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!