September 12, 2010
A (long) while ago I bought this beautiful hand painted canvas of Charley Harper's 1971 Blue Jay Bathing. I love the colours and the mindless but meditative labour that will be involved in sewing tiny cross stitches into something we can hang on our walls. Of course, I've had the canvas for months, but aside from the excusing myself from getting on with it due to lack of time, my main problem is that I just can't start a project without extensive research into the best way of going about it. And that goes for anything. Making a quilt for Ollie's first birthday took months, not because I couldn't find time, but because I would spend hours referencing and cross referencing as many sources of information as possible before making the first cut, sewing the first patch, even learning how to tie a quilters knot.
Anyway, I digress. This project is no different. I haven't embarked on a needlepoint project before, and in true personal style, I have chosen one that is intended for someone with more experience than I have. I don't do things by halves, and together with my obsession for doing things right this means that it will most likely be months before this one is finished and adorning our walls.
First I couldn't work out which gauge of wool to use, and whether to use wool at all. Who knew that genuine tapestries are stitched with wool? And the gauge/type of wool depends on the weight of the canvas. I didn't even know that the gauge of the mesh I have is 18:1, meaning there are 18 stitches per inch, which in turn means using a strand or two of crewel yarn. I worked it out eventually, but not before I bought two yarns of differing thickness and sat deliberating over whether one looked too chubby and the other too sparse. And then came the colour confusion. The canvas I have is (to my mind) perfect and of course, I want to match the colours exactly. You would think this would be easy when this brand of yarn I've found has over 400 colours to choose from. (What this actually means is that it's approximately 400 times more difficult to choose the exact shade, depending on what time of day and under which conditions I'm looking at the canvas. And by conditions, I mean light, not state of mind.) Finally, which stitch should I use? The Purl Bee says to use the 'ultra simple basketweave' but I can't say it's that easy. But I'm going to try. It might mean even more time on the internet, referencing sources and watching youtube videos (what a great way to learn) but I have to get it right!
I'm pretty sure I know how good it will feel to work on this project and see it finished, so I'm glad it's finally happening. And then maybe for the next project I'll be able to throw caution to the wind and just wing it. (Maybe.)