ugly and...less ugly, collected by the dedicated web site owner:

The Needlepoint Museum (

It took someone a long time to make these "delights."

Go wild! Pick your favorite! Have fun!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Milan Monday (12): another lion

Lions are so much fun, here's another one for Milan Monday!

I uploaded it into my StitchPainter program, and then turned it into a BMP image just for you. (Once you get some practice with how the images look, once transferred into StitchPainter, you'll be able to snap images that require little, or no, retouching, more easily, like this one.)

If you want to know more about my original photograph, you can go to "My Milan (Italy)":

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A regal snarling lion

Had a moment of uncharacteristic crabbiness, and so felt like snarling together with you via a needlepoint design...More......

Found this perfect image for snarling (and giggling at oneself promptly shedding the crabbiness...mostly...) tucked away in my To Sort folders.

I uploaded it into my StitchPainter program, then saved it as a BMP file to share with you.

For more information about the object in my original photography, please see the entry in my blog on Milan, Italy: My Milan (Italy),

Friday, October 22, 2010

Photoless Friday (02): DMC, or not to DMC, that is the question

I admit, it was perfectly by chance that I got started with the Paternayan brand of yarns. It must have been Paternayan, or something exactly like it, that was in the kit of my very first needlepoint project. Even without realizing it at first, I found the Paternayan yarns perfectly adapted to what I wanted:...More...


soft, resistant, (mostly) consistent in quality, and just the right size (about as big as a "typical" knitting yarn). Smaller, and it would take even more than it already takes (and it takes a long time, believe me). Larger, and to get any acceptable level of detail, the piece would have to be much bigger, so the working time would be the same, anyway. Finally, there is a very good range of colors in acceptable prices, and all the nearby needlepoint stores carried a good selection.

That was then, this is now.

No nearby stores, heck, no stores not even within the country borders, and so to the cost of any purchase would have to be added any postal costs (never negligible) and sometimes even import taxes. Not to mention the long wait (and risk of the package being...lightened, or even disappearing...during transit).

Having run out of a color, but almost done with a project, I tried substituting knitting yarn. No good. Not resistant enough. After a few pulls through the canvas, it weakens and breaks.

A round of my now local handwork stores later, and my needlepoint future is dark, indeed.

DMC yarns reign.

Nothing wrong with them, mind you. I've felt their woolen yarns, and they seem as soft and reliable as the Paternayan yarns.

So, what's the hubbub?

The DMC woolen yarns are either three times as thick as the Paternayan yarns, resulting forcedly in the must-work-on-an-enormous-canvas-to-get-any-acceptable-level-of-detail situation, or three times as thin, resulting in stitches so tiny that even an ant would have to put on magnifying glasses to work it.

That is, if this latter DMC thread even still exists.

I just looked at their web site. Their "normal" (i.e., thick) size of woolen yarn is called "Colbert." The really thin woolen yarn used to be called "Medici," but I can't find it in their list of yarns, so maybe it's gone the way of the wooly mammoth, replaced by all the fancy schmantsy glittery cotton threads (which I don't like, but for a whole other reason...and blog post).

So, for this Photoless Friday, my wish is that DMC would develop and market a slenderer woolen yarn like Paternayan's.

Just for me.

They'll do it, don't you think?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Milan Monday (11): a door jamb from Chiaravalle

Another Milan Monday, the time sure flies!

Saturday, I went to the Chiaravalle monastery just outside of Milan, and snapped this gorgeous brick door jamb for you, then uploaded it into StitchPainter without retouching the shot. Turned into a BMP image for my blog, you should be able to trim it as desired to use as a repeating border design.

If you want to know more about the monastery, see my blog on Milan:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Photoless Friday (01)

Man, oh man, this week has flown! So here we are already at Friday, when it seems like only two days have passed since I posted on Monday. Thought it would be fun to be inspired by "Photoless Friday," but it might be a little difficult for a blog about needlepoint. Nevertheless, More......

...I can't share anything about my current project (another "Thank You" gift, remember?), either in word or pictures, 'til it's done and given, so it's the perfect candidate for Photoless Friday.

Designed satisfactorily (that, too, is a long process), the fear of the blank canvas struck.

Will it come out on canvas as nicely as it is in my head? Can I pull it off, again, or is it going to be horrible? The counting is so tedious sometimes, too; should I just trace it onto the canvas, and be done with it, or will some of the subtle proportions be ruined?

Stomach tight with anxiety, the first few counted stitches were fearsome, but I already can see that it just might turn out quite nicely, and might just be one of the best I've ever done.

