Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Imperfection is PERFECT!

I'm in the middle of charting my Spanish Mystery Sampler...a few more hours to go, and then off to the model stitcher (my good friend Kathy, who is itching to get started.) The colors are lovely -- beiges/browns, a plum, a couple of reds, a pale frosty blue. Bands alternate between bands that repeat a wave of flowers or Quaker-y shapes and rows of alphabets scripty and plain. I'm a little jealous that I won't get to stitch this one, and will be anxious to get it back. These old samplers really come alive when they're re-stitched.

One of the things I love about reproducing the old samplers is the mistakes! I am the first to admit that I make (and leave in) mistakes while I stitch. I hate ripping out, and will only rip if it is going to make a huge difference in the final project. What makes a reproduction look truly authentic is those little bits that are off, just a little bit...a stitch here, a color substitution there. When designers create mirror-image/perfectly symmetrical samplers, they are lovely, but I think they end up looking a little cold. (Plus, it's not much fun to stitch half of a sampler twice.) You might notice the birds above from my "Two Angry Birds" sampler. They are *almost* perfect in their symmetry, but the bird on the left has about ten stitches of black on his wing where the stitcher may have run out of purple.

Looking at an old sampler, you don't necessarily *see* the mistakes right away. But if you reproduce a sampler, you'll come across them. I know mistakes bother some people, and there are stitchers who correct mistakes in reproductions as they go. But I think that slightly not-quite-rightness adds to the beauty of a sampler. Someone's hands added every little square, and out of 20,000 stitches, that someone was bound to get a few wrong (especially when that someone was a 9-year-old.)

There is a certain texture and loveliness to imperfection. The Mona Lisa doesn't have eyebrows, and the Venus de Milo doesn't even have ARMS for crying out loud, and they are beautiful works of art. People pay all kinds of crazy money for shabby-chic reproductions in hardwood flooring, furniture and textiles. Chipped paint is in (and can be applied NEW). A little tarnish on the silver adds depth. Dog-eared pages indicate a much-loved book.

And it was Marilyn Monroe who said, "Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring." Marilyn, of course, had a mole on her cheek. *MWAH* -- perfecto!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer Stitching

One of the first things people ask me when they come in the shop is, "Did you stitch all of these?" (meaning my shop models). "Most of them," I say. I really like to stitch, and I'm fast. I have a number of pieces in the shop made by friends of mine. A few by model stitchers. But I've probably got well over 100 pieces in the shop that I've stitched (and those are just the ones here...that I haven't given away or have hanging at home.) I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you. (You can click on each picture to make it bigger and easier to ogle.)

Blackbird Designs pieces are fun to stitch. I love Barb & Alma's use of color, and their kind of shabby-chic look. This one is from their "Souvenirs of Summer" book, and I think this design was also featured in a magazine at some point. It didn't take too long to stitch, but I remember it being a great summer piece. Patriotic, but not too "primary" in terms of color.

This is another Blackbird Designs piece -- you may recognize it as their Mystery Sampler which came out in pieces during their Loose Feathers club of 2008. I finished mine a long time ago, but only recently stretched and hung it. I stitched mine on a 40 count R&R Reproductions linen, and did a little tweaking here and there. This was another really fun summer piece to stitch. Again, great summer colors that I don't need sunglasses to look at.

I stitched this one quite a while back. It's Prairie Schooler's Farmer's Alphabet. I love veggies, and this design is so pleasing to me. One of the most fun things about stitching this piece was feeling a great sense of accomplishment as I stitched each letter. I could bang a few out at a time, and before I knew it, the piece was finished. Just DMC floss, but I used 32 ct. Lambswool linen (I think it called for a Jobelan.) Even though I've had this one for years, I still really love it, and it makes me think of veggie stands on the side of the road, and the nothing-better taste of still-warm tomatoes from the garden.

As much as I'm enjoying summer here in Hattiesburg, I am not enjoying the 100+ heat index temperatures we have every day. It rains. Then it heats right back up, but the water evaporates, so it's hot and humid. A few positives: my hibiscus out front is VERY happy right now; our air conditioning is in working order; and I have several different types of Ben & Jerry's ice cream in the freezer. Hope you're enjoying summer. I'm going to go home and stitch!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

We clean up purty good

Last week, my husband's sister was married up in Fargo, where we're from. I held Christine when she was a brand new baby (she was born when Steve and his older brother were still in high school.) Now she's almost 24 and a married lady. Everyone looked great, and we had such a nice time. Christine and Ryan did a great job keeping the ceremony and party tasteful and simple. What a great weekend.

Now, my boys were feeling pretty dapper in their dress clothes (Graham grew five inches this school year, and needed new ones). He was kind of crouching down while everyone was talking, and I told him he looked pretty cool. Pretty soon, Harrison was in the spirit and popped a GQ pose. Those guys are handsome! Graham refused to ask anyone to dance, because he wanted to be true to his girlfriend of two years here in Hattiesburg (as far as I know, THEY'VE never danced, but I suppose he wants to save the first one for her!)

Of course after all of that dancing and walking around in less-than-comfortable shoes, we were all a little sore. And when we were packing up the car to head back to the airport in Fargo, at four o'clock in the morning, I fell down a couple of stairs in the garage carrying my luggage. I made a big, "Oomph" sound, and Steve said he thought at first that I was just chucking luggage into the garage. Turns out, I was chucking myself, and on my knees onto cement, no less. All I could do was laugh.

In stitching news, I am now going to have several months at home, uninterrupted by the traveling I've been doing for the past few months. This means, more samplers, more original pieces, and bestly -- more stitching time for moi!