Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The cross-stitch castle obsession begins

The picture above is the next big project I tackled and it turned out much better (except for the whole "crosses in the same direction thing". It looks a little wrinkled because I recently took it off its old mounting board (something else I needed a good lesson in doing correctly) and washed it. The dust and dirt I was trying to get out still need another soak before I remount and reframe it. I stitched this one mostly, if not entirely, during my freshman year of college.

The castle is Lichtenstein, from the book Medieval Castles from Jeanette Crews Designs. I also did Neuschwanstein Castle from the same book a year or two later (which wrinkled in the photo for the same reason as the other one).

I still haven't gotten around to stitching the other two castles in the book, which is slightly ironic, considering they are British castles, which are my special love. The original book was totally destroyed, so I threw it out and bought a new copy last year, which I was pleased to see was still around about 17 years after it was first published! BTW, the other two castles are Craigievar in Scotland and Hever, in the south of England. Hever is best know for its associations with Anne Boleyn. I visited there in 1998 and bought a cross stitch kit of it there, which I stitched a few years ago (see below). It, like many others, is in one of my UFO piles... in this case, and Un-Framed-Object. As with most kits of medium and larger projects that I've stitched in the past few years, I changed out the fabric (usually 14 count aida) with a 28 count evenweave.

Next time I'll post some pictures of my other frequently-stitched-objets... Christmas ornaments, along with the story of my longest unfinished objects to date.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How I caught the cross-stitch bug

So, I last left off with the tale of my first cross stitch project and some half-hearted attempts at embroidery. But I didn't really catch the cross-stitch bug until the summer of 1990.

The summer of 1990 was the time between high school and college for me and a friend and I took a short trip to Galveston Island to visit her aunt a couple of weeks before we were due to start school. We wandered into a needlework shop somewhere on the island (attempts to locate it when I was back in 2003 were unsuccessful) and my friend found a pattern of her aunt's church on the island to make for her for Christmas. While I was wandering around I found some space-themed designs and thought I would buy a few and give this cross-stitch thing another try. So I bought 5 patterns in all (see, I was already obsessive!), took them back to Austin and started gathering materials. My big mistake at this point was not asking my friend how to do any of it!

So... I went to Wal-Mart and bought the materials for the first design I decided to stitch, a launch of the space shuttle, which was a view similar to the photo above. I think there may have been some rudimentary instructions on the pattern for how to do cross stitch, but if there were, they weren't very good. So, I proceeded to stitch the design on 14-ct light blue aida --- with 4 strands of floss, knotting the threads on the back as I went. So, you can imagine how lumpy and awful the final product was. Also, I had no clue about making all the stitches go in the same direction. I'm not sure if I have a picture of the project anywhere, but if I find one I'll post it as a great example of what NOT to do!

Thankfully, the next few things I stitched had better instructions and I learned more about the proper way to start and finish threads and how many strands of floss to use for which counts of fabric. Unfortunately, the importance of making all the stitches go in the same direction was a lesson still several years in my future...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

My first cross stitch project, c. 1984

I wish I could remember exactly when I bought this, but I'm guessing it was around 1984, maybe as late as 1986. I know I bought it at a craft store in the Rio Grande Valley when I went with my grandmother to get some yarn. She was a madwoman with the crochet hook! I never got the 'yarn craft' bug... I mostly end up with a tangled mess when I try. I don't think I actually stitched until I got back to Austin and I don't think I actually put it in the painted frame until sometime in the 1990s. As you can tell from the large picture, I didn't have a clue about making all the stitches go in the same direction (which will be a recurring theme), but it is a cute little picture. I have a thing for castles, which will be another reccurring theme.

I also tried some embroidery on and off but never really got anywhere with a project. I think I finally threw away the kit I bought and started also around 1984. I left it in a hoop for too long and it rusted! The other attempt I made at doing some hand embroidery was copying some patterns from a calligraphy book onto white cotton. They also didn't really amount to much and joined the other in the trash bin. The inspiration for trying the pattern from the calligraphy book was the young adult fantasy books that I loved as a kid. Okay, I *still* love some of those books. In particular, the second book of "The Ash Staff" trilogy by Paul R. Fisher has one of the characters making a cloak and embroidering a leaf pattern along the bottom, which was on the cover painting. How obscure that seems now! I still haven't done much more embroidery, but I have some kits in my storage bin that are combination embroidery and candlewicking. I bought them for next to nothing during the 10 months or so that I worked a Hobby Lobby to make ends meet after college. I actually ended up buying a lot of stuff during that time that are still around the house waiting to be stitched... it was also the place where I got the quilting bug, but that's another post for another day.


Welcome to my needlework, quilting and sewing blog! When I set out to re-do my homepage, I was trying to figure out what to do with the previous needlework, etc. section and eventually I came to the conclusion that a blog was a good solution. It is rather ridiculous that it took me so long to figure that out, since I had already come to the same conclusion ages ago for the front page of my website!

I'll post some works in progress, as well as some older projects and the stories around them. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the first large project I did, and I don't have the actual piece any more... I'll explain why in a future post!