I'm a late bloomer when it comes to needlework. I did a few random pieces in my youth, but I never really got hooked. It wasn't until my daughter attended the Nelly's Needlers summer youth camp at Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria, VA, that I got back to doing cross-stitch. What a great way to relax! How soothing!
I worked several projects, beginning with a ballet bag that had a simple band to be stitched that Jane had started and abandoned. I tried surface embroidery, completing a lovely floral bouquet that I had made into a pillow for my mother (note the words "had made," not "made"). This was not really my cup of tea, however, so I went back to cross-stitch. I found a funky, blue cat's head that I did for a friend and then rather naively moved on to a Mirabilia fairy. What an eye-opener! When I finished that and had it made into a pillow for Jane, I announced that I'd "done my Mirabilia." There was no need for me to revisit that type of design.
Then I came to a screeching halt. I couldn't find anything that stimulated me, that I wanted to spend my valuable free time on. Bummer. What a world, what a world. I had been hoodwinked; I had the compulsion but could find nothing to stitch. Woe was me!
Well, I could have continued in that vein, bemoaning the lack of enticing patterns, and I did for a little while. Then I had the proverbial ah-ha moment. What an idiot I was! A graphic designer who couldn't find something to stitch. Surely I could design something myself. I mean, how hard could it be? Consulting and collaborating with a friend, I conceived what ultimately became Merrey Design, my cross-stitch design brand.
A few years along, as I was gaining more confidence in my stitching and designing, I was faced with a devastating prospect. My supply source was about to disappear. Yes, I know, the loss of a local needlework shop doesn't mean the end of cross-stitch supplies; there are other ways to feed the habit. But it was very important to me as a designer to be able to go into a store, pull the floss, find the linen, see how the colors looked together, and ask the shopowner what she thought. Michael's just didn't cut it. Okay. So now what was I going to do? Maybe I'd just buy the shop. I mean, I was pretty burned out on graphic design. How hard could it be to run a retail store?
Do you see a pattern here? This is where the "remedial" part comes in. I'm great at jumping in with both feet without making sure I have all the knowledge I might need to succeed at my latest venture. So I have to backtrack a bit and ferret out that necessary information, develop that skill, whatever is required. Owning a retail embroidery supplies shop opened up a whole new world of stitching and materials that I never really knew existed.
So while I still love counted cross-stitch, the paint-by-numbers form of needlework, I'm back in class again, learning about all these things I'm selling and wanting to work all the patterns and use all the materials myself. All the fibers I wasn't aware of, having only ever used DMC cotton floss. The gorgeous linens in such beautiful colors, with so much depth and such a wonderful hand. Not to mention canvaswork, a totally new concept for me, having only had experience with the preworked needlepoint of old, on which you simply stitched the background and then pronounced it your work. Yawn!
That's where this blog fits in. I've been exploring new techniques and materials, so much so that I think I'm the queen of MIPs, models in progress. Come by the shop when you're in Great Falls, VA, and you'll see what I mean. I'd like to share my discoveries with other like-minded people. I'm lucky to have easy access to almost anything I want to try out, and I'm happy to pass along what I learn, both good and bad, with the understanding that all of this is totally subjective.
I mean, how hard can it be to keep up with a weekly blog?