Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Project Update 6/23/2015

At the half-way point of 2015, I have already finished more projects than I did during all of 2014!

I finished another Christmas pattern, Frosted Pumpkin's "Christmas on Gingerbread Lane."  This one is for my friend Cassie.

This was really fun to stitch, with lots of bright colors and 5 different colors of hand-dyed thread.  It also has one color from DMC's Light Effects line.  As a metallic thread it is . . . substantially less fun to work with, but I soldiered on.

I also completed the June frame for the Story Time Sampler.  This month's story is Peter Pan.

I was very excited to see this month's selection.  Peter Pan was my favorite story when I was little, and the Disney movie re-release is one of my earliest memories of going to the movies.  The first acting role I ever had was as Wendy in a children's production.  (I am not entirely on board with Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  I watched a bit of it when we were visiting a young cousin, and I think it is weird that they softened up Captain Hook to make him cuter.)

Now that I have completed several larger projects, I am happy to start some new ones.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Kick it Up a Neotch

It is summer, and that means that it's time for the Mystery Steotch-Along!

Steotch is a cross-stitch pattern company that combines old-fashioned pattern styles with pop culture references.  I love the way that they take classic motifs and turn them on their heads, showing that cross-stitch doesn't have to be dainty and proper.  Those with finer sensibilities might find their patterns to be . . . ribald.  (One of these days, I will find the courage to enter "Return to Shady Thicket" in a State Fair.)

At this point, irreverent cross-stitch companies are a dime a dozen on Etsy.  What sets Steotch apart from its imitators is the complexity of the patterns.  Until now, the cross-stitch patterns I have done have all been beginner-friendly.  They used only regular cross-stitches and some backstitch for definition.  Steotch uses what are known as "fractional stitches," which are one-quarter or three-quarters the size of a standard cross-stitch.  This requires inserting the needle in the middle of a square of aida fabric.  It takes some getting used too--you want to gently wiggle the needle between the fabric warps and wefts without piercing them.  These stitches result in images with finer details than ones that use only standard cross-stitches.

This is also my first time using an effect called "tweeding."  Instead of stitching with two strands of one color of floss, you use one strand each of two different colors.  The result is stitches with subtle color variations.

This is third time Steotch has had a mystery stitch-along.  Two years ago, they began with a picture of Samuel L. Jackson from Pulp Fiction with the (fictionalized) Bible quote from the movie.  It had the same level of complexity as their standard patterns, so people complained that it wasn't beginner-friendly.  Last year, the pattern was one of Snoopy that you could customize with a number of Snoop Dog quotes.  It was much easier for beginners . . . but people still complained about enduring weeks upon weeks of white stitches against a white background.  This year, the pattern will be more like the one from the first year, but it will be spread out over a longer period of time.

Here is how my project looks after Week #1.

I'm hoping it has something to do with Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation, whose pithy statements have become a favorite in the craft world.  ("Never half-ass two things.  Whole-ass one thing." Words to live by . . .)

For modern cross-stitchers who are looking for a challenge, Steotch provides the answer.  I love the idea of creating a project that not only matches my sense of humor, but also helps me grow as a stitcher.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

For Mary and Terry

My mom met Mary when they were both working at Children's Hospital in Chicago.  They became friends quickly, and soon my parents became equally close with Mary's husband, Terry.  For almost 40 years the two couples would get together socially, talk on the phone, and celebrate milestones.

Last winter, Terry passed away after a long struggle with colon cancer.  Part of his process for saying goodbye was writing a poem for Mary that he wanted included in the program at his funeral.  Afterwards, my mom asked me if I could make embroidered art of the poem.  I'll admit that I was hesitant at first because I had just completed my first commission.  (It's been several months, and I am still getting nightmares about my client calling me on the phone to scream, "I HATE IT!  CHANGE EVERYTHING!")  But even when I wasn't trying to think about it, I began to form ideas in my head of how this piece would look, so I agreed to do it.

These are the last two lines of the poem.  I wrote them out in swirling, flowing lines evocative of the wind imagery in the piece.  The first line is dark blue, with each subsequent line in a lighter shade of blue.  The last word is two strands of white thread with one strand of silver Kreinik.  I'm going to mail this to my mom, who will frame it.  My mom loves the final result and I hope Mary will, too.

Develop a sensitivity to soft breezes
because if the dead do come back,
it'll be my words against your cheek.
Always remember, my love,
that walking through life with you
has been an honor and a pleasure.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Project Update--6/2/2015

I've been on quite a productive streak lately.  Here are some projects that I haven't covered in previous posts.

I had never planned on buying Christmas-themed patterns for obvious reasons.  Then last December, the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery ladies gave me their Christmas Celebration Sampler for free.  They wanted to show their appreciation for the way I encouraged people to enter their patterns in state fairs.  The pattern was just so adorable, I couldn't NOT make it.  I decided to make Christmas patterns to give to my friends.  Ironically, right after I bought the Christmas patterns, two of my friends told me that they were studying Judaism with intent to convert.  (I'm drawing the line with Christmas patterns.  I will not make any Jesus ones, even if they are references to Simpsons episodes.)

I made this one for my friend Julia.  It has a lace border made of reindeer, snowflakes, and snowmen.  The pattern shows pictures that represent each letter in Christmas.  Can you guess what they are?

Luckily, I finished this one right in time for a 50% off framing sale at a local art store.  I'm glad I waited for the sale, because I had a LOT of projects to frame.

I also finished the May frame for FPS's Story Time Sampler.  This month was Charlotte's Web.

Some pig.

I just got the pattern for June, and it is one of my favorite children's stories of all time!  What characters do you want to see?