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Baby steps of progress 
28th-Sep-2006 05:07 pm
Always busy, always too much to do.

But somehow that doesn't stop me from taking on more. (Of course, there could be a relation there.)

Back in January a friend passed on, and in March I was helping to clean out his apartment, and we discovered a mostly-finished cross-stitch project that had been in-progress for most of a dozen years. I was volunteered ;-) to finish it.

We found a bag of of threads in the right colors to be related, and digging further, found some graph paper with most of the pattern, and found some other notes. Really there was only a corner yet to be completed. Plus the back-stitching. Plus... a little bit more.

My first step was to find a downloadable program that would let me input the pattern into a replicable format. (I like it, and even if I never use it again, I'll need to send her money, cuz it worked for what I wanted it for.)

Once that was saved, I noted the differences between the pattern as written down, and as stitched, and modified the pattern to reflect what was stitched.

(Oh my. A little compulsive are we? Yep. I think that was about 8 hours worth.)

Then I had to figure out how to match my stitching to his, so it would not be obvious where he'd left off. First I needed to use 3 strands. I usually do only 2. Looking at what had gone before, 3 was as much as I could see him using, but I'm wondering if he was really using all 6, because of how thick the work was. I forced myself to stitch loosely so it looked much the same as what had gone before.

Then to figure out how to frame it. At first I figured it would need to be matted, and carefully, since the pattern went to the edge of the stitching. Then someone suggested that I stitch the background further out. Good plan! If I added 3 rows of "sky", that would bring it out to a full inch too, so I did that.

All told, the patterning, stitching, and finishing took about 50 hours.

How to finish it? I ended up buying two sectional frame sets, a piece of glass, and some foam core.

Amusingly, it was Talk Like a Pirate Day when I went to Michael's to make this purchase, and they were having a great sale. (Usually each of the sectionals (2 pieces of frame) costs about $10; the foam core is usually $2.50, but was on sale for $1, and the glass I think he quoted me at $8.) He rang me up, and the price came to about $11. In my contrary, anti-pirate mind-set, I asked "does that include the glass?" His response? "Today it does." (No, I didn't see the glass on the receipt when I got it home.)

I am grumpy about professional finishing of art-work. Yes, I've had some fantastic jobs done, but there is one bad job that I still remember -- over 13 years after it happened. I was going to be working on my first real cross-stitch project, which I was going to be giving away as a gift for a particular event. I put in an hour or more each night, starting at the beginning of the year. Realizing I didn't want to pay professional rates, I took a class at Lee Wards (or whatever Michael's was called before it was Michael's) for matte cutting. I learned a lot, not the least of which was that I was NOT ready for prime time.

When I finished my cross stitch -- in time for the event, but without much time to spare -- I took it back to Lee Wards. The nice woman there taught me about signing my work, so I took it home, did that, and brought it back the next day. There was a trick -- something that needed to be done to the work as they mounted it. I could not do it ahead of time. I asked for their advice, and they told me what to do in order to tell THEM what to do. I even followed their advice. I chose frame and matting and glass. And I crossed my fingers and sent it off.

When it came back I nearly cried. The matting was pretty good. The frame was lovely. The packaging was beautiful. And they had not done the one thing that I had asked them to do, so to my eyes, the entire work was wasted.

But I was too much of a wimp to say "no, take it back; do it right". For one, I'm a wimp. For another, I didn't have any more time, and time is one of those things I obsess about. For three, the way they described the mounting (which involved gluing the fabric to the mounting board), they'd not be able to fix it anyhow. (The problem was that there was a musical instrument in the design, and it had strings. The strings could not be tightened ahead of time, but needed to be done in such a way that once the work had been stretched, they were in the right place, and when it was glued down it would stay there.)

I think a professional job that still sucks, but which still cost a gob of money is worst than nearly the worst amateur job.

So I did my shoddy amateur job putting together the framing of my friend's cross-stitch. It was done with love, but it was not done with art. I suck so badly that even though they gave me 3 nails to attach the jagged hooky-thing to the top, I got one nail in well, I destroyed one nail, and only kind of got the only remaining nail to kind-of hold on the other side. I think it's light enough it'll be okay, but as a perfectionist, it bugs me.

So... is there anything more pathetic than a perfectionist who lacks talent?

Anyhow, I finished this last week, and delivered it on Saturday to the people who'll be getting it off to the original targeted recipient. And that's one more thing I can cross off of my to-do list.
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