Completed Needlework

I wish I had better photos to offer, but (1) I take lousy photos to start with, (2) things behind glass are nearly impossible to photograph well without an elaborate setup, and (3) a lot of the unframed projects have been in storage a long time and are in dire need of pressing.

Cats and Fence (1989)
cats and fenceMy first project. I was bored, so my mom, who was an avid cross-stitcher, found me something with cats on it and sat me down. What really hooked me was the framer, odd as that sounds. They treated this basic little project like a work of art; the frame is cypress. I was really proud of the results, and I was off to the races. This is still the first thing I hang up when I land somewhere new.
Chart: from magazine (unknown)

Cats and Quilt (1989)
My second project, and first big one. I remember this being really fun to do. I have an afghan my maternal grandmother made mostly from squares cut from worn-out clothes; the colors match uncannily well, and when I hang this, I put the afghan somewhere nearby.
Chart: Leaflet (unknown)

Saint Paul Skyline (1990s, date unknown)
1990sstpaulThis isn’t my needlework; it’s my mom’s. The godawful poem is unfortunately the responsibility of a teenaged me. So it’s a collaboration of sorts.
Chart: leaflet (unknown)

Fantasy Sampler (1990)
fantasysamplerAnd then I went insane. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into with this: metallic threads, specialty stitches, approximately 1.5 bazillion blended colors. It took a long time and I made bucketloads of mistakes, but I’m proud of this one to this day.
Chart: Teresa Wentzler

Cat and Yarn (1990)
Cat and YarnI needed a break. This came from a magazine; I don’t remember the original title.
Chart: magazine (unknown)

Unicorn (1990)
unicornAnd then I went entirely insane. My first project on black cloth; it wasn’t my last, but I haven’t done many, and now I can’t at all thanks to keratoconus. It’s also the first project I cussed at out loud. Often. Colorfully. I also did some cussing while trying to photograph it.
Chart: Teresa Wentzler

Reflection (1991)
Another break piece. This turned out to be a lot harder than it looked; getting the lie of the stitches right so it really looked like a reflection took a lot of work. Sadly, the stains are souvenirs of Hurricane Katrina; it was in storage in New Orleans when the hurricane arrived.
Chart: magazine (unknown)

Snow Leopard (1991)
This was the first project I was really disappointed in. I adore snow leopards, and I’d been wanting to stitch one almost since I began. This was the first chart I found of one, but unfortunately it looks nothing like one; the colors and patterning are completely wrong, and so is the shape of the head. This is the framed project I’m least likely to hang.
Chart: The Extension, Inc.

Alexa’s Tabby Cat (1991)
I enjoyed doing this quite a bit; the background patterns were fun. The colors in the photo are terrible; this is a lot more attractive than it appears.
Chart: Johnson Creative Arts

The Castle (1991)
And then I went officially and entirely barking mad. My third TW chart, and my last. I’m also enormously pleased with how it came out, and once again the framers went all out. The photo doesn’t pick it up well, but the frame has a scaled pattern and the color is nearly a perfect match to one of the colors in the rocks.
Chart: Teresa Wentzler

Southwest Kitchen (1992 – 2013)
It didn’t actually take me 21 years to do these. I did Garlic in 1992, then put the rest away and didn’t pick them up again until 2013, when I did all three of the others. I really like these, and they’re high on my list of things to have framed. I love Southwest colors and patterns (which will become obvious shortly), and this set unexpectedly turned up in a magazine at a time when they weren’t really in fashion.
Charts: magazine (unknown)

Chief Seattle’s Testimony (1992)
My first encounter with lots and lots of text, which is easier to read than the photo makes it appear to be. I love both the ideas and the colors.
Chart:Pegasus Originals

Wild Eyes (1992)
Not a big project, but it has a lot of colors and looks pretty impressive up close. The framer said it got an enormous number of compliments from people while it was hanging waiting for me to come pick it up. Second from the left is what a snow leopard should look like.
Chart: leaflet (unknown)

