Saturday, September 18, 2010

Packing to Craft

Well, I had originally planned this post for Tuesday, but for a variety of reasons (not enough time, no internet, didn't have the necessary pictures, didn't have the necessary pictures uploaded) it has been left for today! To briefly mention my activities, I arrived in Rome on Thursday and have been having an awesome trip. I've been talking about it a lot in my personal blog ( - feel free to check it out if you're curious about my experiences here. I'll also certainly be posting some pictures here at some point, but the internet in my hotel is tragically slow so while I've been uploading images more or less continually, I'm still way behind. (If you're really interested, all of the images I've uploaded are on my Flickr account,, where you can take a peak.) But none of this is particularly related to crafting. And this particular post, well, is! :)

Every time I leave on a trip, I confront the same question: how should I pack to craft? This assumes the true first question, which is of course, do I want to pack to craft? Generally speaking, I try to bring at least some kind of craft project on every trip, just in case, unless I know I'm going some place where I can acquire a craft project should I get in the mood. For example, in July I spent a week in Texas, and I brought the as-yet-incomplete Mets Scarf so I could finish it. The problem was, at the time I left for the trip, I was really much more in the mood to work on a cross stitch project, with the result that part way through the trip I went to Hobby Lobby and bought one. This project proceeded to consume the entire rest of the my summer, and as of near the end of August it is done except for adding the back stitching, french knots, and some beads that it is supposed to have:

Full image:

Detail 1:

Detail 2:

This trip, I can't say I was nearly as much in the mood to work on a cross stitch. Indeed, I'm really in the mood to work on some crocheting, and get some new amigurumi designed, and have some fun with that, and keep working on making new contacts and trying, slowly but surely to grow this "business," as it were. Unfortunately, that desire warred with the one that I always attempt to bring nothing but a carry on. Bringing several balls of yarn plus a supply of fiber fill is not in the least in accord with only bringing a carry on, and I could in no way convince myself that it was a good plan. Furthermore, I felt under no assurance that I could find materials in Italy (though as it turns out there appears to be a place that sells yarn only a few blocks from my hotel, who knew?). Thus, in the end, I decided that the only sensible course was to bring a cross stitch, because the real advantage of these is that they are small, don't require many supplies, and occupy a ridiculous amount of time in comparison to how much space they take up. (Whereas yarn is bulky, and I can go through crocheted objects one every couple of days...)

Thus, to entertain myself on this particular trip, should I find myself with the time and/or inclination to sew, I brought a project I originally started last spring (2009, that is):

(the full image can be viewed at the "project" link.)

As the image shows, I've done less than a fourth of it. There's a reason I stopped when I did, but I think that's a tale for another post - since I won't be crafting much on this trip, I might as well space out what opportunities I have. Indeed, I think there are two posts to come on this topic (notes to myself so that I won't forget!) - the quirks of "being in the mood" to cross stitch, and the tale of why I stopped.

Just as a brief aside: I don't suspect that I'll talk tons about cross stitching in general, but that doesn't do justice to the extent to which I really consider myself to be a cross stitcher more than any other kind of crafter. I learned to cross stitch as a little girl on a sampler that both my grandmother and mother had worked on (I hope to teach my daughter on it, some day when I have a daughter). I started working on large-scale counted cross stitch as a teenager, though I didn't finish my first until the summer after my first year in college, when I also finished my second. Since then I've finished maybe 6 or 10 full-size projects, and I also have done one gigantic one (it was like 2 x 3 feet or something, and is on linen) that I have the habit of calling my "masterwork," as it took me the better part of two years to finish. To sum up, I've done a LOT of cross stitching, and I've spent a lot of time doing it, and I consider myself to be very good at it. Why don't I talk about it more? Because in the end it's a frustrating dead end: I have not been able to figure out any way that I could reasonably make money doing it while still remaining true to the kind of cross stitch that I would like to do. And that makes me sad. I don't have the artistic skill to design large scale projects, I don't have the desire to outreach to artists to license their patterns and work them into patterns, I DEFINITELY don't want to market the schlock that people produce when they feed images in to programs - I've been burned by other people's patterns produced this way - and I don't want to make, design, or sell small scale stuff just so that I can make something marketable. I love putting the time in to making a full-size piece, and it makes me sad that there is simply no way to get the return on manpower hours that would make this strategy in anyway viable. However, this doesn't stop me from cross stitching for personal pleasure. :)

But, in short: as with so many trips, as I packed for this I considered the question of which, if any, craft I should take with me, while wondering if I was being silly - would I really have the time to work on it - and convincing myself that the only reasonable thing to take with me would be cross stitch. And no, thus far I haven't had time or inclination to work on it, but who knows, I may yet, and in the end, it's light enough that I won't regret that I packed it even if it doesn't get any use; I couldn't say the same if I had brought something larger. :)

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