Thursday, 17 June 2010

My Crafty Secret

Cross-stitch is actually the craft I've been doing for the longest. I would while away hours in my early teens, sitting on the sofa and stitching, listening to Diskworld audiobooks on my Walkman. The reason I spent so much time cross-stitching is illustrated above. The Angel of Autumn was my choice of pattern when I was twelve, and having completed a few clumsy little kits, my mother took me into Launceston to choose a more challenging one. There wasn't a great range of patterns, and being the early nineties, they tended towards the twee, so I chose what I thought was the best, and off I went.

I'm astounded now at how ambitious I was, as this piece took me SIX YEARS to finish! It was enormous and very complicated, and if I ever have to sew that much cream embroidery again, I think I will go mad. By the time I had finished it, I wasn't so keen on the pattern, so it has sat in the bottom of my workbox ever since. The Wolf was impressed with the sheer amount of work which had gone into it, and often wanted me to dig it out to show people, much to my embaressment!

I've done some bits and pieces of cross-stitch since then, the most recent being this one for my friend Mike. He's a karate instructor and writes both books and articles for martial arts magazines (he's also my old karate sensei). At his house he has a lovely little study, full of photographs of various Okinawan karate people and lots of Japanese bits and pieces. A couple of years ago I made this embroidered cushion for him. The pattern is from A Cross Stitcher's Oriental Odyssey by Joan Elliott, and is one of a set of four. This one means "wisdom". I haven't quite finished it yet, but hopefully will soon!

It's quite easy to stitch, and the chart is in colour, so it makes a nice change from my ongoing project, which is from Mystic Stitch, and is based on a painting by Maxine Gadd called "Bewitched". I find most of Maxine Gadd's paintings technically impressive but incredibly kitsch - they tend to be mermaids, beautiful vampires, elves, that kind of stuff. For some reason, I rather like this one. Yeah, it's cheesy, but I can live with that.

This is the part that I've completed so far. Look carefully at the picture above, and you'll see that it's the top left hand corner.

This is the whole thing! It's going to take me a couple of years I figure. You can't really see that well, but I had to divide the cloth into rectangles with a red running thread. Each rectangle is one page of the pattern, which is all in black and white. I have to colour in each tiny square with a grey-lead pencil when I've sewn it, otherwise I would get hopelessly lost.

There are 100 different colours, some so close that until you look at them in daylight you can hardly tell the difference! It's a bit like paint by numbers, because it's impossible to tell what each part is going to be like until you stitch it. The colours are much brighter and richer than in the finished picture.


  1. This is incredibly ambitious -- I can't believe you had the patience to finish the Angel of Autumn that young. I certainly wouldn't have. Can't wait to see the finished product. I have only done a little cross-stitch in my time, but I find it very soothing.

  2. Wow, impressive work. I ambitiously started cross stitched Christmas stockings, but find it hard to work on them any other time than pre-Christmas. At this rate, it'll take me ten more years!