December 29, 2008

Love's Labours

I hope you had a Happy Christmas. As previously mentioned, crafty activity has come to a temporary halt, hence no posting for me, but I have one project still up my sleeve to share. This is the last one I completed before Christmas.

I will preface by saying that normally I intend to keep this blog strictly craft-related and leave out the personal stuff. I'm not a huge fan of over-sharing on the web, and that's just not the purpose of this site for me. That being said, I'm going to break that rule this time because this project has a story to it.

First things first: It's a decorative piece for my brother-in-law, who is a ninth degree black belt in Isshinryu karate. He and my sister are very passionate about karate and Okinawa and have lots of related decorating in their home. I wanted to do a piece for him that reflected his interests, and this is what I came up with.

I started with the Japanese lettering, which says, literally, "Isshinryu" and means "One Heart Method." I found the lettering at a web site that sells embroidered karate gear specific to one's school of training. The fist you see on the right is called the Isshinryu fist, and this fist position is unique to their style of karate. I found this at an Isshinryu web site. Then, because it needed a little something more, I downloaded some lotus flowers after searching for "Japanese design" and sort of sprinkled them into the empty spaces. The idea behind Isshinryu, if I understand correctly, is that you strive for peace but are prepared to defend yourself if need be. I think the addition of the softer flowers represents this, and also represents Okinawa.

I arranged the design in Photoshop, printed it, and transferred it onto the fabic with a light board and a water soluble pen. I stitched this on plain off-white muslin with black thread. I was going for a very organic look and wanted to keep it simple. It's stretched over a piece of wood and stapled down, and my brother-in-law can now hang it or set it on a shelf or whatever he chooses.

The satin stitching on the Japanese calligraphy took the longest, and I started with it first. I was on-again, off-again with it while working on other projects, but finally finished it after a few days. The flowers and fist are mostly back stitch, and those came together quickly.

Now here's the story: At the time that I was working on this piece, I was, oh, 9 months pregnant or so. I was expecting Baby any day--my due date was a week earlier, in fact--and we joked that I wouldn't go into labor until I'd crossed everything off of my to do list. Ha. It turns out that my labor started to turn more "real" just as I was sitting down to work on the final section of this piece. I had had a false alarm before and was determined to keep working on my embroidery, so I just kept going even when the contractions started getting tougher to work through.

When I finished I took the piece downstairs to show my unwitting husband, who took one look at me and said, "We need to call the midwife." I went upstairs to rinse out the ink marks from the fabric, still certain the labor wasn't for real. When the midwife arrived, we learned that I had stitched myself right to 8 centimeters dilated! The project was done, and I had the baby a couple hours later. How's that for timing?

So now you know why my craft life is on hold. We're busy getting to know Baby and fighting yucky viruses. (I am flat on my back with a 103 degree fever.) Christmas was very busy, but everyone loved their gifts. My father-in-law immediately hung up his Frank Lloyd Wright piece and has placed it behind non-glare, archival glass so no one can touch it. Other responses were just as positive. The more I watched people open gifts, the more I realized just how much I'd tackled in less than 2 months and felt quite satisfied, but I also made a mental note to start earlier next year. And we'll be skipping the baby part next time 'round, too.

All in all, it was a successful holiday craft marathon, especially for someone so new to embroidery, and now it's time to rest. I hope you have a happy new year, and I'll see you again once crafting resumes.


*karen said...

Really lovely marriage of sentiment and needlework.

Emily said...

Great job. You really put a lot of thought into it. :)

bookwormbethie said...

This last piece is simply stunning and I'm sure your brother and SIL are going to love it. And I agree that the japanese styled flowers were a great addition and definitely add that delicate touch and represent peace (yet defend if you must).

And I was giggling while reading about you stitching through contractions, we sure do love our embroidery don't we? It's a great hobby, passion, and addiction, but all healthy!

I had no idea you were pregnant so super congrats!!!!! Boy? Girl? Name???? Did your midwife come to your house?

It might just be me, but I think with the whole web thing, I don't feel shy with sharing non-crafty things. I've been blogging for perhaps 1.5 years and it was only recently that crafting kinda took over my blog since I've been doing so much for the holidays. I have tons of weird posts in the early days of my blog!

Glenda said...

This is a beautiful piece of work, and I love that you shared the back-story (or back stories!) behind it. You were smart to start with the satin stitching -- I have an incomplete Christmas project I am delaying finishing because all I have left is satin stitching, and I get bored too quickly with that particular stitch.

Congrats on the arrival of Baby. I had a chuckle reading that you stitched until you were so dilated. Wish I'd been into embroidery back when my (now 10yo) baby decided to enter this world a few weeks earlier than estimated! Enjoy your time away from crafting, and steal all the head-smelling, baby neck-nuzzling you can =)

Muddlepud said...

Thanks, all.

bookwormbethie, I've just had and seen some experiences that made me wary of sharing too much. Beside that, it's just not my focus here. I created this site to sort of keep me accountable to crafting.

The baby is a boy, and yes, we had him at home (on purpose). We rock it like the Amish. :)

Tweed Delights said...

Wow! How amazing! (and the embroidery isn't half bad either!! :D) Wishing you all the best - look after yourself x
P.S. I'm so delighted for you!

bookwormbethie said...

MP, Oh I don't share too much personal stuff like pictures of me or my last name or obvious things that would identify me. I'm a bit of a nut and just have some totally weird posts on my blog about sniffing books and a love note to my spatula and other crazy things "personal" like that! I totally understand the need for privacy!

Congrats on the boy! It must have been so nice to have the baby at home and be comfortable in your own surroundings. I don't mean to be nosy, I'm just curious, but how long does the midwife stay with your after you deliver your baby? And did you see a gyno at all during your pregnancy or does the midwife do all those exams???

Muddlepud said...

Bethie, I gotcha. I sniff books too. ;) I agree that that sort of personal stuff is fine if that's what you want to write about. I just decided to keep it crafty since I started this as a way to motivate myself to do more than just think about being creative.

It was lovely to have the baby at home. Drop me an e-mail (muddlepud[at]gmail[dot]com and I'd be happy to answer your questions. (I couldn't find your e-mail address or I would've responded directly.)

Katy said...

Wonderful piece of artwork!

bookwormbethie said...

Oh I know this may make me a weird but I think I love you since you sniff books too!!!!!

bookwormbethie said...

p.s. i did drop you a note earlier today, just in case in ended up in your spam folder....

Fate said...

I saw the Frank Lloyd Wright piece on Craftster and loved it. I love this piece just as much. Beautiful and thoughtful.

And congratulations on the baby! Well stitched!

pinkflowerbuttons said...

I love your work, it is well done and very creative. The hand looks amazing, but I especially love the flowers.