Preliminary Sketches

I haven’t been working on any cross stitch recently. I have ideas, but they’re much more ambitious than anything I’ve ever done before, so I’m planning it all out before I make an arse of myself and waste tons of fabric and thread…

Instead I’ve been learning how to darn socks (there seem to be two main techniques, based on the size of the hole, and they are showcased very nicely here and here), reading Brideshead Revisited (so good, you guys. I’m not even exaggerating. Sure Waugh gets a bit carried away in his metaphors sometimes, and his language can be a bit excessive, but he can carry it off because the story’s so full of STUFF. It’s just wonderful and horrible and read it now.) and working, which has been very enjoyable of late. So working at Nintendo was a good idea, who knew?

I’ve also been discovering the best places for cocktails in Frankfurt. More expeditions needed before I give a full report on this, though the appletini at the Innside Hotel last night was the most potent thing I have ever put in my mouth. Take that as you will.

SO! As I said before, I have two main ideas for my next stitching project knocking around my head. They both involve blackwork. (Don’t know what blackwork is?)

Have I ever done blackwork? No. Do I have any idea how to to blackwork? Ehhhh not really. This is why I’m biding my time. Lots of sketching, lots of compiling of stitches and free sampler patterns to get used to the stitches. I am considering buying a book. All very exciting! See some sketches after the cut…

Idea number one is small and relatively simple, so will probably be the one I get around to first. Basically, I was reading Fat Birds one day, as is my wont, and I came across a little ball of fuzz called the Pekin robin (or the red-billed leiothrix, or the Pekin nightingale, or the Japanese hill robin, or…) and I thought to myself, Yes, I will immortalise you in thread, for you are adorable and make me go “eeeeee”.

It’s such a colourful little sweetie that I don’t want to do it in monochrome, but of course I have a lot of learning before I get to any stage where the colours I want to do it in become relevant. I’ve done a few sketchy things from Google Image references, like the classy broad I am, to get a feel for the bird.

We are want to make babby bord :D

Birdy birds.

They’re all drawn with biro, so forgive the messiness. The more I drew them, the more I thought, “This is going to be so ridiculously hard to do.” I looked around for other birdie blackwork patterns on the internet, just to see what kind of thing people do with them, and yep, it’s either going to look terrible or have to be a pretty substantial size to get any of the tonal detail in. Not to mention I’ll have to actually learn how to do these stitches.

So that’s idea number one.

Idea number two is even more hideously complicated.

True story: I first learned cross stitch thanks to a kit I got when I was about nine. You started on the canvas mesh working with wool, and as you worked through the book you got onto the actual fabric, using proper thread, getting finer and finer. In the introduction to the book of patterns I learned the phrase “you have to learn to walk before you can run,” and this whole concept has been dogging my footsteps ever since. I love to run before I can walk. I am all over that. As I’ve grown up I’ve been making a conscious effort to build up a good foundation in various skill sets before I try to do stupidly complicated things, and now, with the arrival of blackwork in my life, we have come full circle. So, this time I’ve promised myself I’m going to be sensible. Wish me luck.

Idea number two is another one inspired by the Decemberists – their song The Crane Wife 3 this time. So I drew lots of cranes…

here a birdie...

Red-crowned cranes are apparently the only cranes with white primary feathers.

Lots of cranes.

there a birdie...

The fancy black "tail" they sport when their wings are folded is just made up of wing feathers.

Even more cranes.

and another little birdie

They're also the heaviest of the cranes, but you probably wouldn't want to tell one that to its face.

So those are all my cranes. I think I have a half-decent feel for the bird now, so all that remains is to get a feel for blackwork, and plot out my design… Stay tuned!

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