About once every decade or so, I get the urge to tackle a monumental cross-stitch or needlepoint project. I finished a Celtic Lion and Lamb rug designed by Alice Starmore and featured in her book, Celtic Needlepoint (Trafalgar Square Publishing, 1994) in 2005. I think I actually started that rug in 1999, so it was a six-year labor of love.
When it comes to needlework, I tend to work on projects in fits and starts. I’ll stitch steadily for a few weeks, and then I’ll put the project aside for a while—sometimes years. I currently have two projects in progress that I haven’t touched in several months. I’ll eventually finish them, but for now, they’re waiting patiently in a drawer in my craft armoire. When I decided to make a very personal wedding tapestry, though, I didn’t want to drag that project out over a period of months or years. I wanted it to be displayed in our home as soon as possible considering I didn’t even start stitching it until the month after our first wedding anniversary.
I originally envisioned a hanging tapestry finished something like my rug, but I ultimately decided to frame the stitched piece to better preserve it. It is, after all, something that will be displayed in our home for the rest of our lives. Our daughter was very interested in watching this piece come to life, so perhaps it will even become a treasured family heirloom that she can pass down to her own child someday. A mom can only hope…
I documented the progress of our wedding tapestry here, here, and here in case you’re curious about the process. We picked up the finished piece from the frame shop on Valentine’s Day (a happy coincidence), and it’s been hanging above our dining room table ever since. Photographing the piece has proved to be a challenge because the lighting in that area of our apartment is poor, and the conservation glass I selected to protect the tapestry from UV damage is highly reflective. The photo above doesn’t do the finished tapestry justice at all, but it’s the best image we were able to get.
This is, by far, the largest needlepoint piece I’ve ever done in terms of stitch count. I limited the palette to just three colors, which made for a fairly simple pattern, but the stitch count alone (239 stitches wide by 310 stitches high) made it an incredibly labor-intensive project. I never keep track of time when I’m stitching because it’s something I do purely for pleasure. But if I had to guess, I’d say there are over 200 hours of stitching alone in this particular project. That doesn’t include the many hours I worked on the design. It’s the first semi-custom pattern I’ve ever done. I purchased a pattern for the center monogram from New York Needleworks and added our name, wedding date, and a simple border.
Truly a labor of love.