I saw this video by MrsMilkybarKid where she explained her stitching journey. I thought this was a good idea and I decided to show my own stitching journey here. [Photos will come later]
I really don’t know when I started stitching. But I know that we did a little sampler when I was in 1st grade and I seem to remember that I thought it was fun, I stitched faster than most of my class mates and I thought my result looked pretty good. I think it is still placed somewhere in my parent’s living room.
I honestly don’t know if this was the first thing that I stitched, but at least I know when I made it. If this was the first thing that I actually finished I am pretty sure that I played with my grandmother’s sewing maching and she tried to teach me other crafts like crochet, knitting and latch hook knoting. Even though I liked these other crafts and I go back to them every now and then, I find that I come back to embroidery more often. My grandmother usually did latch hook work and crocheting, but I always get really bored with it. However, my great-grandmother did a lot of embroidery, including lots of Hardanger (obviously, she was from Hardanger after all), and my mother has also done quite a bit of embroidery even though she doesn’t do much any more.
So we did various crafts in school, and very often we had to make our own design based on some kind of basic pattern. I was always coflicted about this because I hate to draw, and I always have, so I never really liked the design I ended up doing, but the actual work came out quite nicely. So I got my mother to buy me other cross stitch kits that I could do. They were usually Christmas themed or had teddy bears on them. I finished some of them and started quite a few more. I still have the kits that I never finished, and I have the intention of finishing them someday, just because it annoys me to have them unfinished.
It is a tradition in Norway that girls get a bunad (folk costume) around the time they turn 14 if they have the money, abilities and interest to get one. Most of these folk costumes are heavily embroidered and traditionally these were hand sewn locally. Now many people pay to get them made, but they are still custom made. I really wanted one from the area where my father grew up, a Beltestakk, mostly because they are very pretty and can be customized, but also they have a history of continous use and development and are not designed reproductions. I started preparing my bunad with my mother and grand-mother about a year in advance, which is the recommended preparation time. I ended up having a heated discussion with the ladies at Husfliden in Oslo about colors and design because they insisted that I had to chose between purple, pink and red coloring, and I really wanted it to be in greens. We ended up with a sort of compromise of muted pinks for the flower embroidery and green leaves, and then I ignored the rest of their advice. These embroideries went on the dress, but the bunad also has an embroidered shirt. I sat down with a pattern I liked, which was all one color, and the threads we used for the dress and recolored the design to my liking. It contained all the same colors, but the greens were a lot more dominant. The bunads from Telemark all have wide tablet woven belts and these are very dominant in the end look. My cousins are all older than me and they had the same bunad but in other colors, so we contacted my aunt and she put us in contact with a local belt weaver who made custom a belt and bands based on my embroidery. This made the end result very green even though there is quite a lot of pink in it. I realize that it sounds like I was a stubborn teenager, and I was, but I am still very happy with the result and I get lots of compliments when I wear it, people even stop me on 17th of May when “everyone” wears their bunads to tell me that I have one of the nicest colors they have seen. I am therefore very proud of my fight with the ladies at Husfliden and my stubbornness with the design. The point of this story is that I stitched a little bit on the dress, mainly the back and the front of the shirt. My grandmother embroidered the apron and the rest of the dress and my mother stitched the collar and cuffs for the shirt. The sleeves on the shirt are a bit short for me and the cuffs are very narrow, so I am planning to stitch new ones and transfer the other embroidery to a new shirt. They are stitched on separate pieces of fabric that are attached to the shirt and can be removed quite easily.
After this work I lost interest in the simple cross stitch patterns on aida, and as it was hard to find anything else here, I didn’t do much stitching for a long time. Every now and then I picked up something that I had lying around and did some stitching, but I very rarely finished anything. Then a few years ago I discovered cross stitch designs on the Internet, and that is where I am now. I have some patterns kitted, but I think I need some different things work on to avoid getting bored. I have various patterns from Passione Ricamo, Châtelaine, Heaven and Earth Designs, Lavender & Lace, Northern Expressions, Bee’s Needleworks and Wee Little Stitches that I hope to work on and eventually finish.