Saturday, August 1, 2015

Signing Off from Blogging

I am closing my blog because I find that a newsletter is a better way to communicate with everyone.  Please drop by my web page -- -- and sign up to receive a monthly newsletter.

Happy stitching!

ArelateStudio on Etsy

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Jehan Genevoy, a printer in 16th-century Lyon, France, published a set of playing cards with wonderfully graphic figures.  I chose two of them, charted and colored them, and discovered what a stunning couple they make!  They work up nicely in cross stitch, but I can also see them done in needlepoint, perhaps as pictures or accent pillows.  The white backgrounds could be worked in a textured stitch which would accent the figures even more.  If you would like to see these in black-and-white and others from Genevoy's playing cards, see Dover's book, Antique Playing Card Designs.

Playing cards appear to have been invented in China where in 1120 a document mentions a game involving ivory tablets with allegorical figures of the heavens, mankind, stars and cardinal points, and virtues such as justice and benevolence. Paper cards first appeared in China in 1294, the country that invented paper and printing.

The spread of playing cards seems to have gone from China into India where a card game called dasavatura used cards depicting gods, royalty, animals, and flowers.  This game spread into Persia and Egypt, finally moving up the Italian peninsula.  The naibi of 14th-century Italy depicted aspects of human life as well as mythological people such as the Muses and Apollo, the planets, the virtues, and the sciences.  It was these pictorial and symbolic cards, in combination with numerical cards, that eventually evolved into the Tarot.

Numerical cards are modeled on Arabic cards and were influenced by dice.  These entered Europe via Spain, and the four suits and the "royal" cards of king, queen, and jack were added.

Monday, June 1, 2015


Have you ever wondered how a designer decides on the size of the finished picture?  For my designs, it comes down to fingers!  Since everything is outlined in black and then colored in -- a feature common in medieval art -- all my fingers require 3 squares: one flesh-colored for the finger and one in black on each side to outline it.  


Sometimes delineating all the fingers will make the final design just too big, in which case the poor person will be relieved of a finger or two. 

Feathers, like fingers, can only be reduced so far.  The narrowest feather needs the same space as a finger and will thereby determine the final size of the winged creature. 

Beyond fingers and feathers, a design more or less tells me what size it should be, what size suits the proportions of the original, what size is not so huge that someone would never stitch it.  For example, for my own pleasure I am working on 1/3 of a woodcut picture of Basel which is going to be rather large assuming it ever gets finished.  I have stitched Very Large designs and enjoyed them, but for the most part I think we all like something that we can count on finishing in a reasonable amount of time, yes?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Arelate Studio Is Back!

Where have the last five years gone?  Remember when you were young, and summers lasted forever?  Now, I just blinked, and suddenly it is 2015!

But I have not been just lolling around, eating bon-bons.  I've gotten a good start on the eternal book on 12th-century Norman Sicily which hopefully will be finished before I die.  More on this research in a later post.

There is, however, some Really Good News for stitchers.  I have also been working on designing, and there are now 100 Cross Stitch Designs available from Arelate Studio!  And more are in the works.

With the new designs, I decided to jump into web design and have created a NEW WEB SITE where you can find all my cross stitch charted designs and books. 

Everything is available in electronic format, even the two pattern books, "Here Be Wyverns" and "Here Be Drolleries".  There are complete directions for ordering charts and/or books.  I hope I've made the web site both exciting and easy to use.  And I've learned a LOT ... trust me when I tell you that this "cyber virgin" had the dickens of a time on the steep learning curve of web designing!

Please pass this information along to anyone who might be interested.  I look forward to meeting you all again ... after this "blink" in time!     Nancy