Friday, September 23, 2011

O is for...

Before we get into our regular post, we want to congratulate Linda from Minnesota for winning our giveaway!  Linda, once you get your address to us, we will send out your prize - one of our Blueberry Hill Boxed sets!  It comes with everything you see here except the scissors!  Add your own to our pretty little fob to complete your set, Linda.  Congratulations!

O is for Occult and Octagonal Rhodes Stitch

The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus (clandestine, hidden, secret), referring to "knowledge of the hidden."  In the English language, "knowledge of the paranormal".  A name given to a number of magical organizations.

Occultopedia is an online source to all you need to know about the supernatural, paranormal and inexplicable.  You can also find what attracts men, original love spells and psychic readings! All in one place! 

What are some of the symbols of the occult and their meanings?  Many of the symbols are the same as we see used in various art forms to represent things that are meaningful to the artist interpretation. 

Some of these are the pentagram, hexagram and the all-seeing eye. The Shaka sign, 

which to me means hang loose in the style of the islands, in the occult world is a witch sign or a moon sign also called  Mano Cornuto (Horned Hand) in Italian; the gesture is commonly depicted on charms against the evil eye. It is unclear whether the gesture originated as an image of horns or as a "poking out the eyes" gesture, but ancient lunar goddess charms depicting animal horns were used for similar protective purposes and are probably related to the gesture. The use of the horns as a symbol of satanic belief is recent, and is evolved from its use by heavy metal musicians and fans.  The horned Hand gesture is also used occasionally by Wiccans as a symbol of the "horned God" or as the horns of the Moon Goddess, depending on tradition. 

You can find many of these various symbols and meanings in some of the sites listed below for further interpretations. Remember to take it all with a grain of salt, oh now what does a grain of salt mean?  Where do we get these clich├ęs, but from wise tales through the ages and some of them have various meanings in the land of good and evil.

Some people (particularly individuals involved in occultic activities) look upon the Occult as fascinating, harmless, mysterious, spiritual and a source of knowledge and healing power. Others (particularly conservative Christians) see it as being profoundly evil, criminal, destructive, life threatening, and Satanic. It is a word that generates horror and revulsion.  Some of the practices of divination seem lighthearted such as tea reading, the Ouija board game, tarot cards, palm reading  and others seem to tread on more demonic grounds.  

The Crystal Ball is one of the methods of divination that has been practiced since the time of the druids. Many cultures have used this divining technique of crystallomancy for several years, although the use is not strictly confined to crystal balls, as water, smoke, glass and even the clouds have proven successful in finding images that are translated into the answers to questions, or receive messages about the future. 

Psychics sometimes rely on crystal balls not merely to see through their clients' minds, but to cleanse their own minds. When conducting readings they need to have undivided attention and they can only do this by looking at a clear crystal ball. The clarity and flawlessness of the ball allows them to get rid of the impurities they have on their minds and in turn gain better concentration on their sessions with clients.

As you can imagine we have not even begun to scratch any of the surface of the Occult and it is a ground we tread lightly on, as we are only looking at the playful aspects for our "Dark" alphabet, but the occult plays many roles in history from the beginning of time and can be quite fascinating.

Octagonal Rhodes Stitch
This stitch is typically used on canvas and is used to cover a large area.  But as with many stitches originally used in canvas work, we can easily use it in our counted work to add interest and texture. Especially depending on the fibers chosen for the stitch, it can be used to really create some great textures.  This variation is worked in the same way the Rhodes stitch is done, with the stitches following each other in a counter-clockwise direction, so that they all cross over the same central point. But the outline shape followed is an octagon rather then a square and gives a circular appearance.   Julie has used it for the Crystal Ball in her design as well as the O as in Occult.  My source again is the Complete Stitch Encyclopedia by Jan Eaton.

As always, click on the design to go to our Freebies page and download this week's chart, or click on Freebies in the sidebar.

We hope you enjoy this lighthearted trip to "the dark side"... as we head toward Halloween we find ourselves thinking of spooktacular effects for our dark alphabet.  Whoooo knows?  There may be some more surprises coming!

Julie will be out of town for a week or so, starting this weekend, which means no changes can be made to the blog or the website.  We hope you will not be inconvenienced by a short wait for our next post!  Maybe some of you will be able to catch up.  Since Julie expects to be stitching for much of this week away, she may have new pictures of her alphabet to share.

Friday, September 16, 2011

N is for Necromancy and Norwich Stitch, J is for Jo's Alphabet and W is for Winner!

What a busy week!  Jo sent us this picture - can you believe how great her alphabet is looking?  Don't forget to let us know if you'd like to be entered in the Diabolical Plot!

Thank you to so many of you who entered our giveaway celebrating 200 members!  We thank each and every one of you who stopped by to make a kind comment.  Unfortunately, we can only have one winner.  And she is.........  Linda from Minnesota!  Linda, please send us a note to us with  your mailing address and your prize will be on its way. 

Necromancy, Raising the Dead! 

