Sunday, August 26, 2007

What a Wonderful Welcome

What a thrill to check my blog and find so many lovely comments. You all are the nicest people in cyberspace. I really appreciate all the encouragement; you are very motivating! I've had a great time looking at all your blogs (many of which I have visited before) and will be adding you to my Inspirations links. Thank you all for your warm welcome.

I didn't get any stitching time today because my seven-year-old insisted on playing a marathon game of Yu-Gi-Oh, a card game with rules understood only by a small boy. I lost, at least I think I did - who could tell? I'm about to start now even though I ought to be preparing for bed (this hobby sure is addicting - not that I need to tell any of you that). Meanwhile I have a picture of another small piece I have done - the French Country Apple by JBW Designs.

This was easy and fun to stitch. I have a start on one of her Christmas designs but have put it down to pursue other things for awhile.

I have a blogging question if anyone wouldn't mind answering. So many of your blogs have wonderful designs that I know don't come from the basic templates Blogger offers. And I love the pictures in the masthead look. But I haven't been able to figure out how you find new templates, or how to insert a picture at the top (how in the world do you know what size image to use, for one thing?) I'm not sure what is more of a challenge - learning to cross stitch or mastering the blog world!

Thank you all again SO much for welcoming me into this very special community.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

My First Comment!

It was so exciting to check my blog and find a comment from Su there! She is the first person ever to comment; it's especially meaningful coming from someone whose work I admire so much. Su, I really appreciate your encouragement and will try to keep all this in perspective. I once read an article by Anne Morrow Lindbergh entitled The Journey not the Arrival Matters, and I think that is a good motto for me to remember when I fall into the trap of comparing what I do to those who are so much more experienced than I am.

I did get back on the horse and continued with my work on SHS. I've completed the house and the ABC lettering. As I mentioned before, I used the wrong thread for the window panes; the gray color was the one used in the instructions, not the light brown. For now I'm going to leave it be and live with it awhile. The gray would make the windows seem so dark and I rather like a lighter look, but as I progress I'll decide if frogging is in my future.

The house looks a little slanted to one side, but I hope I can rectify that when I finish the piece. Next up is the flowerpot with the heart above it. It's sometimes a challenge to figure out what sections to do in what order, but this seems like it will make the counting easier so I properly place the stitches. On Where There is Life (I'll post a progress picture of that soon) I somehow started the border in too close to the design. It's salvageable but won't look as nice as if I'd counted correctly. But I'm so far into it that I'm just going to plunge ahead.

I'm off to take out my contact lenses and try some close range stitching. I can see everything so much better when I do this and it means I don't have to use the magnifier, but I sure look funny holding the fabric up to my nose!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Small House Sampler isn't going very well. I'm working on the house itself, and for something that looks easy, I've made a number of missed stitch mistakes, and tonight I realized I had done the windows in the wrong color. The door window is the same color as the house, but I also did the other windows in the same color. They are supposed to be dark green-grey. It's not that much to rip out, but I'm so frustrated that I made such a dumb mistake. It doesn't help that stitching at night is really hard because my vision isn't sharp enough even with reading glasses and a magnifier!

I think what is really bothering me is looking at all the fabulous work on the blogs. People seem able to stitch up complicated projects in days. Meanwhile I have been working on SHS for several weeks and I'm not even to the roof yet! But I just have to keep plugging at it - otherwise I'll feel even worse if I quit. No picture of my faulty work tonight - I'm too tired to scan. Perhaps tomorrow will bring renewed resolve and a more positive attitude. I have to remember this is a hobby and no one lives or dies by my needle!

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Best-laid Plans...

After finally taking the plunge and starting my blog, I promptly left for two weeks of family obligations and vacation. I brought along Small House Sampler, but haven't gotten much farther ahead with it. I'm finding that having the right light makes a huge difference, especially when one's eyes aren't what they used to be. I use both reading glasses and a magnifier hung around my neck to stitch, and I also use a desk lamp that's made for treating seasonal affective disorder, because the light is so much like daylight. While I've been traveling I haven't had a good enough light to stitch without making even more mistakes than I usually do. That's my excuse for my poor output, anyway. I'm looking forward to getting back to my lamp, and to my stitching.

