Sunday, 29 April 2012

Migraine + stitching = no way, Jose!

Ugh.  Migraines.

It's been a few days since I've been able to work on the Hermit.  I have been plagued by a cycle of migraine headaches.  The thought of stitching just doesn't appeal to me these days.  As much as I miss it, trying to focus on the chart and those tiny squares just makes me more nauseous.

I'll leave you with one of my favourite depictions of a migraine sufferer.  Perhaps I'll have it made into a chart some day and stitch it.  Ha ha!


Thursday, 26 April 2012

Cross stitch junkie.

Like the junkie, I have been unable to stop doing my drug of choice.   Neck pain be damned.  I am stitching through it.

Hubby is busy working on a soundtrack score for our friend's independent film, so I have had several hours of uninterrupted stitching time for the past few evenings.  It's been heaven. During this time I have also been catching up on a month's worth of General Hospital, so overall it has been a few nights of pure bliss.

Here's what I've got to show for it.  I'd say I'm about 1/4 done the second page; only 19.75 pages to go!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Ugh.. Another repetitive stitch injury.

Remember that left-sided neck pain I had a week or so ago?  Well, it's been replaced by bilateral upper shoulder/lower neck stiffness and pain.

Diagnosis:  trapezius stitch injury.

Yes, I made that up.

The muscle tension I am feeling across my traps (trapezius muscle) is worsening by the day. The pain/discomfort is primarily in the upper fibers.  It's from sitting on the couch and stitching for hours at a time.  I'm serious!  I usually start around 7:30-8:00pm and I won't move until I can't see straight anymore, which is about 10:30-11:00pm.  This discomfort reminds me of my University days (and nights) of studying.  My posture wasn't good back then and it most certainly has only worsened over the years.

Sigh .. what to do?  I'd tell my patient to stop the offending action/strain.  But for me that means putting away the Hermit for a few days (a week?) and that's tantamount to telling a drug addict to stop cold turkey.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Is it illegal to triple park?

Thanks to my husband for the title of this post!

Well, I have started the 2nd page of the Hermit Baba chart, and as I discussed in the last post, I have decided to try a different approach.  I am stitching more in blocks and "parking" the threads.  It was a bit confusing at first but I think I'm finally getting the hang of it.  I think it's actually helping me stitch faster.  I've already got less counting errors and when I see one, it's easy to start the frogging process.  (Thankfully, I've only had to do it once).

So, without further ado -- here she is!

There are three threads that I've parked right now.  It surprised even me how easy this was to do.  Though, I don't think I could do more than 2-3 at a time because it might get confusing.  I have visions of finishing this second page in a few weeks rather than a month and a half (the length of time it took me to finish the first page).

For the record, page two was started on April 20, 2012.

Once again, thanks for reading!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Grr.... confetti!

So, I'm back to the Hermit.  I am so close to finishing the first page of chart, I am giddy with excitement!  I have discovered a few things that I think will change the way I move forward.

As you may remember, I started stitching from the center of the chart.  It's how I've always started my kits and so I went with what I know.  As I near completion of the first page, I am left with a lot of confetti. Those who are not in the know, may ask, "what the heck is confetti?"

Confetti:  Definition: Stitchers often refer to scattered single stitches as confetti stitches. The stitches are spread across the fabric as if they had been sprinkled like confetti.

Exhibit A:

Can you see the scattered little white dots of fabric?  That's confetti.

I like my definition better - a huge pain in the ass.

Having to do single cross stitches means having to re-thread my needle a lot.  It's time consuming and irritation. Not to mention BORING!!!

So, once this page is complete and I move on to the next, I am going to try stitching in blocks of 10x10 squares.  Seasoned stitchers will say that this may lead to more re-threading more often, but another trick I learned is parking the thread, like this.

Oy, that looks like a god-awful mess, doesn't it?  Well, I'm going to give it a shot and see how it goes. 
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Another WIP

I was "forced" to take a few days off stitching this past weekend in order to prep for my son's 1st birthday.  I baked my famous carrot cake and husband decorated it.  The following day was Orthodox Easter, so by the end of the weekend I was exhausted and couldn't stitch. 

But I have started another kitty cat project which I haven't shown you yet, so I'm taking this opportunity to show off my other work in progress (WIP).

I bought this kit on eBay.  It's a packaged kit, so I didn't have to buy anything - the kit comes with the fabric (14 ct Aida), the floss and the chart.  My husband thinks she's a bit scary looking. I think she's adorable.  What do you think?

Come on, admit it, she's pretty cute, don't you think? 

Here's what I've done so far.  I started the kit in early March, just a few days before starting the Hermit.  I haven't worked on it in weeks, but as soon as I finish one page of the Hermit, I will get back to this one. 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Happy Birthday!

One year ago today, a beautiful little boy was born.  It has been such a joy having him in my life. I'm taking this opportunity to show the birth record cross-stitch I did for his room.  He is an amazing little thing, even at a year old.  He is a quiet soul, watches everything around him, but has a strength that will serve him well.  I like to think he'll be the strong, silent type.  He has an intelligence about him that at first is hidden but when given a chance, he doesn't cease to surprise.

Happy Birthday to my wonderful little boy.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Scalene stitchitis

I have scalene stitchitis.  And yes, I just made that up.