Necromancy is a special mode of divination by the evocation of the dead. Understood as nigromancy (niger, black), which is the Italian, Spanish and old French form, the term suggests "black" magic or "black" art, in which marvelous results are due to the agency of evil spirits, while in "white" magic they are due to human dexterity and trickery. The practice of necromancy supposes belief in the survival of the soul after death, the possession of a superior knowledge by the disembodied spirit, and the possibility of communication between the living and the dead. The circumstances and conditions of this communication - such as time, place, and rites to be followed - depend on the various conceptions which were entertained concerning the nature of the departed soul, its abode, its relations with the earth and with the body in which it previously resided. As divinities frequently were but human heroes raised to the rank of gods, necromancy, mythology, and demonology are in close relation, and the oracles of the dead are not always easily distinguished from the oracles of the gods.

 Necromancy is found in every nation of antiquity, and is a practice common to paganism at all times and in all countries.  There are mentions of Necromancy in the bible and throughout Christian practice. The Witch of Endor, described in the bible (1 Samuel, 28), summoned the spirit of Samuel in the presence of Saul.  

There are also many references in Deuteronomy.
Necromancy continues to be a popular topic today as I read the local paper and found a local author has been chosen for an award for her book "Hold Me Closer, Necromancer" by Lish McBride of Seattle, a book that has been written for middle graders about Sam a skateboarder/vegetarian/fry cook who can summon the dead and gets kidnapped by a more powerful necromancer. 

Again, we just give you a taste of this dark art! But believe me there are many places to seek more information for those wishing to indulge and possibly try their hand at raising the dead. 

The Norwich Stitch is also known as the Waffle Stitch. Predominantly done on canvas, you can also use this in your counted linen work.  It makes a pattern of square blocks with raised diamonds, good for filling in large spaces. The block can be worked in various sizes, but must contain an odd number of threads. The diagonal straight stitches are worked across the square following the sequence shown in several of the examples below. The second stitch is worked over each preceding stitch until seventeen have been completed. The eighteenth stitch is taken under the last stitch that it crosses, rather than over it. Various weights of thread can add to the dimension of this stitch. My favorite book for this stitch is, The Complete Stitch Encyclopedia by Jan Eaton.  You will see Julie has used this stitch to suggest a raised design on the tombstone in her chart.

As usual, click on the picture of the chart to go to our Freebie page and download the chart. Or, you can click on "Freebies" on the sidebar.

We hope you enjoy this raising of the dead!

Monday, September 5, 2011

202 Followers! Plus M is for Mummy and Mossoul Stitch

Wow - we have 202 followers!  We need to celebrate!  Please leave a comment on the blog to be entered for a drawing to win a prize.  You don't have to have a blog to enter, but since this is to celebrate our 200-plus followers, you do have to be a follower!  If you have trouble figuring out how to become a follower, let me know - - we'll figure something out. 

When we think of mummies what picture comes to mind? Boris Karloff in "The Mummy" is one many will think of. 

Hollywood has dramatized the mummy in many of it's horror flicks for years now.  Where did the drama start? Possibly in the Victorian era when Egyptology became a fad. It became fashionable to visit Egypt, pick up a few artifacts to bring home and decorate your home with.  

In 1869 Louisa May Alcott wrote a book called Lost in a Pyramid: the Mummy's Curse and then there is the famous publication of 1821 called The Mummy which is the first use of mummy horror in literature.  In 1871, the composer Verdi brought us the Egyptian themed opera, Aida. And we have Napoleon Bonaparte who founded the Institut de l'Egypte in Cairo in 1798 which discovered the Rosetta Stone 

that finally allowed Egyptian writing to be deciphered in 1822 by Jean Francois Champollion.

So you can see the Mummy has had quite a history outside of the religious process of mummification. The art of preserving or mummification is quite a process. Let's see first you start by pulling the brains out through the nostrils. Hummm lovely, this was before embalming was learned. Then there is the process of drying you out with myrrh and salt solutions. They then proceed to wrap you up in flaxen cloth and stick you in box after box until you come to the last one the Sarcophagus. Many items that would be useful for the next life are also placed with the mummy.
Photo by Joshua Sherurcij

And why did they mummify a person? Preservation of the physical body was paramount, for without a home, the soul wandered and would be lost forever. 

There is so much information regarding Mummies and mummification as you can imagine, so  if your interest is piqued, then there are many more links and books on the subject to see.

Massoul Stitch
Our "M" stitch this for this entry is the Mossoul stitch which most of you know as the Herringbone stitch. It is a common stitch to sampler making and appeared as early as 1681. The Mossoul stitch is a type of Cross Stitch worked backwards from left to right.  My source in my library is from Eileen Bennett's book The Red Book of Sampler Stitches


This letter is not terribly colorful - this is when the color of your linen comes into play - especially when choosing the color for your mummy!  I have made him entirely in Mossoul Stitch - over one - quite the feat!  But I think the woven look will be a great effect - you can experiment a little to find the exact look you want, and of course, over two, it will be a snap!  I used two red beads for the mummy's eyes (is this where the expression "beady little eyes" comes from?)  As always, click on the picture to go to the Freebies page to download this chart, or click on Freebies in the side bar.

Have fun, and whatever you do, don't tell my mummy on me!


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