Angela Nowicki

November 2017

As I began my journey through the digital needlework world, I was faced time and again with the stunning fact that many (most? all?) stitchers, in the States at least, regularly stitch and send Christmas cards. I thought, what? Who posts Christmas cards nowadays? As to my family and friends, we either meet or phone or at best send a cute Jacquie Lawson card via the internet.

And suddenly I felt like stitching a Christmas card. Silly, wasn't it? Who would be pleased with it? I anticipated my daughters eye-rolling: mother's getting old! But there's two elder ladies in our family, the partner of my late father and my Polish mother-in-law, and I was sure they would enjoy a self-stitched card. Something extraordinary.

It occured to me, that my father's partner is a sucker for cute, humorous pictures, such as a toddler with a bare butt (that's rather no Christmas motive, naturally). Looking for inspiration, I found a lovely image: a lantern with a burning candle inside and two birds outside. Great! I designed my version of it in Krita, my favorite painting program (it's freeware). The birds, little fluffy feather balls, should look at each other somewhat sulkily or shamefacedly. Cute and humorous, is it?

I worked long and hard, determining the colors and the stitches and finally the holes to be pricked into the cardboard ...
... and ended up at my eternal-internal problem: too much detail! The first pricking produced a punchcard. After two simplifications the holes sat still too close. Frustrated, I cut out a piece of my already tried old white bedsheet, because I was eager to stitch! I told myself that it would be a sample, just in order to see how it would look like.

When I showed the finished piece to my husband, he found it awesome. "Why should you stitch on cardboard? Leave well enough alone! Glue the fabric onto a card. If I had some solid glue still" ... He just didn't approve the subject: "Doesn't it look a bit like a grave lantern"? Ok, said I, we rather don't use grave lanterns in Germany, but for your mother, we can easily find another subject. He found a schematic nativity scene, and while I waited for the solid glue to arrive, I pottered around the second Christmas card.

For fabric I picked a sheer blue cotton shawl I acquired at a flea market not long ago. The cotton was so flimsy though, that I had to back it with the above mentioned bedsheet. The design transfer was a strain. Since the cotton was semitransparent, I tried to trace it as it was, without any aids, but it didn't work. So I ended up dancing frantically around every lamp at hand, struggling to trace onto a fabric mounted in a hoop, using a self-extinguishing pencil, and all that without support.

Christmas card with nativity scene
Christmas card with nativity scene

And here's my first Christmas card, the nativity scene. The gluing went somewhat awry, for I had no experience in cutting in the corners properly. In the end the white backing fabric poked out through the blue, so I sent my apologies to my mother-in-law. Next year's card shall be nicer ...

stitches:
   comet - Star Stitch
   comet tail - Fishbone Stitch, Satin Stitch
   crib - Long and Short Stitch
   figures - Stem Stitch Filling
   glorioles - Satin Stitch
   snowflakes - Straight Stitches, with a silver bead in the center
   I don't recall the stitch used for the floor (Buttonhole? Cretan?)

Can you imagine how delighted I was hearing that my mother-in-law was so pleased with the card, she called it a "masterpiece" (um ... I mean, really ...), had it even framed and was desperate to send me a little gift in return? Reportedly, she didn't notice the messy corners at all ...

The gluing process with the second card went much smoother. I had more practice, and it was one layer of fabric only instead of two.

stitches:
   lantern - Stem Stitch with 2 and 1 strand resp.
   candle - Back Stitch, Chain Stitch
   birds - Back Stitch

Christmas card, lantern with birds
Christmas card, lantern with birds

The German lady called me after Christmas in order to thank for the beautiful card. "I wonder where you can buy such lovely cards"? ...

As I said: over here scarcely anybody expects to get a self-made card, let alone a self-stitched one ... So, I'm glad I made them. :o)