I started my fascination with embroidery, needlepoint and cross stitch at a very early age. I remember my mother making needlepoint pillows for the formal living room and wanting to try it. I think I first learned embroidery as a girl scout. I remember making my mother some little embroidered things in my early teens. And I remember making a printed cross stitch dresser scarf around that age as well. As a high schooler, I remember my Grammy embroidering and hand-smocking little sunbonnets and dresses for my little cousins. There is something really soothing to me about drawing up a thread through cloth and then drawing it back through again.
When I was a freshman in college, my Grammy died unexpectedly. We were very close and it was a difficult time for me. When we went through her things, my mom and I found a partially completed printed cross stitch sampler that she had been working on before she died.
I took it home and completed it. It has hung in my house ever since my husband and I have owned a home. I love it that both of our hands worked on that sampler. It’s a little bit of her I can see every day.
I remember my mother going through a counted cross stitch phase when I was in college. I always wanted to try it, but it was not until a few years ago that I actually purchased a few kits. I made some animals for my baby niece’s bedroom, a sampler for my sister-in-law, two small patterns for each of my kids, and this beautiful Gracious Love sampler from Modern Folk on etsy. Then I decided to join the Frosted Pumpkin monthly sampler. I made a fairly good start, but I fell behind in abut March and never made it back into the groove. During my year-long frenzy of counted cross stitch, I purchased a couple of patterns to work on, one from Frosted Pumpkin and one from the Prairie Schooler. I still plan to make them…some day.
Most recently, my sister-in-law (who used to live around the corner from me, but moved to Seattle last fall) texted me some pictures of embroidery work she was doing. We both enjoy crafting and we often text each other pictures of the projects we are working on. It was a beautiful portrait of Frida Kahlo done in bold embroidery floss colors and I just fell in love with it. A few weeks later, I found myself wandering around Salem, MA waiting for my teenager and her friends to finish up shopping so I could drive them home. I stopped into Circle of Stitches yarn store there and saw the cutest little embroidery kits from Cozy Blue. I fell in love with the sea captain and bought it (amazingly, I bought NO yarn!). The design was simple and only required back stitch, straight stitch, split stitch (which was new to me) and French knots. The kit included the pattern printed on cloth, a hoop, a needle and a skein of embroidery floss.
It had been a long time since I worked on a printed embroidery pattern and I found myself falling in love with it all over again. I liked not having to continually look at a pattern as you do with counted cross stitch. I also really enjoyed that the pattern was a sea captain. His knit cap reminded me of my love for knitting, and the fact that he was a captain reminded me of my whaling captain ancestors in Maine. Coincidentally, around the same time I bought the pattern, one of my mother’s relatives sent us a transcription of my great-great-great Grandmother’s diary where she told the story of her years on board a whaling ship. Cozy Blue has the Captain’s wife and daughter, as well as a whale, and I’m considering doing them all and grouping them together on the wall in my craft room.
As I neared finishing my sea captain, I began looking on etsy for another pattern to do. I had seen someone working on the Original Dropcloth Sampler on Instagram a couple of years ago, and I quickly decided that would be my next project.
The sampler has a number of different stitches printed on it and it’s a fun way to learn something new. I was very drawn to the Dropcloth samplers done in bright rainbow colors so that’s what I picked out. The sampler itself is very loose. There are no instructions with the pattern, and you get to decide what colors to use and where. I found a great YouTube channel called Mary Corbet’s Needle n’ Thread with a ton of great video tutorials on a bunch of different embroidery stitches. That’s what I’m using to learn anything that I haven’t done before. So far, I’ve done running stitch, three different types of filled running stitches, straight stitch, coral knots, coral zig-zag knots and feather stitching. I’ve never done embroidery with so many fancy stitches and again, I’m finding it to be such a relaxing project. I think it has a lot to do with just (kind of) mindlessly following the printed pattern on the cloth.
I’m already planning on doing Dropcloth Sampler – The Sequel when this one is done! Fortunately, my fall down this rabbit hole wasn’t too bad. I already had a lot of embroidery supplies from my cross-stitching adventures. I do find that I’m having to stop myself from buying more samplers right away. My next step is to learn how to download the pdf patterns and print them so they can be transferred by iron-on. Then I’ll really fall down the rabbit hole!