You (and the recipient!) will be the final judges, but you'll have to be patient for a few months. I do work on 18-point, remember?!

(Posting this, again, as it doesn't come up clicking on the "label" Photoless Friday," and the count is off...hope this works, thanks for your patience!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Milan Monday (10): a medieval dado

Like medieval stuff? Here's a dado border in relief from Milan's Duomo...More......

It could make a marvelous rectangular cushion, for example, or a wind-stopper for a window sill, a footstool (the design can be trimmed fairly easily on the ends), or a decorative strip (replicating it with lots of patience) for the center of a long festive table.

If you don't like the heavily cast shadow (which does add 3-D, however), just split the design down the center horizontally, and flip it.

198 w x 80 h = 11" x ca. 4 1/5" for 18-count

198 w x 80 h = 16 1/2" x 6 2/3" for 12-count

If you're interested in learning more about the image, go to my blog on Milan, "My Milan (Italy)":

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cats and Dogs

Are you a cat, or dog, or both, lover? I can't help but remember that very funny "Far side" cartoon in which, while the owner scolds, the dog hears something like, "Now, Ginger, if I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, you're to stay out of the garbage, do you hear me, now the next time...," while just below, the same owner scolds his cat, who hears zippo...the text "balloon" is blank. Snic snic. Not that I really think that, though. They do understand. They just don't care.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Peace be upon you, and so it was

My dear friend, Cristina Donghi of Donghi Comunicazione, organized a workshop in Milan, Italy, for learning to speak more freely in public. Nothing new, there, she's a communication expert (with a Facebook page for which this image is her "portrait," so you'll know which of the Cristina Donghi's in FB she is). What DID surprise me was that she also created this peace emanating watercolor for the background of her poster, and for which she kindly gave me the permission...More......

to reproduce as an image and as a needlepoint design in my blog, Thanks, Cristina!

As usual, I uploaded the image into my StitchPainter program, and it came out beautifully as a needlepoint, or cross-stitch, diagram, which I then turned into a BMP image just for you.

It also gives me the opportunity to call to your attention the fact that the colors in the needlepoint diagram look darker because they are surrounded by the black of the lines of the squares.

If you are doing needlepoint designs in StitchPainter, and want to check the "true" color, it's possible to toggle off the diagram to check the colors, then toggle it back on before printing for the actual stitching. Just one more handy dandy feature of this (marvelous) program, of which I plan to speak more at of these days....

(Just a reminder, no, I get no payments, or kick-backs, of any kind from StitchPainter...just the satisfaction of sharing this marvelous program and my...hopefully marvelous!...designs and advice with you.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Milan Monday (09): Now you CAN make a silk purse out of a sow's ear!

Needlepoint an ancient Roman basrelief of a furry wild sow using silk threads, then sew it up into a purse. I'm sure you've been yearning to do that! Any pig farmers out there? Any fans of ancient Roman sculpture? Here's today's Milan Monday design to help you out!...More......

For further information about this ancient Roman sculpture found in Milan, see my blog on Milan:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pavian Tribute

Had to go to Pavia on Wednesday for some bittersweet moments, and so wanted to record the day...More......

with, what else?, photographs.

This large rosette on the door of the Duomo would make a marvelous pillow.

I've created the diagram large enough for an 18" pillow on 18-count canvas, if the whole image is used. That means the center part should be about right for a 16" pillow, if you use just the circular area and the rosette.

I've imported the image into my StitchPainter program, then turned it into a BMP image for you.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finally, here's the surprise Thank You gift

Remember when I said awhile back that I was working on a surprise gift, and couldn't reveal anything until the gift was given?

Well, I gave it away, yesterday, so here it is!...More......

It says, "Thanks from the bottom of our [hearts], Star and Mario," and shows a heart speeding across a pale cream background towards the gift and thanks receiver. (I also took this photo AFTER having blocked it...for once!...then framed it...remember, don't use the glass, as it squishes the needlepoint, in fact, you should put a bit of batting behind it in the frame, so it puffs out nicely.)

Here's the design I did in StitchPainter, then turned into a BMP for you. When stitching, I elongated the "tail" of the heart a bit. Note, too, that in my designs the colors are often brighter than I really intend to use, so that I can SEE the tiny squares of color when stitching from the diagram.

Just substitute your own names for ours, and don't forget to add your initials and the date.

