Blue Enigma

Between IPB Eats and IPB proper, it’s well established that we’re into cooking, eating and watching hockey. There is, however, one more hobby that consumes a lot of our time and energy: needlework. This is the first in what will be a very sporadic series of posts dedicated to my finished projects (it’s seems blogging is taking over my stitching time, so I think I can no longer brag of being “Threads of Fire”, finishing pieces every 3 months). I’ve been doing some variation of handiwork since second grade or so, embracing knitting big time in college and then cross stitching after graduating when I realized none of my sweaters were turning out how I wanted them to. Not that they had like three sleeves or anything, but that I would spend the months I worked on it dreaming of how awesomely wonderful I would look in the sweater, and then when I finally got to put it on, it looked like a handknit sweater on dumpy old me. Needlework, on the other hand, offered me so much more control over the final product, and had none of the stress of it looking worse when finished. Of course, I can’t wear my needlework out to show it off, which is a little sad. So instead, I’ll post it here, starting with the most recent piece I had returned from the framer.

Blue Enigma
began 2005, finished 2007
blueenigma1small.jpg

This monochrome spot sampler look was all the rage in the stitching community out where we used to live. The pieces are all stunningly intricate and classic looking, and the single color means one can have a lot of fun choosing threads and linen (my older sister recently finished one done in light lilac on a deep purple linen). However, once you’ve done one, you can’t really do anymore, otherwise they’d look a little goofy on the wall. The photo doesn’t do the colors of this one justice — in real life it’s a much deeper blue, and the linen is a hand-dyed orangish-brown (at one point while I was working on this, Schnookie pointed out it looked like I was trying to support the Mets). You can get a slighter better feel for the colors in this detail shot:

blueenigmadetail1small.jpg

This piece would have taken no time at all if I’d stayed with it, but after a few motifs, I couldn’t see the forrest for the trees. So I cast it aside and started some other samplers. Something sparked me to pick it up almost a year to the day of putting it down, and somehow I powered through. It was amazing how the instant I put the last stitch in, I couldn’t see the individual motifs anymore — it all became a whole. I love how almost snow-flakey it looks from afar. I think this will be a good piece to having hanging up in the blustery Wintery months.

(As for the title, the design is actually titled “Paradigm Lost” and is designed by Long Dog, a sampler company in France. However, here at IPB Manor, we promptly retitled it “Blue Enigma” after the perfume in one of our favorite movies, “Intermission”.)

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18 Comments

Filed under Pins and Needles, Stitching

18 responses to “Blue Enigma

  1. Damn, that is f’ing awesome! Needlework seems like something of the past (no offense at all) and that knitting has replaced it. However, your piece has really sparked an interest for me.

    My mom took up knitting several years ago and can make wonderful scarves with the most beautiful yarn and then one day she offered to make me a sweater. I picked out a v-neck sweater with horizontal stripes alternating between white and a periwinkle color. Well, she wasn’t too thrilled with how complicated it was but she plowed through it and finished it. Unfortunately I think I’ve worn it once or twice because I’m just not that into knitted sweaters. My mom keeps trying to get me to knit but I only like wearing big fluffy warm scarves during cold weather and it just doesn’t get that cold here. I definitely don’t want to try and make a sweater because I know it’ll end up being a disaster. But needlework, I think I could do that! Where do you get your supplies? A local store, a big chain store, or online?

  2. Needlework seems like something of the past (no offense at all) and that knitting has replaced it.

    No offense taken! Needlework is most definitely old fashioned, but I love knowing that I’m helping keep such an age old tradition alive. Also, I’m convinced it’s going to be the next big thing when the knitting craze dies down, and I’ll be way ahead of the curve!

    I love the act of knitting, and love shopping for beautiful yarns, but yeah, there are only so many scarves you can handle.

    But needlework, I think I could do that!

    It’s a ton of fun, and it’s great to do in front of the TV while watching hockey. I love having something to show for all the nights and weekends I spent plunked down on the coach in front of televised sports. I heartily endorse you giving it a whirl and can’t wait to hear how it goes if you do!

    Where do you get your supplies? A local store, a big chain store, or online?

    Part of the reason I got back into needlework at all was that I ended up at a needlework store in Mesa, AZ called The Attic. The shop owner is a big sampler enthusiast, so walking into the store I was just surrounded by stunningly beautiful pieces. I thought, “This is cross stitch I can get behind!” So I ditched the knitting (which was too hot in AZ anyway) and started do sampler after sampler after sampler. I basically buy all my stuff from them. Because I’ve done enough stitching, I’m pretty familiar with the materials out there, so I can call them up from NJ and say, “Send me the threads for this chart and pick a nice linen for me.” If I didn’t have them, I’m not sure what I’d do, since picking linen is a pretty big deal (finding the right dyed piece to set off the threads is an art). (Their site does say they do mail order but they’re a little slow.)

