Twofer Tuesday 2: Project update

Well, I am about 8 hours…I think…into the cross stitch/needlepoint project, and this is where I’ve gotten:

One carafe and a few lines…

I appreciate that there is actually one complete(ish) shape done. And I appreciate that I’ve already gone through two of the very long strands of thread that they supplied.

But 8 hours! And this is all I have to show for it. I should have started with one of the easy, colorful, annoying ones. I may not have liked the image, but it would have gone faster. Maybe.

I remain convinced that finishing this will be like completing a triathlon.

So, um…

I think I mentioned some other project being an exercise in patience. That was a lie – a dirty, stinkin’ lie. Well, not a lie, but ignorance.

I hadn’t done cross stitching – real cross stitching – yet.

Last Friday, for my “weekend” project, I picked out a cross stitch kit at work and brought it home, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Saturday, of course, I opened the kit and found a complex maze of directions, a tangle of threads, and a needle. While I was a little intimidated, I did not give up!

Reading the directions about three times, I found the center of my cloth, pulled out some strands of the appropriate thread and began the pattern.

I was 7 stitched in before realizing there was a problem…

I even had the mind to use one of the round frames that mom had sent me in the mail.

But about thirty minutes and seven stitches into the first color, I realized there was a problem. I was swiftly approaching the bottom of the cloth – much faster than I should have been. The problem was that I was not doing it right! Shocker.

As it turns out, when you do real cross stitch, you have to make tiny, tiny stitches, one over each tiny square. You don’t skip spots or anything. So I got to pull out the thread, using the needle to move back the way it came.

But once I had it figured it out, I was rolling!

Kind of.

Here is where I got after working off and on all weekend. I would say this represents about 4.5 hours of work.

The whole pitcher isn’t even done yet!

I have three colors’ worth of shading done on one piece of the picture. Only about 97% left to go!

I might actually finish this by Christmas. And then it will be my gift to myself. And don’t worry. I will post updates as I have them.


Everyone knows I’m in over my head (except for me!)

I mentioned in my post yesterday (posts two days in a row?! I’m getting back up to speed!) that I bought a needlepoint kit to try out this weekend. I was rather excited because it comes with everything you need.

Dimensions….of difficulty that I failed to fathom

I opened that bad boy up this morning to take a peek. Aida cloth? Check. Thread? Check. Needle? Check. Instructions? Holy check, Batman.

At least the thread is sorted

Just take a look at these instructions.

Oh, nice, it has direct – what IS THIS?!

There is a Key, which lists the thread by number, then tells you, via symbol, where to use that thread and what kind of stitch to do. It also tells you, on some of them, specifically how many strands of the thread to use. You apparently have to pick apart the thread and use only x number of strands on some bits.

I’ve done cross stitch two other times. Once was in grade school. Here is the other. Neither were complicated – certainly not at the level of this thing.

So I’m in waaay over my head.

But, pshhh, when has that ever stopped me? I’ll write about how it went when I am finished.


My first craft project was a cross stitch pattern from my “Sew Everything Workshop” book that E got me for Christmas.

The pattern is simply letters –WWMD.

The letters are supposed to stand for “What Would Martha Do?” because the author is a fan of Martha Stewart when she was a no-excuses craft-master.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a Martha Stewart fan. Not just because of her tax evading and subsequent jail time. I don’t like her because I think she is the symbol for high expectations. She required perfection. She makes housewives everywhere quiver with their own insignificance, and she puts Mrs. Cleaver to shame!

Since perfect has never been a word that describes me or the things that I produce, I don’t feel that Martha is a good motivator for me. If anything, I think it would drive me away from the sewing machine, warding me off with its demanding and diminishing message.

The woman who inspires me most, no matter what the task, is my mom. So since I was the one creating the work, I decided that I would focus on my own meaning. And it was, ironically, perfect.

Not the result! Not at all. In fact, I skipped a space between to the two W’s, and I had to redo almost an entire half of a letter because I had stitched the wrong direction or hole.

It was perfect because of the whole experience.

My mom is not perfect, either. But what she lacks in perfection she makes up for in persistence. If she decides to do a project, she will keep trying until she gets it right. She isn’t afraid to make mistakes, and she learns from them. She does not immediately become discouraged and give up, which is my usual MO. She is also patient with herself when she is learning a new skill, another quality I normally lack.

And it was that thinking that got me through the first project.

I was spoiled this Christmas, being treated to a sewing machine, extra bobbins, and a gift card to Jo-Ann Fabrics for supplies. So New Year’s Day I went to the mega-craft store and stocked up. I had already been flipping through the S.E.W. book, reading about machines and the basics. And I had decided to jump ahead to the cross stitch project, since it seemed the easiest for me. I had done a cross stitch project in grade school and figured this would be a walk in the park.

Embroidery thread, Aida cloth, and other miscellaneous supplies in hand, I went home ready to conquer!

I joyfully and carefully unpackaged my new supplies, placed them in my sewing basket, and pulled out the thread and cloth to begin. I opened the book –embroidery thread: check! Aida cloth…wrong size, but it should still work: check! Embroidery needle: the woman at the store said that any sharp needle would work, so check!

Turns out that is a lie. The embroidery thread is much too thick for any of the sharps needles that were in the “miscellaneous sharps” package. The thread would not go in the needle.

I sat on my couch, needle in one hand, thread being strangled in the other. I wanted to scream or cry or both, but I simply put the needle back into the package, tossed the thread blithely into the basket, re-rolled the Aida cloth, and made myself a cocktail. I sat in brooding silence for the next hour or so, until the vodka joy swept over me.

The next morning, I was torn between wallowing in self-pity and lack of embroidery needle or taking charge and going to a local sewing supply store and purchasing a few. I let the two options tug at me for hours in the morning, and just before the Packers came on decided that the braver option was to actually go out and buy a needle. I also needed coffee. And a pastry.

I used the time walking up the hill to my advantage. I called my grandmother who was ecstatic to learn that I, of all people, was sewing my way into the temple of my own domestic goddess. I did a good deed! And I got exercise.

I had thought ahead and brought the thread with me, and upon choosing a set of embroidery needles, I asked the woman at the register if they would work. She opened the package and let me thread one –ta da! It fit! I left the thread in the needle, paid for the package, and went on towards coffee.

I was so proud of myself and finally seeing the humor in it all, so I called my mom after finding a chocolat-au-pain croissant and heading back home. We talked for an hour, and I was ready for some cross stitching by the time we ended the conversation.

My first W was great! But it also became obvious after just the one letter that the size Aida cloth I had cut out was too small. No matter! I cut another piece, longer this time, and continued on.

The final result, as I’ve already mentioned, was not perfect. The W’s are closer together than the other letters, but it’s hardly noticeable. And the size is a little unusual, so I don’t know that I have a frame it would fit in. But I finished it, and it now hangs over my sewing machine. My first needle craft project, not perfect, but perfect for me.

Project One: Complete
Here is the final outcome