Thursday, February 25

#TBT (way back) - Leopards

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, I had never cross stitched.

Now, when I was little, my mother had taught me how to needlepoint, because that's what she did.  I could do a decent tent stitch.  But what I really loved was french knots.    My mother would needlepoint these Charles Wysocki kits, and there would be these trees that needed flowers, which were french knots, and I learned them and to this day they're still my favorite stitch.

I digress.

My whole family is crafty.  I was taught to needlepoint as a kid, I was even taught how to crochet and do a basic knit stitch (by my father, actually, because while my mother was the super crafter, she was left handed and I couldn't figure out how to do it the way she did it, as I'm right handed).

In high school my family was big into plastic canvas.  And over Spring Break of my sophomore year, while I was staying with my aunt & uncle, I needed some thicker metallic cord and we stopped by Harbour Stitchery in League City.

And I saw Teresa Wentzler's Castle Sampler, and I used all of the money I had to buy everything I needed right there on the spot (well, everything but the floss, that would come later in the day).  The Lugana, the pattern, any embellishments... and oh yeah, my gold cord.

I started stitching the border.   I realized I was a little bit out of my depth and wanted to try something else so that Castle Sampler would be *perfect* when I did stitch it.

So I went to Michaels with my Grandma (I was living with my grandparents) and I got a kit (I'm pretty sure my grandma bought it for me).  Leopards sitting on a tree branch.  There were blended threads, confetti stitching, and all of the leaves were lazy daisies, so it wasn't very basic.  I taught myself how to stitch with that kit, and I think it's the one time I used a hoop?  I even stitched on it during class in high school (the teachers didn't mind, because hey, I was paying attention, engaged and staying relatively quiet - I was a straight A honors student anyway, so there was no reason to fuss).   The very beginning (the left side of the tree branch) has stitches that aren't all facing the same way - the only piece that has "mistakes" like that.

This is my very first finished cross stitch piece.

Finished 1994ish?

I eventually finished it after high school and I framed it, using the sticky mat and all of the other stuff I could find at craft stores - this was the mid 90s, there wasn't the huge internet full of information on the "proper" way to frame needlework or the supplies at hand, and I certainly couldn't afford to have it done professionally.

I can't remember the actual name of the piece, exactly what company produced it, or the date when I finished it, but it will always be one of my favorite memories.

15 comments:

  1. How brave you were to start something like this as a first project - and it even looks great!

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  2. It's a lovely first finish! I have pieces that are still framed with the sticky board and they are all doing fine. It's not the way I finish now but it worked and was a lot cheaper than professional framing.

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    1. I will willingly admit that I don't think most of my pieces will be some kind of heirloom people will want, as long as they look good during my lifetime, I'm happy, so I haven't "fixed" anything I framed "wrong" because they still look good :)

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  3. That's a lovely story. A nice introduction piece to cross stitch.

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    1. Thank you very much!

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  4. So far behind on blog reading and commenting. Love the story. I did a couple of those Wysocki needlepoint kits - yep French knots galore. I have several pieces that are framed like your leopards, but as long as I'm happy with them, I am not too worried, although I do have one L&L piece that I may take apart and replace the sticky board with real mounting board just because I'd like to think that someone would want him when I'm gone.

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    1. Wysocki stuff leaves a fuzzy warm place in my heart now, and boy am I good at French Knots.
      I have one piece I need to reframe as well, it's one that I think "deserves" better framing (even if not professional) :)

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  5. Never knew there was a stitching store in League City. We lived near Ellington Field on the north side of Clear Lake for 13 years.

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    1. There was! I think it's been closed for some years now, though. It was still open when I left Houston (in 2004), but was closed when I checked last.
      My favorite shop was Stitchworks with Olga, and I was so sorry that she closed. I still buy from ABCStitch on the Northwest side (by mail/online now, of course).

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  6. Aww what a great story :). It looks great too!

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  7. What a great story about your introduction to stitching. It's funny, if you aren't told "this is difficult" then you don't feel daunted by it. You just dive in and get on with learning the techniques.

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    1. I know, right? "Oh, that's how you blend thread, neat" "oh, those are lazy daisies, neat." It's all just learning (and not particularly challenging), but if someone had told me what a pain blending or confetti was, I might have thought it harder than it really is :) On the other hand, my next big piece - Celtic Christmas was so *boring* with those big blocks of color - lol.

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  8. Interesting to read the story of how you got started. In my case, a coworker was sometimes bringing in the pieces she was working on at work to show them off and I got curious, so I went to the local needlework store she was getting her supplies from and I picked out a kit that contained 8 Christmas ornaments stitched on perforated paper. By the time I finished this kit, I was hooked and went straight back to the local store to select a new project. The one that caught my eye was Teresa Wentzler's Camelot Sampler. It looked intricate so I wasn't sure if I would be able to stitch it, but the store owner assured me that "if I liked it, I would finish it". And I did! But just like on your leopard piece, there's a few stitches that are backward in there. Mind you, the finished piece is so intricate that I can't even spot those stitches anymore even though I know they're in there. Funny how it was TW designs that caught both of our eyes when we picked our first project! It took years before I had the Camelot Sampler framed, because back when I was stitching it, I was a college student and didn't have the money for a customized framing job. That was the first piece I had framed the second I started working, though.

    Thanks for sharing your story and your work :)

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