It took months and months to design then stitch then block then frame. I always hope that my gifts are appreciated, but, if not, that's O.K., too. I try to make them small enough, so that they can be put away conveniently (worked on an 18-point canvas, this one turns out to be about 8" x 10" / 20 cm x 25 cm ca.), and, anyway, during the stitching process I have the possibility with each stitch to feel closer to the destined recipient, so it's just as much a gift for me, as it is for them.

The next Thank You gift already has reached the first stitching stages.

Stay tuned!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Milan Monday (08): Art Nouveau grill

Another Milan Monday, already. Time sure flies. This time, it's a "rare" French-influenced Art Nouveau grill...More......

I uploaded it into my StitchPainter program, and created a BMP image of the design just for you. If you use 18-count canvas, it should be just right for a pillow about 16" x 18" (for you metric system folk, that's about 40 cm x 45 cm).

(I remember about 25 years ago there was a lot of noise in the States about finally going over to the really much easier metric system, over a 10-15 year period of adaptation. Everyone was too lazy, and so we're still stuck with the old-fashioned and much more difficult measuring method. Too bad for us.)

If you want more info about the grill, see my blog on Milan:


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Food fight! (04): cupcakes and coffee

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day...

Milan's women's readywear fashion week and rain, an almost unbreakable duo. The fashion week--important for Italy's and Milan's economies--started "blessed" with rain (the Italians say, 'Rained on bride, lucky bride' to console themselves), had a few gorgeous days, and now is back under those pesky cold drops, so a cup of hot coffee and a couple of muffins seemed just the right thing.

I uploaded this free clipart image (skinnier in the original) into my StitchPainter program calculated for a 4" x 6" image with 18-inch canvas, then turned it into a BMP image, just for you!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Milan Monday (07): a lion's headed door knocker

Antique doors and door knockers are fun. I always keep my peepers open for just such an occasion: a beautiful lion-headed knocker....More......

I pasted the image into StitchPainter, and gridded it for you. It's so big, it would make a great cushion, I think. If you want to know more about the photo and where the knocker is in Milan, you can go to my blog on Milan:

The gridded full-size image was too big for Blogger, so I've uploaded a simple photo into this blog to give you a preview.

The full-size gridded image, in the form of a BMP file, is available on my Google site created just for such a purpose. Here's the (unfortunately long) address (copy and paste into your browser):

or go to

and click on the Ars acupicturae stellae folder.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wreath and bow [Milan Monday (06), ahem...on Tuesday]

How did that happen? I was so looking forward to posting my "Milan Monday" message, and thought to do it in the evening, relaxing, enjoying your company, after work. The "after work" part happened, and the (somewhat) relaxing part happened, but the "Milan Monday" part flew out of my head until this morning. Well, it's probably still Monday in some part of the world....More......

Do you need to honor someone, or two people, whose initials are "C-S" (or "S-C")? Here is a wreath and bow design with the intertwined initials all ready for you. If your initials are others, then you can substitute these with your own.

As usual, you can see my original photo with info on my blog dedicated to Milan:

I uploaded my photo into the StitchPainter program, gridded the design, and then transformed it into a BMP image just for you.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Food Fight! (03): pomegranate, sliced open

The food fight continues with this pomegranate, sliced open....More......

Though not a clipart image, the colored drawing is so crisp and precise that it, too, lent itself easily to adaption in StitchPainter to a needlepoint design.

I'll be adding images and diagrams of whole pomegranates, too.

(P.S., Here today, and gone tomorrow...when I save inspiring images from the internet, I include an abbreviated form of the web address, so I can find it, again, and so I can credit my source. This time...sigh...I apparently was so excited to find exactly what I was looking for that I forgot to do it, and my online search for the image just turned up nothing. So...if this image--originally with scientific labels pointing to the parts of the fruit--is yours, please comment below, adding the online address where I can verify the pertinence, and I'll happily credit you. Sorry!)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

AMOR (Milan Monday 05)

AMOR ("love" in Latin)

This photo was snapped in honor of a very special person to share with you on Milan Monday, September 6, 2010, though I have to post it, today, instead, as Monday will be very busy.

The diagram was created by uploading my cropped photo into StitchPainter, then turning the file into a BMP image for you.

For more on the building, see the post on my Milan blog:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Food fight! (02): Coffee pot

The recent cupcake pattern made from a free clipart image inspired me to do more on a food-inspired theme, so you can mix and match the patterns for your own kitchen.

