Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Butterfly Update 1

A week of schoolwork and a weekend at the cottage cut into my stitching time significantly. I only managed to finish one butterfly this week. In the previous photo of this project, it was just a red blob in the lower left-hand corner, but now it's a pretty butterfly - full of blended colours.

I'm starting to wonder if I should switch to working on the half cross stitch background in this section of the piece or if I should continue working on the full cross stitch butterflies and flowers in the foreground.

This piece is going on hiatus for a few weeks while I do a little traveling to Quebec. I'm going to take my twilight angel piece with me ... it's smaller and I'd be less upset if anything happened to it. I'd be devastated if anything happened to the butterflies after all this work.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Twilight Angel (Dimensions - Gold Collection Petites)

Of course, since my main project is going to be a gift for my mother, I need a side project to work on at her place when I go to visit.

I decided to work on a smaller piece for myself. Twilight Angel is a 5" x 7" piece that has lots of fun beads, sequins, and charms to add to the design once I'm done. I spent a lot of time looking for an angel pattern that wasn't particularly religious and didn't have glowing halos or little chubby babies in it. This one suits me perfectly.

So far I've only gotten the top layer of her skirt done. I think it'll look better once it starts to actually look like something. The floss I received in my kit seems much more purple then the picture in the link shows, but that might even out with time and more stitching.

Butterfly Forest (Dimensions - Gold Collection)

With my first completed piece of cross stitch under my belt, I decided to embark on a larger, more challenging project - a solidly stitched piece (10" x 16") that would be a gift to my mother. She adores butterflies and lives in a forest. I couldn't have picked a better pattern for her. It was the beginning of April 2010, and I had hopeful plans to finish the project in time to give it to my mom for Christmas. The race was on!

It doesn't look like much in the photo, but it was a big step for me in moving out of my cross stitching comfort zone. Before this, I had always used hoops (I liked the tension in the fabric that I could get from them), but this piece was too big for hoops. I need to move on and use a scroll frame so the work wouldn't get damaged as easily. I'd ended up with some gross dirt and grime on the front of my other finished piece, and was aiming to not repeat that problem on this larger project.

After six weeks, I had made substantial progress. My stitching even looked like something recognizable!

There was still so much more to do though. I wasn't used to doing such small amounts of one colour at a time. I was used to big chunks instead. I couldn't believe how much slower my stitching was now that I had to change colours all the time. I still have 5 more butterflies, 3 huge leaves and 2 more big chunks of flowers to do, plus the half stitch background!! It's hard to believe I'll ever finish.

A week later, more progress was made. One more butterfly down and another one started.

And now ... you're up to date on that project!

My story continues ...

So, in January 2010, after pushing aside my stitching and getting too wrapped up in schoolwork, I finally gave myself license to stitch daily as part of my "me time." With that kind of consistent effort, my stitching project progressed rapidly. I wish I had taken pictures as I went.

By the end of March 2010, I finished my first piece of cross stitch. It had taken almost a year to complete. The piece isn't very big, about 5" x 7", but it's finished!!

It still needs to be washed, pressed, and framed. I'll post pics when it's done.

During that year, I was addicted to visiting Michael's and the local stitching shop in London, ON, the Thread & Eye. My pattern and kit collection grew and grew. I fell in love with several artists/designers, like Teresa Wentzler, Mirabilia, and Heaven and Earth Designs. I must admit that my love for HAED is a recent discovery. In particular, I adore two artists' work that is featured there - Amy Brown and Julie Fain. I also came across the work of Sue Coleman translated into cross stitch. All of it is breathtaking in its own way.

I now have a ton of projects to choose from. I wish I could do them all right this second. I'm dying to have a big, beautiful work of art of my own on my wall. The wait might just kill me though. :)

Welcome and hello!

Welcome to my first ever blog!!

A little about me to start ... I'm a PhD student who reconnected with a former hobby to force myself to take a break from work. In other words, I found a way to take a little "me time."

My stitching history:

I taught myself how to cross stitch when I was young, perhaps about 8 or 9 years old. I used to spend the summers going to work with my dad at his office, where I had my own desk, a typewriter (I know, I know .. I'm THAT old), and the freedom to roam the small downtown area. I found a great lady who owned a craft shop that didn't mind me hanging around. She gave me a few tips and helped me get started. I managed to finish a few pieces, mostly samplers, but unfortunately I've lost them over the years.

Jump ahead 25 years. A good friend of mine was really into cross stitching and had some fabulous (and huge) pieces of her work on the walls of her apartment. I fell in love with them and asked if she would re-teach me how to cross stitch. We made it an outing, and with another friend, headed out to a great little shop called Gitta's in Mississauga, Ontario. Once there we picked up thread, patterns, linen, needles ... all the basics a girl could wish for!

I started stitching with gusto, but I had never stitched on linen before. I'd always used Aida in the past. I found linen very challenging -- my poor little eyes couldn't keep track of where my needle needed to go. I got so far on my first piece (a water dragon) and then had to stop. I just wasn't comfortable and confident enough with my stitching to try linen yet. That project is still on hiatus.

After that, my friend and I went on a trip to Michael's, and went on a cross stitch kit buying spree (well I did, she just watched and laughed at me). Anyway, I found a few cute little kits to practice with and regain my stitching prowess before I tackled a linen project again.

So in February or March of 2009, I started on a little kit -- a single daisy with a banner that read "Live Simply." It wasn't a difficult pattern, but it did give me lots of opportunity to practice blending colours in the needle and I was quickly shown how to railroad my stitches to get a smoother, more polished look. With new skills and great enthusiasm, I tackled my stitching.

Unfortunately, at about the same time, I was feverishly trying to finish my Master's in Education. Thesis writing, conferences, a defense, and moving cities to start my PhD all got in the way. My stitching slowed to a crawl.

When I started my PhD in Education in September 2009, I had made very little progress with my stitching, and was so busy that I had to put my stitching aside. Schoolwork was all I could think about. I didn't pick up my stitching for 4 months!! I was miserable and I couldn't quite figure out why. I talked with my advisor, and he got me to realize that I wasn't making any time for myself. How could I be happy if I never did anything just for me? I needed to make time for a personal reward every day. It took a little trial and error, but I soon figured out that an hour or so of stitching a day was just what I needed to wind down, to decompress, and to make me feel like a real person again. I know it sounds strange, but stitching is rewarding to me. It's somehow being productive, but selfishly so. Basically I do it because I love it.

The purpose of this blog is to bring you along on my stitching journey. Hopefully you'll enjoying seeing the progress I make on my stitching projects. Welcome aboard!