Sunday, August 19, 2007

This One's FO You, Gwen

Serenade Angel
Designed By
: Rebecca Waldrop for MarBek Designs
Begun: in the time before time, when the earth was young and the butts of Scotsmen were still faintly blue.
Finished: thirty minutes ago (August 19, 2007)
Stitch count: approximately 175 by 300
18-count aida fabric, in "Victorian Christmas Red"
Mods: none, you Philistines. Modifications are for the free and carefree life of knitters. I slavishly followed every subtle nuance and infinitessimal colour change in this chart.

I should tell you that it's very hard to photograph cross-stitch. None of these pictures remotely do this piece justice, nor even accurately depict the colours.

The approach of Christmas (and the "brr" months, as my brother calls the four months leading up to Yule) always spurs me to a renewed interest in cross-stitching. In my circles lately there has been a fair bit of excited chat about cross-stitch: it seems a lot of those who knit were at one time stitchers too. All this talk of charts, DMC, Balger, hoops and tapestry needles induced me to dig around in the stash and pull out some albatrosses that have haunted my sleepless nights for years.

This is the first of three angel patterns I bought in the early 1990's. The other two, "Herald Angel" and "Canticle Angel" (by the same designer and similar in style) haven't been started yet but will, in time, complete the series.

So this is an enormous relief - a rather weighty WIP (work in progress) that has been waiting for at least three years for 12 background crosses and a bit of gold ribbon around the edge of the halo. It's difficult to explain why it took me so long to finish - it's a complicated and boring story about my inability to use a hoop because of fear of crushing the multitude of fussy metallic threads, and the size and weight of the frame on which it was therefore mounted. (See? even the précis is complicated and boring.)

I can't tell you how glad I am to have this sucker finished. Cross-stitch is a wonderful and absorbing hobby, but you can't really take a piece of this size with you on your travels. As a result, you are limited to the amount of time you can find to sit absolutely still with a strong light over your left shoulder, chart clearly visible and very close by. It's extremely time-consuming.

A bit of a closeup for your delectation.

This is the first of four large and outstanding works-in-progress which I pledge to have finished by the end of this next year. At the earliest. The other three are, in order of importance:
1- Charlotte's Christmas stocking. Ideally I would like this one to be done by this Christmas. The chart is still lost and I have ordered another one. When it arrives, I will be stitching before you can say "Yes, Virginia".
2- The Beatrix Potter Storybook Sampler that I started while pregnant with my first child, serenely expecting many days ahead when I could sit in a rocking chair with a cherubic infant sleeping in a cot beside me, stitching fondly on a beautiful addition to her lovely nursery. (Go ahead: amuse yourself by playing "spot the fallacies" on that last sentence.) I have finished 5 of 8 motifs on this. There are 75 different symbols in this chart (so around 65 different colours). It is on 18-stitches-per-inch fabric.
3- The "Enchanted Alphabet", started circa 1994, a lovely little nursery-themed thing which I am 60% done. (It was midway through this piece that I started the ill-fated "Serenade Angel".)

It feels good to be doing this again, but I admit I have gotten a bit older and it seems I need a stronger light now. I think I may be forced to invest in an Ott-Lite if I plan to finish these projects with my eyesight still intact.


uberstrickenfrau said...

I love cross stitch, use to do it till my eyeballs threatened to close shop 4-ever if I tried to do it again. I bought this beautiful angel holding a babe in her arms like 15 years ago to do and I never did. Sometimes I pull it out from under my bed and admire the beauty of what could of been.

Kate said...

Very nice, Shan. Good on you!

Gwen said...

I LOVE it. It's absolutely stunning. All three would be lovely, but even just this one is fantastic, gorgeous.

I'll take Enchanted Alphabet and finish it, but only if I can keep it. Or maybe we could do a timeshare?

lizbon said...

Even in an inaccurate-color photograph, this is luminous. Reminds me of looking at medieval tapestries.

And oy, I would never in a million years take up something that required fussing on such a microscopic scale. I get antsy just knitting with sportweight yarn.

Ames said...

Lovely. I can barely wait to see it adorning my home.

And, though, I cannot enter into this cross-stitch inanity, I wholeheartedly support you and will even lend you my arm when its rigors leave you stumbling blind.

stitchin' girl said...

Stunning cross stitch! I used to cross stitch also many moons ago and after seeing yours I hope to pull out some UFOs soon and work on them (though they are not as intricate not are they on such TINY fabric!).