It's almost birthday

I can't believe it is October already. Before I know it will be November.
It was end May when I first found the existence of Needleprint blog.
It was end of July when the installments were over.
It was August when Needleprint Nihon blog was started.

There were times when I felt that the summer would never end, but it has.

My Mary is still unfinished, I will almost feel sorry when it is.


If you go to the museum to stitch...

As Jacqueline would always say.

I always wonder...in Japan, stitching in public would be considered a dangerous act, because you use needles and sharp scissors. I would certainly expect to be told to put it away.
I could take my Mary to the theatre but would not dare stitch there.

Are US and European people more tolerant because stitching is more of a common hobby?
Or is it simply that outside of Japan, people have more space and are placed farther away from each other that it wouldn't matter if the person sitting next to you had a needle in hand?

I wonder.

Today I found out there is a Japanese embroidery class in a museum in Kobe.
The class is in October...I plan to go down and register.

So in that way, I WILL be going down to the museum to stitch!


A little too much Jane...

Being too lazy to take off the Q-snaps and iron...here is what little stitching I got done this weekend.

I was working quite dilligently though.
It is as though I have wandered into a jungle of unknown....the software which I would be responsible for explaining, if any of the Japanese stitchers choose to purchase it.

Another 5 days!


Lost and Found?

Yesterday, I was preparing to move out, so my desk could be used by someone who was transferring into our department as of next week.
And under the foot of the desk, I found a silver pierced earring. A nice one I could tell, because it was well-shaped (like a Tiffany earring would be) and letters were engraved on the post.

I had just moved to this desk this spring, and before that, it had been occupied for two years by the colleague-friend of mine which I mentioned in an earlier post.
That very morning we had been told that her sick leave had been extended by another month.

We had been instructed by the company clinic to NOT contact her, so that she could take her mind off work as much as possible.
I was told especially to not to, by the company physician. More for my sake, she said - she said she was worried more about me than she was about my friend.

However, not knowing when or if she would be back - I decided to request the company nurse, who was corresponding with my friend, to ask on the next correspondence if she had lost an earring.
I was half expecting a "no", but the nurse said yes, and asked for a photo of the earring, which I sent it over (my boss was puzzled as to why I was photographing an earring!)
And in less than an hour, the nurse called me and said she had confirmed with my friend and said yes, indeed it was hers - she had lost it six months ago. And very happy it had been found, because it was a treasured earring.

When my friend lost it, she must have looked and looked for it under the desk - it was not found when she moved out - and I did not find it when I moved in. Where it had been for the past six months is a complete mystery.

Next day (today), the nurse instructed me to give it to the administrative assistant from another group (also a friend of hers), and send to by courier.
I conjured up a little envelope with some bits of ribbons I grabbed on my way out my apartmentm because I wanted to protect the earring but could not find an accessory pouch; and handed it over.

I had been in high spirits since the day before, because - I actually found something I could do for my friend, after months of watching her suffer and not being able to help.

And now, I could remember my friend six months ago - she was dressed up in a suit for an important meeting, wearing the silver earrings and a necklace to match - and she was beautiful.

I wish a person can find oneself as easily as finding an earring, even if it had been lost for six months.

Shay - thank you for your kind comments about my friend, I think I am learning to wait and hope for the best.

Blogger Blues

For the past two weeks I have been struggling with what most fellow US/EU stitcher-bloggers do as easily as breathing - the Blogger.

Since the blog was to be released within days of my hearing about it, (Jacqueline already had the address and template ready) I requested that Jacqueline kindly arrange the sidebars so I could concentrate on TRANSLATING - which should have made things a whole lot easier for me; I only had to go and change the English descriptions to Japanese.
I already knew how to upload pictures and post articles, so that was not a problem.

The biggest issue I came up with was the "Japanese style font".

Although the Blogger is Japanese compatible - apparently it did not take into consideration whether the Japanese font in the template looks pretty or not.
So the default for the customized template (What in the world is Trebuchet MS?) showed up as what I consider a "ghostly" style font.
The type of font non-Japanese natives would use - like what you see on T-shirts sold in the US that say Kamikaze or Harakiri or other words that you are not supposed to mention in Japan.

I don't know about other people but I really prefer clean, gothic type fonts - in English, I would prefer Arial over Century (just as an example. I do like Century).

So I googled and wandered over cyberspace and found a way to change the font, which was to edit the HTML template; a very dangerous task, because if I destroyed the template, it would blow the blog itself and what would I tell Jacqueline?