This image, imported into StitchPainter without alterations, came from a free clipart image available on the Microsoft web site.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Save yourself work: create a series of grids. This one's for a circular cushion 16 inches in diameter

A number of posts back, I promised that some big works for you were in progress. The book reviews were some of them. Now, here is the final preparatory step for another. I'm not going to spoil the surprise, and tell you what it will be, but I can share this stage with you, because I think you'll find it useful....More......

The design, created with my StitchPainter program, is for a round cushion 16" in diameter (about 40 cm., give or take, for you metric system people). It has 292 x 292 rows of 18-point stitches because each side has two rows added for the stitching seam; remember, if you stitch on larger whole canvas, the design will be the same, but the overall size will be bigger.

You'll note that the exterior "circles" are not quite circular. That was done on purpose to keep the design more lively. Pulling the shapes into a perfect circle made the design go "dead." Perfection is not always the right answer (keep this in mind when eases the conscience, and may save you from unpicking and restitching, if the deviance from the pattern is minimal, and doesn't hurt the final outcome).

When you plan a large project, such as this 16" diameter cushion, keep saving the preparatory stages, so that you can use them, again, for other projects. I have saved the plain grid for myself, should I need it for a square cushion, and here, too, is the circular cushion grid with just the most basic of the circles delimited in dark gray.

The dark gray color represents the areas to be stitched for the design.

The green color represents the areas to be stitched for the seam (and so you can use mixed tag ends of colors because you'll be careful, when sewing, to put them all inside the seam).

The yellow indicates the grid, and is just to help in the creation of the design, and is not to be stitched.

When planning your needlepoint, if you don't use a frame for stitching, you'll need at least one to one and a half inches (about 3 cm. for you metric system folks) of extra canvas at each of the four extreme points of the diagram. If you use a frame, you'll need more, depending on how the canvas is attached to your frame for stitching.

The gridded design is too large for Blogger. It wouldn't even let me upload it in a "small" version, so I've had to create a mock version without the stitch-by-stitch grid, so you can see what I'm talking about, at least. For the real (and fully gridded) design, go to, which I've created for just such occasions.

Just preparing the grid has taken a number of evenings of work. Even if StitchPainter allows one to draw these simple geometric lines and shapes, easily, the whole design has to be checked and double checked for those "sticky" points (moving towards the left for right handed people; moving towards the right for left handed stitches). On this, see my:

Monday, August 30, 2010

(More) Grill work for Milan Monday (04)

This time, the grill pattern is particularly useful as an overall pattern, a border or a corner.

It is a detail from a grill located between the Duomo and the episcopal palace. See today's post on my "My Milan (Italy)" blog for more information. (

I uploaded the detail of the grill into my StitchPainter program, then turned it into a BMP image to share with you.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Food fight! (01): Clipcart cupcake

Clipart graphics, if good, often translate fairly easily into needlepoint designs.

This cute cupcake (use your own colors!) is from a good source of free clipart images:

I just downloaded it into a BMP format, and then directly into StitchPainter, just for you! (To be visible to all, even those without StitchPainter, I then transformed the diagram into a BMP image.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Web site updates

Just put the bibliography in a Google "Sites" page, and put a link to it in the side column, to make it less bulky, and added a list of the labels, so you can find things more easily.


N.B., in case there are problems, here's the address of the bibliography page:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Meteoric brothers revolutionize art: Library mouse (05)

English brothers, who weren’t brothers, revolutionized art. Meteors, they blasted through accepted, even delightful, traditions at the end of the 19th century. Loved by collectors, critics and fellow artists (even those persnickety ones across the channel) and embraced sporadically by that then new breed of advertizing directors, they baffled and left emotionally unengaged too many consumers of the general public to be commercially successful. The partnership, founded in the summer of 1894, petered out by mid 1900, and the two brothers-in-law went their separate ways, professionally and personally. Who were they? The Beggarstaff brothers, of course!...More......

I came across this mind-boggling pair of artists during my M.A. research for a paper on poster art (I won’t say when…that would date me too easily). Their advances were only more fully understood in the Art Deco period, characterized by the stream-lined simplification necessary for their approach, and probably again in the 1960s, though the double-edged sword of their lessons are still timely.

Their mature designs created with stencils, though ultimately reproduced in lithograph, use broad flat expanses of color functioning actively both as background and foreground figure. Believe me, it’s a lot harder to do than it sounds, or than the stunningly simple results belie. (See their awe-inspiring “Girl reading”:, and, while you’re at it, sign up to this marvelous blog dedicated to the Fin-de-Siècle.)

Why, then, “double-edged sword?” Their commercial failure should be a clue.