    I can vouch for two online vendors for getting charts and kits from (the linen in the kits is never of very high quality, so you’d want to switch it out):

    The Scarlet Letter

    Essamplaire

    Also, any linen purchased from Lakeside Linens is going to be nice.

    There’s got to be a nice needlwork store somewhere near LA, one would think!

  3. I should probably point out that any major chain craft store, like JoAnns or Michaels, has great supplies for starting stitching for the first time. It’s an expensive hobby (of course) so it’s a good idea to try it out with a small, less expensive kit that comes with instructions on how to do the stitches and how to start and stop threads. Then generally have pretty entensive collections to choose from.

  4. Ooooh, thanks for the suggestions! I figured JoAnns or Michaels would have some starter kits so maybe I’ll start there first. I can’t wait to get started!!

  5. I can’t wait to get started!!

    Yay! I’m so excited for you! I hope you like it. I’ve had 2 friends try it and be totally underwhelmed. But neither of them was remotely crafty to start with, so you’ve got a big leg up on them!

  6. I went to a JoAnns Fabric store and it didn’t have any starter kits! They had some basic stuff but I had no idea where to start. I’m so mad because I wanted to start tonight!

  7. Aw, that sucks! You could probably get by with some basic stuff. Really anything that comes kitted up will include all the materials you need, and instructions.

  8. Meg

    Pookie, that is so impressive! I’m not remotely crafty (although I keep telling myself I’m going to learn to knit) so I’m always a bit awed by this sort of stuff, but that sampler looks really, really hard to me.

  9. It was ridiculously easy, actually, but no one needs to know that! :)

  10. HG

    You have given me hope to continue the piece I’ve been working on for 8 years. Yes, you read that right – EIGHT.

  11. You have given me hope to continue the piece I’ve been working on for 8 years. Yes, you read that right – EIGHT.

    :^::::::::::::::

    Sometime I’ll have to show you the piece Boomer spent 20 years on. It’s gorgeous and was worth the wait. So I have high hopes for your 8-year opus!

  12. JoAnns really didn’t have much. They had stuff like baby blankets and tote bags with a design printed on it but I didn’t want to buy those because I had no idea what type of thread to use or even how to create the design correctly. I looked online and there seems to be a needlepoint/cross stitch store not too far from where I live so I’m going to check it out soon. Otherwise I’ll purchase a beginners kit from JoAnns online store to get me started.

  13. HG, I am the queen of unfinished projects. I have piles of pieces I’ve done parts of; some of them clearly never caught my attention and I’ve done, like, 15% of them, but others I’ll pick up years later and be like, “WTF? I only need to put in three more threads and this’ll be done. What was I thinking putting it down?”

  14. I looked online and there seems to be a needlepoint/cross stitch store not too far from where I live so I’m going to check it out soon.

    Oooh, how exciting! I hope it goes well!

  15. The needlepoint store was closed by the time I got there (it would have been a good idea if I had checked the store hours before going) but there was a Wal-Mart across the street and since I’ve only been to Wal-Mart twice I thought, “let’s try there, they supposedly have EVERYTHING!”. Well, it didn’t have needlepoint stuff but it did have small cross-stitch kits so I decided that was close enough and bought one since it was so cheap (and I couldn’t wait another day to get started). I started it last night and was so confused at first about how to start and stop colors when they’re all spaced apart so the back looks like utter crap. I can’t believe how much time goes into it so I’m not surprised Boomer and HG have been working on pieces for years.

  16. Congratulations on starting, kms2! I can’t wait to see the finished product — but no pressure! :)

    I much, much, MUCH prefer cross-stitching to needlepoint. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever worked on a needlepoint piece for longer than say, a week. (I just prefer to call what I do “needlework” than “cross-stitching”, since cross-stitching sounds too country/old-fashioned.)

    Don’t fret — starting and stopping threads is the hardest thing to learn.

  17. I’m so excited for your new project, kms2! I also prefer cross-stitching to needlepoint (although my favorite, funnest project ever was needlepointing a Christmas stocking for Boomer. Maybe when the holidays roll around I’ll do a post about it…). I would say that if you have questions or doubts or just want a pep talk and some advice or whatever, I bet the people at the store you found would be happy to take a look at what you’ve done so far and help you out with any concerns you have. And as for the back looking crappy, there are two schools of thought in stitching: one says that the back should look as good as the front (Boomer is in this camp) and the other looks at those people and says, “Dude, chill. It’s not like anyone’s going to see the back. As long as the piece will lie flat and you can’t see too much of the mess through the front, what’s the big deal?”

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