cross stitch

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Whoa, people on Tumblr seem to have found me. Hello all! Thank you for the many clicks and shares; they are appreciated and help validate hours spent repeatedly poking at an increasingly unwieldy pile of fabric.

I have some cross-stitchy news to share in the near future (here defined as ‘whenever I can figure out the proper CSS formatting for the thing I am attempting to do’), so stay tuned. In the meantime, please enjoy this video tutorial on tuning a glass harp.

(It veers into experimental territory around the 3:40 mark.)

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Behold! It is the mystery project that absorbed all free time around it, a grand adventure in total pointlessness, THE CROSS-STITCHED AIM CONVERSATION! Go ahead, I’ll wait.

(many thanks to Angry Jim for having the good sense to scan the finished object in.)

Right then. Remember AIM? The graphically hideous chat program favored by office drones and college whelps alike? For some time I’ve saved nearly every conversation had, and there the files sat, sad little things not even counting as proper text on their own, needing a browser to open and read them. I’d long thought of giving them physical form through needlepoint, but downconverting pixellated graphics to even simpler icons was surprisingly challenging. Add into the mix the mathematical formulations needed to get it near the size wanted – I’d hoped the final form would be closer to the width of an actual AIM window on a computer screen, but had to settle for 7 inches across – and you have a project dredging ever-so-slowly along before a single stitch is made.

As the prep work dragged and fell by the wayside, other crafters picked up on the ephemeral- electronic / physical – durable juxtaposition, creating stitched text messages, embroidered spam, blackwork emails. While these were all lovely works (particularly the embroidered spam which made excellent use of color and typography), they didn’t capture the enormity of what I yet hoped to do. Nor were the fonts correct.

Facing an eight-hour plane ride and being what might be politely termed a ‘nervous flyer’, I took the opportunity to get the project in gear. Extensive research on the exact banal shades of gray used, how best to translate the writers’ chosen fonts into legible stitchery, the emoticon potentials – all helped distract me from the constant, constant knowledge I was hurtling well over 500 miles per hour 45,0000 feet above an enormous body of water in a large metal tube.

5 months later, after working solidly day after day after day after day and not even reaching the halfway point of completion, I put the project aside. Toting a gigantic scroll around can get a bit tiresome. Things picked up again after entering the ‘Small Stories’ exhibit – and things really picked up when I did some quick math and realized I had less than a month to finish what had taken me three to do in the past. The days were a blur of inane conversation and needlework. But Lo! IT IS FINISHED. Had I realized for a second how long this would’ve taken….but then again I must have, or I wouldn’t have dragged my feet so long in starting.

I’d still like to make my original dream of having a wall full of conversations happen, but I’m still a bit burned out from this one. If you’d like to see a slightly larger image, along with more of my ‘artist statement’ (apart from ‘I felt like making a really big cross-stitched AIM conversation’), the project got a write-up on Mashable. Huzzah!

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A friend once told me the better a band was, the more difficult it became for him to enjoy the show. As this is completely inverse to the norm I asked why. He said if a band was really good, he’d get so inspired he’d actually get antsy standing there listening when all he wanted was to run off and make awesome music.

I thought this was a bit much until I came across this:


Ghhh! Agggh! Brain…seizing up with…equal parts admiration and rage…why am I not making something this awesome RIGHT NOW?!

The Sampler of Fate comes from the talented hands of Steotch, on whose site there are many more equally awesome/rage/inspiring samplers. You bet your ass I’ve got my Aida fabric out and needle sharpened.

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*and by ‘snitches’ I mean siblings.

FINALLY, I get to post these. I had to wait until both samplers were completed and received, which, given that the recipients live in separate cities and meet up with me once in a blue moon, happened several months after the fact.

First up, for the lady who works five jobs:

In progress…

Magical numerology!

Macro focus!

The back, for some reason; hardcore embroidery people seem to take great pride in a neat back. As a dilettante, I don’t care all that much. Enough to take a picture, that’s it.


(In case you are unfamiliar, here is the inspirational video. Is he wearing a shirt that says ‘Boobie Boys?! Also, kudos to a man who means what he sings by putting A PLUG for his own ring tones IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS MUSIC VIDEO).

The framing was a little wonky as I popped it into a standard 8×5 instead of making a custom frame (the image ratio is more 4:3).

Next up, for the gal from The Angriest City In The World:

Protip: ALWAYS START IN THE MIDDLE when cross-stitching. Don’t do like Donny Don’t Did and go ‘ooh, I’ll do the border first, that’s more fun!’ then find when you’re this close to done everything on the left is one stitch off. INSIDE OUT, that’s how you work.

Mmm, slanty.

This looks sort of like the introduction to Star Wars done in cross stitch. Gasp! New idea! BY READING THE PREVIOUS SENTENCE THE PARTIES READING HEREIN FORFEIT THE RIGHT TO ACT ON SAID IDEA.

Ta-dah! The entire time stitching this I kept giggling thinking of Kate Beaton’s Pope Action Comics (‘Gasp! A hater!’).

Haters gonna hate.

They’re based on a series of delightful antique French samplers from Sajou, some of which can be found free at this comprehensive site, with a few here, or if you’re a big spender you can get a full set of nicely printed reproductions here.

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A small change this week: seeing as it’s wedding season, instead of a pattern from my vintage collection I’m sharing a cross-stitch sampler I made to honor a friend’s nuptials.

Unfortunately when I decided to post it, this printed version I’d folded and stuffed in my bag was the only remnant I found of the original pattern I’d worked quite some time on. Let this be a warning to all ye crafters- even if you think it’s mere piffle, even if you’re totally 100% done with the project, ALWAYS SAVE THE DOCUMENTS! Save it, back it up, and keep it in a marked folder. Otherwise you’re in for hours of fruitless searching and frustration.

As it was I recreated the pattern from scratch, hopefully in a more reader-friendly format.

Another protip for the crafty- documentation. It can be interesting to see how a project takes shape, and useful for you to note any techniques you came up with on the fly. I took these photos at random throughout the process, but darn if I don’t wish I took better ones in brighter light.

Ooh, look at the texture on that shield.

Working on the border….

Still working on the border…

Even if you neglect to take documentation photos, MAKE SURE TO TAKE PHOTOS OF THE FINISHED OBJECT! Because I sure didn’t! This photo is the closest I have to the final ironed and framed gift. Now I don’t have it anymore, and this is what I had to base the pattern (which I neglected to save properly) on. Sigh.

But our Princess is in another castle!

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