Angela Nowicki

November 2017

When 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 with a somewhat sulky or shamefaced expression. Cute and humorous, is it?

I worked long and hard, determining the colours 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 were still sitting 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! Just 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

   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?)

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 ...

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.

Christmas card, lantern with birds
Christmas Card, Lantern with Birds

   Lantern - Stem Stitch with 2 and 1 strand resp.
   Candle - Backstitch, Chain Stitch
   Birds - Backstitch

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. 😇