Hestor Rides Again! Gadzooks!

I’ve been doing a set of therapeutic stretches from a book about conquering carpal tunnel syndrome and, while I’m certainly nowhere near free of the problem, the improvements have been dramatic.  I’m actually hopeful that I’ll avoid surgery.

I’ve already been able to pick up a needle and dust off poor Hestor, who must have thought that his ride through the forest was going to be interminable and the church door forever beckoning.  Perhaps I should add a speech bubble that says ‘Yay!’ or a suitable medieval alternative.   Gadzooks, perhaps?

Anyway, medieval exclamatory notes aside, as the Hestor that I’m working on is technically ‘son of Hestor’ or ‘Hestor Mark II’, the original attempt that started in cotton perlé having been abandoned in favor of a complete restart using 100% silk in a bid to stave off hand strain, I am aware that I haven’t posted any pictures of the work in progress.

Here he now is.   Comparison with my earlier post of the cotton WIP is not strictly fair, because I’d advanced further into the design with Hestor I.   I think there is now, however, sufficient stitching in Hestor II (The Return of the Prodigal Hestor) to reveal him to the world.  Well.  To my blog readers…which basically means to my mum and a few kind friends, plus those brave, brave souls who’ve decided that I’m worth following.  Thank you, by the way…not just for following me (and I definitely DO NOT do the Prime Minister’s victory dance from Love Actually whenever this happens, though it is tempting) but for the revelation of your own interesting and talent-filled blogs in the process.

Anyway, without further ado…here’s the Prodigal Hestor (work in progress)

Hestor WIP

Hestor, WIP

Some of his lines look a little wobbly, but that’s more because he’s slightly unevenly stretched at the moment, for various reasons.

And here’s a close up of some of the stitching so far.   I like to think that this is much better than the cotton version of same.  Your opinions are gratefully sought on this score.

Hestor, detail, WIP

Hestor, detail, WIP

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Carpal Tunnels and Christmas Gifting

Currently suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands, the onset of which makes me suspect that it was Herr Niune that broke me!   Docs orders are to do no crafting of any kind, though I haven’t done any since October anyway apart from a brief pre-Christmas flurry of gift creating.    I’m due to get nerve conduction studies as soon as the referral goes through; once we find out how bad the situation is, I’ll know whether I can get away with steroid shots and rest or whether I’ll need surgery.   I’m hoping desperately against the latter, as it would pretty much put an end to my crafting even on a hobby basis.  Unfortunately the symptoms are pretty severe so surgery is looking likely at this point.

Anyway, I DID make some things for people at Christmas, most of which did not revolve around embroidery due to my disability at the time, but some of which did.    Here follow some photographs of the things that I managed to turn out.  Let’s all hope that they don’t turn out to be the last things I ever make!

This first piece was constructed for fellow Tolkien enthusiast friends and is finished as wall art with padding over prepared plywood board and sealed with upholstery staples, fabric glue and felt.  The text is the song to Elbereth, or at least the section of it that Frodo hears whilst at Rivendell.  I tried to keep the presentation fairly minimalistic, as I did not want the text to seem cluttered, but speak for itself.

Silver thread, white and grey embroidery cottons, split stem stitch, on midnight blue velour.   Song to Elbereth by JRR Tolkien.

Silver thread, white and grey embroidery cottons, split stem stitch, on midnight blue velour. Song to Elbereth by JRR Tolkien.

This cushion design came from a book (More Celtic Quilting, by Gail Lawther, 2004).  I don’t often stitch other people’s designs these days, but the carpal tunnel issue inclines me to be a little lazier than usual.  Also Gail’s designs are beautiful.  I finished this one at 8pm on Christmas Eve.   Phew!  Drinks followed.

Christmas gift, created Dec 2012

Purple/pink silk dupion, hand embroidered in running stitch using variable shaded purple embroidery cotton. Embellished with pink beads.

This next cushion cover was my first foray into patchwork in about 30 years, the first in fact since my enthusiastic but mediocre offerings in junior school.    My mother will disagree with this assessment because she still uses one of the pieces that I made, but she’s my mother and biased!

This piece also represents the very first time I’ve tried hand piecing.  Why I did this when I already had carpal tunnel symptoms…well, your guess is as good as mine.   Presumably for the same reason that I’d take on a project like this, based on techniques I’d never tried, only a bare few weeks before Christmas!  Apparently, the lure of the crafting did naughty things to my capacity for sensible judgement.  Anyway, here it is!

Cathedral Window/Secret Garden patchwork, cottons hand pieced, embellished with beading.

Cathedral Window/Secret Garden patchwork, cottons hand pieced, embellished with beading.

This next piece was finished as wall art with padding, board, upholstery staples and felting in what was fast becoming my signature method prior to the doc ordering me to down tools.   Actually I think this was the first one that I tried to do, so the corner angles are a little bit wonky as I was still fighting with the stapler (we are now the best of friends).   It is an exercise in deconstructed crazy patchwork, which means that none of the edges are finished and the slight degree of fraying from the pinked fabrics adds to the effect in the design.  Various types of hand embroidery, machine embroidery and beading feature.  The leaves declared on their packaging that they were for stamping art, but it wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve used something in a manner utterly unforeseen and unintended by the manufacturers!  I ended up stitching them on by hand.

Deconstructed crazy patchwork, embellished with hand and machine embroidery and beading.

Deconstructed crazy patchwork, embellished with hand and machine embroidery and beading.