Sunday, June 28, 2009

First week of stitching

I finally got started on this. I know a lot of people just love those first stitches of a new start. I hate them. I love to finish and that first stitch is so far from the end. Especially this project.

I didn't stitch all that much actually. A good part of my evening stitch time was in getting organized.

I decided to approach this as 45 smaller projects so the first thing I did was pull the floss for the symbols of the center, top panel. Seemed easy. I have a LOT of floss to sort through and sometimes I knew what color I needed, but too many times I had to look it up on my floss sample book. It seemed to take forever, but it was only 29 colors. Then, because I work best with floss wound on bobbins, and sorted in a craft box, I got that all organized. So far so good. Well, the first symbol wasn't on the key code for the panel. Oh, wait, there was a page and a half of symbols that all the panels had in common, like borders and background and the architecture that binds this piece together. Crap. I had 85 more colors to pull and organize. I also work with a Pako needle organizer, keeping a needle for each symbol and if I have leftover floss, I just put it there and don't unthread my needle. Now I had to rummage for a second Pako, one for each batch of symbols.

Needless to say, once I was done with all this, I wasn't in a great mood, but I got to finally put some stitches in. Then there's 2 1/5 yards of fabric. Combine that with temps in the 90's and I had to work that out quick. So - since I'm at the very top of the project, I managed to fold up the fabric below so it can lay across my lap without too much problem. I'm also using my floor stitching stand to lean the top of my Q-snap on so I have two hands to stitch and don't have to hold the Q-snap. I also have the chart holder and the tray to keep the Pako in that I'm using. I must look a sight, actually, but it's working.

That is, until the phone rings. That happened today. I tried to quickly prop the fabric, etc. onto the scroll rod for a second, it rolled over, dumping it all on the floor while knocking a Pako off as well. I guess I'll have to keep the phone next to me from now on!

Well, I guess I'm on a roll now so I'm back to some more stitching this fine Sunday evening.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

In the beginning -

This blog will be a chronicle of a stitching project that is, for me the ultimate dream. I've been doing counted cross stitch for over 20 years and in that time my passion and love of sewing colorful little x's onto fabric has grown. (Some might say into an obsession, but everyone needs something)

That's my story in a nutshell. The project I'm undertaking goes back several centuries more. It was in 1508 that Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to repaint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. A large structural crack had opened on the vaulted ceiling and after it's repair, the current art was too badly damaged to fix, so the decision was made to re-do it.

For the next 4 year, the artist laid on his back on scaffolding, and painted in wet plaster that days work. Anyone who has painted a ceiling knows how much paint ends up on the person doing the painting, so you can imagine what a miserable job it must have been. Even so, the result was one of the greatest works of art the world has ever, or is likely to ever know.
Over the centuries, the faithful have come to the chapel to light candles and pray. The soot from those candles built up on the ceiling until most of what was there was barely visible. In the 1980's, the ceiling was cleaned and restored. For the first time in centuries, the true scope of the art was actually visible.
This picture of the restoration gives you an idea of just how much was actually revealed during the process.

It is images of the restored art that Joanna Lopianowski-Roberts used when she designed the cross stitch chart of the ceiling.

The ceiling itself contains 45 separate panels depicting various scenes and important people from the old testament. There was no way to design this chart and at the same time do it justice without making it, well, huge.

It's 564 x 1,114 stitches. (total of 628,296 if you're curious) That's full stitches. The chart contains many fractionals to help with the detail, so in my estimation that's a lot more. Every color in the DMC line of floss is used, save 5 and there are 1,200 more colors achieved by blending two colors in your needle at a time.

What I need:
First, the pattern. I bought the digital version so I can print it the size I want. It's all now organized in 2 (yes 2) 3 inch binders.

Fabric. I've chosen 32 count Lugana in an off-white color. That's 2.25 yards of it and I went rather pale when I laid it all out, so it's less intimidating folded up like you see it!

Floss. I started with one master set of DMC. That's in the bags on the right. Then I bought the rest of the colors that you needed more than one of separately. It totals nearly 700 skeins. (good thing I love floss)
Brand new 11 inch Q-Snaps. I usually stitch on a floor stand. If I did this project on it, I'd need to buy some new parts to make it wide enough. I could, but then it would just be too large for my living room where I stitch, so I'm going back to Q-Snaps. (Oh, I left the floss in the picture, because I thought that much floss deserved a second picture!)

New bobbins. I keep all my floss in a craft box, on bobbins so I can find it easily. There was a slight problem. Some stitcher had beaten me to every floss bobbin in town by a few days. Step forward Karen - she kindly went out and bought my over 200 of the little beauties. (fellow stitchers are the bestest people)

Lastly, but certainly not least are all the stitchers on the TCC forum. They have promised to cheer me on with this (let's just say it and be done with it, insane project.) They have already been an enormous help. It was Brenda who named this blog. It was also a bunch of others who offered to find me bobbins. It was Lin I bought the fabric from and I'm sure in the years to come, they will all lend moral support.

There is one last person I need to mention. You see, all of this could never have happened if my closest friend/sister had only said what she was thinking when I told her I was going to stitch this. If she had said, "are you freakin' nuts?" instead of being supportive I would have come to my senses before now. Now, it's too late. I've spent all this money and time so I might as well stitch the darn thing. I have no idea what I'll do with it when I'm done, I'll decide that later.

In the next few days I'll take the plunge. I hope you join me on what is sure to be a wild ride!