93,100 Stitches of Love

I am a stitcher.  I have worked many pieces that I have gifted to people with mixed results. My latest completion was one of great success. It brought the recipients to tears and their reaction brought me to tears.

I inherited 5 step children when I got married.  The youngest of the children, a boy, had 4 boys of his own.  Tragedy struck the family when the father, my stepson, was killed in a car accident in 2008. Then his wife, the mother of the children, was killed in an accident in 2013.  At that time the boys were 13, 17, 21 and 25. The oldest of the boys who was out on his own took in his two youngest brothers. The second son was in college.

I knew that I wanted to do something special for the boys as a remembrance of their parents and as a memorial.  I envisioned a family tree type of design where I would enter the family names, dates of birth and death and other vital statistics.  I started a hunt through all the charts and magazines and designs that I had accumulated over the years.  Nothing really struck my fancy.  My daughter and I searched on-line.  When we found the pattern named “Dawn’s Breaking” we felt like it was speaking to us.  I knew I had to do it.  I immediately ordered the chart without looking at the finished size.  Ordinarily I would never do that.  I was stunned when it arrived to realize that the pattern was 24 pages long and the finished size was 25 inches by 19 inches, all solid stitching.  Gulp.  That is a lot of stitching!  I boldly accumulated the necessary threads and fabric and  started my project.  I still intended to use the family tree concept by putting the parents’ names and dates of birth, marriage and death on or near the tree trunk and the boys names somewhere on the various branches.

Work in progress - 1 month and 2 pages completed
Work in progress – 1 month and 2 pages completed

I have always loved starting a new project. There is something about having the pristine, perfect fabric, unblemished, that motivates me to start the perfect work.  I suspect that a painter feels the same way when beginning with a blank canvas.  I always feel that way when I finish one journal and start writing in another one or when I was a student and opened a new notebook for the very first time.  This project was no exception.  I loved starting it and I loved picking it up each day after work when my household tasks were completed.  Noticing the gradual but steady progress was satisfying.  Typically when I do a project, I get to the point where it starts becoming boring and I need a break from it, but with this project, although it was the largest project I have ever done, the boredom did not happen.  I always find cross stitch to be relaxing and therapeutic.  I work through and reach resolution to many issues in my mind.  With this project, each time I picked it up to work on, I would be flooded with memories of my stepson, my daughter-in-law and the children.  I recollected many of the experiences we had shared–the joyful, the hilarious, the sad, the disappointing.  My husband was already deceased when his son died and I also found myself reliving memories of him with the children. Ultimately, it took 14 months to complete this project which was actually 14 months of working through the grief process that perhaps I had never successfully completed.  Along with the stitches, tears and laughter and fondness and love are worked into this piece.

Dawn's Break Completed with Tribute
Dawn’s Break Completed with Memorial

Eventually I decided that because the picture was so impressive on its own, rather than putting the family names and vital statistics on the tree trunk and branches that I would instead create a memorial plaque in the lower left corner.  I also thought I would put a brief quote somewhere on the front of the piece but I had a very difficult time coming up with the perfect tribute.   Instead I found a poem on-line which I affixed to the back of the framed piece.  To me the poem tied together the significance of the tree and the emerging dawn.  Since I wanted to give it as a Christmas present, I ended up putting too much pressure on myself to get it finished, which turned out to be the only negative part of the project.

I did get it finished on time and got it framed and shipped for the boys to open it on Christmas day.  And then I really was rewarded for my efforts.  For me it is always a risk when you are creating something for others.  It is always a risk as to whether it will be appreciated or even liked.  You can put your heart and soul into a project but it seems to not be worth it if the recipient does not value it.  In this case, my reward was extremely satisfying.  The boys were all together when they opened it, and they called me, they said, as soon as they stopped crying.  The absolutely loved it and could not believe that I had put all that effort into it for them.   They made me so happy and proud.  I would do it a million times over just for that kind of happy reaction.  One of the boys said they would keep it in the family for 100 years.  And one of the boys posted pictures on Facebook stating, “The most amazing Christmas present.  Grandma Helen cross-stitched this piece for 14 months.  Us boys cannot be more thankful.  We love you Grandma.”  Can you tell that this Grandma is beaming with pride?

I have asked how I managed to complete such a time consuming project.  Hopefully this explains the motivation that I had to be able to complete it.  93,100 stitches of love, but just one thread of my life.

Project Specs:  Dawn’s Break by Mystic Stitch Inc.  Worked on 14 count cream aida with 2 strands of DMC floss; Finished size 25″ x 19″; Stitches 350 x 266

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41 thoughts on “93,100 Stitches of Love

    • Helen Elizabeth January 16, 2015 / 1:42 am

      Thank you for the comment. That is a very nice way to sum it up.

      Like

  1. waffumonsta January 14, 2015 / 3:44 pm

    Wow, I almost cried while reading this because it felt like you spoke with such emotion in your words. Such an inspirational stitch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen Elizabeth January 16, 2015 / 1:44 am

      I am touched that it affected you that way. Since I know you are a stitcher as well, have you ever made something for someone else? How did they react?

      Like

      • waffumonsta January 16, 2015 / 5:40 pm

        When I was a mini I stitched things for my mother and a friend. When I was in my mid-teens I hadn’t stitched anymore. Since I picked up in the past years, I’ve not stitched anything in particular for someone.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jenna January 14, 2015 / 9:40 pm

    A beautiful pattern and moving tribute. Be proud, Helen – you’ve given your boys so much more than a finished piece of cross stitch. Jenn

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen Elizabeth January 16, 2015 / 1:48 am

      That is pretty much what I was thinking when I stitched it, but I was concerned that at their young ages they might not appreciate it, although I thought they would come to value it. But their immediate reaction was priceless.

