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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Acquainted With the Night (this post is long!!!)

When I was a kid, I loved to read.  Still do, but back then I wanted to read everything, and now I'm sort of set in my reading tastes and don't venture beyond too often.  Kind of sad.  Anyway, my Da is a big-time reader, too, and he used to spend hours reading Louis L'amour westerns.  He wouldn't let me read them until I was twelve, which just made me more desperate to get my hands on them, haha!  They are very 'clean' as far as westerns go - no actual sex, but plenty of violence.  Not as graphic as most, but it's there.

But - the romance of those books!  And I don't mean the love story, even though there is plenty of that! (They're like romance books for men, I swear!)  The believable hero, an ordinary man doing extraordinary things - the family bonds - the beautifully described, sweeping scenery - the musical, poetic rhythm to the way that man wrote... eh, I was ruined.  Totally wanted to marry a cowboy.

Here's an excerpt from one of my favorites, 'Bendigo Shafter', from the first chapter, when the wagons going west stopped to build a town :

My father had been a Bible-reading man and named his sons from the Book.  Four of our brothers had gone the way of flesh, and of the boys only we two remained.  Cain, a wedded man with two children, and I, Bendigo Shafter, eighteen and a man with hands to work.

Our sister was with us.  Lorna was a pretty sixteen, named for a cousin in Wales.

'You will build for the Widow Maken', Cain said to me.  'Her Bud is a man for his twelve years, but young for the lifting of logs and the notching.'

So I went up the hill through the frost of the morning, pausing when I reached the bench where their cabin would stand.  A fair place it was, with a cold spring spilling its water down to the meadow where our oxen and horses grazed upon the brown grass of autumn.  Tall pines, sentinel straight, made a park of the bench, and upon the steep slope behind there was a good stand of timber.  The view from the bench was a fine one, and I stood to look upon it, filling myself with the quiet morning and the beauty of the long valley below the Beaver Rim.

'You have an eye for beauty, Mr. Shafter,' Ruth Macken said to me, and I kept my eyes from her, feeling the flush and the heat climbing my neck as it forever did with a pretty woman spoke to me.  It is a good thing in a man.

'It works a magic,' I said, 'to look upon distance.'



So about two weeks ago, I was cruising along on eBay, and saw a kit I had never seen before.  Nearly fell off my chair.  It was an elderly kit, and only one other person bid on it.  Even with shipping, I got it for less than $5.



I love it.  It is supposedly for my Da's Christmas prezzie but... but this may be the first thing I ever stitch twice.  I love it.  It's my old Louis L'amour daydreams come to life again.

I am less in love with the reality of the kit itself.

I realized it said 8 x 24, but I didn't really think about that until I had the fabric out.  That's not a small project, lol!!!  And no fault of the seller, because it had never been opened, but there was a small brown spot on the fabric.  So I washed it, and it lightened.  So I washed it again - no scrubbing, just a good soak in soapy water.  When I went to iron it, I could barely see the spot - but it turned out it wasn't so much a spot as a flaw - the threads broke.

I panicked, like a twit - even started sewing it together before I smacked myself and went to get a big 30 x 36 piece of white Aida out and cut myself a new piece.  I'll cut up the old one for smaller projects - it's fine beyond that one flaw.

When I measured it out, I found that it was only big enough to give me one inch all the way around, anyway - so I cut a much bigger piece with healthy margins.

Then I really looked at the chart and thought, 'Um - that's tiny.'  Really tiny - the whole long thing is on a two-page folded sheet.  I took it to work and enlarged it 200% to get it normal sized.  Then I realized that this kit is so old that the chart is hand-drawn (ugh, so hard to read the symbols!) and has no grid lines.  So I'm drawing those on as I go.  I'm spoiled to grid lines XD

Then this:



That's the floss.  There is a color/symbol list, with no instructions of how to sort the floss beyond 'sort the floss'.  No number of strands.  Just take your best shot, I guess.  It wouldn't be so bad if they weren't mostly shades of blue, grey, and blue-grey.  It's not always easy to tell which they mean to be Lt Blue and which is Lt Blue Grey.

They did have DMC floss numbers listed, with a note that they did not use DMC floss but these were close matches.  So I got my floss card out.



About three colors actually matched the numbers.  It was almost no help.  Also, there were two bundles of floss - each had the exact same colors in the exact same number of strands.  There is a total of three (3) stitches of red in this pattern, yet I got two strands of red floss.  I'm thinking that they maybe accidentally put two floss bundles in the kit.  This I do not mind, but it didn't help with the sorting.

