Being a Minimalist Crafter

I’ve often heard variations of the joke; I’m not a “quilter”, I’m a “collector of fabric”.  Which is very true in my case.  Buying new fabric and other craft supplies brings so much joy with their potential.  Further, I don’t just collect supplies, I start projects-and then never finish them.  In fact, my only two posts before this were about starting a new project after I had delved into my stash with the explicit intention of finishing one.  Whoops.  I gloried in that New Project feeling for a couple of days and then the glow wore off.

See, I’m also a Minimalist.  I’ve read up a bit on modern minimalism, and spent the past year chucking any possession that isn’t something “I know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”.  Being both a Crafter and a Minimalist means that I am often at odds with myself.  I started my Happy Owl-O-Ween cross stitch.  But that meant something else had to get the ax.  Taking a good hard look at my stash I zeroed in on two targets.

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This was my first foray into sarcastic modern cross stitch, and my first self design.  The full quote in from the film Wayne’s World and says, “I once thought I had mono for an entire year.  It turned out I was just really bored.”  I never loved this design though.  I was more concerned with exactly even spaces between the words and lines, rather than playing around with what looked best.  Plus, while sarcastic designs are fun to look at on Pinterest, when it comes to projects I feel dedicated to work on, this was not it.  Into the trash it went.

This was the second project to go.  It was an extremely difficult decision, and I had mixed feelings.  I bought this back in about 2008.  Those were the Limited Days, when I relied on buying whatever kit were least ugly at JoAnns or Walmart.  I never loved this design, but I bought it for the colors.  I was actually a bit surprised that work had even been done on it.  I don’t remember doing so.  Since it was a design I didn’t love, and I hadn’t done much work, it seemed like it would be an easy choice to throw it out.  BUT.  I did like the pattern (or at least the colors) and I had put some work into it.  On principal, it seemed a shame to throw a project out.  I was very torn.

To cure myself of the temptation to hold on, I looked at my (looong) list of other projects I want to do.  I realized that I wanted to work on all of those projects before this one.  Further, I know I will continue to find more amazing projects from my favorite, and ever bountiful store, called the Internet.  Really, my decision was made for me and I chucked it out.  (Side note: Is there somewhere I can send half finished cross stitch projects, other than the landfill?  Are there actually people out there who would want to pick this up where I left off?)

My current project tally stands at 11 finished projects, and 6 half started and thrown out projects.  Not a great batting average.  This just goes to show that you should only start things you really love, and not what happens to be lying around.

While I think about the work that was wasted, I still feel so much lighter!  I love being Minimalist.  Getting rid of these two projects really cleared my mind out, as much as my craft space.  Now I can focus, with enthusiasm and joy on what I want to do, and not be constantly reminded of projects I feel guilty about not finishing.

My New Cross Stitch

Looking at my existing WIPs I was happy.  I was going to work on one of them, really- I was.  But there, in the corner, it was calling to me.  The project I’d been eyeing for a year.  Calling to me to just start already.  Who actually needs to finish projects?  Just START it…start it…start…

Last year I bought my first issue of JustCrossStitch.  It was the Halloween issue, because of course it was.  Halloween is my favorite holiday.  And the owl on the cover was too cute to pass by!  I bought it and fell in love with all of the patterns.  Now I had the task of deciding which one to make first.

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Seriously, how cute is he?

After much pondering, a couple of months ago I started the “Spooky Hollow Quilts” design.  I thought I’d put on my big girl pants, and move up in the cross stitch world from Aida to linen.  But not too fast!  Maybe just try an “evenweave”.  It seemed like a good in-between fabric.  Sadly though, Jo Ann Fabric only carried one package of evenweave and it was white.  The pattern called for a light beige linen.  Now I had to compromise.  I bought the white evenweave and figured it would look fine.  But when I got home, I decided I wanted to white ghosts to pop.  Beige aida fabric it was.  Again.

