Monday, August 3, 2009

Craf-tea Summer ~ Part I - Embroidery

My how the summer flies by, you can barely blink and it's already mid August!

Due to some unforseen and unfortunate medical problems I've had this summer, I had about 6 weeks off from work in June & July for recovery. It's a long, sad tale and I won't bore you with the details... the long and the short of it is that I'm alive and well :)
So what did I do with all those lazy summer days? More days incidentally than I've ever had off since starting work almost 20 years ago when I was but 15 years old... Couch surf & TV you say? Empty my very full DVR? Catch up on sleep? Re-read the Twilight series just one more time for good measure? No, no thank you. Much to my husband & mothers dismay, I just couldn't seem to sit still. Maybe it was nervous energy, maybe it was post-cooped-up-in-a-hospital-syndrome. I dunno... but I was buggin. Instead I used my time as wisely, for the most part, and constructivly as I could, although I admit that I wedged in a few movies (Harry Potter #6, yay!!) when it was just too darn hot to sit out on my back patio and tinker around.

Finally able to catch up on some crafty things that have been milling around my mind and house in various stages of incomplete for... well, who knows how long, I got busy and was productive! I had intended to write a little blog about each, but I just didn't spend much time in front of the computer while I was off of work, and now that I'm back to work - sitting at a desk in front of a computer, I just don't find that I have the time to write a series of bloggies about each of my crafty endeavours. Some of these things though, I'm really pleased with and want to share so I've decided to do one big blog! So here it is, my craf-tea summer!

Soon after I was out of the hosiptal but while still pretty much relegated to my bed I made a list of things I wanted to do but never could find the time for. Weekends are so rushed, even during the summer when the days are longer. There's never enough time to squish in everything you want to get done and weekdays, it's work, then work-out, then home, shower, dinner, clean up, prep for the next day and sleep. I don't even watch TV anymore... seriously. How does everyone else seem to manage this? I can't be the only one... The hours of the day between work and sleep speed by faster than any others. Suddenly I was faced with 6 weeks of absolutley nothing to do, and lots of time to do it! It was a little daunting at first, even when for the first several days I really couldn't do much but lay around because I couldn't even get out of bed or off the couch by myself. That was awful. So as soon as I could manage my very first trip out of the house, my mom took me to the fabric & craft store! Yay! My local JoAnn's is huge and it wore me out. I remember the look on my husbands face when I got home, a look that clearly didn't hide his thoughts..."I told you so". Yes, yes he was right, it was a pretty big trip for my first time out, I was walking pretty darn slow and clinging to the shopping cart at that point. Little old ladies in walkers could pass me right on by. But the trip was worth it, because I was stocked!

My brilliant doctor, who I very much credit with saving my life is a kind man. He actually gave my husband a pass for a couple of weeks off work so that he could stay home and take care of me. What a guy! Thank God for FMLA! Sean and I settled into our little routine easily... each morning, he'd pull me out of bed (literally) and we'd wander out to the back porch. I'd take a turn around the garden, water, pick off any wilting flowers, check the progress of my little veggie patch, Sean would make coffee, grab the paper, maybe take the dogs for a quick walk and eventually we'd meet back up on the patio. Most days that's where you could find me doing this or that. The weather has been exceptional this summer in Northern California with only a few scorching days sprinkled in here and there, so I spent most of my time outside. So let's get to the crafting, shall we?

I've always wanted to learn to embroider, I think hand done embroidery is beautiful, and becoming more rare. When I got married my Auntie Hazel, who is my grandmothers sister, gave me a table cloth that my grandmother had embroidered many many years before I was ever born. It's very pretty, butterflies and baskets of flowers, I love it. It's one of only two things that I have which belonged to my dad's mom. Things from my family mean a lot to me, as I'm sure they do to you. Especially when you've lost those people... Anyway, the embroidery! So having never done this before I thought I'd start with something simple, a tiny counted cross stitch... I figured as soon as I finished this, I would be "quailfied" to start something "real". Ha.

So Here it is, my first piece of embroidery.
Yeah... darling. I quickly discovered counted cross stitch isn't my thing. While very cute, it's a little boring for my tastes, I think I'll be more of a freehand embroiderer. Also, couting all those tiny squares just about blinded me and this tiny (2"x 3") project took the better part of my free time for three days. Ugh.

