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Of Chameleons and Drawing


One of the suggestions that came up for the Feeling Stitchy Reader’s Choice Stitch-Along was a Chameleon.  I don’t know if the suggester realized it, but they hit one of my animal buttons, big time.  Now, I’m a huge animal nerd and I can see beauty and fascination in just about anything that falls under the heading “life” (and a few things that blur that line), but there are a few critters whose presence in a zoo or aquarium or the natural environment will straight up make me squee like a fangirl at a Twilight premier (what? I didn’t watch the movies, but I think you could hear the high-pitched freakout of the crowd from orbit).  I will then proceed to sit there with my nose pressed to the glass for forty minutes going “Oooo”., and everyone (and everything) else be damned. One, obviously, is the octopus.  Another is the Binturong. Another is the Chameleon.

Judging by the number of votes it got, some of you (my brethren!) are stoked about all things chameleon. Others, though, might be more hesitant. “Why,” they may ask, “would I want to embroider a lizard?”

Please allow me to make my case. Chameleons? Are awesome. They have two eyes which work -and are processed- totally independent of each other, even when both eyes are looking at the same thing (which means depth perception can go suck it for them, but hey!). They have a prehensile tail. They change color not, as is popularly imagined, to blend in with the background but rather to communicate. The individual toes of their feet have fused and rotated to be opposing, so they have little clawed clamps. And they can do some serious color.

For embroiderers, the last one is everything. After all, what got you into embrodiery? And what gives you a little secret thrill to this day? Back stitch? Needles? Hoops? Or was it the rack after rack after rack of glorious, color?

Oh yeah. The vast range of embroidery thread selections was practically MADE for chameleons. Here, let me demonstrate. These pretty boys are panther chameleons, and they know color.

And now a digression, if you don’t mind.  Let’s talk drawing.

I haven’t drawn a lot lately, except for embroidery patterns. And by lately, I mean like for a year. There’s the Museum, and there’s embroidery patterns, and that’s it.  My sketchbook, which I once carried everywhere, has sat forlornly gathering dust.  I couldn’t even remember where I had stored it the other day- I had to go through all the shelves in my apartment before I found it, moldering away in a stack under my nightstand.

It was with great hesitance I picked it up again, rubbing off dust bunnies with one pensive thumb and contemplating how low my talents must have slipped.  And then I picked up a pencil and I surprised myself! Even with such limited practice, I had improved! And you know how?

There was something important, something magic, for me to learn in scaling back to simple line drawings.  Suddenly color and shading and technique all melted away, and all I had to focus on was that line- on how it led the eye, how it related to the lines around it, and on its ultimate composition. And composition? Has always been one of my weak spots.  How pleasant to discover that I had improved when I feared degradation.

Sometimes, if you’re having trouble with something, you just need to break it down for a while before you try to put it all back together. If you look at older patterns versus newer ones, I think you’ll notice the improvement. But enough beating around the bush!  That’s not what you’re here for.  You’re here for a chameleon.

I really like this one.

Click on the picture, and you’ll get the full-res.  I release these free bits of line art under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

You are allowed and indeed encouraged to do whatever you want with the piece(s) (use, reuse, abuse, remix, share, and of course, embroider), just follow these two simple rules:

1) Give me credit (a link back is always appreciated- that way, everyone else knows they can use it too)
2) Don’t make a profit off any use or modification of my work.

To be fair, I won’t sue you or anything if you don’t give me credit- I’ll just feel all hurt, and no one wants that.  Also to be fair, should youreally want to use them in a profit-making venture (ie: stitch it on something you then sell in your etsy store, use it as a print for your own fabric line, etc.), talk to me and maybe we can work something out so everybody wins.  Should you want to say thanks, leave a comment and/or tell a friend or six.  Finally, if you do make something, embroidery or not, let me know and I’ll happily blog it!

You can find a reminder/introduction to embroidery, including basic stitches and a by-no-means exhaustive list of methods of transferring patterns to fabric in this post (there’s also a good round-up here and another one here).  Finally: if you’ve got suggestions for embroidery patterns you’d like to see, I would love to hear them (no promises, though).  You can find the rest of my patterns under the Embroidery Patterns category.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Cindy Gould permalink
    06/08/2012 4:42 PM

    i love this! The narwhal is going to get stitched, but I think it just got bumped down the line by the chameleon. Fan-freakin-tastic, I say!

  2. 06/14/2012 6:35 AM

    Love your chameleon drawing! It\’s funny, after stitching the narwal I got a little bit obsessive with chameleons, too. Indeed they are a great motif!

  3. 06/14/2012 12:02 PM

    Too funny, a few weeks ago I designed a pattern and made my own felt chameleon stuffie. Turned out pretty well, too. Chameleons are so much fun. (who wouldn’t want to have eyes that see independently of each other?)

    • 06/18/2012 9:58 PM

      Ooo, sounds pretty! I’m so clumsy now that I suspect loss of depth perception would be fatal, but I still kind of want the eyes.

  4. mary permalink
    06/16/2012 12:03 AM

    After reading this post, I dreamt about chameleons. When I looked up lizards in my dream dictionary (yes, I’m that person) it said “On a more positive note, the lizard also symbolizes emerging creativity, renewal, and revitalization.” Thank you for giving me good dreams!

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