March 25, 2012

And Now . . .

I'm currently working on some cross stitch.  I recently needed something easy and portable, and cross stitch fits that bill perfectly.  It's just a series of X's and the most complicated part is following the chart (which is a lot like color-by-number and therefore not complicated at all).  The current project is an orange blossom pattern by Textile Heritage Collection that's intended to be made into needlebook.

 In case you're unfamiliar with those, they are little book-like objects to keep your needles in.  They're especially helpful when traveling as they keep your needles safe and secure in one place.  Right now, I keep the the needles I use regularly (in all sizes and types) stuck in the top section of the little toile pocket I use for transporting small projects.

I've already "finished" another project in the same series, which is intended to be a bookmark.  I am not going to make it into a bookmark though.  I plan to use it my kitchen so the refrigerator door handle doesn't continue to smack against the wall.  I haven't quite figured out how to affix it to the wall yet, so it sits in my Work In Progress basket.  It's finished, but not FINISHED.

I find there are two kids of "finished" in needlework, and perhaps this is true of other kinds of crafts.  The first one is finishing the actual stitching.  The fun part is over.  The second is actually completing the finishing work - making it into "something".  The tedious part begins.  There's an intense satisfaction that comes from this part of the process, watching it become Something - Anything.  But often times this involves other skills (sewing) or expenses (framing) of which I am less confident or flush.  I don't really want to make this current work into a needlebook (I have another project in mind for one of those), but I'm not sure what else to do with it. Do you have any ideas?  Most importantly, I don't want these two projects to end up in the Drawer of Shame.  (This photo can't really do justice to the multitudes of "unfinished" projects contained within.)

I want to FINISH them so I can move on to something else without guilt - I have enough of that (see Drawer of Shame above).  There's obviously some deep-seeded mental block at work here.  I think I could use some professional help just letting go of the guilt, or some skill building in finishing work.  Plus, getting stuck on the finishing slows me down in starting a new project which is truly frustrating!  I have so many ideas in my head and there just aren't enough hours in the day.  For now, I'll choose to indulge my procrastination, and maybe next time we'll take a look at some inspiration.

March 11, 2012

In The Beginning . . .

. . . there once was an unfinished piece of needlework.  My mother started it many moons ago, but it remained incomplete.  Maybe I was bored one day and asked for something to do.  Maybe she found it in a fit of cleaning and thought of me.  Whatever the reason might have been is long lost in the sands of time.  The design is of Persian descent (I think) - a central tree with animals all around it.  It's about 18" x 15" and the colors are muted but lovely: navy, tan, light blue, rust. 

My mother started in the center, but by the time I got it the threads had changed dye lots (can you tell?).  I was about seventeen when she showed me the basic tent stitch (a name I didn't learn until years later), and I set to it.  I had no book to show me how, and asked no teachers to give me guidance.  I didn't use any sort of frame or stretcher bars, and managed my own way starting and ending threads by holding the tails on the back and stitching over them as I went along. 

It took me about five years to complete, stitching regularly for a few days or weeks and putting it down for months at a time.  It was so big I honestly thought I'd never finish.  One day I just picked it up and didn't put it down.  To this day I'm still not quite sure how or why it happened.  I'll never forget the feeling I had when I laid the last stitch at my aunt-in-law's house on Thanksgiving Day ten or eleven years ago.  The wave of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment was indescribable.  I knew immediately it had to be a gift for my grandmother, then my oldest living link to my own family traditions of embroidery.

And so it began.  Since then I haven't been the most prolific stitcher ever, but slowly my skills have improved and I'm constantly learning new ones.  I talk about it all the time (ask anyone), and I focus my projects on presents for friends and family, but none of them share my passion.  So I obsess a little, alone in my little stitching world - taking classes, subscribing to magazines, tossing almost all my books except those that deal with needlework or inspiration for projects.  And that's just fine.

February 26, 2012

So, what is this blog about anyway?

It's about my adventures in and inspirations for embroidery.  Embroidery has long been a hobby of mine (more on that later) and I recently became inspired to blog about it.  The inspiration has mostly come from my ever-so-late introduction into the craft/embroidery blogoshpere, and the brave efforts of my friends and acquaintances who manage their own blogs (most notably Pippa's Cabinet and Spencer Alley). 

My favorite needlework blogs are by regular (or professional) folks who have chosen to chronicle their projects, offer and take advice, and recommend books and best practices.  I love to watch the progress of their projects, how they experiment and fix their mistakes.  And I thought, hey, I could do that too.  The more the merrier, right?  Well, I guess we'll find out!

But this blog won't be strictly about my embroidery projects, past, present and future.  I'll also be sharing resources I find at  - you guessed it - my local library, and even some inspirational pictures from my hikes in Marin County and travels in the wider world.  It's a bit of a hodgepodge, I'll admit it, but ultimately I hope you'll be able to connect with something I post (please?) and maybe even be inspired yourself to pick up needle and thread (oh, pretty please?!).

China Camp State Park, Early AM