My mum was a bit of a cross-stitcher, back in the day. I’d watch, fascinated, as she’d open the kit, lay out the cloth and then the threads, before looping them through the piece of card that came in the kit, holes pre-punched and pre-labelled. Even then, it seemed a less than ideal way to store the threads. As I grew and became interested in stitching myself, I moved to a system of floos bobbins in a clear box. The thread card just seemed a good way to get things tangled, and to annoy myself looping and unlooping the thread. When I started the Once Upon A Time sampler, I saw a cute little thread minder pop up in the group. When I read how it was being used, I was sold on the idea of it. To use a threadminder properly, the post said, you:
- separate out the strands of the cut floss
- thread your needle
- loop the remaining cute floss through the hole on the thread minder, in the same order as the colour chart – thus negating the need for writing on the minder the colour code.
Seriously, how clever and simple is that. At that point, all my floss was still in skeins, waiting on a box and winder (thanks to AJ, my personal shopper! Friends in the city can be useful), and my very technical system to avoid lost floss was to cut my length, ply out the piece I needed to stitch with, and wind the remaining cut piece onto a labelled bobbin, and chucking the skein back in the box with all the other loose skeins. Yeah, not ideal. So when I saw how simple and easy the thread minders were to use, I knew I needed to make myself one. My plan was to make it from 3mm plywood, and a quick check of the Bunnings website told me I wasn’t dreaming that such a thing as 3mm plywood project panels existed. With a shopping list of things Mr Dove required a couple of weekends back, I took myself and the Beetle off shopping, and of course, being rural with a smaller store, the range only went down to 7mm. I could get 3mm in MDF, but not plywood. I ummed. I ahhed. I went and got the bits the mister wanted. I looked at the two options again, and was so close to going with the MDF, but in the end, I decided the look I wanted was more important than the width. And 7mm looked thinner than it sounded (I think that is one of those statements that makes more sense in my head – I imagined 7mm to be fatter than it actually is). I came home and made up a template in photoshop for the outside shape to cut as well as the placement of the holes. I helped myself to the workshop and one afternoon with a spare half hour to kill, I hooked into my little plywood panel with the jigsaw and drill, and made myself a little oval thread minder. A bit lumpy and bumpy in places, but it did the job. Somewhat. I decided it needed bigger holes to make it easier to use, but hadn’t gotten around to doing that when I decided I wanted to get the prettying up part of proceedings underway. In my mind I thought a cute little colourwheel would be ideal, in watercolour so it was more a stain rather than thick paint and the grain would show through. How well do you think that worked on unsealed wood? Yeah. Not great.
So yesterday while the baby slept, I pulled out the tools and the plywood, and using my original as a template, I sketched out another oval. Then I thought, if I’m here anyway, what about a cute shape? It was something I had been contemplating since my first one was a decorating fail and I needed to readjust my plans. A quick couple of lines and I was sold. I cut both out, but in the end I decided to go with the shaped one, and left the new oval to one side while I drilled the holes into my new thread minder. Does it look familiar? I mean, what else would I make – a dove to match my blog logo was a no-brainer really. Being an odd shape, I just eyeballed the position of the holes (remembering to use a bigger drill this time), placing them both closer to each other and also the edge, based on how I’d found the first attempt worked. A quick sand, and it was ready to decorate. Of course, this was the point the boy woke for a feed, which really worked in my favour, and after a feed and a cuddle and chat, I popped him in the pram and off we toddled for a nice little walk. A couple of must-do errands complete, we made a final stop at the second hand book shop, and tucked up the back, in the literary classics, was the perfect book for what I had in mind for this project. Home, lunch, playing with the boy (yeah, I have a tough life, I know), and then once he was safely tucked back up in bed, I settled down with my art supplies and set about destroying my new-to-me book, Because I had a specific passage in mind, I did a practice first a couple of pages back, and once I was happy, moved on to the real one. Of course, it’s never that easy, and the part I wanted was split over two pages, so I had to pick which part I loved best. But once that little hurdle was over, it quickly came together. cut out and glued in place, it went a bit darker and lost a bit of the subtlety of the non-glued version, but I remembered my lessons from the love-hate rollercoaster of mixed media art creation, and had faith I could make it work. Once the glue dried, I went to town with my pencils again, which worked better than I expected, and I am totally thrilled with the end result. What do you think?
The book was Persuasion by Jane Austen, the passage is the first half of Captain Wentworth’s letter. I also added in some pencil eyelashes on the large hole to kind of mask a stain I missed when marking out. The large hole? That’s for another little trick I learnt in the group – using a book ring and the holes in the floss bobbins to keep all the WIP flosses together. How clever is that? And it’s just in time, since the April pattern came yesterday. I’d like to say starting that is on my agenda for today, but it will have to wait in favour of fun mummy stuff at school with Boy2, playing and reading with Butterfly and Beetle, and once nap time comes around, Butterfly and I are hooking in to some craft. Potentially craft for her and tidying the studio for me, since it looks like a bomb has gone off in here. A mojo bomb, but a bomb none the less. A big tidy up today so I can make the most of crafting time on the weekend. Almost there. Have a great Thursday everyone!