treading water, not literally

We got very lucky in the recent flooding; or maybe “lucky” is not the right word: the first house my parents bought when they moved back to south Louisiana was twice destroyed in hurricanes. They had to strip it down to studs and rebuild it after Rita, and when the exact same thing happened in Ike, my mother went “eff this” and they moved. They looked at elevation very carefully when they looked for that 2nd house.

There was flooding all around us, including in town (we live outside the city limits of Abbeville) and we were kind of stuck in our immediate neighborhood during the weekend, and I couldn’t get to work on Monday or Tuesday because the bridges over the Vermilion were closed and LA-14 was under water. But we were fine, I’ve seen more water in the ditches and on the lawns during the average summer thunderstorm. The worst thing we had to deal with was a dog that hates to poop in the rain.

I spent most of the time watching movies on the MST3K YouTube channel and doing cross stitch, finishing two projects:


(The text is my own addition, I found the alphabet by Googling “backstitch alphabet”, here’s a link if you’re interested.)


And I got started on a big project, a copy of the original 1723 map of New Orleans, the pattern is by the same woman who did the hurricane tracking map of the Gulf of Mexico that I did for Mom a few years ago. I’m doing it on 18-count as opposed to over 2 squares of 28 count (so 14, essentially), so the finished project won’t be as large, but the pattern is just as big, so I expect that will occupy me for at least the rest of the year.

Other than that, I’m just waiting for summer to end. I have my October vacation all planned, I’m spending a week in Galveston and renting a studio apartment (via Airbnb) that’s a block from the beach. To say I’m looking forward to it is a massive understatement.

My Neighbor Totoro cross stitch #1

Totoro in hydrangeas cross stitch (with flash)

This is the first cross stitch I’ve completed in a while. I got bogged down with those Celtic crosses; I wanted to do the entire book of designs (I think there were 8 in all), but as I was about to finish the 2nd to last one I got a serious case of the eff thises and didn’t want to pick up any needlecrafts for the next several months. Which is my normal routine, I go in spurts where I’m obsessed with it and do it every waking minute, then I can’t stand the sight of an embroidery hoop for the rest of the year.

This is a small design, actually one of 2 My Neighbor Totoro designs that I bought as a digital file from an Etsy seller for a few dollars, back when I was still working on the crosses. I usually like to ease back into things with a small project. I was just going to hoop it, but it’s small enough that maybe I can use it for a clothing or a tote bag patch or something.

Celtic cross stitch: MacRegol Medallion

This was definitely the most complex of this series of designs, and may be one of the most complex designs I’ve ever done. That backstitching was murder.

With flash:
macregol medallion flash

Without flash:
macregol medallion no flash

macregol medallion close up

macregol medallion macro

5th Celtic cross stitch: mini cross

mini celtic cross

This is a small design, about 3×4 inches. I’m thinking this will make a good crest, if I can find a blazer. Like a private school jacket.

4th Celtic cross stitch: Iona cross

iona cross flash

Without the flash:

iona cross wo flash

I forgot to make the French knots in the arms until after I’d washed it, so there are some marks from the hoop still in it, but those will easily press out with a warm iron.

3rd in the cross stitch Celtic cross series: knots cross

knots cross flash

This one took a while because I went through a period of a couple of months where I didn’t want to work on it. I got kind of bogged down in the center, it was all shades of the same color and the backstitching was really confusing–it makes sense when you pull back and look at the whole design, but when you’re working on one tiny fraction of it inches from your nose, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. So I really needed to take a break from it for a while. Once I was done with that part, the rest was relatively easy.

knots cross no flash

This is a photo I took without the flash, so it’s blurry but the colors are truer to reality. I really like the alternating color scheme in this design.

The next cross is the Iona Cross, which has some fussy elements–French knots, single stitches that need to be individually backstitched, some blackwork design–but doesn’t look difficult.

Celtic cross stitch #2: Tara Cross

PICT0521, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0524, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

cross stitch: darrow medallion

darrow medallion, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

This is the first design I’ve completed from the House of White Birches cross stitch pattern book Celtic Crosses, and I think it came out super cool, so I’m going to do all of the designs. I don’t know what I’ll do with them (I think it’s boring to just put a frame around needlework and stick it on the wall), but I’ll figure something out.

Originally I thought of getting a blazer and making this a crest, like a private school jacket, but it’s just a little too big for that. However, there are a couple of small designs in the book that will work just fine, whenever I get to them.

This is some of the most complex backstitching I’ve ever seen, so I decided to do it as I went–cross stitch patterns are divided into a grid of 10 x 10 stitches, and you’re meant to do one square at a time, or you’ll very easily lose your place. Normally I do all the main stitching, then go over it with the backstitching afterward, but this time I did the backstitching for each square before I moved onto the next one. It seemed easier, and I think that was the right decision.

darrow medallion close up, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

embroidery: owl tote

owl tote, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

This is something I bought from Sublime Stitching last year and just got around to. It was kind of a palate cleanser after finishing the hurricane tracking map, it only took one afternoon/evening of work last Sunday.

The pattern was stamped on the tote with water-soluble ink, so once you finish the stitching you just throw it in the wash and the pattern washes out, leaving just the floss. I prefer that to the iron-on transfers, which don’t wash out. Sometimes the lines are too thick, or your stitching is a hair off, and you can see the pattern creeping around the edges, and that really bugs the perfectionist in me.

Next project (which I’ve already started) is a design from the House of White Birches Celtic Crosses book. The one I’m doing isn’t actually a cross, it’s a medallion that has one of those twisty bird designs. The backstitching is so complicated that I’m actually doing it piece by piece, instead of doing the whole design at once after I finish the primary stitches, like I usually do.

I’m doing it on 18-count Aida, which I haven’t used in a while. I prefer evenweave, because it’s more flexible and cloth-like. But they only make that in high stitch counts like 28 and 32; usually I use 28 and work over 2 squares for each stitch, which gives me a 14-count design. But I wanted this to be smaller because I’m probably going to use it on a piece of clothing somehow. I thought it would be fun to buy an old blazer from a thrift store and put it on the breast, like a private school crested blazer. But at 7″ x 7″, it might be a little too big for that. I won’t really be able to judge until it’s finished.

(You thought old cameras were the only thing I was obsessive about, didn’t you?)

the Very Large Cross Stitch is FINISHED


hurricane tracking chart, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Stitching all the pink for Mexico/Central America/South America was tedious as fuuuuck. I’m really pleased with how it looks on the darker fabric (I usually use ivory fabric, this is parchment), it adds to the feel of an old map.

I bought this pattern at the Quarter Stitch in New Orleans during Christmas of 2009. I started working on it in early spring of 2010, shortly after I moved to Louisiana. I finished it last Saturday. Whew! That does not represent continuous work, however. Several times I put it aside to work on something else, usually because I got a seething case of what Phil calls “the I hate its”.

I’m not going to put this under glass, instead I’m going to stretch it over corkboard and staple it from the back, then add a ribbon so it can be hung. That way we can add a pin every hurricane season for any hurricanes that make landfall anywhere on the map.

I’m letting Mom hang it behind the bar for now, but I’m not giving it to her permanently. At some point I’m going to want it back, although I may let her keep it for years. Or I may make another one, but I doubt I’ll have the stomach for that for a looooong time.

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