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.

All Quiet on the Midwestern Front

So quiet around here. I’m working on projects, but they are slow-going and unfinished. I’m finally working on my final dress at a deliberate pace and when I get too tired for that I watch a program and work on Little Italy. I have no finished projects to show you. This week it’s all about the process. IMG_6587.jpgThese are two projects that demand time and so I’m giving it to them patient and unhurried, going with the flow like a lazy gondolier.

Milling About

Windmills have been a Thing for me since visiting Kinderdijk a couple years ago. So cool! Holland was a stop on our family’s Viking River Cruise (SO FUN – thank you ever and always to Auntie Em and Uncle Popcorn). Those tours are seriously fast-paced. Shopping is a trade-off to sightseeing and I would always rather see sights than shop so I came home with only a few souvenirs for the kiddo and nothing for myself except for an extra 5 pounds around my middle. Maybe I should have spent more time shopping than I did eating and drinking.

Nah.

This little project serves as a memento of that trip.

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I made it from a lovely Cozy Blue kit that my mom gave me for Christmas. I could make every design Cozy Blue puts out.

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I get a little thrill whenever I have a glue-gun sanctioned project. THIS is why I keep them around I triumphantly think to myself in an attempt to assuage the guilt of having so. much. STUFF that I hardly ever use. Especially when I have to dig it out from the back of the mess of other stuff I hardly ever use in the attic closet.

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We’ve got some backstitch, brick stitch, satin stitch, and split stitch in there. Weave stitch would have been awesome for the windmill blades, but I didn’t learn about it until after I’d already backstitched one and a half of them. I was tempted to tear out what I’d done, but those stitches are teeny and I worried I’d do damage to the piece.

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No matter, it’s done and I love it. I added it to my hodgepodge of keepsakes and mementos and lost no time picking out a new project to fill another hole on my wall of places that are meaningful to me: Satsuma Street’s Pretty Little Italy. I’ve been spending my evenings revisiting the plodding pace of cross-stitch, my first craft obsession.

The Sea Captain

I finished a thing!

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This is the Sea Captain kit from Cozy Blue Handmade. I didn’t notice that random stray piece of a thread on the Captain’s cap until now. It’s driving me nuts. Look, you can really see it well in this photo:

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I used:

  • Stem stitch for the, smoke, and pipe stem
  • Split stitch for eyebrows, beard, and moustache
  • Satin stitch for eye and pipe bowl
  • Fern stitch for knit cap
  • French knots for sweater bobbles
  • Straight or back stitch for everything else
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I was surprised to learn that you finish embroidery like this using a hot glue gun. Good thing I have two!

I love him, but he already has a wife.

Process without Progress

I’ve been making, but everything I’m working on is in some stage of progress and I have finished nothing this week.

I have socks on the go.

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I got SO MUCH done on these during the employee benefits meeting.

I have super secret Christmas gifties on the go.

I have swatching on the go.

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I have that Christmas sweater on the go.

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Haven’t frogged that sleeve yet!

I have those PJs on the go. Well, they were until I sewed the cuffs on the pants before sewing the front and back cuff to one another. I spent the rest of my sewing time last night getting back to where I thought I was starting. That’s progress, in a way.

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So close to being done.

A lot of process, little progress. Sometimes it’s like that. Heck, sometimes things never get done. Speaking of which, note to self: the next time you’re wondering where your #8 Knitpicks interchangeable need is, let this serve as a reminder that it’s in the half-finished Lotta Cardigan you started and abandoned last year in that pretty dark purple Cascade 220. Remember you found it when you were looking for something else in your knitting basket in the bedroom? What was I even looking for? Who can remember? What was I talking about, again?

Trifecta

Three stockings, three toys, three jack o-lanterns, three, three, three!

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Bear completes the group. I think he (she? I got to thinking too hard about these toys’ genders after my last post when I realized I was naming them all mister and decided to leave gender assignments out of it going forward) is my favorite and I think it’s because Bear is colorful though it does make me wonder if Bear has a circus past and the politics of that.

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These toys are adorable and a great introduction to embroidery.

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Please excuse the dirty plant container and mums that need deadheaded. We are not a very pinterest-y household.

I can hardly gloat about having some Christmas items done so early. It was more a function of really wanting to make these than any sense of order or preparation or planning. Sometimes a whim will work in your favor.

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Kiddo was artistic director of the pumpkin carving. This 7-eyed one is my favorite. Squirrel pictured is not responsible for the nibbling. Damn squirrels.

Happy Halloween!