Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Challenge Accepted


So, just after Christmas, I took the plunge and purchased Aimee Stewart's Heroes and Heroines chart from Heaven and Earth Designs, a company that specializes in charting artwork for cross-stitch.

This particular design, depicting famous couples from literature, comes in several sizes and color intensities, and of course, because I do nothing by halves, I chose the Super-Sized, Max Color chart.

Which means 240 colors and more than 700,000 stitches. The finished design is 999 x 714 stitches. I'm working it on 25 count (25 stitches to the inch) easy guide laguna evenweave fabric, which means the fabric is pre-gridded with light gray lines in 10 x 10 stitch squares to make keeping your place and counting easier. (And boy, howdy! Does it work!)

Heaven and Earth Designs (HAED for short) has a very active Facebook group with almost 10,000 members worldwide, and every so often, HAED issues a challenge to their stitchers. I joined the group just in time for Challenge #4, which was to stitch the equivalent of one page of a regular sized chart or one and a half pages of a large format chart before the challenge was over.

Those who know me also know that I will pick up that kind of challenge in a heartbeat!

The rules are simple. Take a photograph of your work in progress, ready to begin a fresh page. (It had to be a page you hadn't started yet...not even one little stitch!) In my case, blank fabric since I hadn't started yet when the challenge began. Also show the chart's first page with a photo of the piece you were working and a blank printed page (or two) of the chart.


Here's my fabric (see the gray grid lines?) Each of those tiny squares is 100 stitches. Also in the picture is the cover page of the chart with the HAED Logo, the Artist (Aimee Stewart) and a photo of what the piece will look like when I'm finished. I also included an unmarked first page of the pattern. And all those plastic bags on the right? Those are my floss bags. (I've since swapped to a box since it was taking me so much time to find the color I wanted or return the one I had just used to the proper bag.)


Here are the first two pages of my chart, since I realized after I took the first one that since I had opted for the large format chart (Yep, that's the large format!) I would need to stitch about a page and a half to complete the challenge.

The next requirement for the challenge was to take a photograph of your work at about the halfway mark.


I started in the upper right corner, and it took me awhile to both get used to the tiny stitches and the pattern. I also tried a couple different methods...cross country, where you stitch all of one symbol everywhere on the page, and parking, where you stitch all the symbols of a particular color within a smaller area, then 'park' the thread in the next stitch in the next area and begin a new color in the first, continuing until that small area is finished and moving to the next and picking up the 'parked' threads.

It was confusing to me, too, but there is an awesome tutorial video on Youtube by Carolyn Mazzaro. (It's long, but I FFwd to the salient bit.) In this video, Carolyn is working on an HAED piece, and you can see all the color changes! In bits where there are lots of color changes in a small area, HAED stitchers call this 'confetti,' and it is often bemoaned. However, when it's finished, it looks amazing, so it's worth it.


Late on Monday night (very late, but we won't talk about that) I finished the first full two pages of Heroes and Heroines. It equates to about 10,000 stitches. (You can see two of my parked threads in the upper right, ready to begin those colors on the next page, but for the most part, I have reverted to going 'cross country' working all of one color on a page before switching to the next. The colors are so vibrant and rich! I am eager to get to the next page. I'm thinking this pattern is going to take me between 3-5 years to finish, but when it's done, I will have a real treasure.

Those who finish the challenge are in line to receive a free chart from HAED. Isn't that fun? I can't wait to see what the mystery chart is.

What are you working on right now? Finishing a book? Knitting or crocheting? Garden planning? Cross stitching? Quilting? something else?

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13 comments:

  1. One of these days I hope to get back to cross stitching and knitting or even needlepoint. For now I'm working on planning what to make to bring to my friend's boutique. Next week I need to start making soap so that it has a chance to cure. I will probably make 10-12 batches of soap, several scents of lotion, and several flavors of lip balm and lip tint. I think we should plan another craft day and you and Heather can come and join us again! I hope you will post pictures of your project throughout the process and also the finished product. It's going to be stunning!

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    1. You gals make the best soaps and lotions! So creative! I would love another craft day! I've never made soap before.

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  2. I did the dishes last night!!!! :D (you are a cross stitch monster. Love it)

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    1. Yay Jaime! We all have our different talents.

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    2. That earns you a gold star, Miss Jaime!

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  3. Wow Erica, my hats off to you! I do very little cross-stitching now, old eyes and all, and that's with 14 count! They are true works of art though. I bought a pattern of my son and daughter from photos years ago and I think I did an inch on each one.
    I am always working on a book to read. I have my pile lined up as to which ones I get first. I'm either reading or crocheting. I'm working on a baby afghan that with popcorn stitches reads, Jesus Knows Me This I Love. My next project is a ripple Christmas afghan. Be sure and post progress on your project from time to time Erica. Big problem, which kid gets it when you're gone?

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    1. Baby afghans! I love them! I would love to see your work!...Right now, at the rate I am going, the girl will probably get the cross stitch, because she will need to finish it for me! :)

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  4. We have been working outside, raking, burning brush, hauling rock, etc.

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    1. Ah, that kind of work never ends, does it? It was so nice here this week that my husband cut down a tree that was going rogue!

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  5. Overachiever! You, Erica, not me. We are packing to move and what do I find but a cross stitch that I started 30 years ago! Yes, three zero. No grids but stamped on crosses which is why I never finished it. I've been working on it when I need a break. LOL Almost half way-nothing compared to yours but it will be done and then I can get to the rest of that box of unfinished projects.

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    1. One bite at a time! It's nice to have something to do with your hands when you need a break from life, isn't it?

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  6. Erica, I'm impressed! I'm currently trying to read through my TBR...

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    1. A never-ending task! So many books, so little time!

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