Thursday, October 16, 2008


If I have a dilemma in my life, it is this: if I am reading, I can't be doing genealogy; if I'm doing genealogy, I can't be writing; if I'm writing, I can't be cross-stitching, and if I'm cross-stitching, well, you get the idea. I am good at multi-tasking but not that good. Still, over the years I've found time to do a little of each. Today, I'm going to share with you a few of my handwork projects.

When I went to Turkey I knew I would have a lot of time on my hands, so I picked out a bunch of embroidery/cross-stitch/knitting things to do in my spare time. I didn't know what to expect in Turkey; I just assumed I'd be the only American woman sitting over there, twiddling her thumbs. And if it is one thing I don't do well, it is twiddle.

I was wrong, very wrong, about what I would find. There were hundreds and hundreds of American women there, some connected to the Consultate, some wives of businessmen, some who married Turks when they were in University and ended up in Istanbul, and many in the education profession. I had so much social life I hardly had time to pick up a handwork project. But I did complete a couple, one of which is the white tiger below. The size of the tiger's head is about 10x12, and that was a lot of cross-stitching. It was the largest, most complicated project I had undertaken, and there were times when I thought I'd never be able to finish it. But I did, and the results are below.

When I retired, I was looking for another project and found, by the same designer, a spotted jaguar, and I took that on as my first retirement project. I found, like many others, that the first year of retirement was very, very difficult. We had moved to a different town; I knew no one, all my friends were too far away to visit, and I expected I would enjoy doing nothing all day but that was not the case. So I started on this jaguar face with a vengance. If anything, it was more complicated that the white tiger, and I struggled with it on and off for a year. But I am not usually a person who abandons a project mid-stream, so in due time it was finished and framed.

In year 3 after I retired, I came upon this black panther, done by a different designer. It was so striking I just had to do it. It was by far the easiest, except that working on black cloth is very hard on the eyes, and in this case, what I was doing was cross-stitching only the highlights. The eye of the observer ends up filling in the body itself. The end result is dramatic. One of my friends looked at it and said, "I can't take my eyes off its eyes!"

And finally my most recent, and last, cat. When I saw this lion, done by the same designer as the first two, I knew that this would complete my big cat project. I worked hard on this and was so excited to get it finished that I even forgot to take a picture of it before I had it framed. But it turned out as wonderful as the others.

I have the four of them hanging on the wall opposite my computer. They watch me as I peck away at it, and I watch them as I glance away from the screen occasionally. When I take many months to work on a project, I begin feeling a real connection to the subject. These are my big cats and they are my friends. I love being surrounded by them.

Are there any more on the horizon? Not cats. I'm finishing up on two pelicans - stylized pelicans taken from a block-print of one of Mississippi's Walter Anderson creations. I have to work on those when no one is around to distract me, as what I am doing at this point -- the finishing touches - require total concentration. I've started on another project of little pandas climbing up bamboo trees. Somehow I have to integrate these into my times for reading, writing and doing genealogy. It isn't always easy to do, but while my eyes are still good enough to find the places to stick my needle, I'll keep at it.

Hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoy sharing them with you.

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