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
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.
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.