It's way too late to make this long story short, but I persevered, had a bit of a ponder on how the new way kits are done has me totally spoiled rotten (sorted floss!  patterns with grid lines!  perfectly printed symbols!) and then I got down to business.




And I'm right back in love.

That's my five days of progress.   Not too bad, I guess.  That one row of blue at the bottom has reached where the horse's leg will be.  I figured it up at about 17% done, then realized I wasn't counting the horse's shadow (it's all solid stitching, there is no half-stitch in this kit)  and cut it down to 15% done.   So yay, anyway.  But this one is going to need to be worked on once a month, like Unspoken.  But that's as far as I'm limiting myself on projects - I refuse to let anything else get put on the must-work-on list.

So next - maybe my Snappers?  I haven't decided.

Oh, and here's a bit of progress on my 'purse' kits - I finished the blue bunny and started the next - he's green.



And I got two colors done on 'Great Light'.  Actually, three colors, but I forgot to take a picture of the last one.

Gold:



And about ten stitches of Dark Taupe:



And I've done the Darkest Green but I'll have a pic of that later.  Two colors and the backstitching to go on this one.


24 comments:

  1. Your new pretty start is a labor of love indeed. Gridlines is a must for me, lol.

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  2. Love Acquainted with the night piece and I look forward to seeing more of it. Your other pieces are cute too.

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  3. Awesome post Tama. My ex-husband use to read his books. I think he had everyone of them. Love the kit you found. Nice progress on the other pieces.

    Linda

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    1. I think my dad has them all, too. He's started collecting the leather-bound ones recently.

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  4. Lovely new stash and you've made a good start. I can totally understand why you were so into cowboys! Thanks for sharing that part of the book - so beautifully written and atmospheric.

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    1. It made me want to go and raid my Da's bookshelf :D I could happily re-read all of those stories.

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  5. I have often found that a lot of kits don't really use DMC but knock off thread. I've run across it several times when I run out of thread. Sometimes, you can email or call the company, I've done that before and they have always sent me out more thread. And I feel your pain about the pattern...I just went through the same thing with my Disney Castle kits. I practically had to redo the pattern just to make them usable!

    But hey, all things aside, it's a great start!

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    1. Hopefully I will have enough thread, 'cause this one is so old and had no color codes except the DMC. I'd probably have to mail them a sample or something!!! but yeah, I love the start so it's worth it!

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  6. Wow that new kit has some serious challenges. I really hate it when you get a bundle of floss and you have to figure out what the colours are. My interpretation of light peach and pale light orange might be different than the kit maker; esp. if they've included the same number of floss strands for those colours. I just tried to match some bucilla floss to DMC and while close, it wasn't the same at all. Bucilla's out of business now and there's no conversion for that particular colour. They included 10 strands of some colours that have hardly any stitches, and only 2 strands of the pale grey green which had a ton of stitches.

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    1. If you can find a DMC floss card, they really help! I prefer the old ones with the actual floss but they're pretty pricey. The new ones with only pictures you can get for about $10 if you find them at a craft store. It might help?

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  7. I've never had that problem with charts but I'm a newish stitcher and have only stitched dimensions lol. My dad reads him too and then I noticed he was reading the same series as me one day... The black dagger brotherhood vampire romance lol

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    1. At least you and your dad share some reading tastes :D :D :D
      Dimensions kits are awesome - love their new way of sorting floss... once I figured out how to work with it, HAHA!!!

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  8. Great story behind your new one and I hope it works out!

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  9. Wow, you really had to put a lot of work into this one! But I'm sure it will be all worth it in the end. It's a great piece. Wonderful progress on the others, too, Tama :-)

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  10. Isn't it amazing what one can find on eBay! That's a daunting kit though, hand lettered symbols and a ball of floss to puzzle out. How did you not go crazy from that lol. The lack of grid lines especially! But such a happy new start!

    I was like Anne of Green Gables -- going to marry a tall, dark, dashingly poetic hero. Oh, life. :D

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    1. I read the cowboy books before I discovered Anne of Green Gables - I liked Gilbert best, though :D :D :D

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  11. Ha ha, when I read this I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.... I guess I settled for laugh! What a mess - and how spoiled we stitchers are these days...! Your progress so far looks lovely, but I guess it was the easy part...? My commiserations - and when you really fell in love too!

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    1. Lol, it's funny NOW! I was really frustrated at the time, though! But it's going pretty smoothly now that I'm started. The worst is behind me - I hope!!!

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  12. That story sounds awesome I may need to find a western to see. Your new start is pretty amazing. It's great when they have such significance.

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  13. That story sounds awesome I may need to find a western to see. Your new start is pretty amazing. It's great when they have such significance.

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