Still Life from Quimper

Still Life from Quimper
A shot of an almost-completed still life needlepoint

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So very happy you came to visit. Now, pull up a chair, pour a glass of your favorite beverage, and read on about adventures in needlework.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Project for Meeee!

At last, at last, at last, here it is: an opportunity to do some stitching, from my very own stash, for my very own self!! And stitching - not knitting, not sweaters or socks or gorgeous shawls, but good, ol' fashioned counted cross stitch. Want to know when was the last time I stitched something for me and not for Nease's Needlework? 2003.

That was the year that the knitting craze really took over, when my dear Gwen came to work for me, when I put aside all fancy scissors and small needles and gorgeous threads and I picked up knitting for real.

In early 2003, I stitched a beautiful Eva Rosenstand piece of a wren in the furze. You know the old English rhyme: The wren, the wren/The king of all birds/St. Stephen's Day/Got caught in the furze. It hearkens back to the custom of young boys on St. Stephen's Day chasing a wren across the land until the poor thing just died of exhaustion. Then these boys would bring the wren's body back to the village and received food and praise for their terrible deed. (I really wonder how many wrens really got away? Probably a lot more than got caught. I know that MY stitched wren got away!!).

So I don't have a picture of THAT wren, which I initialed and dated 2003, but I do have a picture of the companion piece I bought, back in about 2001, when the great and wonderful Eva Rosenstand company (from Copenhagen) was about to close its doors and end its absolutely lovely and colorful and nature-inspired designs. They never sold well in my shop; people either disliked the idea of kits ("I want to pick out my own threads or fabrics") or the kits themselves were just a little too old-fashioned for my hip, new, mod patrons. Remember how popular angels were for a while there? These angel stitchers were very talented, and perhaps these simple but beautiful kits of blues and yellows and oranges were just a little too simple for their tastes. Regardless, I still bought a bunch of small kits before they went out of production.

*side note* The Eva Rosenstand company did not in the end go away - they were bought by Permin of Copenhagen, a Danish subsidiary of Wichelt Imports, so their designs still exist. The threads now are DMC threads, and the linens are regular linen, not the soft and supple linen that was milled by the E.R. company nor the threads dyed by E.R. It's a color-snob thing, I know, but the more colors there are in this world, the more lovely a place it is for all of us *sigh*

Anyway, on to the pictures of my little blue-tit (I think that's the name of the bird!):

It's such a simple design, really. The yellows match the furze of the wren - I've always seen these as companion pieces. And look how big the graph is!! It's easy to read!! It's larger than the stitched piece on the linen. It has symbols that are logical in their set-up (meaning, black is a large big square, then the yellows are lighter symbols, etc.).

Aren't these colors just lovely? Don't they just make you want to pick them up and play with them and see this pretty design come to life on your fabric? There's just something about them that makes me lose all ability to put thoughts into words. But look how many threads of each color there are!! At least twice and a half as you'll ever need for such a small piece of a bird. And you separate the threads into bundles and you get to play with them even before you begin to stitch. Antici *say it!* pation!

Here's the oh-so-recognizable packaging for this little kit:

Remember that packaging from way back when?? I know, it's hard to keep the glare off of the plastic, but I just had to show the packaging anyway.

The other cool thing about having a kit like this in plastic is that you can take it to an outdoor festival. Which I did back in May over Memorial Day, and four of us sat in a corner of the outdoor shed and all of us stitched our projects. Webmaster Bill came by and said that we looked like the 4 Fates (I forget what he said the 4th one was - maybe a new Fate who foresees the future?). It was so much fun to be stitching with others, especially after so many years of knitting with others. It's a different feel - you hold the fabric in your hands, you bring the needle up and down, the design appears as if by magic on your linen, and there's always a brief pause in the conversation when the rhythm of your stitching reminds you that you need to pay attention.

Oh, and another note: I've begun wearing reading glasses when I stitch on linen. Guess I'm over 40 now and my eyes are catching up with me! I stole, uh, borrowed a pair of reading glasses from the storage unit. They're tacky, but they haven't sold so I figure I'll just break them in so that I can brag about what a great product they are. It's nice to be able to see the individual threads on the linen bigger than they really are, so that my eyes don't get as tired as easily and I make no mistakes when I wear them (I finally started making mistakes stitching over 2 threads while stitching on linen - yech!). Now I wear them, they're tacky, they remind me that I better start stitching quickly, and I can see well enough with them to stitch waaaay past my bedtime.

These are the glasses in their little Chinese puzzle box. Aren't they tacky? But they work, and it's just me and Webmaster Bill, and the cats, none of whom care that *sniff* I look like an old woman now!!

I had really, really forgotten how easily I lose myself when stitching a piece of counted cross stitch. Honestly. It's like having a whole afternoon to, say, update your blog, then you realize your butt hurts and your fingers ache, and lo and behold, you've been sitting in the same chair for an hour and a half. Stitching is like that for me. I spent one Saturday afternoon earlier this summer (July, was it?) just watching a couple of movies and stitching. Then I looked up and it was 5 hours later and I hadn't stitched as much as I thought I would, but time had ceased to exist for me. And if there was a weekend marathon on cable of the TV show "House"? Oh, then just forget about me going to sleep for a while!