Saturday, January 15, 2011

Just A Bit Cross-Eyed

During three seasons of the year, I spend most of my evenings outside. There's always something to be done in the garden or the rest of the yard. But in the dead of winter, when it's cold and the dark comes early, I end up in the living room, keeping warm close to the wood stove.

Aries watches tv, and I like to read. But sometimes I'll be kinda listening and/or watching whatever he has on, and then I like having something in my hands to work on. Many years ago, when I was young and could see better :-P I started working on a little counted cross-stitch set of the 12 days of Christmas - early-American versions, as opposed to the more-common English stuff. I'd done two and started on the third (a crazy-inducing black and white Barred Plymouth Rock hen, instead of a French one, whatever that is), when the days started getting longer. So I stashed them away in the closet. And there they sat.

Around Thanksgiving this year, needing something to work on, I dug them back out and have been diligently plugging away on them again. They're a nice little handwork size - fitting within a 5" hoop. I figure I'd better get them finished while I can still focus on that 18-count material - that's 18 teeny x's to the inch (what was I thinking!).

I now realize I can't wear my contact lenses to work on them either. I usually wear mono-vision contacts - using my right eye for reading, my left eye for distance. It's worked great for me for years - my brain just automatically knows which eye to use when. But it means I have no close-up depth perception. I can't thread the needle! Nor easily focus on getting the needle into those teeny tiny holes, especially when I'm filling in a new color in-between areas I've already worked. So I'm wearing my glasses instead. With the lamp shade tilted to get more light. This gettin' older ain't for sissies!

And then, I started on that damn swan-a-swimming, working with white and cream threads on ivory material! It was almost like working in braille. I could feel the raised threads of the x's better than I could see them. That one I finally finished up in the mornings, sitting in front of the east window so I could see what I was doing.

Working on teeny cross-stitches kinda starts messing with my mind after a while, too. I stop seeing parts of x's, and start focusing on the empty diamond spaces in between instead - sort of a negative space kind of thing. Or half an x looks like a natural extension of the one diagonally above it. It takes some concentration to readjust back to seeing where I need to start the opposite-side slashes, in the middle of that diagonal.

Stitching the x's, too, is a bit like working in watercolors, or with a soft-focus filter on a camera. The colors kinda run and blend together. But then, when the x's are all finished, I love how it suddenly all comes into sharp, pulled-together focus with the addition of the outline stitches. And once again, I'm amazed at how just trusting the process, I end up with something looking pretty good.


Annodear said...

Yes, those are beautiful! You're cracking me up, too :-) Sometimes I put on two pair of my reading glasses when I'm sewing something that's teeny tiny or black on black! It's just like wearing a magnifying glass perched on my nose. Seriously, tho, it works good.

denimflyz said...

You do Beautiful work my dear. My mother and I used to own and operate a needlework and quilt shop in my town for over 40 years, so we did complicated embroideries for churches and needlepoint chair seats, and later quilting, which I was not a fan of. My mother retired after 40 years of the shop. I cannot embroider because of the same problem, sight. So I hook rugs and it is very forgiving.
Love your blog.
Stay warm

Anonymous said...

Those are lovely. I did cross stitching from about the age of 11 to maybe 23 and then I discovered quilting, then knitting and that has taken up my free time since. I keep thinking I should get another cross stitch pattern. Hand work is such a nice way to spend cold winter nights, especially with hubbies who watch tv!!


Anonymous said...

Same here, had SUCH a problem threading needles. Then I bought this and never looked back ! It might work for you....