Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In stitches.

As it happens every year, I started to get in a creating kind of mood as soon as August was over. (Somehow my brain thinks it's fall--even when it's 95 degrees outside--as long as the calendar says September.)

Specifically, I really wanted to pick up a needle and do some stitching. I've done loads of cross-stitch, especially before the late 1990's when I discovered scrapbooking, and I've done some needlepoint, which I really enjoy, but I was wanting to do embroidery this time around. I haven't done a lot of it, mostly just some of Hillary Lang's cute little girls and boys from her site, which I did as stuffed Christmas ornaments several years ago.

Coincidentally, two books came out right around the same time that I was starting to get that needle itch: Alicia Paulson's Embroidery Companion and Vicki Haninger's Embroidery Craft. Alicia writes the delightful blog Posie Gets Cosy, and Vicki writes the equally delightful blog Turkey Feathers. The books are both terrific, too. Reading them really made me feel ready not only to hone my embroidery skills, but maybe also branch out into actual sewing with a machine, which has always intimidated me.

So I started thinking about what to make. Vicki runs a sweet little online shop called PatternBee, where she sells reprints of vintage iron-on transfers. I picked out one with horses and one with ballerinas, with the idea of making one of my nieces a horse pillow and for her sister, a ballerina pillow.

At this point I've finished the horse embroidery, started on the ballerina embroidery, and I'm having a great time with both. The ballerina has a fairly detailed face, and I felt nervous about attempting it, but she came out prettier than I could have hoped for.

As I prepared to start embroidering, I realized I needed to do something about my boxes of embroidery floss. I've done a few small projects over the years, and never bothered to put the cards of floss back where they belonged. I also had a bunch of skeins that needed to be wrapped onto cards and put in the proper order. Each color of DMC floss has a number--when doing a cross-stitch project, it's important to have the right numbers, and easier if they're boxed in order. With embroidery where you can pick your own colors, it's less important but still helpful to have the colors in order.

So I spent a pleasantly mindless afternoon last week sorting colors into their proper order, wrapping loose skeins and labeling them, and pulling out loose bits of thread that made the boxes look messy. When Todd came home and I showed him what I'd been wasting my time on that day, he totally got it. He loves to putter and organize and make things tidy, too. Further proof that we were meant for each other, no?

A couple of weeks ago, I found out that another blogger I read, lovely Barbara of Oodles and Oodles, was selling some lots of vintage embroidery transfers on Ebay. Amazing though it may seem, I was an Ebay virgin, but I set up an account and avidly watched my bids remain the highest--until I was sniped on both auctions in the last five seconds. Oh, the humanity! I'm afraid I didn't handle my brutal introduction to the world of Ebay very gracefully. I may have wished harm and mutilation on the person who sniped me. Oh, who am I kidding? I totally wished harm and mutilation on her.

After a couple of sulky days, I realized that Barbara was surely not the only person selling vintage embroidery transfers on Ebay, and I spent several enjoyable hours one night while Todd was out fishing, rummaging through the lots for sale. It's fun just seeing what's out there, so many goofy and kitschy patterns. I'm especially fond of all of the "days of the week" patterns for tea towels--apparently everyone in the mid-2oth century felt the need to feature dogs, cats, Dutch girls, anthropomorphic vegetables and dishes, and Mexican senors and senoritas on their dish towels.
I'm going to make myself some very soon--I'm leaning toward Scotties.

I cannot believe September is nearly over. I was just trying to get through August, telling myself that September (and cooler weather) was on its way--and now September has come and gone with very little long-term change in the weather. I feel gypped. Maybe October will be better!