In a cloud of exhaustion and pricked fingers I am happy/relieved to show you Lulla's finished Fairy Godmother.
Before I get a stern telephone call from my mother I should stress that I have not just finished, I finished last night/this morning and I'm posting during my lunch hour having just entrusted the item in question to the mercies of the Royal Mail, heavily protected by a hand towel, a sturdy envelope and RM's promise to deliver it to H in Yorkshire before 9am tomorrow. Whether the dear boy (who is widely regarded as a night owl) will be awake to receive it, is a completely different question. He is not being given an option on this one.
If you compare it to this picture (taken on 1 November as I finished the basic cross stitching)
You can see how much it changed and why it took so long to do. I think 11 days isn't bad though, particularly with an enforced three day break in the middle. I've spent a bit too much quality time with this Fairy Godmother recently and at the moment it just speaks to me of desperate early morning stitching but H assures me that she will love it and it got a positive response from a couple of colleagues who saw it en route to the post office today. I just keep reminding myself that when I first saw it in the magazine it spoke to me and I knew that it was meant to be for Lulla. I suspect that after a week's absence and a trip to the framers I will be much more inclined to be pleased with it.
I do like the way that it is practically life size to the pattern!
And, since I know that the true hallmark of a textile artist (in which I include all knitters, sewers etc) is that their first reaction is to turn a piece of work over and have a look at the back (and I know that this is the first thing that both my husband and mother in law will do):
Now this is something that entertains no false modesty. I am known for keeping the back of the work very tidy and this piece is no exception. There are no random loops of thread and not too many dramatic leaps of thread from one section to another. Given that the piece contains two and a bit spools of gold thread, one and a half of silver, one of black and a good half of a 32 metre spool of blending filament, and most of a packet of four different colours of beads I consider that to be an achievement. It will also make the piece sit more nicely when framed and there should be few if any points at which the carried thread can be seen from the front of the picture. My slight tendencies towards OCD, which are not at all evident from the state of my housekeeping, rather come to the fore in cross stitch.
I started this project in August 2005 I think (on the basis that it is a September issue and magazines are strange like that). At that time I had been engaged for three and a bit months and we were living in our little halfway home while we looked for the home we have now. It sat in a bag on the corner of our green chintz armchair in the lounge and I sat and sewed throughout the heat of that summer, a few stitches every day. At the time it was intended to be Lulla's birthday present, she turned 27 that November, but then we moved house, ran a marathon and got married, and the bag stayed tucked by the side of my desk, occasionally raided for threads for other projects.
The finished piece has a stitching area of about 10" x 12.5" and while not the biggest embroidery I have ever completed, it's certainly up there for size and comes top in terms of levels of backstitch, topstich and embellishment. It seems rather appropriate that such a magnum opus should be for a very special birthday. I've done my bit and it's now in the lap of the framers to make sure that Lulla gets her fairy godmother for her 30th birthday and I'm so glad that it won't be 'just' a Christmas present. I read somewhere that cross stitch takes about an hour for a square inch (depending on pattern and whether you need to stop to read the chart). On that basis, and assuming that I've done each inch square twice, once for the stitching and once to embellish, I've spend 250 hours on this project. Whether she likes it or not, the one thing that I know is that she will recognise it for the investment of time and happy thoughts that it represents.
And now for the final, ironical, gloss on the cherry on the top of the cake. Would you please pay attention to the name of this illustrious cross stitch magazine:
I don't think I can say anything that would be printable!