Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Danse Macabre

Well, what else would you call a Happy Dance for A Dark Alphabet?

Dance of Death, also variously called Danse Macabre (French), Danza de la Muerte (Spanish), Dansa de la Mort (Catalan), Danza Macabra (Italian), Dança da Morte (Portuguese), Totentanz (German), Dodendans (Dutch) according to Wiki here.

Yes, I have officially finished the entire piece, and here it is in all it's glory:

The title block uses the A and D from Julie's design, the lower case letters are my own design.  Cute little witch comes from one of the blocks.  Can you spot her elsewhere?  Where's Winnie?!

The signature block feature W from Julie, Capitals by me based on W and lower case by Brenda Keyes as are the Roman Numerals for the dates.  Annis Domini is the plural of AD and means "in the years of our Lord".  I love the word "wrought" as it's often used on antique samplers so it fits this design perfectly.

While I was stitching I was thinking about each letter and I wrote a little poem as I went.  I say poem but it's more rhyming couplets of doggerel.  Just for fun, here it is along with each block:

A is for Apple and temptation from snakes
B is for Brimstone and the fiery pits that it makes

C is for Coven and witches three
D is for Devil, a Dutch spinning monkey

E is for Eek, disturbing the peace
F is for Furies, three women from Greece

G is for Gargoyle made out of stone
H is for Headless Horseman on a bay or a roan

I is for Inky Darkness on a black night
J is for Jack-in-a-box who gives you a fright

K is for Kelpie the Scots’ water-horse
L is for Lightning Bird and its storms, of course

M is for Mummy with a bandaged head
N is for Necromancy and raising the dead

O is for Occult and fortune telling
P is for Phantom singing in his underground dwelling

Q is for Queen of the Night and her Dark Power
R is for Raven who lives in the Tower

S is for Skeleton made out of bones
T is for Things that go bump and their ghostly moans

U is for Urmahlullu the Protector of the loo
V is for Voodoo, a doll which looks just like you

W is for Wyvern, like a dragon with only two feet
X is for Xaphan and demonic bellows fanning the heat

Y is for Yggdrasil the legendary Norse tree
Z is for Zombee, yes – an undead Bee!

This is the whole of the Dark Alphabet
In memory for Lisa who we’ll never forget.

For my new followers and those of you who've been living in a cave all year, the Dark Alphabet was designed by Julie from A Note of Friendship in memory of Lisa Roswell, the designer who sadly passed away last year.  Here's where it all started last March.

A letter was released as a free design every couple of weeks on Julie and Becky's blog.  Julie designed the blocks and Becky did the research.  I stitched every block and sent them photos for their blog and generally cheered them on!  The Large Boy and I played "Guess the Letter" each time and even suggested a couple.

And this is what I received in the post today:

Yes, it's a coffin!

 And inside was not a dead body, but a selection of goodies!  A headstone thread winder, a skeleton pin keep with a dinky pillow and pins, a great witch's cat (this will become a fridge magnet) and the most gorgeous little scissors with a spider web dangle.
Close up of the cute scissors.  We just don't have cute scissors like this here.
The cross stitch mags never even mention scissors beyond the basic stork shape.  I wonder why?

Julie sent me these lovely things as my prize for completing the alphabet before she did!  A while back I did challenge anyone to try finish before me but sadly no-one did!  Hahaha.  The Large Boy has commandeered the coffin but the rest is mine to keep and love.   The customs form made me smile - it said "Hallowe'en ornaments", I wonder why it didn't say "miniature coffin and contents"? LOL.

What a great adventure the last year has been stitching this design.  I've learned so much too, Becky's blog posts are always full of information and links to more information.  On both the subject matter and the stitching.  Several blocks contained stitches beginning with the same letter.  Bargello being an obvious one.

I stitched the design 1 thread over 1 on 28 count evenweave, tea-dyed by me.  Using mainly the recommended DMC.  In some places I used variegated DMC and in some places I stitched the bottom /// in one colour and the top \\\ in another.  This is a great alternative to tweeding when stitching using one thread.

Phew!  What a long picture-filled post, hope you enjoyed it!  I suppose the Finally should be "don't forget to enter my giveaway".  I'm so pleased I offered a free choice of charts, everyone is picking such diverse designs I could never have chosen just three to suit everyone.  Good Luck to you all. 


gracie said...

Well done!

Chocolates4Breakfast (Terri Malinovich) said...

What an awesome completion! Congratulations!!! What a terrific you received! I loved all the individual pics.

katica said...

Congrats on the finish and the lovely gifts!

Stitching Noni said...

Jo, what a great achievement! I love the whole dark alphabet idea - a lovely memory for you all. Well done on a great finish - I love the coffin filled with goodies!!

Fireflies & Cats in the Garden

geeky Heather said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!! It's just fabulous; I so enjoyed your couplets. Also...ROTFLOL at the Zombees!!!!! =D

Would have loved to see the customs people if a coffin was mentioned...!

Ziggyeor said...

OH it's wonderful! I remember way back when you were doing D and I was thinking it wasn't for me but seeing it like this I love some of those squares. What a great goody box too. I love those scissors. I have a pair that look like black lightning bolts. You just have to hunt for the non-stork pairs sometimes.

Christine said...

It is brilliant Jo, well done! The coffin full of gifts is great too.
By the way I love the little floating vampire bats

CATHI said...

Congrats! Great completion! And you got a very fitting present! :o)


Veronica said...

Hmm... I think I've been living in a cave or under a rock or in a well. LOL! I didn't know about this until I saw your post. You did a wonderful job. Congratulations! Love the poem you wrote for it too :) What a fab prize you've received.


dulcinella said...