Clouded Leopard (1994)
The second project I was unhappy with. There really isn’t much I like about it.
Chart: leaflet (unknown)

Lions (1994)
The first project I can recall feeling like real work. I mostly remember thinking I was never going to get the rocks done. It came out beautifully, and gets more response from people than any other project when I hang it, but it was a terrible slog for me for several reasons. I don’t remember the original title.
Chart: leaflet (unknown)

(My mother died in 1993. I finished Clouded Leopard and the last project she was working on, and did Lions, then didn’t stitch again for six years. It hurt too much, and it was a long time before it stopped hurting enough for me to get started again. I was also diagnosed with keratoconus in that time, and my visual acuity was declining; I was no longer able to work with anything finer than 14-count fabric, which was disappointing to me.)

Through the Woods (2000s, date unknown)
2000sthroughthewoodsI did this and the bellpull that follows for one of my uncles, who’s a major collector of Santa stuff. I was really pleased with how this came out, and the framing pleased me a lot, too.
Chart: Pat Thode

Santa Trio Bellpull (2000s, date unknown)
2000ssantabellpullAnother project for my uncle. I don’t often do projects that require finishing other than framing; I’m bad at straight-up sewing. I was still pretty pleased with how this came out.
Chart: kit (unknown)

The Gathering (2000)
The GatheringIt was going to take something special to get me to pick up a needle again, and this series was it. I love these, gorgeous Southwest colors and all. And as you can see, my awesome framer completely outdid himself.
Chart: Gayle Benet & Robert Tucker

She Who Remembers (2002)
Second in the series. I left and returned to Louisiana (where my awesome framer was) during this two years, and did quite a bit of traveling, which cut down on my stitching almost entirely. My heart still wasn’t completely back in it, either. But I brought this back to my framer, and he blew it away again.
Chart: Gayle Benet & Robert Tucker

(I hit the road again after grad school. I was living more or less out of my car, which put an end to stitching until I settled down a bit.)

Dragonfly Faerie (2009)
I got this because I wanted something with a really big dragonfly on it; I spent a couple years after chasing down the other two charts in the series. They’re all beautiful, detailed charts, loaded with metallic flosses, but the faces are horrible on all three, which is disappointing.
Chart: Sam Hawkins

Maple Chorus I (2010)
It’s pretty, but it didn’t come out to be what I was expecting; the pattern on the bird should look a lot more like leaves than it does. It was incredibly fussy, too, loaded with backstitching and quarter-stitches. There’s another that pairs with it, but I never bought it.
Chart: Keith Mallett

Mates (2010)
MatesSo why not just go nuts again? This was a huge project, and it took a long, long time. It was a 2009 start; the others from that year were breaks I took from it, the first time I ever had more than one project going at a time. It’s nearly photorealistic in person, and another high on my list of projects to have framed. It was supposed to be on black cloth, but by then I was no longer able to work on it; my failed visual acuity had reached its worst.
Chart: Sherrie Stepp Aweau

Kokopelli Welcome (2010)
KokopelliI really needed a break, and this was it. It’s small, and the first project I’d worked in hand since The Gathering. It originally had WELCOME in the ugliest lettering I’ve ever seen across the top (Or maybe the bottom? I forget.) I flipped the pattern over and repeated the band instead.
Chart: Dimensions

Tree Frog Trio (2010)
Another small, in-hand break piece. I adore their expressions.
Chart: Royce B. McClure

Picasso’s Rooster (2010)
Picasso RoosterThis is huge, but it stitched up very fast and was a lot of fun to do.
Chart: Ladybug Designs

Singing the Wash Line Blues (2010)
Singing the Washday BluesI wanted something with chickadees on it. I’m kind of ambivalent about this. I love the colors, and the birds look great…except for those zombie eyes. I will be correcting them before I even think about having it framed. The beige also makes it look rather unfortunately like the bird on the right took a dump on the quilt, which makes the title just a little more hilariously appropriate.
Chart: Dimensions