      Like

  3. jenniesisler January 14, 2015 / 9:41 pm

    Such a poetic and heartfelt post! SOmething beautiful in a world that can be ugly at times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen Elizabeth January 16, 2015 / 1:50 am

      What a beautiful thing to say. Your comment touches my heart.

      Like

  4. TJ January 15, 2015 / 4:11 am

    i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again. that is incredible dedication! i don’t know how you did it!!!

    Like

  5. Helen Elizabeth January 16, 2015 / 1:52 am

    Thank you for reading my blog and responding. It is not so hard when you like what you’re doing, and I did have the motivation from the very sad events that occurred.

    Like

  6. peggyricewi January 17, 2015 / 4:46 am

    I love what you did with Plane – you’re very comfortable inserting pictures. I’m still trying to figure out how to get to them!
    I’ve recently stopped working, and my husband and I will be moving soon. I may just have to dig out an old cross-stitch pattern – I stitched for several years, then packed it up for later. Maybe now is later! Thanks for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen Elizabeth January 17, 2015 / 5:26 am

      I can’t say I’m “comfortable” with inserting pictures. It took me a while, especially to get my words to wrap around the pictures but I think I could do it again. I am learning a lot and hope to be able to improve my blog.

      Like

  7. feathersanddimes January 18, 2015 / 2:04 pm

    Wow! That is amazing work. Truly beautiful and such a labor of love. I wish the pictures of the finished product were bigger-it deserves to be seen on a larger scale.

    Like

    • Helen Elizabeth January 18, 2015 / 2:11 pm

      Thank you so much. My photography skills are not so great and I am not sure how it would look if it was larger. That is something that I will keep in mind.

      Like

  8. Ann GrubbsnCritters January 18, 2015 / 2:56 pm

    oh my, Helen! You are gifted with that. It’s priceless! And x-stitching is so laborious and you have given them what money can’t buy. Absolutely wonderful! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen Elizabeth January 23, 2015 / 12:42 am

      Thank you for the affirmation. I was delighted that at their young tender ages they were appreciative of the effort. I should not have been surprised because they are wonderful young men, but you never know what the reaction might be.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Erica January 18, 2015 / 9:37 pm

    Helen, this is such an amazing story. The finished piece is beautiful and I know they’ll cherish it—and the work you put into it—for a lifetime.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Helen Elizabeth January 23, 2015 / 12:43 am

      Thanks, Erica. It is always a wonderful feeling to have the effort appreciated.

      Like

  10. saralynne7 January 20, 2015 / 12:26 pm

    This is amazing and beautiful. I have done cross-stitch and needlepoint in the past, and I admire your perseverance in completing this beautiful memorial. And you also are a wonderful wordsmith. Very nice to meet you here!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen Elizabeth January 23, 2015 / 12:45 am

      Thank you for your kind words. I have done cross stitch for a long time and find it very relaxing. The blogging is new to me and I am recalling that Advanced Composition class I took eons ago. So far blogging is taking up a lot of my time and I might struggle to balance the different interests I have.

      Like

    • Helen Elizabeth January 22, 2015 / 7:27 pm

      Thank you. I have been stitching for 30+ years and have no intention of stopping but I appreciate the affirmation.

      Like

  11. amiewrites74 January 26, 2015 / 5:26 pm

    This made me tear up. What a moving tribute that you made for the boys. Beautiful work and from the heart. I especially love the last line of the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman January 27, 2015 / 9:08 am

      Thanks. Just have to tell you…I don’t always dwell on loss. Just seems that the posts that have affected the both of us have that theme. But I guess what is more significant in a person’s life?

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Ginny January 27, 2015 / 7:33 pm

    What a beautiful stitching of love. I was moved to tears and can only imagine the boys’ reaction when they opened it. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman January 30, 2015 / 4:57 am

      Thank you for your very nice comment. I have been stitching for a long time and have made many gifts but this one was very special.

      Like

  13. Mindy January 30, 2015 / 2:38 am

    Wow. What a cherished heirloom this will be! It’s absolutely stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman January 30, 2015 / 4:58 am

      Thank you. I am touched that the boys at their young ages were as appreciative as they are. But they are good, sensitive young men.

      Like

  14. rainydayreflections January 30, 2015 / 4:19 am

    What a beautiful family heirloom you made for the boys. I’m sure it will be treasured for more than 100 years. Once again this post touched my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Good Woman January 30, 2015 / 5:00 am

    Well, thank you. I think I am finished with writing emotional posts for a while…or at least until something else touches me.

    Like

  16. Storm's Stitches January 30, 2015 / 4:24 pm

    It’s so very beautiful, and a very touching tribute. Stitching is very therapeutic, I agree! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman January 31, 2015 / 6:01 am

      It really is therapeutic. I have been stitching for 30 years and I think it has helped me to resolve many, many issues and problems.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Clare February 2, 2015 / 5:24 am

    So much love and so much pain interwoven with ever stitch. I’m sure the tears easily outnumbered the stitches and yet the end result is a treasured object of such beauty.

    What a wonderful thing to do, creating and sharing love.

    Clare

    Liked by 1 person

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