December 30, 2009

5 Years in the Making - Longest Project Ever!

It's not that I'm a procrastinator. I have deadlines and I meet them at work (that's for you, Ms. Manager!); I get my Christmas cards done almost completely on time; I'm typically on time to parties even after a rigorous hair routine. So why did this darn project me so long to finish?

I've been doing counted cross-stitch since I was in grade school. My mother would take me to Jo-Ann Fabric stores, and while she would pick out notions for some sewing project, I would wander the craft aisles looking for something more interesting than bolts of clown-printed fabric.I started with small counted cross-stitch projects (stamped cross-stitch is for babies!) that involved cats, or trite sayings, or small holiday images, eventually graduating to larger-scale photo-realistic projects.

Despite the fact that I don't even like most of the traditional American country/old lady images that are used in cross-stitch, I still continue to do it. Yes, the process of repeated movements is soothing, but there's just a certain sense of accomplishment and attachment to a physical piece of product that you spend so much time making. Once, I had my heart broken because someone literally ripped to shreds a little angel sampler that I had made as a gift. Ten years later, I've mostly gotten over it (mostly), but I no longer give gifts like that to people who might deliberately destroy them.

That said, I thought that a complex cross-stitch sampler would be an amazing gift for someone like my mom. Since she has done a fair bit of needlework in her day, I knew she would appreciate the work that it takes to pull something like that together. I chose a floral lily design with a lot of subtle shading and extremely small stitching detail. I always anticipated that this cross-stitch project would take a pretty lengthy amount of time. So, I budgeted a year or two so that I wouldn't have to work on it every waking hour of the day. Surprise! It took me five years.

My original plan was to go to give the finished piece to my mom - aptly named Lily - for Christmas or her birthday a few years after starting the project. Once that deadline blew by and I was still less than half finished, why not her big xxth birthday? (She would kill me if I put her age for everyone to see.) Well, that came and went, and I toiled to get it done for her birthday this year. I'm talking entire evenings, weekend mornings, and lost sleep to pull this thing together.

Well, May crept up on me, and I couldn't quite finish in time. I literally only had another week or two of work to do, so I decided that Christmas might be the magical day for the gift. A few borders and tassels later, things were wrapped up. And taa dah!:

That's my mom holding her fantastic birthday/Christmas gift. Doesn't she look happy?

So, is this really a creative project? No, not really. It's fuddy-duddy counted cross-stitch from a pattern that merely takes time; not creative juices. But given how much time I devoted to this project, I thought it was worth documenting.

Materials used for this project:
  • "Gold Collection" Exquisite Lily Sampler in Counted Cross Stitch from Dimensions
  • An eternity
Below are a few more photos for posterity:

  • The package:
  • The unbelievably detailed instructions (measuring about 24" x 36"):
  • The thread and stupid grid of 27 colors I kept having referring back to to figure out exactly which shade of thread I needed to use. It is VERY difficult to tell the difference between light yellow green and plain old yellow green, so threads were separated into three different bunches:

  • Finally, the finished product. Check out the detailed lilies-of-the-valley in the middle! 28 of those tiny x's per linear inch. That's 784 x's per square inch. I almost went blind:

I hope everyone has had a fantastic start to the new year. See you next week!

1 comment:

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    the best, good luck,