However, being the determined person I was, I started on it.
Here is what I started with:
type="font" default="normal normal 100% Georgia, Serif" value="normal normal 100% Georgia, Serif">

Here is how it ended up:
type="font" default="normal normal 100% MS Pゴシック, MS PGothic, Arial, メイリオ, ヒラギノ明朝 Pro W3, Hiragino Micho Pro W3, Georgia, Serif" value="normal normal 90% Georgia, Serif">

I chose "MS PGothic" as basic Japanese font; I listed as many Japanese gothic fonts as I could for Vista and MAC users, and somehow managed to leave Georgia for the English parts, because I found it pretty.

Then I DID THE SAME THING 10 TIMES for the headers, the sidebar headers, footers...

I posted the html - but FOUND THAT THE FONT DID NOT CHANGE.

So I wander into cyberspace again, and got information that I needed to make some adjustments on the font setting on Firefox, the browser I usually use for the Needleprint blog.
Soon the problem was fixed, I had a pretty looking Japanese blog, and I was happy -
until I opened it with Opera, the browser I use to look at my personal blog and other Japanese stitcher blogs.


So I wander into cyberspace AGAIN, having learned that perhaps I need to change the font setting of Opera - changed a few things- and looked at Needleprint blog again.


What was more, by changing the font setting, the blogs which had been shown nicely before was now shown in an awkward font setting.

I really hate the way Opera restores its original setting even when it is un-installed and then re-installed. What is uninstallment for?

It is ironic that Internet Explorer 8, my last choice, because of my many experiences of IE7 crashing in showing Needleprint blog and producing gazillion windows - presented the nicest arrangement of fonts in the revised HTML setting.

I also learned in the meanwhile that "adding contributors" (up to 100) came as simply as setting something up on the sidebar, which was shocking.
All the worries I had experienced on my Japanese SAL blog, because it is not meant for multiple users - what was that? (not to mention I could never find time to learn how to customize the template).
Other Head Girls have so much nicer looking blogs and they use Blogger!

I know it is the CONTEXT that counts, but I still want the blog to be neat-looking and attractive.

I am trying not to notice the fact that 99% of the Japanese readers do not have what is required to comment easily on Blogger blog - a Google account.

How I wish I had more IT literacy.

Paule - I could start another blog, but not in Japanese and not Blogger please - I can't go through this again.


Mary Update 7/26

So here is my progress this week.

I was planning to finish Part 6 this weekend but it is only "close" to complete.

Here was another project I was working on..

Impie, Hattie & Bea
Limited Edition Rose Thread Pouch
Sampler: Little House Needleworks Rose Sampler
Stitched on Zweigart Cashel Antique Cream 28ct.
Recommended DMC threads

I fell in love with the thread pouch as soon as it was realeased, and bought it.
(I know...it would take an average Japanese woman 10 minutes to make on a sewing machine, but to me it is too high of a hurdle).
And I am pleased with the way it turned out, with the rose sampler matching it nicely.

After weeks of working with 40ct. with one strand silk, my!
The Cashel linen almost looked like a woven canvas, not linen at all.
(Funny it did not decrease the amount of mistakes I made in the stitching)

It is one of my ambitions to actually buy a sewing machine, and make my own smalls but I don't see that coming too quickly.

So day fter tomorrow is Part 9 chart release!


So here is my progress so far...partly into Part 6.

I have tried to follow the original palette in principle, modifying colors to go with the Luna linen.
But occasionally I have changed the colors to whatever I thought would be pretty against the other motifs.


Too fast?

As Jacqueline says, there is no time limit to joining the Mary Wigham SAL, and that it is not a race- everyone is free to stitch at her own pace.

Among the Japanese SAL participants, I was not one of the first ones to start stitching, since I took plenty of time to choose my fabric and thread - (not to mention I was rather busy organizing the SAL itself), and was under the impression that I was way behind the others.

However, in the process of "stitching to escape", I find myself already in Part 5.
I also realize that on a worldwide scale, there are many, many people who have not yet started stitching yet.
Look at the US SAL blog - there are over 100 members (these are the people who want to post in the blog) - and only several WIPs posted.

(Is it a cultural thing that the French and Japanese are among the fastest stitchers?)

If I finish my Mary Wigham, what would I do as Head Girl?
Of course I could invite more members and keep the SAL running, as long as people want to join, but it would be awkward to have nothing to show for myself.

In addition, I am enjoying stitching this piece, and would be very sorry to finish it off.

So what would I do?

Work on my other WIPs or try to diminish my SABLE? (Have tried this, but I seem to be very bad at stitching multiple things at the same time - and HOW can I keep the threads and needles in order??)

Or, finish my Mary, and start over using another fabric and thread choice? (sounds like a good idea, but after having seen the others' work, I can come up with nothing new)

Any other ideas?


