Keep Reaching for the Stars

Last summer, I had a brilliant idea for an embroidery series where I would stitch up a tribute to the number one song on the Top 40 charts each week. As happens with many of my brilliant ideas, the project fizzled not long after it started, as I got too ambitious with the pieces, got behind, and eventually ended up with just a couple more hoops in my pile of languishing UFO’s.

I don’t know if it was Casey Kasem’s death yesterday that got me waxing nostalgic, or just restlessness with my current projects, but I pulled out my unfinished Top 40 Katy Perry hoop and have been contemplating it.

Casey Kasem was a staple of my childhood. Between the American Top 40 Countdown that we listened to nearly every Sunday during the hour long car ride to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and Shaggy from the Scooby Doo cartoons, Casey Kasem’s voice was a familiar one to my sisters and me. Even now, though it’s been many years since Kasem hosted the Countdown, the Countdown itself still reminds me of childhood and makes me think about the passing of time, the way music becomes connected to memory.

I still really like the idea of the embroidery series, and might take it up again. In fact, maybe I’ll go back and begin from somewhere in the 80’s during Kasem’s reign. Before I get ahead of myself, however, I WOULD like to finish this piece:


I found the tiger in a circus coloring book of Eliot’s, and traced him onto tracing paper, then layered the printed background fabric, the white fabric, and the tracing paper in my hoop and stitched directly through all the layers. You can tell in the close up photos that there are still bits of tracing paper stuck under his fur. If I were starting a project like this now, I’d use Sulky Sticky Fabri Solvy, so I wouldn’t have to dig and pluck those little tracing paper bits out from under my stitches with a set of tweezers and my needle. Ugh!


I was planning to use couching to incorporate gold cording for the flaming ring that the tiger is jumping through here. It looks a little weird with that part missing–Ha! And then I was going to stitch a few lines of the lyrics in bubble letters: probably just “I got the eye of the tiger, dancing through the fire” or something to that effect.


I put it away mostly because I wasn’t happy with the white background and the way I’d cut around it. The flames look weird to me. Maybe just the tiger itself should have been on the white. I liked the patterned fabric background, but was afraid it would be too busy on its own, and that the tiger and the flames would be kind of lost on it.

That’s generally how pieces end up as UFO’s, for me. It’s not that I get bored with the project, or I’m not interested in finishing it anymore, usually. It’s that I don’t plan things out entirely before I start stitching–I make decisions about the process as I go, and then sometimes end up hating what I’ve done so much that instead of finishing out the piece, I just abandon it. 😦

Sad, but true.

Any suggestions for salvaging this guy? If so, I’d love to hear them. Hell, once I finish out my tiger, I might even go back and finish the Macklemore piece I started the week before Katy Perry hit #1 with Roar. It was shaping up to be pretty cool, too. 😉


Bittersweet UFO

My family and I recently moved, which is always a harrowing experience. (Okay, maybe “harrowing” is a bit hyperbolic, but I absolutely hate moving; I really do.) In the process of packing up my craft room, I found a number of UFO’s, some that hadn’t even been touched during the two year period since we last moved.

Early in 2011, my mom gave me six embroidery block panels with tractors on them. At the time, Eliot was 3 years old and obsessed with tractors. I had been reading somewhere around the same time about crayon tinting, so I decided to turn the panels into a collaborative project: Eliot would color the tractors, and then I would embroider them and eventually make a quilt for his bed.


Like most 3-yr-olds, however, Eliot didn’t have a long attention span to devote to coloring, so I brought out the blocks every once in awhile, and he and I worked on them intermittently. At first, I pulled them out fairly often, and then less so, and then less so, until I had so many different embroidery and other ongoing crafty projects that the tractor blocks kind of got pushed to the back burner.


Days with a toddler are long, and it seemed like there was no hurry; it seemed then like he would always be a little boy obsessed with tractors. Long days passed, and then weeks, and months, and somehow here I am in 2014, crying over an unfinished craft project that no longer feels relevant to my 7-yr-old son’s world.


Right now the blocks are gently folded and tucked away into my sewing box. I’m not sure what I’ll do with them. I thought I might go ahead and finish them and make the quilt: maybe he’ll have a child of his own someday? Maybe I’ll be able to give my grandkid a quilt that his or her daddy and grandmomma made together? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just trying to buy myself another twenty years or so to get this quilt finished. HA!

What do you think? Should I pick them back up and keep stitching? Should I abandon them as a lost cause?

Have YOU ever given up on a project because so much time had elapsed that it no longer felt relevant?

Tell me about your longest running UFO’s in the comments section. I’d love to know I’m not alone here! 🙂