Any difficulties I had ... and I had a few ... were of my own making. The first day of class, most of the participants chose to work on the border of the etui. This was stitched with one strand over one vertical thread and two horizontal threads. Imagine nearly 40 women counting up to 72, up to 72, then to 63, then to 64, then to 71, then to 72, and 63, and 63 ... marking and remarking their counts, muttering imprecations under their breath as sides fail to line up ... resorting to pins at every 10 stitches, or basting lines at every 10 stitches, or a small back stitch in the selvage, every 10 stitches. It took most of us the better part of the first day to finish the border. Sighs of relief going up in full chorus! So far so good ... except that there were problems with the fabric. The fabric chosen for the piece was an exquisite Scottish linen, woven in small quantities only once a year [this information was part of Ann's interesting commentary], a bit stiff to begin with but it softened up to a lovely hand once worked with ... so soft in fact that there was a major fraying problem. This was one of those times when the fabric really should have been sent to the participants ahead of time so it could have been prepped with serging or a zig-zag stitched edge. I swear I lost a quarter of an inch of the fabric before I got back home to my sewing machine. In class, we were plotting to search out a Singer or Bernina dealer and pose as potential customers who just happened to have a piece of material in hand with which to test the machine. We alerted Chris [of Chris' Collection] that she could have made big bucks [enough to pay her motel bill, at least] had she brought her serger with her and offered to serge our fabric for a not unduly extortionate fee ... heck, by the end of the first day, most of us would have paid an extortionate fee. To recap: problem #1 - counting and recounting, frogging, recounting; problem # 2 - fraying. Then came problem #3. There was recently a thread on the 123 message board about design problems/flaws. The pet gripe of most folks on the board was designers who use symbols that closely resemble one another in the same chart. Well I fell prey to this flaw. In this chart, there was a cross symbol for a butter yellow silk and there was a slightly embellished cross symbol for a green silk. On the one page chart, I swear to you, you could not tell the difference ... at least, I couldn't, even with the assistance of graduated lenses and a magnifying lamp. To give Ann due credit, she did point out that she had included an enlarged chart three pages in length at the back of the packet ... unfortunately, she did not explain why she had included the enlarged chart until the morning of the second day when she was moving around through the class and discovered that I had stitched the entire first line of the prayer in the wrong color ... because I prefer to see the whole chart on one page and therefore missed the crucial distinction between the symbols. So there I am with my barely discernible pale yellow lettering on a creamy linen ... feeling like a bit of an ass because of the five or so other people who had started on the letterring, no one else had made the same mistake. Ann kindly offered me another piece of fabric. It took my absolutely no time at all to decide that I would live with my error rather than stitch the border again [I mean I am going to have to stitch it a second time for the back of the etui ... but a third time, for a new front ... no way, no how] I shall use a shadow technique to make my letters stand out, backstitching each letter on its left side in tan or brown. Having stitched the entire first line of the prayer in the wrong color, I abandoned the lettering and moved on to the house at the bottom of the etui and promptly chose the wrong purple for the foundation. Do you see a trend developing here? Happily, I realized my error only four stitches later. Frogging over 1 is a delicate process at best and on this fabric, it's comparable to brain surgery. You will note [see photo] the progress that I made during the entire two day class ... I haven't gotten back to it yet ... can you see the pale lettering? No? Stay tuned to see if the shadowing technique improves matters or if frogging will be the only option!
Reading the last paragraph, you might think I had a miserable time when in fact I had a marvelous time. Go figure! And, no, I don't usually spend my leisure hours banging my head against a wall! There is something about stitching, even when things are not going as smoothly as one might wish, that soothes the soul. The linen may have frayed, but it was such a beautiful linen with a soft hand. The floss may have been the wrong color but it was such an exquisite floss, a pleasure to the touch. The design, chart symbols confusion notwithstanding, was and is a delight to the eye. It will be a joy to stitch. And, Ann kept giving us little extras ... a chart for a scissor fob was added to the class packet ... a chart for a tiny biscornu to match the needlebook and etui came in it's own bag ... and as an added bonus, Ann gave us all another Brightneedle chart, from her own dwindling stock. My OOP Brightneedle chart is Blueberry Hill ... not everybody got the same chart, but we all got something. One more thing I appreciated was that Ann very graciously autographed my Esmeralda's House chart, my current WIP ... speaking of which, here is a photo of my continuing progress on that piece. I did use it as my relief piece. At the end of the day, when I couldn't stitch another stitch over one, I picked up my comfortable EH stitched on 32 count linen, 2 over 2 and just relaxed. And as long as I am showing you photos of WIPs, here's a photo of the PS 2008 Limited Edition Santa that I finished in the car on the way to the retreat. And here is a photo of my car project on the way home: Monsterbubbles' Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun. But don't be too impressed: during the 2 1/2 hour drive home on the very hair-raising I-95, all I managed to stitch was the word Ghouls. The rest was stitched Sunday afternoon and early this morning.
Tomorrow, I will post about the Show & Tell and the stitchers. Unfortunately, I didn't take photos ... and I am now kicking myself for not doing so. There were so many neat stitched items to be seen ... scissor fobs, sewing boxes, needlebooks, purses, sweatshirts, you name it.