Bet you never saw this one coming....
Overwhelmed by a week that was rather challenging*, and truly stymied by creative block, I found myself reaching on Saturday for a cross stitch kit I purchased 15ish years ago.
Maybe not so much. Sometimes the best way to deal with a creative block is to walk away and do something else for a little while. (I'm trying to ignore the small voice that's telling me that I'm avoiding the problem...)
I imagine some of you are scratching your heads right now, puzzled about where this came from. I have NEVER discussed cross-stitch on the blog, and have only touched lightly on embroidery from time to time. Needle arts really aren't my thing.
Except they used to be...sort of.
Back in college I did two rather large pieces - an Irish blessing that hangs by our front door, and a dragon that lives in my husband's office. I would be lying if I said I thoroughly loved the process. Cross-stitch is frustratingly slow at times (so says the woman who invested 350 hours in a Shetland shawl...), and it does rather trigger some craziness due to my perfectionism and tendency to be an OCDish counter. I had to pick out a one inch square of that dragon's tail, for example, because I was two stitches off...and that just about killed me. Nevertheless, I've always been attracted to such detail work, I've always adored embroidery floss, and a great kit has always been a temptation. Plus,I loved feeling connected to the rich history of women with needle and thread. I would never really have called my cross-stitch more than 'dabbling', though.
After Sean and I got married, I did several small pieces. It's frustratingly difficult to find good patterns -those that are free of kitch and country - and I exhausted the pitiful local choices. At some point between college and first child I brought home multiple kits for larger projects - all purchased with either the massive coupons you can get from the craft stores, or special sales. I never really went overboard, but I also knew that kits were periodically discontinued and would disappear.
Motherhood changed everything.
When our eldest child was about five months old I had an epiphany. I could no longer dabble in the many, many crafts that I had enjoyed over the years. With a baby, I just didn't have the time. If I was ever going to be truly good at handwork, I had to let go of the Jack-of-all-trades (master-of-none) type of attitude that I grew up with. I needed to pick something, and FOCUS.
So I cleaned out the craft closet, and I was fairly ruthless. I chose to stick with the knitting, so that stayed....and you all know how far that has taken me. The tatting and spinning supplies were boxed up for storage because I did feel a true connection with them, and knew I would come back eventually. Everything else, and there was a lot, went out the door...with one exception. I kept two of the cross stitch kits.** One was a wizard, meant to be a companion to the dragon I'd made for Sean....and the second was a dragon that I wanted for myself.
Truthfully, I probably should have gotten rid of even these two kits a long time ago. The likelihood of me returning to them was slim to none....
Until Saturday, when my dragon seemed to be just the thing I wanted.
The very good news is that at some point I had already done the prep work and had stitched the outermost portion of the border. All I had to do on Saturday was dig out my supplies, figure out which way was up and carry on. There was a tiny moment of panic because I had forgotten that I'd long ago put half of the floss into the storage system as it had not stayed in the basket with the rest of the kit...but that was quickly resolved.
I had forgotten how much I do love it. that was a surprise.
I'm not naïve. I know where the OCD pitfalls are, and given the complexity of the pattern and the number of colors involved (both on their own and combined with others) I have a decent idea of the very great length of time it's going to take to actually finish this beast. But for now...for now I'm going to spend a little bit of time enjoying my dragon, and I'll see how far I can get before I tuck it away once again.
The pattern is Teresa Wentzler's The Storyteller.
Purchased as a Leisure Arts kit. (now discontinued)
If you are interested in Wentzler's work, a great place to start is her website.
**I actually regret getting rid of a third kit - a gorgeous angel. I had prepped the fabric, and in one of my moves it had been damaged. It was not a standard color, and I didn't want to mess with trying to track down a replacement so out the door it went. Now...now I might have done things differently.