February 11, 2013

Stitching the Flock, January - My Crappy Sheep

I'm taking part in the Stitching the Flock year long Stitch Along from Little House Needleworks. Well, I will be once I get my act together.

I'm down at my parents' house, spending two weeks 600 miles away from my limitless stash (ha!) and the January "Hope" sheep was something I thought would be a short and easy little stitch. The pattern called for 30 count R&R Reproductions Dark Chino fabric, which of course I didn't have because I haven't built up a stash of fabric yet and I hadn't even heard of R&R Reproductions. But I checked my fabric that I did have and discovered that I had a 32 count Weichelt Lambwool that looked about the same color as the fabric pictured on the pattern. I was supposed to be using this fabric for my Country Cottage Needleworks monthly cottages from last year's SAL that I worked on up through May. But I got tired of them after I finished May and set the rest of the patterns back in my pile to go back to because I hate to commit to a project and not finish it.

So I went online and did the fabric count conversion thing and came up with what I thought was the right size piece of fabric. I cut that out of the larger piece of linen and spent a couple of hours overcasting it because I don't own a sewing machine because they hate me. Then I was all ready to get started until I realized that I hadn't cut the fabric big enough to do all twelve flock designs and that was how I wanted to stitch it.

So then I had the brilliant idea of doing it one over one and entering it in next year's needlework show at Woodlawn Plantation in the miniatures category! I haven't done much one over one stitching, but I really like the way it looks. Except I tried one over one on my HAED (which was only 25 count Laguna fabric) and I ended up tossing it into the scrap bag when I realized I hated stitching one over one because if you make a mistake, frogging it is nearly impossible.  So I switched to 16 count Aida on my blog friend Carrie's advice. I got through two pages of the 20 page pattern and put it back in the rotation box to work on something else for awhile. (Did you guys realize that the HAED patterns are stitched in EVERY hole???? Why didn't someone force feed me the fact that I had picked a 200,000 stitch project???

Okay, really I knew that and figured I would probably work on it on and off over the next twenty years and that's okay.  (Trust me. I have a point here.)

Fast forward to the flock project (or my crappy sheep because of how badly I screwed this up).

I got a little bit of the border stitched before leaving for South Carolina a week ago and then packed up the kitted pattern to work on and hopefully finish while I was down here.

The first day when I got it out to work on, I got the border finished up and was starting to cuss at the fact that I couldn't see what I was doing and really needed a magnifier if I was going to stitch it one over one. But I didn't want to spend the money on one and have it shipped here, only to later remember how full my suitcase was and that I couldn't bring it home with me.

My mom gave me her reading glasses, which I put on over my regular glasses and that sort of helped until I realized I was getting dizzy from looking through what seemed like a really long and really claustrophobic tunnel and started getting queasy. I took off the extra pair of glasses and decided to soldier on, since it really was looking cool.

Then I got the border finished and stitched in the "Hope" and the little green thing with red berries and was really thinking it looked really good. Oh my gosh, how freaking talented am I???

Until I got to the sheep and realized that the lambswool color wasn't dark enough for the colors recommended in the kit and my poor little ewe was getting lost because the thread color was too similar to the fabric color. Mom suggested backstitching and I thought okay, cool, I will backstitch it after I finished the whole January piece.

Moving on to the snowflake in ecru, I was dismayed to see that it showed up even less than the sheep. But I thought maybe I could leave it and people could use their superpower vision when they looked at it. And that was when the serious mistake happened. I got off by one stitch. (I know you are all groaning with me if you've ever gotten off by one stitch doing one over one.) I had almost finished the snowflake and not only was it hard to see it, it wasn't going to be counted right and there would be a noticeable error, which meant trying to frog the whole snowflake, or at least back to a place where I could fudge it enough to make it work.

My dream of the needlework show was pretty much fading by now.

But I frogged it back far enough to find the mistake, adjusted for being off by one and started around the snowflake again.

