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

Over the (Yellow) Moon

Summer seems to have arrived at last! At least I’ve got my first sunburn of the year – the consequence of falling asleep on the lawn last Saturday. I have some interestingly shaped patches of red skin now, but it was really very relaxing, dozing in the sunshine with the sound of birds and the smell of grass and all that. Add to that a lovely walk along the canal followed by a drink at a canal-side pub before dinner, and seeing an alpaca being born during our Ladies Walk in the morning, and it all adds up to a very pleasant weekend. I even managed to get the pile of 100+ skeins waiting to be bobbinated down to 18, which I hope to do at my stitching group this afternoon.

However, that is not what I set out to write about. Some time ago I showed you the foam purses and notebooks I bought from Yellow Moon, and a bit later the purses adorned with Art of the Needle. This gave me a taste for foam, so to speak, and browsing through the Yellow Moon catalogue I found all sorts of interesting items. Last Friday I received my parcel, containing lots of things to experiment with.

One of them was a set of foam blanks in the shape of flowers and butterflies. I got this mainly for the flowers, although as they turned out to be rather bigger than I thought it might be possible to decorate the butterflies with two small projects, one on each wing.

Foam flowers and butterflies

More practical (well, a little more practical) are the Christmas tree baubles and keyrings. The foam blanks attached to the keyrings are fairly large, but then that would just make them easier to find in your bag! Any stitching will have to be attached quite securely, though, as it will be handled a lot. Perhaps I’ll advise people to use them only for spare keys that live in a drawer or on a hall table … The baubles are glued on one side, so you push your photograph/artwork/stitching in from the unglued side and then glue it shut. These are perfect for mini designs, whether cut or uncut. I rummaged through my workbox and found a few minis I had done earlier (including the blackwork snowflake freebie), which turned out to be just the right size; I haven’t glued them in place yet, but they give an idea of what is possible.

Foam baubles and keyrings Some mini projects mounted in foam Christmas tree baubles

Finally I got something which was not quite the size I wanted, but I thought if I studied the kit I could then make my own from large sheets of foam with exactly the dimensions I want. These are Bible folders (they also come as book folders, with a bookworm design on them; the bag on top, by the way, is a selection of foam cross-shaped beads I got for our Church’s Sunday school), but of course they could equally well be needlework folders! Not, perhaps, with the supplied decorations, so they will be donated to our Sunday school together with the cross beads, but you get the idea: sew a folder out of foam, using cord or perle or whatever, with a slit to take the tip of the flap to close it, and decorate the other side with a piece of needlework (either sewn or stuck on, hemmed or buttonholed or with a frayed edge), and hey presto, a folder to keep your finished projects in before turning them into framed decorations or useful objects. Or you could keep charts in it, or even the threads and fabric for a project-in-progress. if this one works, I’d like to create a folder with a gusset. If I do get round to it, you’ll see it on FoF!

Bible folder kits and cross beads Folder kit - foam, cord and plastic needle