A friend

I am not sure if there is anyone out there actually reading this blog - I assume, very few, if any - so I will go ahead and write a non-stitchy, somewhat down-side article for myself.

The past three weeks at work was a nightmare- not because of work or anything that happened to me, but because of a colleague-friend of mine.
She had been under a lot of stress over the last couple of months but I did not realize how much - until a series of things happened that I seriously thought it might be too late to help her.

She is now on sick leave, safe at home with her parents and in stable condition, and I am relieved.

But I miss her so much, and am not sure if things will ever be the same again, even if she did choose to come back.


I had once mentioned to her that cross-stitch was a hobby of mine, and showed her the "Lady of the Mist" before I took it to my aunt (the recipient).

Although having no knowledge of cross-stitching, she bore with me, smiled, admired the stitching and the sparkling beads - and said it was dreamy and looked like something stitched by an affluent, carefree, happy Madame in the afternoon, not by a stressed working girl.

Now, Mary is seeing me through, instead of the friend I may have lost.


Stitching progress 7/12

So here is my progress so far.
I took a petit summer vacation this week (3-day weekend), and did almost nothing but stitch.

There are so many other things to do- answer emails, add new members (mostly links), going to the linked blogs to say hi...sending progress pictures to Jacqueline..

In the Needleprint blog, Jacqueline shoots off articles so fast it is all I can do to keep up with the translations, let alone make smart remarks about what is written in them.
I surf over the French SAL blog and Paule seems to be writing informative articles on her own sometimes, which I really admire.

At work, these past two weeks had been a nightmare, so this business provided a pleasant getaway.
Simply sitting down and taking time to stitch away is healing.

I had been reading the US SAL blog which has exceeded its 100 members with many on the waiting list (how does that blog work, I would be very interested in knowing..I don't think we have such thing in Japanese blogs. Or is it just a matter of using a blogspot blog and writing in Japanese?).
A few members have stitching to share, but a majority were still in the process of ordering fabrics or were undecided on the colors.

In comparison I would think that the Japanese SAL members - those posting in the blog anyway - started up very quickly and are progressing fast, even for those who had to buy fabrics from overseas.

There are members who stitch on other WIPs and still keep up with the chart release!
(I have tried working on WIPs on rotation like the American stitchers, it did not work)

Is it just a matter of individuals? Or does it have something to do with the Japanese nature of quickly reacting and working away dilligently?


Finally, a post of my own

Lakeside Linens 40ct Luna
Vikki Clayton silks

Part 1 is finally completed...a happy dance!

Matching colors is turning out to be more complicated than I expected.
The yellow tone of the fabric makes "light yellow" "ecru" and "white" all look the same;
Vikki's conversion for the motif in the upper lefthand corner did not show up clearly, and to give myself time to think, I started with the green motif next to it; I changed the color for it also.
When I finally decided to use a different color for the upper lefthand corner motif, I had to change the yellow motif underneath to balance it out.

It is good that I have plenty of Vikki's silks in stash. Those detrius bags are really amazing.

The 40ct is the smallest stitch count I have ever worked on, but I am getting used to it.

My little hideaway
The chair and folding table is wedged against the writing desk, so I can stitch, watch TV and keep an eye on the blogs and email.

Now on to the little squirrel!


Power of Japanese stitchers!

I have been running the Japanese SAL blog for more than three weeks now, and am delighted that their stitching has been shown in Needleprint blog and have inspired many overseas stitchers.
(It surprised me that American bloggers were attracted to "dark brown" - not the most flashy color!)

As you may know, uniformity and following instructions is considered to be a virtue in the Japanese culture.
So, at first, when I found out the recommended fabric and DMC, I was expecting that most Japanese participants would just follow that.

Goodness, was I wrong!

However, as I visited their blogs and corresponded with some SAL participants, I found out that they felt to some extent a little "guilty" and "self-conscious" about making those changes.
Some wondered whether changing the color scheme etc. would be "disrespectful" to the originator, Mary.

So, Jacqueline's messages about "creating their own Mary Wigham" has been a real eye-opener, and has helped them enjoy this SAL even more.

As for myself - I like to follow the basic color scheme, because the most attractive thing about the original sampler is the colorfulness - but plan on changing my colors here and there.


The issue of "over one"

At first I did not understand Jacqueline's article when Jacqueline said

Over 1 stitching IS possible.
I shall chart a name section for over 1 stitchers so that you will be OK.

Mary Wigham Over One

However, a Japanese SAL participant kindly informed me that it concerned the part in the middle of the sampler, the octagon part with the "Ackworth" and the initials.
It seems that it had been charted to be "over one" to begin with, assuming that the other
parts would be stitched "over two".

