Perfection?

Not in my stitchy world. However, I want my pieces to look great and to stand the test of time. I also want my stitches to be uniform and reflect the light in a way that brings the glorious color and shine of the threads to life. That’s why I’ve stopped using floss (particularly pearl cotton) down to the last nub before cutting it, because those last 2-3 inches don’t shine like the rest of the thread.  It is also the reason I do stamped and surface embroidery along with counted thread. Counted thread makes uniform stitching (in most cases) fairly simple because the stitching is done on a uniform grid. Despite this, It is by no means an easy discipline because the threads still have to lie flat and uneven tension is a bug-a-boo no matter what kind of needlework I’m doing.

Getting back to surface embroidery—It’s a foreign land to those of us who do counted thread because there is no grid. If you’re doing cross stitch, then your eye and your hands are in charge of stitch uniformity.  Even with stamped ground, you have to gauge the length and angle of each stitch because the stamping isn’t perfect, but if your stitches aren’t, it will show. It is an exercise in discipline and focus for every single stitch. Moving on, satin stitches, so beautiful when executed correctly turn into lumpy, ragged-edged disaapointments on my linen. So I pull them out and try again, hoping that practice will make a difference.

I am including some photos of my Paragon Christmas Tree Table Runner. I started this 30 years ago and seeing the progression and regression of some of my skills is both encouraging and discouraging. Grandma Harriet would look at my current outline stitch and tell me she taught me better than that.  So more practice. 🙂

Scenes from 30 years ago:

The whole tree

The whole tree

I was happy, on average with the lazy daises and MOST of the satin stitches.  However, the cross stitch is not uniform, the stitches are not all crossed in the same direction nor are the fibers laid to reflect light uniformly and lastly, my French knots are wonky.  A few closeups will put an exclaimation point on these problems.

Cross, satin and lazy daisies

Cross, satin and lazy daisies

When I look at this phot I am most unhappy about the cross stitch, but the the satin stitch is supposed to be round and several of mine are pretty egg-shaped.

The vine

The vine

Here I am still not thrilled with the cross stich, but my outline stitch comes pretty close to the 12 stitches per inch Grandma Harriet told me was proper. I also am pretty happy with the way my lazy daisies came out.

Present Day:

Present Day-Work in Progress Tree

Present Day-Work in Progress Tree

As you can see I’m not quite as far along on the other end of the runner. All in all I am happier (which is not to say overjoyed) with my cross stitch. I still have some wonky shaped stitches, but my fibers lie smother on the linen thanks to railroading my stitches and the crosses are all crossed in the same direction. My French Knots are a bit more uniform, but both they and  my satin stitch still need work. 😦  These ‘issues’ can be better seen in the closeups.

2013 crosses and french knots.

2013 crosses and french knots.

You can still see my lack of size and angle uniformity on the crosses. But this is one of the places where practice helps a ton!

Satin-ugh-Stich

Satin-ugh-Stich

Okay, so the satin stitched shapes are a little more round, but they are still ‘lumpy’ which means I need to work on my spacing between stitches and also making them a length that will give a smooth outline to the finished shape.

Outline Stitch

Outline Stitch

This is where my stitching skills have regressed most noticeably. The stitches are too loose and are raised off the fabric and I am only getting 6-7 stitches per inch. I plan to rip out these stitches (all the way around the perimeter of the runner) and try again. And yes, I am avoiding the lazy dasies. 🙂

Some would stay that stitching is just meant to be a hobby and stitches don’t need to be redone—and there are actually times I practice that thought. But HOURS of my life go into my embroidery and when I am gone it will speak of the person I was. So, if this is a legacy to some future world, I want to give the twin gifts of beauty and my best effort.

I hope your day is sparkling!

Blessings,,

Julie

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