Friday, 30 March 2012

Embarking on the crazy...

About a month ago, I needed a stronger distraction from a certain online forum (which will remain nameless), so I did a search on trusty Google for cross stitching forums.  I joined a lovely site, Cross Stitch Forum and started reading.  

A large proportion of stitchers were doing something called HAED.  Never heard of it.  So, I went on another hunt. I found a link to Heaven and Earth Designs. Ding! Ding! Ding!  Wow.  Stunned by what I'm seeing.  On this website are some of the most elaborate cross stitching designs I have ever seen.  I started browsing.  About 20 minutes later, I stumble upon this guy, herein called "The Hermit".  

I showed the Hermit to my husband who immediately verbalized why I fell in love with him.  He looks exactly like my darling cat, Scully.  Here, you be there judge.

The Hermit


I spent over a week researching how to do the Hermit.  For the first time, I wasn't buying a pre-made kit that had everything, ie. floss, fabric, chart, instructions.  First step was to buy the chart.  So I did, then downloaded and printed it.  All 25+ pages.  HUH???? Excuse me?!  How many stitches is that?! 140,000+ stitches.

Next, fabric.  All I had ever stitched on was 14 ct Aida.  I didn't even know what that meant!!  This design called for 25 ct.  What the heck does that mean?  So, back I go to the trusty cross stitch forum and start asking a bazillion questions.  The stitchers there are amazing.  Over the course of a few days, I was suddenly sounding like a pro, explaining to my husband that 22 ct means 22 squares per inch rather than 14 squares per inch.  I learned how to figure out the size of my finished design based on whether or not I did it on 22ct or 25 ct.  I learned all about fabric - Aida, Hardanger, Lugana, Linen.  Since I was a novice, I decided to split the difference, sort of, and stitch this monstrosity on 22 ct.  All my research pointed to Hardanger as being the best fabric choice for this project.  

Next, needles.  I'd need newer, finer needles, right?  Cue another few days of research on which needles were the best.

Next, floss.  I'd need how much?  87 different colours?  Am I crazy?! (Please, don't answer that!)   Should I buy the floss online?  Is it cheaper than in a retail store? How do I store all that floss, anyway?  Thankfully, I found a store in my area (well, not really, but we'll pretend it was close by) that sold the floss I needed (DMC for those that care), as well as everything else I'd need.  I was set!  The most expensive, elaborate project I'd ever embarked on was about to begin.

Stay tuned!!!  ;)

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Kitty Litter

So, this is the final post showing off my collection of finished works.   I found Kitty Litter on my trusty eBay account and was intrigued by it because of the amount of half-cross stitching required.  In this one, the entire background of the picture is stitched.  I did a rough count of the number of stitches she would requires -- a whopping 60,000+!  

Kitty Litter took over 18 months to finish - the longest time it's ever taken me to finish a project. It was started on   I am very proud of her.  
Kitty Litter
As I mentioned, this is the final post regarding my finished projects.  What will follow will by my WIP (works in progress).  Over the past 2 months, I have found a wonderful community of cross stitchers here.  It was on this forum that I discovered an entire new world of cross stitching.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Frederick the Literate

After Barnyard Kitties,  I was ready for more action.  I was ready for a bigger project.  I continued with the kits, because back then that was all I knew about.  Kits were (are) my comfort zone.  After the usual browsing on eBay, I found the next project.  It would be another black Aida cloth, but the design was larger, more colours, and downright cute!

Frederick the Literate.  This lovely feline fell asleep among the book stack.  If you look closely, all the books are word plays.  For example, "Tale of Two Cities"is renamed "Tale of Two Kitties"; a volume of books has the names, "Great Cat-sup Recipes", "Great Mouse Traps", and "Great Fish Baits".

Frederick was a lot of fun to stitch. I always start in the centre, so see the books evolve one by one, his cute face and body lying hidden beneath the books brought me hours of peaceful stitching and thought.

I began Frederick on April 30, 2007 and completed him just 4 days before the birth of my daughter, on November 20, 2008.  I still remember, quite vividly, walking down the street in a blizzard one Saturday afternoon a few weeks later to pick up the final framed picture.  It was the first time I had left the house, by myself, after having had my daughter just a few weeks earlier.   Here he is, on the wall at home.

Frederick the Literate, on the wall
Next up ... Kitty Litter!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Barnyard Kitties

Having completed Tired Kitty, I was ready to tackle another big project.  I had only ever worked on Aida white or cream cloth.  It was time to branch out and try something a bit harder – black Aida cloth.  Another addition to my repertoire would be doing a substantial portion of the design in half cross –stitch. 

Barnyard Kitties was calling my name.  These 6 kittens were among the cutest I’d seen and seeing their beautiful little faces peering out from the barnyard door still makes me smile.

Black Aida cloth is a little challenging to work with.  I quickly learned it was important to have something white on my lap as I stitched, or better yet, a bright light.  It makes seeing the squares a lot easier.

This was also the first project that I kept track of my start/finish dates.  Once framed, I write the start and finish dates on the back.  Work on Barnyard Kitties began on May 13, 2006 and the final stitch was laid on December 30, 2006. 

Barnyard Kitties

Sunday, 18 March 2012

... Cats Have Slaves.

Last night I finished another project!!  It's such a gratifying thing - to do the final stitch and exclaim, "she's done!!".  

After finishing my son's birth record, I decided to do a small project, one that wouldn't take too long and one that would get me back to my roots - a cat themed project.

