Sunday, 27 October 2013

Little Helpers

The Pub
Not too long ago, I was sat in our local with four of my closest and dearest friends catching up with the recent gossip when they asked me how the wedding plans were going. I mentioned the cross-stitching and how even though I enjoy doing it, each one was taking a fair bit of time. The lovely Jenny then suggested something that has since provided many delightful, memorable and (even if they don't think so) helpful evenings with my girls. She thought it would be a good idea if we organised an evening that week to all get together and have a cross-stitching session. She was right.

The First Session
If I remember rightly, it was actually the next evening that the five of us congregated in my bedroom to begin our first 'Wedding Crafts Night'. I had a piece of Aida cut out ready for each of them, along with a needle. Now the first 10-20 minutes were used to teach each of them the process of cross stitching:
- Fold the aida twice to find the centre point
- Decide on the pattern you want to follow (I suggested either the ladybird or the bee as these were the easiest)
- Find the centre point of the pattern to start from and see which colour embroidery thread is needed
- Cut a length from the skein of embroidery thread and from that length, pull two strands away from it
- Thread these two strands through the needle and start your first stitch through the centre point
- Follow the pattern to stitch your first line and work this process until finished

I was quite impressed at how quickly everybody picked it up and they all seemed to get quite into it as well. There was something really satisfying about hosting a night for your wedding that your friends genuinely enjoyed and helped towards.

After the First Session

The above image is a clear indicator of how our evenings tended to go from then on. In fact after the first night, it wasn't too long before the girls were asking when the next session would be! Each night we would be round somebody else's house. It was lovely to have a change of scenery. One night we would be watching a film whilst stitching, the other listening to music, the other watching a favourite box-set together. The bee image to the left shows Josie's handy-work before she had to jet off and travel the world (lucky thing!).

For me, one of the most charming things about having my friends help out is that each piece ended up slightly different and... lets say unique! For instance, the photo above shows the start of Jenny's and Natasha's ladybird patterns. As you can see, the spaces for the ladybirds are a lot smaller on one pattern that the other! But I love this. It really shows off the whole 'homemade' and 'handmade' touch that I insisted on having for the jam jar toppers. The fact I know they are different because my friends (who have never really cross-stitched before) helped out, makes me so happy to present them as gifts on my wedding day.
Both Tash and Jen have gone back to continue their studies for the time being, but when they are back down... these unfinished patterns will be waiting for them!

This is just a quick snapshot of me unpicking Kathleen's bee. There was a few times this happened... that, and re-threading her needle or de-tangling her thread! Considering she is not the most arty-farty person on the planet, I must credit her for how well she has done and (whether she believes it or not) how much help she has been.
There was a few times where she would say "now Zoe, my bee's antenna is going to be doing something a bit different" or "one of his legs might be a bit fatter than it should be". To this I would simply reply "it doesn't matter, it makes it unique" which I think is what is important on something like this.

The photographs above show Kathleen's bee progress along with the ladybirds she also finished. The butterfly and the second bee is the lovely Hazi's work. During this entire process, she has been a little cross stitching superstar. In fact, I got her her own embroidery hoop and cuts of thread so she could take it home with her!
Hazi has also left to go travelling now, but has made a great effort to finish another butterfly before she left - which is the hardest pattern may I point out.

Whether they think so or not, my girls have been a great help and I can not thank them enough. I just wish I'd asked them sooner!!! 
I would also like to thank my beautiful chief bridesmaid Ruth for all of her help with the planning and the process so far. And I hope she knows I will be bringing the cross stitching down to her next time I visit! I know she's a handy one when it comes to crafts and textiles. 

What I Have Learnt From the Last Couple of Months
 - Don't be scared to ask for help - chances are your friends will enjoy helping towards the big day.
 - Time really does fly when you are having fun - there were so many times we looked at the clock and it was midnight before we knew it!
 - I really do appreciate the little differences between two people's work.
 - Without getting too soppy - I have the loveliest bunch of friends a girl could ask for.

I hope you have enjoyed reading through this slightly more personalised post. I also hope I have inspired you to start crafting with your nearest and dearest. It makes for a great social night if nothing else!

Keep watching this space,

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