Tranquil Cranes (2010)
Tranquil CranesMy first try at needlepoint (actually quickpoint). It came out all right, but I probably won’t be hurrying to do another.
Chart: Nancy Rossi

Spiderweb Faerie (2010)
Spiderweb FaerieThe second in the series. It doesn’t show up well in the photo, but the spiderwebs are strands of silver metallic; she’s dancing on them. Again, the face isn’t too great.
Chart: Sam Hawkins

Autumnal Abstract (2011)
My first non-figural project, and the largest I’d done to that point. I loved doing it. It will need some creative framing; it can hang in any orientation.
Chart: Vervaco

Northern Lights (2011)
This was my first real UFO. I started it in 2009, and was so disappointed in how it looked that I put it away and came very close to throwing it out. The pair of wolves were the first things done, and they looked very cartoony alone on the black cloth. I was also struggling a lot with the black; this was and will be my last project on it.
Chart: Roger W. Reinardy

Southwest Mesa (2011)
Southwest MesaBack to my love for things Southwest. I love how this one came out; it’s a Dimensions kit, and it has a very 3D look in person. Making sure I was using the right number of strands in each area was a bit of a pain, but it was worth it.
Chart: James Himsworth

Ornate Palace (2012)
ornatepalaceAnd then I nearly drove myself to drink. My first project with beading, and there’s a lot of it. There are also about 100 French knots, which in 23 years of stitching, I’d never managed to do right. I managed this time; I didn’t have much choice. I didn’t realize either of those things when I bought the kit; it was discounted to $12, so I thought, “Hey, why not?” I quickly discovered several reasons why not. I’m very happy with how it came out, but it’s going to be a while before I have any “Hey, why not?” thoughts again.
Chart: Parker Fulton

Women of Tewa (2014)
Women of TewaI don’t have my awesome framer any more, so I wasn’t in a hurry to start the last in this series. I’m still considering ways to get it back there to be framed; I really would like to have all three done by the same person.
Chart: Gayle Benet & Robert Tucker

Chinese Blessing Fishes (2015)
Chinese Blessing FishesI stitch mostly for myself. I’ve done maybe half a dozen projects over the years that were intended for someone when I started them. Since I didn’t think to photograph them before I sent them on their way, I have photos of only three. This is never going to reach its intended recipient. I started it for my partner John, who was a marine biologist. He saw the chart in my stash and asked me to do it for his office. He died in a car accident about a month after I started it. It took me a month shy of two years to finish it. I took several long breaks, including the time I worked on Women of Tewa; when I just couldn’t handle it any more, I stopped. In that time I considered not finishing it, giving it away, and burning it. I put it in storage for a while, and eventually gave it to John’s brother, who knows all that went into it.
Chart: Rungrat Pathikal

Tropical Fish Towel #1 (2015)
This worked up incredibly fast, and it was fun to do. I usually lose patience with so much backstitching, but it made such an enormous difference to this that it was pretty pleasant to do just to see the results happening.
Chart: free online (unknown)

Tropical Fish Towel #2 (2015)
This also worked up fast, and I really like the colors, especially of the larger fish.
Chart: free online (unknown)

Tropical Fish Towel #3 (2015)
fish towel3The coral is more the star of this one; I especially like how that came out.
Chart: free online (unknown)

Brigid’s Cross (2015)
brigidscrossNow, this was a fast work-up; it took four hours, including a break to cook, eat, and clean up after a meal. I’m pleased by how nice it looks for such a quick project.
Chart: Lynda H. (free online)

Maman Brigitte’s Veve (2015)
veveI finished this the same day as Brigid’s Cross.
Chart: casualfashionqueen (etsy)

