I have been painting my apartment over the past few weeks and today was dusting off the frames of the many needlepoints as I re-hang them and thought I would write a few words about their making. As luck would have it I also stumbled upon the traditional crosstich patterns of Jacob de Graaf this morning on his website Modern Folk Embroidery which were so inspiring. I have always had a passion for needlework of all kinds. It began with watching my Mother carefully embroidering a set of Deer from a kit which arrived with the images lightly printed in cyan blue and all the colors of floss included. I remember wanting to get my hands on those gorgeous skeins of cotton and do something creative with them even as a small child. I didn't begin doing my own embroidery however until years later when, inspired by an adorable Sailor Dog embroidered pillow in Marie Claire Idées that I did a needlepoint portrait pillow of my dog Toby. Another dog themed sampler in Marie Claire Idées tipped me over the edge forever. Inspired by that design, I began my first sampler which hangs to this day in my hall. (I borrowed heavily from that design as the kit was no longer available but I put in my dog Toby as well as some of my other favorite breeds). It was a visit to my Swedish friend Louise in Paris however that began my love of cross stitch. Her beautiful traditional Redwork samplers made me determined to learn that somewhat intimidating craft. My first efforts were a series of one color dog designs in a traditional folk style. I still love them for their simplicity but I upon close inspection one can find many beginners flaws! I continued designing patterns based on favorite themes such as vintage sewing, anthropomorphic kitchen utensils etc. and am currently finishing up a Christmas Dessert pattern based on the books of the Victorian homemaker Mrs. Beeton .
I know I haven't posted in awhile so I hope you are all still with me. I have been home recuperating from surgery (I'm fine) for the past 2 weeks and honestly going a little stir crazy. I am just getting back to work in the studio now but what saved my sanity these past 2 weeks was working on a new needlepoint when I couldn't really do much else. I knew that would be the project to engage me while I was stuck in the apartment but unfortunately I had already finished my Dove portraits so I had to come up with something new and personally interesting. I decided to pay homage to Mrs. Beeton and her Homemaking books of the 1860's. I have always loved those beautiful illustrations of victorian desserts and thought that they would make a lovely addition to my kitchen wall. I admit to using artistic license in the names and desserts for visual reasons but the inspiration is all Mrs. Beeton. There is a wonderful film made about her for PBS a few years back entitled The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton which I highly recommend. In the weeks leading up to the surgery I designed the image and charted it on graph paper so it would be all ready to begin when I returned home. Here is a little piece of it so far, it will probably take me most of this year to finish but after all the pleasure is mostly in the making not just the final product!
I wasn't sure at this point whether I preferred a greenish gold or an aqua background and I have since changed the wording a bit. Half the fun is adjusting it as you go.