This project has been going along well.  But as I’ve said, all the patterns in this issue are waaay too cute.  Especially, “Happy Owl-O-Ween”.

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This pattern was sitting here, calling to me.  It would look good on white.  It would be an easy design for my first attempt on linen.  And my tiny DMC collection already included the center orange.  Clearly, this was fate.

Behold, after 2 days work:

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This is super fun to make!  I’ve been working on complicated pieces lately, and I spend more time counting that stitching.  This is great for a mental break.  Large blocks of color, and next to no counting.

This piece has a few firsts for me.  Linen.  It’s much easier to work on than expected.  It took me about a minute to figure out where to place my first half cross stitch.  I kept wanting to stitch over 1 instead of the 2 the pattern calls for.  But once I got it, I was off to the races.  It remains to be seen, however, how easy I find it to count across sections of fabric to start a new owl.  If I count my aida fabric 4 or 5 times, I think I’ll be checking my count on linen about a dozen times 😦

Another first.  Using a hoop!  I’ve tried a couple of times to put a hoop on aida fabric but I hated it.  The stiffness of the fabric really had to be forced in and I worried about warping my stitches.  I also starting stitching when I was young (10ish?) and only just discovered the invention of scrolls and frames, which I’ve yet to try.  Meaning, I stitch without any tension devices.  But I think that would be hard to do with linen.  Fortunately, I found that it tucked into a hoop nicely.  I will have to see what I think when I move enough that the hoop covers my stitches though.

And two more firsts!

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Look at that back!  So clean and tidy!  ooooo, aaaaahh

I had been stitching for years before someone told me that my back is supposed to look neat.  I was perplexed.  Why would the back matter??  I just shrugged my shoulders, and kept doing whatever I felt like, the back be damned.

But upon recent reflection, I realized that I spend A TON of time working through tangles on the back.  All the tails I would leave from starting and stopping were continually getting snarled up in my stitches.  No fun.  Being that this piece is part of a brave new world for me, I decided to attend to my back.  I’m now using the loop start method, and when I end I trim the thread nice and short.  And after these few hours of work, I can safely say that I’ve been a stubborn idiot for years!  I almost always have to be led to change kicking and screaming and I’m always proven to be an idiot for it.  This is the latest example.

Overall, I please and excited with this project and am now up to TEN WIPS!!

 

And now I’m inspired :)

Three days ago I finished the face of a quilt and bought all the supplies I need to sandwich and quilt that baby.  So, of course, I’m dragging my feet with that and I’m on to new projects!

Since quilting was at a standstill, I decided to search for pictures of cross stitch projects.  I like to look at others’ work because it’s pleasant to see finished work and know there are people out there who can actually finish things.  This way I don’t have to face my Works-In-Progress (WIP).  Though honestly, they would be more appropriately called Never-To-Be-Finished-Works-But-A-Girl-Can-Dream (NTBFWBAGCD?).

Living with my mother, who is a master of finishing each and every project before she starts the next, I was quite shamed to have 9 WIP and 2 purchased, waiting to be opened kits.  However, all shame melted away yesterday when I decided to check out cross stitch blogs for the first time.  I browsed through The Stitching Corner and I knew I had found my people!  She has even more projects going that I do and makes no apologies.  She even describes someone who rotates 50!! projects like it’s no big deal.  Turns out my Project ADHD is normal 🙂

So I was inspired.  I had this blog domain for a year, yet had not done anything with it.  I was not sure what to write, and thought I had to be a super pro for it to be worthwhile.  But I’ve decided, that if I’m to embrace having several WIPs, then I want to write about them and track their progress.  At least for my own interest and organizational sanity.  If anyone else finds this blog interesting, then I’m honored!

With my burning enthusiasm to write a blog and track my projects, I pulled all my cross stitches out and laid them on the bed.  Which one to work on next?  Maybe the 15 year old WIP?  My newest WIP?  NOPE!  I started a new one!  …to be posted…