Saturday, May 22, 2010

More Than Halfway

Once I picked up Angel Cat again, I really went to town. I have been stitching it pretty steadily this week. So more than half of the background is now stitched including the borders. The entire process of stitching the piece (and switching from cross stitch to needlepoint) has made me think a lot about the their differences. Way back in the misty depths of time I started stitching needlepoint. I can't even remember there being much available in cross stitch patterns, though there were some stamped cross stitch pillows available. There certainly wasn't anything available in counted linen. When I started cross stitch much later I was thrilled that I didn't have to stitch the whole darn background. I know I have some needlepoint UFOs with miles of background left to do and all of that background charted for tent stitch. The cross stitch linens, especially the hand dyed ones, were just so beautiful, I didn't think I would ever go back to needlepoint. But over time needlepoint canvases began to be sold in colors other than white or ecru. Needlepoint patterns started to leave some of the canvas open. Backgrounds were now in hundreds of different stitch patterns, so tent stitch was not your only option. And the variety of needlepoint threads beyond wool exploded. But cross stitch patterns were also expanding with stitches beyond the simple cross and threads beyond DMC.

Here is a closeup of the Petite Very Velvet that I wrote about in my last post. It demonstrates some of the qualities I think that differentiate needlepoint from cross stitch. Most cross stitch patterns are pretty rigidly defined. There might be a choice of threads in some patterns, but usually the colors are the same, just the composition of the thread changes. The overall cross stitch design does not change. The only decisions are sometimes the gauge of the linen or whether to stitch small motifs as one large piece or separately. Although there are needlepoint stitch guides (even with thread recommendations), most painted canvases leave the threads and the stitches up to the stitcher. It takes a lot of confidence to choose the threads and colors for a canvas among the thousands available. And that included the confidence to change your decisions in midstitch. Originally this border was going to be stitched in the red Caron Snow thread that I used for the heart. The gray was a gorgeous Gloriana silk called Cobblestone. But once I started stitching the ribbon for the fish in Petite Very Velvet, I decided that the border would look better in this thread, too. Petite Very Velvet also has better coverage than a stranded thread would in a satin stitch. I also needed the courage to rip out parts of the design (like the aqua rayon thread in the fish's head) and replace it with a thread that would work better (Neon Rays ribbon). Overall my color choices for this design are much more muted than the "hot" colors shown in the original canvas. I know I will go back to simple cross stitch pattern, especially those with interesting variegated threads, but for right now I am more drawn to the creativity of modern needlepoint.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Easy As Pie FINISHED

I actually finished this on Sunday. But on Monday when I tried to take a photograph the sky was full of low, dark clouds. Anywhere else would have had torrential rains, but here it was just windy and cool. The last stitching bits were rather boring as there are two different colors of green in the bottom border, but it is hard to see any difference between the two of them. Still it is lovely to have five of the six Mill Hill kits finished. I need to finish at least one more UFO before I start the last kit, I'm Jammin'. I have only two finishes this year and both are Mill Hill kits.

I have been working on Angel Cat. In fact I should have a picture to show in the next day or two. I am using a satin stitch with Petite Very Velvet for the border and it looks fantastic. I don't know if the luscious fuzziness of the thread will show up very well in a photograph.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Stitching Blogger's Question for May

No, I haven't started Hawaiian Mandala back up again, but I wanted to use this picture to illustrate the answer to the May Stitching Blogger's Question.

"Suppose we say that there are two types of stitchers.
There are those who enjoy the “process” of stitching. They stitch for stitching’s sake and if something gets finished, so much the better, but it’s not necessarily the end goal. Primarily, it’s the application of needle and thread to cloth that makes them happiest.
Then there are those who are “project” stitchers. They move steadily through their projects, certainly enjoying their stitching time, but finding their greatest joy in the completed stitching.
If you had to pick one to describe yourself, which type of stitcher would you be? I imagine that we could all say that we fall somewhere in between, but really think hard about this and try to pick just one. And once you have decided whether you’re a Process or Project stitcher, tell us if your recognize that approach in other parts of your life."