Here,i'm standing clapping my hands and cheering for you! It looks great. Besides the fact that it's a great way to commemorate someone,,the stitching looks great! I loved your poem. And what a wonderful surprise in your mailbox:-)

Thoeria said...

Love it! Well done on finishing it. And love the poem too! Your dinky scissors are so cute!

Jan Gartlan said...

What an awesome post. Your finished alphabet is fantastic. I want to do one now! I really admire your creativity especially with the poem. Your U and V poem lines made me giggle and your last line brought tears to my eyes. I spotted the witch in the "R" block.

Julie said...

Brilliant Jo, i do love your poem, you would think the designs were done to fit the poem. Simply wonderful - well done to you and the girls on the Note of Friendship blog.

Giovanna said...

This is wonderful Jo! It's such a treat to see all your letters in close-up again, and the extra blocks complete it to perfection - major congrats to you!

Eyani Ryou said...

Jo it's absolutely amazing! Congrats!

We do get those scissors over here! They're Kelmsott designs little gems! Google the sampler guild, they sell them and other fun scissors and they're uk based!

Miamina said...

Wow, it looks amazing! Well done on the finish and the lovely gift was a nice surprise too!

Shirlee said...

Very cool! And congratulations for finishing such a large & intricate piece!

Delphyne said...

That turned out awesome! Fantastic job.

Susan said...

Fantastic finish! Your title and signature blocks are perfect. I couldn't decide if the witch was from "R" or reduced from the "E" - "R" I think. What a great prize/gift and well earned.

Minnie said...

Beautifully designed and stitched and I love your gifts.

Unknown said...

Fabulous poem to go with a great alphabet stitch and what a lovely gift to receive.

The Knitting Cross Stitcher said...

brilliant finish and what a lovely surprise in the shape of a miniature coffin. Love the goodies inside.

rosey175 said...

Oh, how great! I love Halloween stitches and this is spectacular! Your poem fits the images so well and I had to LOL at the zombees! So cute~ Your coffin of goodies is super fitting (love the black cat), congrats on the finish and prize! :D

Linda said...

Congrats on the finish Jo. What a great piece.


Southpaw Stitcher said...

Awesome finish! A great accomplishment--and in record time! Congrats!

Unknown said...

Congrats on the finish! And lucky you for getting all those pretty Halloween things, I'm so envious! Halloween is not really celebrated in Finland, but it's still my favourite holiday of the year as it has such cool decorations. :)

Agi said...

I just loved your poem and the coffin could have been a nice surprise for the customs men :)

Deb said...

What a wonderful accomplishment. I love that you posted each one of the blocks so that we could see them better. I didn't realize that this piece was dedicated to Lisa.

Love the goodies that you received for your finish.

The Crafty Princess said...

OMG Jo what a brilliant post. Thanx so much for taking the time to break down the dark alphabet I really enjoyed your accompanying poem. It looks awesome!!! What a fantastic gift too. I love the tombstone winder, very cool! I would have put coffin on the custom form too LOL! xoxo

The Crafty Princess said...

OMG Jo what a brilliant post. Thanx so much for taking the time to break down the dark alphabet I really enjoyed your accompanying poem. It looks awesome!!! What a fantastic gift too. I love the tombstone winder, very cool! I would have put coffin on the custom form too LOL! xoxo

The Crafty Princess said...

OMG Jo what a brilliant post. Thanx so much for taking the time to break down the dark alphabet I really enjoyed your accompanying poem. It looks awesome!!! What a fantastic gift too. I love the tombstone winder, very cool! I would have put coffin on the custom form too LOL! xoxo

Anne said...

Big big Happy DAnce for you Jo!! WOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Bea said...

I've just discovered your blog thanks to IHSW and WOW! That is a fantastic piece of stitching and you've done such beautiful work.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, this is a wonderful finish! =)
I really love the poem you wrote for it and I am a bit jealous about your wonderful stitching goodies =)
I bought a pair of black scissors (they are the form of witches boot ;-) ) and they leave a bit of color on my hands (I washed them and now it got better), I hope you don't face the same problem

Mindi said...

Congratulations on such a fantastic finish! I'm guilty of saving the letters, but haven't started stitching a single one.

SoCal Debbie said...

Great pics of your wonderful finish! I love the poetry you added to every one. You're an amazing stitcher!

Jenny said...

OMG - that is one fab sampler! Love it! And I can't believe all the over-one stitching - I get exhausted just thinking of it! Thanks for showing all the panels one by one too - I am in love with the little raven. And your personalization is simply perfect - wow!
Love the coffin too - what a great gift! The cat is wonderful and the pin-disc is lovely too - is that a stitched piece?

Karen said...

Wow, just wow! It is fantastic and so very big! I would want to stitch it myself, but I can't imagine ever getting it done.

Congratulations, Jo! It's amazing.

Caitlin @ Naughts Cross Stitches said...

wowwowwow! That is awesome such an amazing finish!

Myra said...

What an awesome accomplishment. I love your poem too!

Valentina said...

Congratulations for your finish, it's really stunning. And the poem you wrote about, so cute!

Jan Gartlan said...

I have started "A" yesterday!!! Thank you for inspiring me to stitch it.

Ewa said...

That's amazing, Jo! Congratulations on your amazing finish. I loved reading your poem and hearing the story behind the stitch.

Little Gothic Horrors said...

Hi Jo! :) Thank you for leaving the link so I could come and take a peek at your beautiful work. You've done a brilliant job! This is definitely my kinda cross-stitch.

Lili said...

Thanks for the link!
Your piece is stunning! I remember the little blocks on the Halloween SAL blog, but watching the all piece is really great!! Love it!!