As promised, I began to collect and sort my stitching. There were some "A-ha!" moments and "Oh Right!" moments but mostly I am concerned about my commitment to my hobby. In part to save money in this terrible economy, but also to streamline my modest living space.
When I initially began to learn to stitch, it was a vision I had in the manner of older ladies sitting around a patio or dining room table together drinking tea, eating scones & finger sandwiches, and some would be knitting, and others stitching. Not necessarily Victorian doilies and lace surrounding us, but a community of women that wanted a completed product to show for their time other than watching television. I soon learned that food and stitching didn't really work, and that I get nervous drinking tea as I am clumsy and it stains the work badly. Thus my fantasy was destroyed.
At the time, I was newly married, childless and about 29. I had a difficult time trying to find peers that stitched (still do have a problem) so I settled for anyone who crafted in general. I was teased a bit by my family about pursuing a hobby that didn't include fitness/sport, a hobby for old ladies, and overall that there was only "ducks and bonnets" type results from these projects. I laughed over and over but devoted my energy despite their misunderstanding of my intentions. I never took it personally, it just motivated me to look for projects I was deeply interested in.
I felt then, as I do now, stitching is an art form. I started with a stamped bib kit for a newborn child of one of my friends. Finished it and promptly gave it away. I cringe now at the result and am glad I haven't seen it at anytime in the last 9 years. I realized the product wasn't necessarily interesting to me but that I could expand my skill level and interest and do some research at my local library. I purchased expensive British stitching magazines because they seemed to have a better design selection than the American counterparts at the time.
To consoled myself with my independent hobby, and lack of information about the stitching community around me. During my next visit to London, I looked around at the Victoria & Albert museum on my own one day. I was thrilled and in love with their collections of costumes (including embroidered details) and fascinated with the tapestries which I knew would be way beyond my capabilities. At the time they had several former dresses of the late Princess Diana on display. Most had tremendous details up close. The bead work! Not typically interested in beading I could still appreciate the fastidious work. Unfortunately, the textiles wing was under renovation so I was unable to look at any of the embroidered samplers that have been restored and maintained in their collection from hundreds of years of the embroiderers before my time.
After I left the museum, I walked down through the neighborhood and came across Harrod's. It happens to have a memorial to the late Diana in the basement, and not really being a fan of hers or the royals in general, but just having seen her dresses I thought I would visit it. And next to this, is the gift shop that carries the bags. I found my first of many that day, and it was the green and cream toile one on the left in the below photo. Thus the tradition began of Visiting the V&A and off to Harrod's on every trip.
Last night, as promised, I began my 80 day quest to organize and complete as many projects as I could as a personal goal to finish my UFOs. I found 3 of my special stitching stash bags, I know there are more, I just have to find them....
I realize my tradition is a bit weird and costly. It is something I take satisfaction in these, much like those who travel far and wide to attend World Cup every four years. Nevertheless, I began to rummage through to re-evaluate my unfinished projects.
In what I would consider 1/3 to 1/2 of my current stash, I started pulling things out and the catalogue spreadsheet. I discovered about 30 projects in varying states of completion and here is the result of my first night of spreadsheet work. This list is intentionally blurry as I am trying to keep the recipients names somewhat confidential. Laughs! I still have to categorize them under the four items but at least I have started estimating stitching times and have a better idea of what is available for me to complete. And how much work I have in these three little bags.