Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Work In Progress - Stocking

I started the stocking project ten years ago. At the time, there were four of us, myself, nine year old son, seven year old daughter, and my fiance. My son was a happy, intelligent boy who liked dragons, magic, and games. My daughter was a smart, adorable girl who liked cats and frogs. My fiance was  a wonderful young artist who loved me and my children. He was only twenty-four, then. Wow. So much has changed.

Their stockings reflect my perceptions of them at that time. I had every intention of finishing the stockings for Christmas that year, and each of the following years. I got stuck with mine. The top patch of each stocking has a name. Each stocking is filled with images and charms relating to the person it was made for, with a larger patch in the middle having a special symbolic something. My daughter's stocking has a cat patch that she picked out. My son's has an elaborate embroidered dragon. My husband's took a bit long to decide on. I was originally thinking of a design to represent his artist side, but eventually I embroidered and beaded a cross.

Each year, I'd pull out the stockings in the fall and add to them, all the while trying to think of something to represent myself. I also couldn't decide what name to use on mine. We call my son by his full name, Christopher, but it was shortened to "Chris" on the stocking, for the sake of space and design. Everyone else calls him Chris, so it wasn't too much of a stretch. My husband's has his name. It's what I call him, and what my children call him. On mine, do I put my full name? When I was a child I was always told I was Katharine, not Kathy, but when my uncle Jay and I were in the same preschool class, we were called Jay and Kay. In 1st grade, when I wrote slowly and never finished my class work, my family suggested I write Kay on my papers because it would take less time. I remember the teacher calling me to her desk and asking if I wanted to be called Kay. I told her no, because I was always told my name was Katharine. I've never gone by Kay since.

When you have a long name, everyone you meet wants to shorten it. I got through most of school as Katharine, but when you start telling your teenage peers this or that nickname is not acceptable, that's what they call you. They were my friends and it was a phase we went through. When I started work, I finally had enough. I'd been told my whole life that my name was not Kathy, but I was meeting more people and tired of having to correct them all. I started going by Kate. My first husband called me Keili (it sounds like Kaylee). That was my screen name back when the internet was new. We used comodore64, connected at the speed of a snail, and were limited to local bulletin boards. It sounded childish when he said it out loud, so his mother called me Katie. He had a five year old cousin that called me Cousin Katie. That was weird. I haven't heard those names in quite a while.

Then, there were my kids. They called me Mommy. I'm still Katharine to anyone that knew me as a child, Kate to everyone else, and Mom to my kids. Of course, now I have a third child. Her stocking is full of flowers and butterflies.

If the choice of names to use on my stocking was not confusing enough, there was the symbolic representation of self to decide on. Who was I? I have a better idea now, but any ideas for the stocking seemed pretentious. Even the rest of the stocking was more a jumble of appealing colors and stitch experiments than anything symbolic of me or my interests. Last year, I finally added a mirror. I'll add more stitching and charms around the mirror, but that's as close as I can get to a representation of self. I am a reflection of whoever I need to be at different times, in different circumstances.

I haven't done much stitching the last few years, except for my third child's stocking. I was busy with a newborn, two moves (one to another apartment, and then to our first house), starting my first vegetable garden, various home projects, and moving my craft space... multiple times. When we first moved into our new home, I was working to get organized and set up a craft space in the finished basement, with the family room. At some point, my son wanted to rent the basement, so we moved him downstairs and my craft supplies up to his old room. That would be the sunny, south side room under the eaves of a cape cod style house. It gets very hot in the summer. Before I got around to organizing again, my son moved out, my sister moved into the upstairs room, and my craft space was relocated to the basement, which now included my husband's hobby room instead of a family room. In the heat of summer, this is the coolest room in the house. I was making progress getting organized and set up to actually do some stitching. Then, my son needed to move back in. With my sister upstairs, that left my new craft space. So, my supplies moved to the dining room, which isn't used as a dining room, but an excess/hobby room. My son's things are still piled in the kitchen and dining room, he hasn't slept here most nights, and he's already making plans to move on. All this in only two and a half years. Now, I'm left with the question of continuing to get organized and set up in the dining room, which is somewhat convenient, but small and cluttered feeling, or move back to the basement and hope my son's new plan works out for him. I think I will leave that decision until he's moved into the new place and doing well. In the meantime, I'll just enjoy stitching while my supplies are easily accessible.

The stockings are close to finished. Only mine needs more stitching and embellishing. I have started again. Even while not stitching, I've been a regular follower of Pin Tangle, and TAST II. My newest stitches have come from this inspiration. Here are my versions of the buttonhole wheel cup:
and the wave chain:
 Both are areas in progress and will be added to. The other new addition is a spider web:
The web turned out very shiny on a mostly muted and subdued piece. I don't know if it will stay or not, but spider webs are supposed to be symbols of good things... in stitching and for Christmas. I guess I'll just wait and see how it looks when I start adding beads and charms.

I leave myself with no expectations this year. The stockings are very nearly finished. I even have the backings chosen and some of them cut. It would be nice to have these done and hung on the wall for advent, but it will be strange not having them to work on. For now, it's just nice to be stitching again.

1 comment:

Sisters said...

I love all your creativity. I was always told that my arts were very good, but you far surpass my talents. I would love to be able to sit and do some of your art... especially the stockings. I cannot wait to see them finished and hanging. It will be a shame to put them away for most of the year after working so hard on them. But each year, when you unpack them, it will be a new and wondrous feeling to see them again. Love you bunches...