They most often worked “on spec,” meaning that—as had increasingly become the case for artists, at least since the Baroque period, though also practiced, earlier—they first did the work, speculating, and peddled it, hoping to get paid, later.


So their generic designs didn’t always express the specific products as effectively as expected by their viewers, and their understated emotion didn’t grab the consumers by the…throat.

Sometimes the tenuous link between design and product was sufficient, as the case in the “KASSAMA CORN FLOUR” poster ( The enigmatic and typically emotionally distant image of a young girl carrying a market basket was sufficiently related by the lettering (also planned by the ‘brothers’) expressing the name of the brand and, in breath-taking simplicity, the WHAT. No long text detailing the innumerable superb qualities, the excellent price-quality ratio and the easy availability of the product (there’s a lesson in this for me, if I would just absorb it…). Just the gut impact of the sunny yellow and starkly simplified graphics—readily visible from afar and through polluted heavy fog, both essential characteristics—and the almost neutral image of the young shopper. (Who is she? A young servant, well or badly treated? The older child of a numerous poor family, whose father had died recently in a mining accident, whose mother was dying of TB, and whose fellow siblings, all under the age of 8, now weighed on her fragile slightly bowed shoulders for their survival, or was she from an up-and-coming middle class family, excited but intimidated by her first grown up chore all alone?) The poster was a success.

The disconnect between the product and the image was loudly criticized for the commercially and critically popular “Beefeater” poster, whose avant-garde bright red and black merged gradually in the viewers’ brains into the image of the guard, as if filtered through a heavy London fog, though this effect hadn’t been intended ( Produced “on spec” and intended for a beef extract product, for which it would have been humorously perfect at that time (the association of these historic guards and beef products was typical at the time), the poster’s radical simplification defied the powers of comprehension of the advertizing directors to whom it first had been proposed (after the artistically and commercially successful release of the poster lasting years, I can hear the presidents of the those companies, “You &%*£°§ idiot! You’re fired!”), luckily for the American magazine Harper’s, which wanted to break into the European market with startling graphics, already more advanced on their side of the great watery divide.

Lack of comprehension on the part of the general public and their ever (and rightly) sensitive commercial caretakers, the advertizing directors, lead first to the disconnect between product and poster and then to the financial impracticality and dissolution of the artistic team. James Pryde and William Nicholson, who had adopted “J. and W. Beggarstaff” as a full blooded English pseudonym, went their separate artistic ways, which also became personal, after the death of the artistically gifted Mabel, sister of the former and wife of the latter.

‘Leave them wanting more.’ That old show business adage applies equally as well to the Beggarstaffs and to the marvelous, but much too short book (even at 120 odd pages of well illustrated text), The Beggarstaff Posters by Colin Campbell (Barrie & Jenkins, 1990). I wish the book had added just a few more pages, giving at least hints of their painting and art, before and after (there are a few, but much too few).

Campbell’s book gives a well-rounded idea of these artists’ fundamental contribution to the birth of the modern poster, is a delightful read, and has served as mid-wife for the long awaited birth of my Beggarstaff-inspired needlepoint idea. Get in line, girl, there are at least 3, or 4, ahead of you, but now that you’re born, you needn’t fret. It will be your turn, too.

(Searching for “Beggarstaff” in Google images turns up skads of examples, not all originals. To train your eye to quality, try skipping over the sites advertizing reproductions, and go straight to the museum sites of poster collections, such as that of the V&A:

Monday, August 23, 2010

(More) Grill work for Milan Monday (03)

I love watching for interesting grillwork while I walk around Milan. Since it is an "industrial art," it already often has been trimmed of the superfluous, and is ready to be translated into a needlepoint project....


The grill that inspired this needlepoint is in Via Meravigli not too far from Piazza Cordusio, on the left side of the street. Since it is a long narrow pattern, it adapted nicely to become an eyeglass case. To see the original, go to this page on my blog dedicated to Milan:

I planned the diagram using StitchPainter (look carefully, there are delicate grays to introduce a bit of visual movement). The needlepoint was a gift a few years ago.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Starry starry night

A few of the steps on the way to the conclusion of the starry gift cushion inspired by some mid fifth century A.D. mosaics in Ravenna.


The cross is probably about 5, or so, inches tall...

Remember that, working on 18-point canvas, it takes me a whole evening's work to produce about 1" x 5" of worked canvas (less, if there is a complicated pattern to count out)...

The "furry" bits are the flashes of color; the ends get cut off, as I fill up around them...

And now, for the finished project (I do my own sewing up, too):

(for more info on the font of inspiration, go to my:
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