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Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Look Ma, No Kit!



I've mentioned before the problem with vague goals, and knowing when you've achieved them. I put "learn embroidery" on my Before 30 list without really thinking about how I'd know when I got there, but after a little more thought, I decided that for my purposes a reasonable definition of success would be to complete a non-trivial project of my own design. Once I've done that, I feel I can look the world in the eye and say that, from a baseline of nothing, I've made progress. Think of it as the embroidery equivalent of "learning to knit" by making a scarf.

Having decided that this is what I need to do, the next step, of course, was to decide on a project. I have loads of ideas in the back of my mind, mostly held up by my limited ability to draw the designs in the first place. But one day I realised that my jewellery representation of my travels is breaking down as I visit more obscure countries for which charm-bracelet flags aren't produced, and I decided to have a go at embroidering a set of flags for the countries I've visited.

Of course, some flags are inherently easier than others. I'm going to start with the easy ones - but I know that I have Mongolia, Cuba, and Canada waiting for me a little further down the line...

I started off with the idea that I might do each flag seperately, and then sew them on to something, but after making a couple it became clear that it would be hard to get them lined up neatly.

Flags

I decided to treat those as practice, and start again with a single, larger piece. Here's the first stage of planning, with some of the easier flags drawn in:

Embroidery planning

So here I am - trying to sew something without a kit, and without pages of notes to tell me what I should be doing next. This is, in some sense, my personal "exam piece" - if I complete it and am satisfied with the result, then I'm happy to tick off "learning embroidery" as successfully complete, even though I know in my heart that I may never stop learning more about embroidery. (And who knows, maybe eventually I'll learn enough to be able to give myself more specific goals in later years...) The only question now is, can I sew faster than I can travel...?

30 comments:

Tabor said...

I used to love embroidery and actually have a book or two with instructions for the various stitches. Have fun!!

LindyLouMac said...

We had to do some embroidery at school and I hated it, needlework is not my forte.
Good Luck with the project Rachel.

Writing Without Periods! said...

I like cross stitch. You've inspired me.
Mary

Kel said...

What a fabulous idea! Good Luck!

lakeviewer said...

If you enjoy it, go ahead. I was never good at it.

BECKY said...

Hey, great idea! I used to love to cross-stitch, too....back in the "old days" when the Xs were stamped onto the fabric. I like those the best! I don't want to have to COUNT to know where to stitch! :D
I went to your mum's blog and left her a comment, by the way! What a wonderful mother and daughter you both are!!

Katie said...

It looks like you're off to an excellent start already! I cross stitch sometimes but have never embroidered. :-) Your "ma" would indeed be proud! Looks like you have a steady hand!

Louiz said...

cool:)

Looking forwards to watching your progress.

FoodFunFarmLife said...

I think it's great that you are doing things on your 'Before 30'list ... I think the flags you've embroided so far look great & look forward to seeing the finished piece with all of them together !

Kazzy said...

Cute! I am not sure if my older eyes could handle cross-stitching anymore. :)

Bibliomama said...

Honestly, this looks like something I'd hate. Also, your before-30 list is making me feel very tired. but way to go. :)

Jeanne said...

How very cool.

Although how in the world you find time to do all the things you do is beyond me....

Elizabeth Braun said...

Great idea! If you need some suggestions on certain technical aspects, you've only to ask. For instance, I know how you can manage the instricacies of the flags with bits on, but it would mean something like cross stitch or needlepoint, ie working one small square at a time. There are other ways of course.=)

carma said...

well, I think this is a great idea you've got going. And I love how you have planned it out.

smilla4blogs said...

Why not travel and embroider at the same time? Before my mother's hands became so arthritic, she traveled the world over with small sections of needlework. Years later, the pieces were all assembled with the result that she now has a stunning rug. It's a work of art. I always loved the way she took the long view with her project.

JadeLD said...

This is a great idea and such a fun way to remember where you've travelled. Is it difficult? I've got quite a few cloth badges where I've been which I sew on my camp blanket (such a Guiding geek I know!) but there are some missing and this would be a fun way to add them.

Hope you're having a good summer,
Jade

ScoMan said...

This is a fantastic idea and a great project.

I look forward to seeing the results.

Dedene said...

The trick is to embroider the country flag while you are actually on the trip to that country.

Good for you for taking on such a project.

MelRoXx said...

Fantastic idea! Embroidery is really fun if you get the hang of it :)

MelRoXx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deirdre said...

Oh, that looks like it will be a fantastic piece once you've completed it. :)

I like the last line of your post. So cute!! :)

Mademoiselle Poirot said...

I like that idea...and I do hope to see the Tricolor in there ;-) I had "learn to ride a motorbike" before 40 - and I did, so what's next on your list? Have a great week and don't forget to post the results. Love from London x

Bells said...

great ambitious project! sometimes I like to try something once (like spinning) just so I know how it works. Whether I continue on and do more is not important.

Fly Girl said...

I'm very impressed. I love embroidery but it looks so complex.

Richard said...

Aha! I did that with flags about ten years ago - I hadn't been to many countries back then, and in any case I think I lacked the patience to do it properly, so they ended up a bit scruffy - but they're still on my rucksack!
ps - need to take you kayaking
Richard

Christine said...

Good for you... I like the idea of a goal or goals. Part of a life well lived. My own modest goal is to knit a pair of socks - on four needles - much to the bemusementof my mother.

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I did some great cross stitch projects before my daughter was born. It's something I'd like to get back to - maybe twenty years from now when I once again have time for stuff like that!

Red-haired hiker said...

Wow, those are neat! Good luck with the composite one.

You could treat the composite as a sampler of different stitches, and use a stitch dictionary to teach yourself other stitches, outlines and knots which will make some of the more complex flags easier than pure satin stitch.

christine said...

I think that once you've completed this you will be way beyond the "knit a scarf" stage - you'll have created a unique personal chart of your travels, it's a really great idea:-)

christine said...

BTW - your ma is very proud of you:-)

I remember when I was about 20, Dad and I borrowed a camper van and drove for two weeks all round the edge of Scotland (up from Luton). As he drove, I knitted, and I completed a long-sleeved jumper in lacy pineapple stitch in two-ply wool on size 13 and 11 needles. That was some achievement, believe me, but fun.

You could embroider your flag as you travel, maybe? xx

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