I used to buy kits from Michael's but when their selection became scarce, I ventured to the internet.  Years ago, my husband introduced to me ebay and from then on I was buying kits from various sellers around the United States. I will search on websites like Dimensions or Janlynn to see what's new in kits, then find those kits on ebay.  One night in late January, I spent an evening looking at new designs and came across this one.

I started it on February 9, 2012.  Here are some progress photo:

Most of kitty is done.

Martini glass is finished.
Detailing of kitty is finished, working on the words now.

And here is the completed design.  Some people will wash their finished designs but I've never done that for fear that the colours might bleed.  I am usually very careful about washing my hands before I work.  Prior to framing, I will run a lint brush over it and iron it.  

Completed March 17, 2012.
Once framed, this one will hang on the wall across from our cats' litter boxes.  I can't think of a more appropriate spot.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Go Big, or Go Home!

So, after completing several small counted cross stitch projects, it was time to try a bigger one.  I found one at the local Michael's that was too cute to pass up. The others took about a month or two to finish, I can't exactly remember now.  This one was going to take a while.  My boyfriend at the time (now husband, Andrew) was astonished at my determination to work on something so big. The finished design was 11"x11".  The ones I'd done previously were 5"x7".   I remember taking the kit to his parents house and laying out all the thread an organizing it.  I'd never seen so much floss before!!!  The chart was spread out over two pages!  It looked daunting. 

Back then (this would have been about 2004-2005), I wasn't keeping track of start dates and finished dates.  I don't remember exactly how long this one took to finish, but I think it was well over a year.  I don't stitch every day.  I go through spurts where I do it nightly for a week or two, then take a break for a week or two.  Sometimes the breaks are a lot longer.  

It's so fun to see the design evolving as I stitch.  My other half, Andrew,  suggested that we take photos of my progress, but I never did get around to doing that. Perhaps now that I have this medium I will do that more.  I recently joined a cross stitching forum where they do that - it's actually a great idea.  It's called "stitch-a-long".  I've started doing that a few projects I recently started and will be posting those updates in future posts.

The best part about finishing a project?  Getting it framed!!!  Here's what the final product looks like framed. (Sorry for the glare).  

So, I survived my first big project, and there was no going back!

Monday, 12 March 2012

How I Got Started Cross Stitching

I never really had a hobby.  I was too busy studying my ass off in high school, then university and throughout my graduate studies, to get into medical school.  But once I got in, during my spare time when I wasn't studying, or partying with my new friends, I found I was kind of bored.  One of my girlfriends in medical school was into painting and horticulture, among other things.  My apartment was kind of lifeless, so she got me started with some household tropicals, terracotta pots and gave me a paintbrush.  It was a lot of fun and for many years thereafter, I amassed quite a collection of potted plants!  But horticulture wasn't my passion, I was soon to discover.

While I was visiting this girlfriend at her family's home, her mother was crocheting.  I remembered my mom doing a lot of needlepoint while I was growing up, her designs were all over the walls of our house.  Watching my friend's mother crocheting, I thought, "I should learn something like that".  So, she tried to teach me  how to crochet, and well, I sucked at it.  It just wasn't for me. My hands cramped up and I just couldn't figure it out.  So, off we went to the local arts and crafts store (Michael's) and we wandered up and down the aisles.  Something caught my eye - a cute little orange cat sitting on a blue chair and above was the writing, "Home Is Where The Cat Is".   Eurkea!  "I want to try that!", I exclaimed.  I picked out a counted cross stitch kit, my girlfriend's mother showed me how to start, and I was hooked.

Here she is.  There are a few mistakes in my stitching.  The most obvious is the letter "r" in "where".  Haha!  This is hanging in the front hallway of my house.  I do love it, despite the flaws.   After I finished it, I decided that I would only do cat-themed projects.  I love cats.  I grew up with a beautiful white long-haired cat named April.  You know how there are dog people and cat people?  I'm a cat person.  Through and through.  

So, that brings me to my next project.  I wasn't brave enough to start anything too large, so I picked a similar sized design, 5x7.  This next one is called, "All Tied Up". I had a lot of fun with this one.  There are some errors in it, I'm sure, but it's hard to pick them out.  I loved the half cross stitching in this one - for those who don't know it's the first stitch in the cross - /.  You can see it - it's the green grass kitty is lying on.  It's wonderful to see how half cross stitches add depth and shading to a project. 

I was on a roll.  Kitty on the blanket was my 3rd kit.  Oh, so I suppose I should explain what a "kit" is.  A kit comes with the fabric (usually Aida 14 count), thread (or floss), needle, and instructions.  It's really easy, actually.  To start, one would fold the fabric and find the middle.  Then you locate the middle of the chart, pick a symbol, search the symbol on the chart to find out what colour thread to use and start!  Easy!  The counting afterwards becomes a bit tricky.  Every single project I have ever done has some counting error in it.  Most of the time it's invisible to everyone else but me.  My husband laughs at me because it's inevitable, at some point during a project, I'll exclaim, "Ah.... fuck!".  Then the frogging begins... "rip, rip, rip".   Stitching is calming, did I forget to mention that?!

Next up -- my first large kit!  Stay tuned!

An Introduction

Welcome!  I've been cross stitching for about 10 years now.  I started in medical school, needing something to do outside of living and learning medicine.  I am also a cat-lover, so all of my projects have been cat related. That is, until I had children.  I have completed birth records for my two children as well.

Cross stitching is therapeutic.  My eyes will hate me in a few years, as I suspect I will need "stitching glasses".  But it's a small price to pay.  The relaxation I get from an hour or two of stitching is well worth it.  Through this medium, I will share my finished projects, the new works in progress and hopefully meet others with similar interests, or even better, inspire someone to take up this wonderful hobby.

Thanks for reading!