I was almost finished with the snowflake when I realized the back felt kind of lumpy. Turning it over, I discovered that there was a huge tangle of thread that was not unravelable (look, I made up another word!).

Well crap! I now had spent four days off and on and I realized that (a) one over one just wasn't going to work and (b) that the fabric color was completely wrong. I made the executive decision to stop before I hurt my brain any further and order the right color fabric. Which apparently is not being made because I couldn't find it on any of the usual needlework sites.

Crap, crap, crap. Okay wait. I'll just give 123 Stitch a call for another recommendation! Um no. It was Sunday and they are closed on Sunday. After extensive research into whether or not Mom's town had a local needlework shop (consisting of my asking her and her saying she didn't think there was one here; you see how hard I work at this, right?), I made another executive decision to just order another color 123 Stitch recommended as close to the Dark Chino in a size large enough to do two over two and fit all twelve of them on one piece of fabric.

After extensive calculation (consisting of my mom and me doing bad arithmetic in our heads because I was too lazy to hit the calculator button on my iPhone), I figured out the correct size and ordered the fabric, which will be waiting for me when I get home.

And then it hit me. I was working on 32 count instead of 30 count and my original size assessment to do all twelve sheep on the piece of fabric I had cut two over two might not have been off after all. Of course, that still didn't solve my color problem, since all of my DMC floss is at home.

At least I will be able to see all the colors on the new fabric. I think. Since I haven't seen whether its dark enough yet.

So, after wasting four perfectly good sewing days on this instead of working on something and making progress, I have finally thrown up my hands and said, "Self, work on something else!"

But here is a look at what four days of trying to do one over one on the wrong color fabric netted me:

Can you see that tangled blob on the left side of the snowflake That was it for me.

I'm back to working on my sampler, hoping to finish it while I'm here. And I brought the June country cottage and two other kitted up patterns.

Mostly though, I'm spending quality time with my mom and enjoying not having to let the dogs out every five minutes.

I hope you are having happier stitching than I have the last few days!



  1. I hate when nothing seems to go right with a project. Don't give up on it! I just got my Hope Virtue in the mail today. Hoping to start it soon.

  2. Some days I think you just need to say to yourself "step.away.from.the.stitching!" It is so frustrating. Fingers crossed second time around things go a little better...x

  3. Glad to hear from you Chelle. Sorry about all the problems with the sheepy design. A big one that I started last year and knew I wasn't going to finish, I could off the part I stitched, cut it into pieces and tossed in the garbage. Cut up the rest of the fabric for other projects.
    Good luck with the new start.


  4. Whew! I'm worn out just reading about all your troubles! You're a strong woman not to give up at the first obstacle. Cut out that tiny little square and make a scissor fob! Then have fun stitching all 12 sheep on the right color fabric in the right size, 2 over 2!

  5. Thank you for your lovely response back in December (yikes I am so behind in correspondence it is unbelievable). I recently discovered a message from a friend from my old uni (dated same month) who wanted help in picking up knitting. Probably my advice came a few months too late. Oh well. Better late than never.

    I am very glad to see you having decided against your decision to pass on the sheep. Though pity unsuccessfully at the moment. Since your comment regarding the so mentioned sheep ... I asked myself is there more than just cottages out there ... googling for this sheep took at least a month before I blindly stumbled across them. I love the ornaments that are for 3 years (prior sals I think), so sheep and those I want ... so now just need money/budget. I haven't done evenweave before and absolutely hate the 22 count I am currently doing so might attempt something simpler on the type of fabric before placing an order and committing. A lady I came across in the search of how to purchase these little fellas (UK ain't the right country for LHN designs it seems) gave me the following website: http://www.anitalittlestitches.com/lhnsheep.html maybe it will help in your search for fabric.

    Thank you for your advice on Love Quilts. Will definitely look into it again (I do like that its on aida ... as I said me and evenweave don't go together yet - but I am uncertain of blank background as I sometimes stitch a little too tight so that might deform the fabric a little). We'll see.

    Good luck with the sheep. Is that a centimetre tape? Scary how tiny it is!


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