About finishing and “finishing”

The English language is generally rich and varied, but every now and then it is disappointingly lacking: there is a distinction in life which can’t be expressed succinctly in language because one word is used for both phenomena. As you may guess I have a specific case in mind.

I am, on the whole, quite good at finishing what I start (in needlework at least). I like finishing projects, that sense of completion and the anticipation of starting something new. All right, it took me six years to finish a tiny goldwork bee, and I will admit to a small number of UFOs (UnFinished Objects) lurking in a drawer, but generally I do see a project through to the last stitch. Finished!

Except of course in one sense it isn’t. Because it is only when a project has been finished (meaning #1) that you can finish (meaning #2) it. Turn it into a cushion; frame it; mount it in a box lid; make it into a duvet cover, a table runner, a set of napkins. Finish it.

Finishing isn’t my forte. Except cards. Lots of my projects get made into cards. But that’s not much good for anything over 3½” or so, or for anything you want to keep yourself.

Then an occasion arose (I will tell you more about it some other time) for which I simply had to finish three small projects as ornaments. They came out quite well; not brilliant, as with some of those wonderful and versatile finishers of whom I stand in awe, but definitely usable, and spurred on by this success I finished Frosty Pine in the same way.

Frosty Pine finished as an ornament

A brief aside here about Hardanger ornaments – you can’t just do the normal ornament thing of sewing together the stitching and the backing right sides in and then turning it inside out and stuffing it, because the stuffing will come out through the cut parts. (Depending on the design this may actually be quite effective; a fluffy Hardanger lamb or bunny?) But if you try to sew the Hardanger, lining and backing together in one go, you can’t see where to stitch as the project will be sandwiched between the other two layers of fabric. So I first attached the silver lamé lining to the Hardanger with running stitch, then used the running stitch as a guide for sewing it to the backing (making sure to insert a ribbon in the appropriate place, the loop pointing inwards; there’s a lot to remember for an inexperienced ornament maker…). For one of the ornaments I sewed wadding to it at the same time – here is the resulting sandwich.

All the layers of the ornament stitched together

Oh, and remember to leave a big enough gap for turning the ornament inside out. You really do not want to see your precious Hardanger like this:

Turning the ornament inside out through a small opening

Anyway, encouraged by having produced a quartet of perfectly respectable ornaments, I moved on to frames. My husband and I were in Coventry last Saturday for a recording of Songs of Praise (I’m in the second row among the tenors, wearing a green jumper) and as we got there early we went into town for a bit, where in one of the charity shops I found two square frames in a pleasant distressed blue shade for a pound each. These were added to my stock of second-hand and bargain frames, to be used at some future date. Yesterday I decided the future date had arrived, and framed one of the Gingham Gems, the smaller Frozen Flower, and the smaller Flodgarry.

One of the Gingham Gems (I) framed The smaller Frozen Flower framed The smaller Flodgarry framed

Feeling terribly virtuous, I can now go back again to turning things into unadventurous-but-useful cards and coasters for a while smiley

Frozen Flower progress

Frozen Flower is proving to be a bit of a headache; at least the larger of the two designs is. After tinkering with the bars and filling stitches several times I have decided that I will need to delete the entire cut area from the chart and start from scratch – as long as I try to change the existing pattern I don’t think I’ll be getting anywhere.

The process hasn’t been helped by the fact that so many other things are going on, from choir practice to church meetings and from school concerts to quiz nights (our team came third, in case you’re wondering). But this weekend I will have a bit more time, and my goal is to have Frozen Flower recharted by Sunday afternoon. To encourage me I ordered some perles I’d be needing from Sew & So, which arrived yesterday, so I’m all set to go!

And whatever happens to the larger Frozen Flower, at least the smaller version is coming along nicely. I like the way the blue and white work against the dark fabric, and I’m enjoying doing the woven picots, which fortunately are coming out pretty much as I’d envisaged them. It’s nice to know that even if the larger design turns out to be a lost cause, most of its characteristics will be preserved in this smaller one. And because the real fabric-and-thread stitching always looks so different from the chart, here’s a sneak preview of some of Frozen Flower’s 3D effect:

Frozen Flower