There is no question, but I am a Process Stitcher.  I love the specialty stitches (even the difficult Jessicas seen as red-orange flowers at the bottom of this picture) and the colors of this pattern.  The real question is whether I stitch so that I can listen to podcasts or listen to podcasts to keep my mind occupied while I stitch?  There are two weekly podcasts (MacBreak Weekly and This Week in Tech) and two Monday through Friday podcasts (Marketplace and Buzz Out Loud) that I listen to regularly and several other odd podcasts that I used to listen to.  But with my stitching hiatus I am woefully behind listening -- I'm only now listening to podcasts broadcast in early March!  It sort of gives listening a historical flavor.  My husband says I should skip the last two months and just start up again, but I keep telling myself that I have so much stitching to catch up with that eventually I will run out of podcasts to listen to.  But the real reason that I know I am a process stitcher is that have a drawer full of stitched pieces with very, very few finishes.  About the only things I have finished are those things that I have given away.  Even the pieces where I have definite finish in mind aren't framed much less hung on a wall.  Someday Warm Water Wash will hang in the laundry room in Maui, but not someday soon.

As far as Process or Projects in my life, I am definitely a Project Person.  I really enjoy seeing a tidy room, a drawer full of organized papers and a bookshelf in alphabetical order.  But the actual process of said projects does not fill my heart with joy.   Neither does laundry or ironing, which I am going to tackle today.  About the only Process that I enjoy more than the end result is cooking.  When I was less tired, I loved the process of researching recipes, gathering ingredients, following the instructions, and tasting as I went along.  For the most part I didn't gobble up all the finished product, but was happy if other people did.  Now I feel successful if I make a piece of toast and eat it.  LOL.

On the health front, I am doing well.  My bloodwork on Monday (after only a few days of radiation and chemo) came back with good values.  I will know even more this Monday after a full week of radiation and chemo.  I am even driving myself back and forth to radiation while James is on Maui dealing with a legal issue with a supposedly illegal pedestal that holds up the electrical meters for four houses at the edge of our property.  Maui Electric Company demanded it be seven feet tall when the house was built, but the county now says that all "walls" within 25 feet of the property line can only be a maximum of four feet.  If we lower the pedestal it will make it difficult to read the meters and a flash flood could destroy the meters altogether.  Bureaucrats!  James will be back tomorrow morning, so I better get busy processing the clutter around here.

Friday, May 7, 2010

It's A Pie

I've had a hard time trying to get back to stitching this piece.  It might be because of all the beads or it might be the confetti nature of all the stitching (there are two different kinds of red beads).  Or maybe it is because I am not stitching much at all.  I thought about going back to Angel Cat, but in the end, I think I will finish this.  Then there is only one Mill Hill kit left to have all six stitched.  Once they are all done, I can have them all framed at once in compatible frames.  Although we have started construction on the new house, these should all be done well before there is a wall to hang them on.

I do have a more serious problem though.  My beloved mother-in-law passed away two weeks ago.  My husband flew back in time to say goodbye, though I almost had to kick him out.  He wasn't sure that I was healthy enough to be on my own, but I managed just fine.  Unfortunately my doctor did not think I was healthy enough to fly, so I couldn't go with him.  He stayed to help his sister with the estate and to attend the funeral and burial.  I am glad that he went and also glad that he is home again before my chemo and radiation started.  But I have been stitching Tranquilty (The Shells) specifically for my mother-in-law.  I look at it in my To Do pile and don't know if I will pick it up again.  Have any of you started a project but not finished it for someone who is no longer here?  I hate to abandon it, but it also makes me sad to look at it.  My husband did bring back several stitched items that I had given my mother-in-law over the years and some items she had stitched.  None of his family would really appreciate them the way my excellent needlepointing mother-in-law did.  I have plenty of other projects to work on, so I will just let Tranquilty (The Shells) sit for a while.