12 October 2016

The horrible truth is...

I really don't like counted cross-stitch. In fact, I don't like counted stitching at all (unless it's crochet).

Which isn't a good thing since I have several books, kits, and yes, unfinished projects in my cross-stitching bag. Including my latest attempts to force myself to like counted stitching - a complete set of Hardanger tools, equipment, and kits. Er, ah, uhm, and the two perforated 3D Christmas card kits. And the booklet written by the wonderful Meg Evershed meant to cause me to stop being so intimidated by the projects. (the booklet is VERY helpful, but I still hate counted stitching.)


But it's time I confessed - I really don't like counted stitching. I can do it, I just don't enjoy doing it. 

Now, I will do the Christmas projects and I will finish the ones I've started (and then lost interest in) but then I will quietly re-home the rest of the cross-stitch magazines, chart books, kits, and supplies that can't be used for my recently reignited true love.

It's a long boring story (SIDEBAR NOTE: did I mention I've embraced BORING as a lifestyle? I have. Very refreshing and my blood pressure is under better control. I highly recommend BORING as a lifestyle choice.). Suffice it to say I learned to read, follow, and perform counted cross-stitch in my late 20s and as I enter my 60s I have FINALLY realised I fecking hate counted cross-stitch.

Just. Ain't. My. Thing!

Ok, clearly I've (late in life) discovered a shocking love of all things (well, nearly all) crochet. I do have my limits - there will be no crocheted dresses on my washing-up liquid bottles. And I still really do not like ripple afghans. But learning to crochet in the round has been such a joy, such a life-changing experience that I honestly do feel, well, bereft if I don't have a hook in hand.

Ahem. Told ya I've embraced BORING.

During the Malaysian Grand Prix (2 Oct 2016. Yes. I am a petrol-head) I taught myself to crochet a patternless oval. WOW!! And, erm, in the process (using a US7/4.5mm hook and 3W cotton) I gave myself 'crochet finger'. Big time - boy howdy did that finger swell and bruise and render me unable to crochet! In short - the way I hold a crochet hook puts a lot of pressure on that finger and the hook and stiff yarn worked together to put my crocheting on hold. Still, btw.

So I pulled out the counted cross-stitch Christmas card kits to get a head start on those two projects. GORGEOUS, space-savers, the two kits (Nutmeg Company), one of a village scene and the other the most simple yet stunning Nativity scene EVER, will be treasured Christmas decorations at my house for years to come. 

And...and couldn't force myself to start the projects. Honestly I think I'd pay someone to stitch those for me but I know I'm going to have to pull up the big girl pants and get those done. Soon. It's the middle of October now, more than less, and I want to display my creche and village space savers this Christmas.


Not being able to crochet was driving me completely mad, and not being able to force myself to do those counted cross-stitch cards was no help.

 So I moved back to a 'stamped embroidery' table runner I've had on my lap scroll frame for months - started it last May but put it aside when I realised I needed to get some more crocheted blankets (full blankets, afghans are useless in Scotland!), and some body warmers (vests to the American readers) and some cardi and jumpers, and gloves...and when those were completed and ready for yet another Scottish autumn and winter, I decided we needed a crochet cotton bath rug to go in our newly renovated and decorated bathroom. And the oval got me.

So down from the shelf came the lap stand with the table runner that had winsomely beckoned me all spring and summer ('come on, kiddo, ya know ya wanna!') - yes, for months that dust-catcher had been caught in the corner of my crafty eye.

 By the 4th of October I was lost in the wonder of it, and on the 6th of October a back-order (two Rico Designs stamped 'Holly and Berries' place-mats, full surface embroidery kit including threads) arrived - by the evening of the 10th both place-mats were embroidered, washed, carefully pressed and ready for our Christmas Luncheon table.

On the morning of the 11th I was back at work on the table runner - what an absolute joy working stamped embroidery is!

 This morning I realise I have to confess, publicly - I really don't enjoy counted stitching but WOW do I LOVE embroidery! So much so I went online and ordered a plain 100% cotton 40x100cm table runner ready to accept the transfer of my choice for embroidery, and the flosses (Anchor, less tangling than DMC) I'll need to work an autumn glory.

I learned surface embroidery when I was about 13. By the time I was in my early 20s I had all the tools - hoops, gold needles, super-sharp pointy scissors shaped like storks, flosses of every colour known to needleworkers, and had worked out crewel, needlepoint (tapestry), etc, weren't what floated my boat - straight forward surface embroidery was.

By the time I was in my 30s I had all the stitch encyclopaedias worth owning. DAMN the loss of those books - but I'm slowly rebuilding and have managed to track down 2nd hand copies of the best ones I lost between the divorce, the hurricane (Ivan 2004), and the two-suitcase move to Scotland in 2010.

I've got most of the toolbox rebuilt. And this morning I woke up thinking I hate counted stitching, and wondering if I can get Paul (a fabulous artist) to draw something I can transfer to that plain cotton table runner. 

I still love crochet, and btw, the learning of crochet-in-the-round led to learning to knit, and I do love that I can actually knit socks (and hats and jumpers and...). But I REALLY love embroidery and if I'm honest, what I'm looking forward to is doing some cutwork, I used to REALLY love doing cutwork embroidery!

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