Chinese Goddess of Mercy (2015)
kuanyinI am absolutely delighted with how this came out. It took two tries; I made a printing mistake when I enlarged the chart the first time, and the mistake in stitching that resulted about a quarter of the way in was too big to frog. It took me a while to work up to another try, but I’m glad I did, and it went very easily the second time. There’s a second project in the leaflet, a dragon I wasn’t planning on doing. I’m so pleased with this one, though, that I’ll probably do it eventually.
Chart: Saifhon Borisuthipandit

Celtic Birds (2015)
cranesIt always surprises me a little when a free chart turns out to be something really nice. I like the colors in this, and the stained-glass effect the outlining gives. That got to be a bit of a slog at the end, but not as much of one as backstitching would have been. The background was supposed to be filled in with off-white to mimic parchment, but I didn’t want to mute the colors, so I chose not to do the background.
Chart: 123stitch (free)

Spider Banner (2015)
This was my first Alessandra Adelaide chart, and it won’t be my last; I really enjoyed working on it. I’m fairly sure I was sent someone else’s cloth; both the color and the measurements were wrong. The much lighter color made the white not show up very well and the dark gray show up too well, and made firm my plans to change the original red at the bottom for something else; red would have looked bad on this color. I was also lacking about two inches of framing overage on each end, which made it very hard to keep the cloth in the scroll frame while I was working at the top and bottom. I like how it came out in spite of all that. It’s absolutely enormous thanks to my not being able to work on linen; the design area is about 8″ X 27″.
Chart: Alessandra Adelaide

Sunflower Card (2016)
A quick workup — two days — for my father’s birthday. It was supposed to be on white, but I didn’t realize until I was ready to start that I didn’t have any white cards. I think it came out all right in spite of that.
Chart: (free)

#1 Dad Card (2016)
2016fdcardI have to work ahead for Tama’s birthday and Father’s Day; it takes mail a while to get to Samoa. It’s become kind of a running joke between us for Father’s Day that since he’s a completely unconventional father to me, I find the most conventional, banal, kitschy, not-him stuff I can. Golf has been fertile ground for that over the years. This year, dress shirts and bow ties. The off-hue bands at the edges are tape I used to hold the cloth in place while the glue dried.
Chart: (free)

The Starry Night (2017)
Time: 16 months
Stitches: 37,632
Highlighters: 8
I am so happy with how this came out, even though most of the first page was spent wondering what the hell was going on with the colors.
Chart: purchased online, may be Heaven and Earth Designs

Saint Paul Skyline (2017)
Time: 3 weeks
I’m tickled with this in just about every way. It’s much nicer than the model photos led me to believe it would be, and a good bit bigger, too; the design is 9X11. I also got the key fully corrected — which took nearly as long as the needlework did — so it can be put on the back of the framed project.
Chart: Luana Campbell

Earth Day (2017)
Time: 2 weeks
Another one I’m really happy with. It’s a free chart from Serenitas Designs. I modified it somewhat, by changing the words and font at the bottom, and using the leaves (with minor modifications) in a slightly different way.
Chart: Anna Chern (free)

Father’s Day Card (2017)
Time: 3 hours
Tama’s Father’s Day card for this year. I changed the suggested color on the crown because Tama likes purple, and added the gold band and ornaments.
Chart: Leila and Stitch (free)

Dewdrop Faerie (2017)
Time: 2 months
The third in the series. As with the others, the face isn’t too great. I’m not overly fond of this one in general, either. I’m glad to have completed the set, but that’s about it. If anything, I think the side panels are prettier than the center on this one.
Chart: Sam Hawkins


    • I wish I had photos of all of them. I gave maybe a dozen away and sold a few without thinking of photographing them. I can get hold of a couple of people and ask them to take pictures, hopefully fill in what gaps I can.


  1. Goodness, what an impressive catalogue! Quite a few of your pieces are stunning, I’m glad you framed them.


    • Thank you! I intend to get most of them framed eventually; it’s so hard to find a framer who knows how to deal properly with needlework unless you have a really good local needlework shop.


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