For the last few days I've noticed a nagging ache on the right side of my neck, where my neck meets the top of my shoulder.  It hurts when I turn my head to the right.  I think I aggravated one of the scalene muscles - the posterior or medial scalene, to be specific.  
Yes, I'm a nerd.  But you knew that already.

How did I strain the scalene muscles?  From cross-stitching.  I kid you not.  It's true! Although, maybe I've been sleeping funny lately ... but no, I'm sure it's from cross-stitching.  Since starting the Hermit, I have been using the Qsnap. My fabric size is huge, so it's pretty difficult to roll it up to stitch.  The ladies at the needlework store suggested I get one, so I did.  It's been great.  But I think it's the cause of my neck pain.
I'm pretty sure that by holding it the way I have, I am actually straining my R arm enough that it's pulling on my neck.  My husband laughed at me when I suggested it.  "Oooh!" he said, "New blog post!"  Haha!  He's so right!

So what do I do?  If it were a patient coming in with "blackberryitis" - (you know, pain in the thumb from using their blackberry 27 hours a day) - I'd tell the patient that they need to ice their thumb, and take a good anti-inflammatory three times a day for about a week.  Oh, and they should also stop using the blackberry for a few weeks to heal the repetitive strain injury.  That's when they look at me like I'm a moron.  "I can't possibly stop using my blackberry!!"

So, taking some of my own advice would mean I have to stop stitching the Hermit, or at least stop using the Qsnap to stitch, right?  WROOOOONG!  I'm addicted to the Hermit.!!!!!  Neck pain be damned!

Now, where's my Advil?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Hermit update!

I.can't.stop.stitching.  Yet, it feels like I am making zero progress.  I still haven't finished a single page of charting.  Remember there are 20 pages of charts for this beast of a project.  TWENTY!

Here's what a chart looks like --  see all those pen marks?  That's what it looks like after I stitch a square.  I know, crazy!  From chart to stitched design.  Cool, eh?


 Stitching ----------->

I mentioned in an earlier post that stitching is relaxing for me.  It really is.  I find I'm able to turn my brain off and just focus on the movement of my hand as I make each 'x'.  Sometimes though, stitching makes me perseverate on something - maybe about a patient I saw that day, or a friend that I'm worrying about.  But that's okay, because as I stitch and think about things, a calmness comes over me.  It's like stitching helps me put things into perspective. 

I am counting the minutes until I can stitch again.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Stitchy Stitch ... is it nighttime yet?

I have been stitching like a fiend!

Every night, after the kids are in bed and we've had our dinner, I pull out the Hermit and get to work.  Poor husband!  He's been wanting to watch his new Blu-Ray copy of "Deer Hunter" but I'm so absorbed in my project that I can't possibly devote 3 hours to a movie when I could be stitching!  I suppose I will have to give in one night and put the Hermit away.  Sigh ... the sacrifices we make for marriage. ;)

So I've made quite a bit of progress, though it may not look like it to anyone else.  As I mentioned in my first post about the Hermit, this is going to be a very time consuming project.  Target completion date is 2017.  

Here is a photo I took last week.  The black stitching is the Hermit's lantern and the yellow is the light.  I know it doesn't look like much yet, but there you have it.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Hermit! First progress photos.

Hello all!  I am pleased to start posting pictures of my progress on the biggest project I have ever embarked on.  The Hermit Baba is going to take me years to finish.  I kid you not.  The chart is 20 pages long.  TWENTY!!  Don't believe me?  Take a look at this!

Yep, that's me, lying next to it for perspective.  Those are standard 8.5"x11" sheets of paper.  I'm crazy, right?? What the hell am I thinking??  

Where the heck do you even start such a project?  

I have always started my projects in the centre - this is easy to do when the charts are two or three pages.  But twenty??  With the help of my handy husband, we actually found the centre of this chart (there are nifty little arrows on the vertical and horizontal aspects of the chart).  I highlighted the four centre squares.

A lot of seasoned cross-stitchers start with page 1 of their charts, and "grid" their fabric.  I learned this from the Cross Stitch Forum and is demonstrated here.  This blogger used floss which she presumably removes as she approaches it.  Another way of "gridding" is using a washable pen. 

Gridding seemed a rather daunting task and for me, much harder to do than working from the centre outwards.  It also occurred to me that if I were to stitch page by page then I might havevisible lines in my stitching indicating where one page starts and one ends.  I actually saw this demonstrated while at the store where I purchased my supplies for the Hermit.  There was a beautiful HAED design, framed on the wall. From a distance it was gorgeous, but up close one could see lines in the stitching.  I tried looking for a photo to describe what I saw but I don't want to use someone else's work, so suffice it to say that I decided to do what I am most comfortable with and that is starting my stitching in the middle.  

I started The Hermit on March 6, 2012.  Here are two progress photos.  The one on the left was after the first few days of stitching.  Remember, I started in the middle.  The one on the right is about 3 weeks in.  I'm stitching a fabric that is 19.5" wide and 26.5' long.  (I'm crazy, remember?!)  

You can see from the progress photo on the right that I am stitching the Hermit's paw and a bit of his cloak.  Neat, eh?