I love sacred music and I love choral music, and Christmas time provides ample opportunities to enjoy both. There were so many TV programs scheduled for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that I had to plan how I could experience all of them. I made myself a schedule and identified which ones I would record for later viewing, as they were either simultaneously broadcast or shown too late for me. Even so, I somehow missed the lush soprano Angela Brown’s performance.
Since I couldn’t study and enjoy this music at the same time, I declared a break from study and saw something I could stitch instead. You may remember seeing this piece:
It was never meant to be anything but a practice cloth. Never meant to be shown or finished. I was just trying out different ways of stitching the letter S and some stitches I’d learned through Sharon Boggon’s courses and TAST.
But Kirrily Anderson saw it on my Flickr site and asked if she could include it in a book of art by people with ME-CFS. Thinking nothing would come of it, I said “sure.”
Well, Kirrily is a professional graphics designer and she knows the publishing business. Not only did she finish the book and post it online, she also had it printed. And now there’s going to be a traveling exhibit throughout Australia of the book and the original art works. So that forced me to think about finishing the piece.
How does one finish a piece that was never intended to be finished? With difficulty. When I took the piece off the working frame, it had to be stretched tight, so I laced it over a piece of foam core and put it in my notebook (journal) of S projects. You can see how the patches barely fit over the edges of the foam core.
For the back, I tried a couple of fabrics, including this brocade that was used as a patch:
In the end, I decided on the burgundy red silk velvet that is the same as the center patch.
Because it is so thin and slippery, and because it had to cover the long lacing threads on the back, I knew I’d have to pad it somehow. I tried ironing fusible Pellon fleece to a scrap of velvet, but in the end, I fused it at a few places directly to the foam core. That way I could wrap the velvet over the edges and tuck it in behind the padding on the back.
Then came the hard part–blind stitching the velvet over the edges of the patchwork. Remember, I was stitching against the hard surface of the foam core. Here’s how it turned out:
Click to enlarge, then click on All Sizes if you want to see it even larger.
Since Kirrily asked me how it could be displayed, I told her I would put hangers on the back so it could be hung anywhere. I just buttonhole stitched over plastic “bone” rings. Then I thought, it should have a label as well.
Now I know many ways in which I could have simply stitched my name, but I chose the most time-consuming, painstaking way–trailing stitch with a single strand of Zwicky silk thread couched over #5 pearl cotton. I first wrote my name on paper, then, on the light box I traced it on the fabric, another fabric also used for a patch.
After cutting out the label, I lightly glued it to the velvet backing with temporary fabric glue and began herringbone stitching around the edges with a variegated Valdani #8 cotton thread. (The same thread I used to cover the rings.) Before I finished, I realized that the label wasn’t centered. Clearly I had been paying more attention to “O Holy Night” than to my needlework. I am no longer any good at multitasking.
Now remember, I was stitching against the rigid foam core on velvet. I couldn’t move the label without taking out laborious stitching, and probably, if I moved the label, the stitching holes in the velvet would be exposed. Damn, damn, damn. I decided I’d just glam it up to try and distract the eye from the obvious asymmetry. (I love asymmetry, but not where something is definitely meant to be centered.) That didn’t work, of course, but what’s a poor stitcher to do? After all, this IS the back.
And have I told you how hard it is to stitch against rigid board? Can you imagine how hard it was to make those French knots? And the fly and straight stitches around the herringbone? And of course I had the challenge of hiding the beginnings and ends of threads. Mighty sore fingers. Oh, by the way, I painted the ric rac with pearlescent Dy-Na-Flow.
So that’s the back.
On Christmas Eve, I made myself some eggnog (Ernie doesn’t like it) with an egg, vanilla ice cream, brandy, a dash of nutmeg and my wand blender and had a lovely time at the concerts.
This break, with the stitching, was meant to take two or maybe three days, then back to physics. Well, I just finished yesterday, last night, in fact.
I have really missed stitching and blogging. I love to write, so blogging is a real pleasure, and of course I love to make needleart. But I just can’t do all that concurrently. I’d never finish anything. Besides, unlike so many other stitchers who blog, I can’t pick up some stitching for an odd few minutes here and there. I need a block of time to get into it. Nor can I just spontaneously blog. I have to edit and edit some more. So…..
NOW, it’s back to studying, and I’ll post an update on my progress next.