Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Love This Project...Melissa

Guest Blogger Tuesday
I Love This Project
Melissa of Musings from a Three Bedroom Ranch

What project do I love? My first response is typically the project I just finished. I spend so much time with it that when it’s finished I feel joy and a sense of loss. My hoop is no longer full, it’s empty. And my framing pile gets higher and higher.

But there’s a project that I left unfinished. If you read my blog you will find it mentioned not with love but with resentment. It was the bane of my existence for many years. I restarted it not once but three times.

And yet, I love MLI’s Fairy Grandmother. The image reminded me so much of my Mamaw--my own fairy grandmother--the woman who showed a young girl in a home with two nutty parents that she was valuable and special. She was my night light, my safe place. I knew that as long as she was there I would be ok. This design just screamed “Mamaw.” I knew when I saw it I had to stitch it for her.

At the time I started this project I had been stitching for years but mostly on aida. I was still in a bit of a shock over the price difference between linen and aida. I believe I had a huge cut of 14ct dirty aida in the stash and it was just practical to use it, but it just wasn’t right. I scrapped the aida early on.

I wanted to change the feel of the project. The design shows a grandma fairy floating out of the forest which I loved, but I wanted to create the feel of twilight, that time when shadows are monsters and we need that safe presence surrounding us. I wanted my Mamaw to know that I knew that she would keep me safe from the monster under the bed. I went to Micheal's and found a piece of 32ct silvery-lilac-lavender evenweave. I thought it would bring the right feel to my design. I was wrong. There’s quite a bit of silver,lilac, and lavender in this piece and the floss colors got lost in the fabric and the browns in the forest clashed horribly with it. I’m not a quitter so I worked on it for months thinking eventually it would all come together--I’m an optimist like that. I always wanted to be an artist and admitting failure on this point would mean giving up any hope of ever changing one color or one fabric in a design; that I am clueless, color blind, and just don’t get the whole color wheel; that I am not an artist of the paintbrush type.

I finally bought the designer-recommended fabric. Sometimes the designer knows best even as we try to claim a project as our own. I finally gave up and let the designer win. She was right, I was wrong.

I restarted the project on the clay linen. I stitched and stitched and stitched. I made a lot of progress. I also kept setting deadlines for myself, and I kept missing them. Other projects screamed louder. I stitched through the Winter Olympics, blogland friends cheering me on, and I still didn’t finish. Fairy Grandmother was that project, you know the one, even though you stitch for hours and hours when you step away from the project you are no closer to the end. She frustrated the hell out of me. I couldn’t get her finished no matter how motivated I tried to be.

Somewhere in the process my Mamaw went from living in her own home to a nursing home, her health worsening. Somehow, I tied my progress to my grandmother’s spirit and thought that if I didn’t finish her, maybe my Mamaw would never die. Sounds silly, I know, connecting a piece of needlework to someone’s soul. I had been with this project so long and had connected it so closely with my Mamaw that I just decided to let it sit. When our hearts ache, we seek out comfort in the strangest places and mine was with Fairy Grandmother, tucked away in her photobox, keeping Mamaw alive.

A few days before Christmas 2006, I got the call that my Mamaw had slipped away. I almost couldn’t bear to go home for the funeral. I took Fairy Grandmother with me and slipped it into the casket with my Mamaw. This UFO, this very emotional piece of needlework, this art that looked so much like my Mamaw as a young grandma, I let it go along with her. I knew that I could never hang it on my wall and I wasn’t going to give it to just any grandmother. To this day it remains a symbol of one granddaughter’s love for her Mamaw. So ashes to ashes, dust to dust, it’s with the person it was meant for.

Melissa's is another of those blogs I have read for ages and ages. I was one of those who cheered her on during the Olympics to finish this piece. But it's skulls that we've bonded over. I was crushed to miss my opportunity to meet her when she visited southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware recently. But I will meet her IRL someday soon. I've mentioned my parents are moving to Florida, right?

23 comments:

Katrina said...

Melissa, I can't even imagine. I love that the piece is with your dear, sweet grandmother.

Anna, love your guest column, what a great idea.

mainely stitching said...

Oh this makes me feel so sad and happy all at once. I wish I'd taken up cross stitch when my Grams was alive. I love that you gave the UFO project to your Mamaw in the end.

valerie said...

Wow, what a heartwrenching story. I agree, in Melissa's place...I never would have been able to finish and it's right where it should be.

doris said...

I'm so relieved that the project is with your grandma. This story is another great example of how our needlework is entwined with all of the other things and people in our lives.

Siobhan said...

Awww, I know the story, but it still wrenches my heart when I read it again and see the pics. A special piece for a special woman, to stay with a special woman. (((((((Melissa)))))))

Caroline said...

Thank you for telling your story - what gets woven into our work is so powerful.....

Peg said...

I read Melissa's blog and loved this piece so much that when I finished my Angel of Morning (after 8 years) I added Fairy Grandmother to my rotation. I also think of my "granma" when I work on it. Reading Melissa's story again here brought tears to my eyes. What a perfect tribute to her.

Aussie Stitcher said...

That post touched my heart. A fitting tribute. I could not think of a better place for putting the stitched piece, it will be with Melissa's Mamaw forever.

Boyz Mom said...

I never tire of hearing about the sweet, enduring ties between grandmothers and their granddaughters. This post touched that chord and I'm so glad to have read it.

Real Live Woman said...

What a very lovely story.

Alice said...

What a special tribute to your Mamaw. It is a lovely story.

Carolyn NC said...

This is such a beautiful story.

lenna said...

I to have wanted to do this piece, because now I am that grey haired Grandmother and I have 5 grandchildren.
I love the colors in this piece.
But, now that I have read this story, it is so sweet and endearing I will get this pattern and put it in my rotation.
It is a beautiful story and you did the right thing by putting the unfinished piece with your dear sweet Grandmother.
Simply beautiful stitching, and I loved your story.
God Bless !
Lenna

Juls said...

Wow! Mel, I am speechless .....I love your story!
PS Anna thanks for the heads up about My Everything.....am now rethinking my choice for them! I so appreciate your input! Oh and great idea about guest bloggers!!!

Maureen said...

what a beautiful story and how lucky you were to know your grandparents.. thanks so much for sharing

dianemi said...

What a beautiful story indeed.
((((Melissa))))

Kathy A. said...

I think this piece has it's own story for everyone. I love that it is with your Mawmaw. It is where it should be.
I stitched that piece for my little granddaughter when DH and I decided to full time RV for a couple of years. I did not want her to forget me. It was a joy to stitch. It had it's horror story when it came to framing it. But now, my granddaughter is 12. It still hangs in her room and she says it still reminds her of me when I'm away in the winter.

Coni said...

Oh, how lovely. I've just snotted all over myself thinking about the fact that Mamaw has something to do while she's watching over Melissa....(I'm pretending that scissors, threads, and a pack of needles were included and you can't tell me otherwise.)

Coral said...

That is so sad, and so beautiful.

stephaniesblog said...

That is what makes stitching so wonderful...I love that design as well!! Thanks for sharing your story.

Susan said...

What a beautiful story of you and your Grandmother! Mine was a stitcher also and shared much of her time with my 2 sisters and me. I am the proud caregiver of a few of her handmade quilts. Thanks for sharing your story!

Jeanne - WillowTreeStitcher said...

What a story Melissa and yes the project is where it should be, with the person who inspired it. You'll never forget it even if it's not with you. There's nothing like a grandmother who loves you so completely...mine has been gone for 30 yrs but I still miss her so much.

Rachel S said...

This is a really beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it.