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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Creative procrastination and counted cross-stitch

The Greek Cross, from Stitchin'spiration and Sally Rudkin
There was a period of time when I did a ton of counted cross-stitch. It was an obsession, where I think I really believed that "she who dies with the most patterns wins." What I didn't realize at the time was I'd still be dead and someone would have to deal with all my s#it. A friend told me he remembered me stitching while watching movies or visiting and I'd have two or three projects going at one time. Actually, I usually had about ten or more projects going at one time. We called them UFOs or UnFinished Objects and our purchases when we visited a good XS store S.E.X, for Stash Enhancement eXperience. As in, "I had some really great S.E.X. yesterday."

There was a wonderful story about a woman who dies and is led into a room with every pattern she ever wanted, all the best fabrics, all the embroidery flosses (even the special hand-dyed, like what was used on the piece here) and a comfortable chair with a fancy Ott lamp (true-color light--these old eyes swear by them!). She's happy, because she finally will have eternity to stitch to her heart's content. She says, "Thank you! This truly must be heaven!"

The person transforms to the devil and says, "No, welcome to hell. There are no needles." A bunch of us on the XS boards made a pact that we'd be buried with a packet of needles.

But, I have a bunch of pieces I've finished and have spent a small fortune framing. I used to do all my own finishing, spending a couple hours lacing or pinning the fabric to the acid-free foam core. The hardest part for me was always centering the piece and stretching it evenly. A buddy and I entered some pieces in the competition at the National Counted Cross-Stitch Festival that they used to hold at Rockholm Gardens, an Amish facility in Rockholm, Illinois. I remember being docked points because one side was two threads higher than the other.

As I've lived and learned through the years, I can either make it perfect or I can get it done. I used to try to be perfect all the time and I used to have ulcers. It's that whole adult child of alcoholics thing. Finally, I let it go and allowed myself to enjoy the experience of stitching, knowing to an untrained eye, it's still impressive. The piece above is technically blackwork, which is instead of making an "X," backstitching. I finished it in 2007 and bought the frame, matting, glass, foam core, backing, etc., from Michaels Craft Store probably in 2009 or 2010. It sat in the bag until last week when I found out that for $18.21, they would put the damn thing together for me. I was doing The Happy Dance, usually reserved for finishing a piece, when I found that out and I happily took it back in and gave them my credit card. The fine folks did a great job, it's ready to hang and even better, I didn't have to do it myself. I could spend the time writing, editing and playing Jewel Quest III. I also ruthlessly culled through my patterns and sent five boxes of stuff to a store that sells craft stuff on eBay. I've made several hundred dollars (no where near what I spent originally) that I've used to enter writing contests and for my RWA membership.

I've given my love and talent for cross-stitch to my heroine in my novel Seven Days, Lizzy/Elizabeth. The hero, Will, is the man for her when he shows an appreciation for a piece she's working on and asks if she would ever do a project for him. She knows it would have a place of honor in his office and wouldn't be sold for $10 at a yard sale. True story--I would kill. Honestly.

I've also given another trait of mine to Will. He shows Lizzy his office/library and admits he hasn't gotten a lot of his books up on the shelves because he has what he calls, "creative procrastination." Turns out, those books he did get on the shelves were smoke damaged (he gives up smoking for her), but the ones still in boxes weren't. I've learned, sometimes not getting something done is A Good Thing. In a previous job, something would tell me to procrastinate on a report and lo and behold, my boss would say we didn't have to do it.

So, I don't know why I procrastinated on framing The Greek Cross, from Stitchin'spiration and Sally Rudkin. Maybe, Michaels lowered their price on their framing service recently. Maybe, I just needed to see that I didn't have to do every bit of a project and do it perfectly to have the satisfaction of having finished it. Maybe, it was simply that I needed to get my s#it together and get it taken care of, so I could clean out that section of the room it was in and get it hung on my wall. But, I'm glad to share it with you and move on to another project. I'm almost finished with several pieces that I'll say Elizabeth did and I have another almost dozen pieces finished to frame. Writing and stitching makes a wonderful life!


  1. Gosh it's lovely to see a framed piece. I have a bagful of unframed stuff and someday, when I have the walls for them, they will be framed or turned into pillows. All this is planned for when I get my craft room at the house and a table with my sewing machine on it.
    It's hard being a perfectionist. It makes you too harsh on yourself and you become your own worst critic. Hugs luv.x

  2. Thanks, sweetie! I'm so ashamed I still have the fabulous piece you did for me unframed. And the sweatshirt I started of the lovely pattern you did for me for a former SIL. *sigh* We will get them finished and displayed in time, promise! Love ya!