Free Cross Stitch Pattern: American Flag Illusion

It’s that green, black, and yellow time of year again. You know, the Fourth of July . . . Revolutionary War . . . Declaration of Independence. . . Old Glory. And you also know, around here it’s always the time of year for puzzles, illusions, cross stitch, and bookmarks. Naturally, we’re going to put them all together.

Oh, say, can you see two flags?

Free cross stitch pattern: American Flag Illusion, from Funk & Weber Designs

Stare at the black knot in the center for 30 - 60 seconds, then look at something white: a wall, a piece of paper, a blank screen. You should see an afterimage of this flag in red, white, and blue. If you click this image, you'll see it on a blank screen where you can try the experiment. Stare at the image, then shift your gaze to a blank part of the screen.

This is an afterimage optical illusion. When you stare at the tiny dot on the image, you exhaust (or bore) the photoreceptors in your eyes that detect green, black, and yellow. They say, “Yeah, yeah . . . we see it. Move along now.” When you don’t move along, because you’re counting slowly to 60 to make sure the experiment works, the bored photoreceptors kick back and take it easy. “Fool us for 5 seconds, shame on you; fool us for 60 seconds, shame on us.” Then, when you finally stop staring and look at a white surface, an afterimage remains, but because the green, black, and yellow receptors are ignoring you, only the attentive red, white, and blue ones respond.

That, of course, is a highly scientific explanation. If it’s over your head, you might check out this explanation of color aftereffects.

Make Your Own

Download the Two Flags Optical Illusion free cross stitch chart to stitch your own green, black, and yellow American flag. The 3 x 2-inch pattern is perfect for a—you guessed it!—bookmark. You can finish it with plain white backing using the Overcast Backstitches finishing tutorial. After staring at the embroidery, just flip it over to see the afterimage on the back side.

I’m going to further suggest that you make this bookmark for a young reader so his/her reading interest doesn’t flag during summer vacation. Without regular practice, kids’ reading skills can decline, putting them behind when school starts again in the fall.

Canadian friends, make your red columns and maple leaf green and your white columns black.

Harriet and any other Norwegians hanging about, it’s green, black, and yellow for you, too—and you don’t have to stitch 50 French-knot stars!

Brits and Aussies, you’ve got it a bit harder than Harriet, but same colors. Come on, you can do it! And I’d sure love to see it when you do. Send pictures to mail AT funkandweber DOT com.

French knot haters, get over it. They’re cool, and this is a great way to practice. Plus, you can really see them in the afterimage! If you absolutely, positively refuse to stitch French knots, seed beads are your friends.

Others, give me a shout if you need help choosing colors for your flag. I’ll bet we can figure it out.

Happy summer flag-bookmark-afterimage-optical-illusion stitching!

What was that? Oh. Sure. Here’s another link to the free embroidery pattern. You’re very welcome.

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8 Responses to “Free Cross Stitch Pattern: American Flag Illusion”

  1. Bev

    It works !

    June 1, 2011 @ 5:50 am
  2. Jen

    I know! Isn’t that cool? Of course, I can’t take credit for the fact that it works… 🙂

    June 2, 2011 @ 7:21 am
  3. Vicki Meade

    I love it…can’t wait to stitch it up for a few kiddo’s and family and friends.!!

    June 1, 2011 @ 6:33 am
  4. Jen

    You’re welcome, Vicki. Happy stitching!

    June 2, 2011 @ 7:46 am
  5. Lorie

    This is great…I want to do this one for my grandchildren to try!

    June 1, 2011 @ 11:33 am
  6. Jen

    Yay! Engaging kids with embroidery = Awesome!

    June 2, 2011 @ 7:47 am
  7. […] Did you see this free cross stitch pattern on the Funk & Weber Designs site? […]

    June 11, 2011 @ 4:09 am
  8. Becca

    I love it! Thank you so much. I can’t wait to stitch it.

    June 11, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

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