The issue had come up among the French SAL participants who had planned to STITCH THE ENTIRE SAMPLER OVER ONE (which blows my mind), and when that is done, the letters in the octagon could not be placed properly.
The French Head Girl, Paule, inquired Jacqueline about this.

Jacqueline's message meant that she would release a chart with some adjustments in the octagon area with adjustments for over one stitchers.

I would never known what that meant had it not been for the person who read the French SAL and kindly informed me!

Now THAT is something like a global SAL! I was so thrilled.

French SAL blog

(I tried to write a little message of thanks to Paule - I had learned French in US and
it was my major in college - but sadly, I have forgotten "much".

But I will surely check the French SAL from time to time to see progress of these amazing "over one" stitchers!

Japanese SAL blog!

I decided to start a Japanese SAL blog for Mary Wigham.

Here is the address:
Mary Wigham SAL (Japanese version)

I have some anticipations about this blog, because SAL blog is not common in Japan
and am not confident as to how it would be operated.

However, many have requested to join one way or another and hope this is off to a good start.


Mary Windham SAL - Message from Jacqueline

I was able to download and print out the first installment of the Mary Wigham SAL.
On the first page of the pdf chart was Jacqueline's message about the SAL.

As I was translating this into Japanese for the other Japanese participants, I got to pondering.

Cross stitch and samplers are not popular in Japan at all when compared to US/EU.
And as far as I know, for ordinary people, who stitch reproductions for a hobby, to consider
preservation of the original needlework was very new to me.

(Japan does have a long history of embroidery, most of which are conserved as parts of kimonos, etc. but I don't think stitching their reproductions is a common hobby. I may be wrong).

As a schoolgirl in the US, I learned some background about Quaker culture and religion.
But in Japan no such thing is taught.

However, many Japanese cross-stitchers are drawn to Quaker patterns.

What is in Quaker pattens so that they become popular, even in a culture which is not familiar with its original background?

As I read Jacqueline's message, I thought that it must be the "history" behind it.


Mary Wigham SAL

To Japanese readers: Japanese blog is
Actually, what inspired me to finally start my own blog was this:

Details are given in following articles.

I had an opportunity to correspond with Jacqueline with regard to the Beatrix Potter chart (was thankful for her kind assistance), and upon seeing the article about this SAL, I volunteered and she kindly appointed me as Head Girl.
I wonder how many Japanese stitchers are out there to join?

As I wandered over Blogland I have come to love Quaker patterns.
I own an Ackworth sampler chart (Ann Trump), but have never stitched one myself.
This will also be my first SAL! So excited!

I shall also enjoy working with my fellow stitchers all over the world.


My stitching history

This picture is a stitching from Fujico collection, charted from watercolor painting and one of the very few Japanese original cross-stitch kits.
It is stiched over 18-count Aida (I think), and uses over 100 colors!!
Back to the title, my cross stitching began when I was in Middle school, where I stitched samplers and Country style kits picked up at a hardware store.
I stopped stitching for some years after returning to Japan, and resumed after graduating from college. I visited some old friends during my graduation trip and my friend kindly took me to a LNS where I stocked up on charts, floss and linen.
Several years ago, my stitching fever came up again and realized that in Japan, cross stitch was not popular at all in Japan; somehow I found a Japanere internet shop which sold kits, and stitched on some Marjolen Bastin kits (apparenty, very popular in Japan) and stitched flowers, fruits and little animals to my heart's content. I then ventured a little into an American internet shop where they offered Mirabilia charts and kitted them for sale.
A few months ago it occurred to me to venture out and look at some cross-stitching blogs.
First, I looked at Japanese cross-stitcher blogs, where Mirabilias, Danish flower thread embroidery, Quaker designs, Prairie Schooler, CHS, etc. were popular.
Then I wandered into Blogland (English blogs) where I found many, many wonderful cross stitching blogs and my! Gazillion choices in designs, linens, fibers, etc. to choose from and so many overseas Internet shops who were more than willing to help me!
Believe it or not, until recently, I never used anything but DMC threads (even these are hard to come by here). Now I am experimenting with all kinds of designs and materials.


Although I had been cross stitching off and on for over 20 years, it never occurred to me to venture into Blogland with my fellow cross-stitchers around the world.
After surfing over other blogs, I finally decided to create one of my own.

I first learned to love cross stitch as a child, when I was growing up in the States where we were presiding for nearly eight years.
I took up cross stitching after graduating from college, and have contined on and off. For the past several years it has become my absolute favorite hobby.

Anyway, I am very excited about this start!
I will do my best so you will enjoy reading my blog.