After getting my feet wet with the cross stitch, I was eager to move on. I started with a book called Learn to Embroider In 12 Easy Stitches by the American School of Needlework that I picked up at JoAnn's. This book walks you through some basic stitches and offers projects in which to use them. Hoop, fabric, thread & needle in hand I set off! I practiced each stitch shown in the book first, then went about my first real project, a hankie for my mom. This design came from one of the patterns in the book. I think it came out pretty well. What do you think?Mom loved it. She told me it was her very favorite new thing, isn't that sweet?

The next thing I did, was a little hankie for myself. I didn't think it would come out very nice, so I didn't spend a lot of time in the construction of the piece. First lesson learned, take the time to make it right. Your piece will probably come out better than you think, then you'll have pretty embroidery on a piece of rubbish fabric. This design is my own, I'm a doodler, flowers and swirls and cute bits of this and that mostly. I just penciled a little somthing into each of the corners, added our name and embroidered over the pencil marks with the stiches I'd learned from the book. I think it's really cute, but I'm a little partial.

The piece of fabric where I first started practicing my stitches? Yeah, I kept using it. I didn't want to stretch a new piece of fabric every time I wanted to try a different stitch or doodle, so I just kept adding to my practice piece. It's taken on a life of it's own and I can't throw it away now. I really kind of like it. You hold a piece of fabric in your hands for so many hours, it becomes a part of you. Maybe that's what I've always liked about embroidery in the first place, it's personal and intimate and takes time & love.
This little piece has all kinds of things that I love in it if you look closely, a tea pot, a tea cup, flowers and vines, straberries and cherries, stars and swirls, a beer for my husband, our wedding rings, dog bones for my two hounds, a little house, even a tiny set of silverware... I really don't know what I'm going to do with this little piece, I'd love to hear any suggestions so please, feel free to comment!

There's lots more to follow, so much for getting this all squashed into one bloggie. Please stay tuned for more of my craf-tea summer! Coming up next things from the garden!



parTea lady said...

Thank you for your kind comment on my Grandma's cutwork embroidery. I'm with you on the cross-stitch, it seems like work (math) to me and I leave this to my husband who is an expert stitcher.

Your embroidery is lovely and your freeform piece is great. Maybe you could use your practice square as the centerpiece on a pretty little pillow. Nice work.

Glad you are feeling better and past the convalescence period.

Jennifer said...

Hi there! Thanks for visiting and commenting! I'm following your blog now! Nice place you have here! We are still doing the Tea Swap on a monthly basis and this month I was a little behind...I can include you for the Sept one...what is your email addy!? Swing by and let me know when you have time and I will send you a note about it!

beedeebabee said...

Hi Lisa! I bounced in here in my blog hopping tonight and I'm so happy I did! You have a VERY charming blog! Your stitching is lovely, I especially love that embroidered hankie...beautiful!!! So...just how many times did you read those Twilight books?? I've been there myself!!! I hope you're feeling better. Paulette :o)

Bellamere Cottage said... much to say...I hardly know where to start!

Thanks so much for your visit and kind words! Yep, feel free to post the heart and thanks for asking. I hand dye my wool....I can have any color I like that way!....and I almost ALWAYS buy it at the thrift store....and always 100% wool. I've made quite a few things along those lines and I'm actually thinking of putting several on Etsy. :-)

You've got the embroidery thing goin' on there girlfriend! WOW! And, your sampler?? Darling! That's exactly how they used to them in the old days. A starter piece to practice your stitches on. Yes! You should use it for sure. I think it would be ever so cute framed.

I LOVE handwork.......the smaller and more intricate the better. Isn't it a great way to pass the time? I made a quilt for a girl while I was recovering, for nearly a year, with the leg can read all about it in My Story on my sidebar if you're so inclined!

Welcome to bloggieville. Your blog is just darling. I'll be back to visit, that's for sure!


Angela McRae said...

Your embroidery is just beautiful, and I can definitely see why that hankie you gave your mom is her new favorite thing. The one you made for yourself is great too and really has a unique style. And you are very much carrying on the "sampler" tradition with that piece where you practiced stitches. I think it is just beautiful as-is and would pop it out of the hoop and frame it or make a pillow. Sorry to hear you had the bad summer medically-speaking, but it sure sounds like a good one crafts-wise. Take care of yourself!