Home away from home

My office is a cubefarm. It’s fine. I’m not complaining. You stop noticing how very, very brown it is after a while. Decorating is not my thing, nor are workplace displays of my personal life or hobbies. I finally put up some photos of the kiddos only after I realized my supervisors were concerned about my commitment to the job. Apparently blank  cube walls don’t communicate a vested interest. I’m just a private person and yes, I realize the irony of saying that on a public blog.

Otherwise my decorating scheme consists mostly of schedules, procedures, post-it reminders, and, now, this kit from the Stranded Stitch:

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It does little to cover the brown expanse of my cube walls. Maybe I should make more.

Blown Away

Look at me, already done with a Christmas gift! It’s for my grandma.

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Except I love it and I want to keep it for myself.

Except I already gave it to my mother for finishing. The idea was that it would be a joint gift from the both of us. I neglected to mention this to my mother. She was surprised.

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I got to work on this after a bit of a sewing spree in the early part of the year, a spree you wouldn’t know about since between snow and snow and more snow and then rain and technology woes, picture taking has been a chore I just can’t deal with.

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My sewing hobby was starting to get expensive, like that time 10 years ago when I was going through a Brooklyn Tweed Noro Scarf thing and could knit a scarf with $$$ worth of yarn in it in 4 days. You gotta put the brakes on sometimes if you don’t want to break the bank. Enter slow, steady, economical cross-stitch.

Those scarves are still gorgeous. Makes you want to buy some Noro Silk Garden, doesn’t it? No? Just me?

Absent

Don’t you hate it when a blogger logs in only to tell you how busy she’s been? Yeah, me too. Instead, here’s a silly thing I made, the perfect thing to quickly show you since there’s really not much to say about it. It was an impulse purchase from Jo-Ann. I made it up over a couple evenings and offered it to MJ who didn’t much care. Fair enough, kid, fair enough. I’ll claim it for my own, then.

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Blue Steel

Chuffy snuck (spellcheck, why do you not like “snuck?” Is this an example of me making up an irregular past tense of a verb or is it an example of me using an antiquated version of one? Leapt 4lyfe!) his Mr. Fox into daycare, one of the unanticipated temptations of having a pocket-sized buddy. Mr. Fox was well received and his friend asked me for a pocket-sized buddy of his own. I took his order, promised to work on it every day (which I did, only some days just a tiny bit), and after what felt like a long time to both the recipient, who had to wait, and myself, who had to do quite a lot of stitching, here it is:

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Kiriki Press Wolf Embroidery Kit

This was the first time I’ve used long and short stitch. A while back I looked up a satin stitch tutorial which, I’m paraphrasing here, included instructions to put your work down and not look at it again until the next day because all the imperfections you see while you’re stitching will not be obvious or even noticeable when you’re not staring at and over-analyzing the piece. Good advice! I knew I wouldn’t think my long and short stitch was up to snuff, but I set what perfectionist streak I have aside and told myself done was good enough and that while my long and short stitch would improve with practice it could not improve without.

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When I was all finished I unveiled it with a proud flourish to my son who said, “Where’s Noah’s tiger?”

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a hard one for me, and because it’s hard for me I’m sensitive to all the possible ways that it might be hard for others. Maybe you’re not a mother, but you want to be. Maybe you’ve lost a pregnancy. Maybe you’ve lost your child or your mother or your child’s mother. Maybe you’re estranged from your mother or your children. Maybe you’re child free by choice. Maybe you’re child free not by choice. Holidays have a way of pointing out to us where our lives and persons feel deficient. I don’t want to yuck anybody’s yum. I just try to get through the day with as little attention as possible, and if you do, too, know you’re not alone.

I had almost finished my 2nd Cozyblue Handmade stitch club package before I realized it would make an excellent Mother’s Day gift.

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My new-to-me stitch this time was the bullion knot. 
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The back. Not very neat, but I will not be ashamed!

I love my mom. I told her once that she’s hard to shop for, to her great indignation. She seems to have everything she needs and wants and no trifle can acknowledge all the lengths she’s gone through for me or the things I’ve put her through. I was overthinking it; it really is the thought that counts. It doesn’t have to be the right thing if it is given with love in good faith.

Like I Need More Hobbies

Confession: I joined the Cozy Blue Stitch Club.

I have no regrets. Christmas is going to take are of itself this year, she says optimistically overlooking bags and baskets of abandoned projects as if her crafting weren’t subject to unforeseeable vagary and whim and also ignoring the fact that while the stitching is done, this project is not.

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I decided I would learn and practice at least one new stitch with each club shipment: this is the first time I’ve used raised fishbone stitch.

I’m unsure how to finish this because the curve of the moon matches the curve of the embroidery hoop and the moon gets a little lost. I decided I’d try removing a hoop’s hardware and painting it red, but I haven’t remembered to buy supplies or look for hoop alternatives. Wait for it, I’ll be frantically blowing paint dry on a hoop on December 20th to get it in the mail in time for Christmas.

Embroidery is so satisfying and quick (I’m comparing, here, to the plodding pace of my first craft: interminable cross-stitch). It can be as fussy or simple as you like. I love that Liz can send out a design and every stitcher will come up with something different. I love that even as just a novice I can make something that is legitimately good, desirable, and worth having. I’m so pleased.

Y un forno che non va

The first time I studied abroad was to Rome where I stayed with a host family. I was self-conscious and shy and spent a lot of time that my host family thought I should be going out and dancing staying in and reading. I learned that no matter where you go in the world you go you take yourself with you and that my host family preferred Texans.

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Little Italy by Satsuma Street

I also got lost every day, discovered Belgium beer, skinny-dipped in the Adriatic, told everyone who would listen that I was going to marry my boyfriend of 9 months (I did), formed fast, intense friendships that flamed out as quickly as they began, met one friend who would be a soulmate, and declared to my parents on the drive home from the airport that they didn’t have to worry about me going back there for an academic year. Which I did.

Cross-stitch is slow. Contemplative. Events created a break in my life and my sense of self and I am surprised by how therapeutic it felt to make this and think about that long past time in my life, like maybe I might find a way to reconcile and synthesize the me before with the me after. Cross-stitch was my first and only craft obsession for a long time. I took my cross-stitch with me me to Italy. It was what I turned to to fill my evenings when I couldn’t knit or do much else. It’s surprising how much slowly pushing a needle through aida fabric can dredge up.