Saturday, February 23, 2013

"E" is for Error

That letter cost me dearly!
I've been working on the "Oak Tree Sampler" by Darlene O'Steen. She is the only cross stitch designer I look for by name. Other designers use traditional sampler motifs as well as she does to create samplers than look old as soon as you're done, but she also incorporates lots and lots off different kinds of stitches. I adore this, because while I love cross stitching, I hate doing nothing but cross stitches. Many an otherwise wonderful sampler is ruined for me by being nothing but cross stitch. For me, that's up there with watching paint dry. Very big yawn! Different stitches are interesting to do, add depth and texture to the piece, and many have histories all their own.

I've had this pattern, well, the tag on it says I got it at a needlework shop in Jacksonville, and I left there in 1992. I promise the sampler hasn't been hanging around nearly that long! It's a great design, but I'm working it on unbleached linen, which means it is brown, and the dark fabric is hard on my eyes. The best time to work on it is late afternoon when the afternoon sun is streaming onto the back porch. Yes, I have an Ott Light and it is a wonderful thing, but you cannot beat real sunlight for certain applications.And I like sitting on my back porch. That's one of the great glories of living in the south, the whole back porch thing.

The alphabet is pretty straightforward, with the letters alternating with a dark blue and rust color. If the letter is Rust, it is supposed to be done in Rice stitch. This is Rice Stitch.
The numbers represent the order in which you make your stitches.

 If the letter is done in Dark Blue, it is supposed to be done is a Smyrna Cross. This is Smyrna Cross.

Each line represents one thread of linen fabric
 Things were clicking along; A, B, C, D. Then I hit "E". "E" is Rust, therefore it's supposed to be done in the Rice Stitch. All those R's should make it easy to remember; maybe Darlene even thought of that. Wouldn't put it past her, clever woman that she is.

First, I remembered to change to Rice Stitch, but when I looked it over before I moved to the next letter, I realized I'd forgotten to change the color. The "E" was Dark Blue. No way out of it, it would have to go. If you look at the diagram of Rice Stitch, you'll see why that was a challenge; all those tiny "leg" stitches (Stitches number 5-10) are golden opportunities to cut your linen. Please don't ask me how I managed not to. At least that was one area where the embroidery gods were on my side. They were probably having too much fun with the rest to be bothered. Or they know that there is a very definite point at which I will make a brief stop at the garbage can on my way to the wine and where's the fun in that?

I re-threaded my needle and went back to work. Stepped back - and realized I had the right color, but this time I had stitched the "E" in the Smyrna Cross. Now I enjoy doing the Smyrna Cross; there's a rhythm to it that's almost Zen. If there is a polar opposite to Zen, it is something very similar to taking out a Smyrna Cross. And there were 18 of the blasted things in that "E". That finally accomplished, I put everything that was not Rust thread out of sight, and chanting the steps to the Rice Stitch (mostly) under my breath - or as my buddy Jackie likes to say "consulting with the smartest person I know" though it sure didn't feel that way at the time - this time I managed to stitch a Rust-colored "E" in Rice NOT Smynra Stitch.

When you think about the mathematical possibilities, I made every mistake possible in this combination that didn't involved actually messing up the letter. The letter "E."

I wonder if Sue Grafton ever had this many stupid aggravations with one of her novels?

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