Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Saving Money on Stitching

I am on the mailings lists of several local needlework shops. I read the cards and fliers announcing sales and find they’re dangerous, because when I get to the shop, I see other items begging to be taken home. If I really have to go to a shop, I find it helps to leave my credit card and checkbook at home. It doesn’t help that all the things I buy I can claim as "research," and make them tax deductible.

Y’see, I didn’t get into this game of writing needlework mysteries because I loved needlework. I have come to love needlework because I am writing a mystery series about it. This came about because my then-editor at Berkley/Prime Crime was looking for someone to write this series. I had just broken up a collaboration with dear friend Gail Frazer, and was at loose ends. It turned out to be a terrific idea my editor had – once I learned enough needlework to make the first book believable. (To this day I am embarrassed to see the several errors that snuck in that first book about needlework – and no, I won’t tell you what they are.)

Anyway, another way to save money on needlework is to substitute the high priced silks some patterns call for with low-priced DMC or Anchor cotton floss. If you miss the subtle sheen of silk, a spool of Kreinik Blending Filament can add a slightly-less-subtle glitter that is very attractive. Plus, you get to work your pattern twice, when you go over it again with the filament.

But probably the best way to save money is to ignore that flier and go into your stash (you DO have a stash, don’t you?) and start sorting through, straightening out, bringing some order to the thing. I’ve been doing that and came across a piece of crewel I’d almost forgotten I had. It’s a bit more than half done, and a very attractive thing. So next time I’m looking for something "new," I’ll get out the sheep in the meadow piece and just maybe get it finished this time.
I spent two days last week in Duluth, at a quilt show. I have given up any ambition to make a quilt on my own; it’s just not something I have any talent for. But I love to go around at the shows looking at the gorgeous quilts. For me, the highlight of the show was a king-size quilt depicting a realistic bear splashing through water. I’m sure I’ve seen a photograph of that bear in that pose, but what the artist in fabric did was cut out thousands – literally, thousands – of one-inch squares and painstakingly stitch them together to make a pixel-ated picture. Up close it’s barely recognizable, but the farther back you stand, the sharper the image. When I think of this quilter with her eyes inches from the fabric, my own cross in sympathy. What an acheivement!


Sheila Connolly said...

My grandmother did needlepoint. My mother did needlepoing (most likely to please my grandmother--my mother was in no way craft-oriented). I've inherited their combined stash, including a pair of monogrammed wool-holders and a number of unfinished pieces. And lots of pretty wool, now decades old. Am I planning to do any needlepoint? Got me. But I'm keeping it all.

Monica Ferris said...

Ohhhhhh, needlepoint, I LOVE needlepoint. I haven't inherited any UFOs, but I understand from those who have that finishing these pieces is like spending time with the loved one.

Camille Minichino said...

I've inherited some miniatures stashes and had many happy hours just sifting through things, getting ideas from tiny objects you just don't see any more, like sacks of coal!

Stash-sifting definitely can stem the tide of shopping!

Betty Hechtman said...

My mother took up needlepoint late in life. It was the only craft she ever did. I've never found any UFO's, so I'm guessing she actually finished everything she started and went as far as having the finished pieces made into pillows.

When I look at them, it is just what you said, Monica - like spending time with a loved one.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Needlepoint can be so beautiful and intricate, Monica. How great that you learned much more about it as you've written your mysteries.

Julie said...

My paternal grandmother was an expert needleworker, and I have several of her pieces, including a pair of baby mitts knitted for my father, not on knitting needles, but on HAT PINS! Just think about that for a moment. My maternal grandmother wanted nothing to do with needlework, but my mother joined the Embroiderers Guild about 35 years ago. I will inherit her stash. To add to mine. God help me.

Monica Ferris said...

Julie, I've actually heard of knitting on hat pins. Today you can buy knitting needles that thin, made of steel. (They also make fine murder weapons.) But what a grand thing to have, tiny baby mitts knit for your father. How very sweet and precious!