watervole: (books)
Richard and I are trying to complete my mother-in-law's book (Art Needlework and Embroidery Transfers 1870-1970)  in time for her birthday on May 4th.

We've been working on it off and on for well over a year, but other things have kept getting in the way.

It's been done in brief flurries of activity - "Molly, was this Celtic transfer produced to accompany Liberty's 'Celtic' range, or was it something completely separate?",  "Molly, these embroidery patterns for military crests produced during the war - were the ones in this photograph available after the war?", "Molly, was this embroidered tablecloth stitched in Maderia?"

I started off knowing nothing at all about the subject, which in some ways has been useful as I'm asking questions about things that are ambiguous to me in the text, but might have been clear to an expert. Except that Molly is probably the only expert!  She's done a lot of research that could never be duplicated now, as a lot of the people she interviewed have since died.

Ironically, the project has also been slowed down by modern technology.  Knowing that one can improve the quality of many of the pictures makes it seem a crime not to do so, especially when the photos are of beautiful pieces of colourful embroidery.  And, of course, the ability to do really clever things with layout to get the pictures right next to the text would make it a shame to have all the pictures clumped together.  (And doing layout work is far more time-consuming than you would ever believe possible unless you've done it yourself.)

Still, we're getting closer.  I've now done the final proof-read on the text. Even on my fourth pass through the book, I was still finding things I'd missed.  The more familiar you get with the subject matter, the more you pick up on details you'd previously have overlooked.

Today, we're hoping to do the cover. Fingers crossed.  We've already chosen and cleaned up our cover photograph (a lovely piece of Art Noveau embroidery - stitched from a transfer outline, of course)  We've still got to get the title added to that and do the spine and the back cover.  We have to sort out the ISBN and get the whole thing in a form that will upload successfully.  Richard's on attempt five or six trying to get the text to upload. The format has to be exactly right.  We're publishing via Lulu, which means that we'll be able to sell the book as paperback or download.

It's going to be touch and go.  Realistically, I don't think we'll complete the cover today.  We've got the text for the back, but there's a lot more to it than that.

Fingers crossed!

watervole: (cross-stitch)
My wrists have been playing up a lot recently and it's become difficult to hold fabric while stitching, so I've started to use a hoop frame in a stand.

However, I'm finding it very difficult to fasten off on the back.  The stand is very good - I can flip the hoop over for easy access to the back, but the tension in the fabric makes it difficult to slide the needle under the stitches to fasten off.  It's also hard to fasten off near the edge where the frame gets in the way - I'm using a very small hoop as it's a miniature embroidery.

Does anyone have any suggestions?
watervole: (Teapot)
I enjoy doing cross-stitch, but I find there's a definite level of difficulty that leads to maximum relaxation.

Too easy is boring.  Large blocks of a single colour are very mechanical to sew and insufficient to force you to concentrate on the pattern.  (The whole reason cross-stitch is relaxing is that you are forced to concentrate on something other than whatever was worrying you before you started sewing)

However, some patterns are too difficult.  The worse one I've done recently was a pair of pink ballet shoes.  The pattern used five different shades of pink and loads of fractional stitches.  Because the shades of pink were so similar, it was almost impossible to tell which bit you'd just stitched and hence, you couldn't tell which bit of the pattern to do next.

A pattern should also be attractive in itself, forming a picture that you will enjoy when completed.  Part of the pleasure of doing cross-stitch is watching the picture emerging as you sew.  I actually prefer working from black and white patterns for this reason (as long as the symbols are clearly printed).

Large patterns and small ones both have their appeal.  A large pattern may take a couple of years to complete, whereas most small ones can be done in a couple of weeks.  I usually have a large and a small piece on the go simultaneously and another kit (kept in a carry case) for when I am travelling.

The patterns I most enjoy visually are either naturalistic - birds and flowers, or else highly abstract - Mackintosh roses, Celtic birds, etc.  I don't seem to enjoy patterns with people in the picture, as a rule.

What kind of patterns do you like stitching?

When do you do your sewing?  (I do mine in the last half hour before going to bed and when I'm on train journeys)
watervole: (cross-stitch)
There's a fascinating gender pattern showing on the previous poll. I'll put this comment behind a cut tag so that people coming new to this fill the poll in first before reading what the pattern is. Read more... )
watervole: (Default)
I recently completed a bookmark kit by Textile Heritage, http://www.textileheritage.com/ , who do some really lovely kits. However, this particular kit, to embroider a group of blue tits turned out to be very difficult owing to key instructions being on the back of the pattern.

I wrote them a friendly letter explaining the problem (and saying how much I'd enjoyed stitching the other kits of theirs that I'd done).

I had a very nice reply from them today saying that their design department agreed with my comments and that they would be making alterations to the instructions along the lines I suggested. They also sent me a complimentary bookmark kit to set some Rennie Mackintosh roses.

Top marks for customer service to Textile Heritage.
watervole: (Default)
Today has been a fairly productive kind of day. Read more... )
watervole: (Thoughtful)
The tooth was behaving fairly well this morning, so I actually managed to make some progress on my email backlog (down to 63) and go to my class at the gym. However, by mid-day it was getting a lot worse. Steady ache across all the upper jaw and it seems resistant to painkillers today. Read more... )
watervole: (Default)
I've been getting seriously into cross stitch recently. It's very relaxing. I've made further progress on the piece mentioned here http://www.livejournal.com/users/watervole/111031.html - I'm over a third of the way through it now. I've also been working on a few Xmas gift tags. Did a star yesterday and part of a robin today. This led myself and Richard to speculate about typical robins seen on xmas cards.
http://www.livejournal.com/users/waveney/9537.html
watervole: (Default)
I'm settling into new patterns now and starting to adapt.
Read more... )
watervole: (Default)
This pattern has around 12,000 stitches. It takes me about five seconds to do one complete cross. In theory, that would complete the pattern in arund 17 hours. Plainly, this is not the case, so where does the time go?

There's a load of time spend sorting threads and threading neadles. There's also a lot of time spent checking against the chart and occasional time spent unpicking...

I've now completed around a tenth of the pattern. (and am listening to Lord of the Rings while working. We're just approaching Isengard) The current rate of progress seems unlikely to last - I've never done so much in so short a time before (though I do now have a daylight bulb in my desk lamp), but if anyone else wants to guess when I'll finish it, place your bets at sweepstake
watervole: (Clanger)
When will I finish the piece of cross-stitch that I am currently working on? The closest guess will win a prize. Heaven knows what the prize will be, but I'll think of something. After all, it may be a decade or two before anyone gets to collect...

In order to help you make an educated guess (he he) here is some helpful data. Read more... )

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Judith Proctor

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