Although I enjoyed working on Study Hard as I learned to stitch on linen, I was longing to get to the project I'd really wanted to do - Little House Needleworks' Pine Tree Hill. LHN charts are perfect for new stitchers. They are simple but not simplistic designs which don't have a lot of difficult color changes. Although I like other designers (I'll post a list at a later time) it is the LHN ones that most appeal to me. I joined a Yahoo group that the designer participates in, and it's so great to learn about her creative process. It's also a good reminder that there are real people behind those wonderful charts.

So here is what my Pine Tree Hill ended up looking like:

Pine Tree Hill

It's still in its "just completed" stage, because as of yet I am frightened of finishing (that sounds like a title of a mystery novel). I've yet to try to finish a thing I've done; it's very intimidating and I don't want to wreck my hard-won work. There are some great blogs that I know will help me eventually though, like Focus on Finishing, where many very generous stitchers post pictures and instructions of how they finished their pieces. Right now I am so focused on stitching that I am leaving learning to finish alone, but I know it's something I have to tackle eventually.

One thing I'd like to do for this blog is add links to my favorite stitching bloggers to my sidebar. I don't know whether any of them will mind; I hope doing so is okay and that they will take it as a compliment, as it is meant to be. Now if I can just figure out how to add the links! Learning how to use blogger almost deserves a post of its own. So far I haven't been able to remove the numbers next to the archive - I don't see the point of noting how many posts per month I've done - it's just clutter. But that mystery remains to be solved.

Okay, off to tackle that sidebar...

Saturday, August 4, 2007

A New Cross Stitch Blogger Is Born

After looking with longing and envy at all the wonderful cross stitch blogs out there, I've timidly decided to add one to the community. But it will be a bit different than most that I see. Unlike the bloggers whose work and talent I covet, I'm not very good at this! My stitching is uneven - although I've adopted the railroading technique my stitches don't all look similar, I only manage to do a few rows at a time, I take two steps forward and then three steps back and have to frog, and I'm SLOW! I can't imagine participating in exchanges or sending gifts for birthdays, though it looks like such fun. It's as if there is a big secret to this that everyone but me knows - how to juggle family, job, and community responsibilities and still manage to have a prodigious output of beautiful cross stitch pieces. Though I know that practice will, if not make perfect, at least improve my performance somewhat, I have few illusions that lead me to believe I will ever attain the prowess so many of the blogging stitchers display.

So why do I want to start a blog? To chronicle the journey of someone like me, new to it and trying to master a craft that I love. I'll probably always stitch like a novice. But I'm hoping that, if I stick with this, it will encourage me to keep trying, and perhaps when I look back over my entries I will actually see some progress.

I did do some stitching many years ago, when the only patterns I had came from magazines or kits, and Aida cloth was the only fabric to use. When I decided to try stitching again twenty-some years on, I turned to the Internet and quickly found out about these blogs. There were so many pictures of wonderful projects - I started tracking them down and soon had a stash of my own. Then I learned about stitching on linen, something I thought I could never manage. The lovely owner of Hoops and Needles encouraged me to try, so I did. And I probably will never stitch on Aida again. Here is my first effort:

Study Hard

It was so much easier than I had thought, even though I did make a counting mistake (there are three threads between letters r and d rather than two). I didn't realize it till after the piece was done, and I didn't frog it - after all, there's a philosophy in the creative world that says to put a mistake in every piece, because nothing is perfect except God. I didn't do it on purpose, but it's a nice idea to fall back on!

Well, that's it for my first post. I have a few more finish pictures to use, but they are few and far between, so I'll draw out the suspense. This is kind of fun!