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Taking a break from the rug as a) bored and b) it’s too big to work on outside as we fight the Squirrel Wars of 2015.

The situation is this: we have a rather old and rather large Blenheim apricot tree in the front yard. These are the apricots that used to be grown here when it was the Valley of Heart’s Delight rather than Silicon Valley. You almost never see them in stores, because they don’t travel at all well – bruise far too easily.

They’re also far and away the king of the stone fruit season.

Unfortunately, the squirrels agree. They wreak havoc in the crop if undeterred, and they would strip the tree while the fruit was still green if we didn’t guard it. So we do. We take turns sitting out there under the tree, picking up fruit as it drops (you can only be sure it’s truly ripe if you let it drop rather than picking it off the branch, and contrary to general belief, stone fruit does NOT ripen on your counter – it can get softer, but that’s not riper), and we literally chase the squirrels away when they approach. It’s all terribly dignified.

Anyway. The rug’s too much of a hassle to work on under such circumstances. Instead, I’ve started on another complex and long-term cross-stitch project that is actually a higher stitch count than the rug, but will be smaller when finished. The final product is 18×27 inches on 25ct fabric. That means 25 stitches to the inch. That means the entire project is approximately 304,650 stitches. I’m at about 1700 stitches so far.

The image is L’Esperance, a ceiling painting over a staircase at the Chateau de Chantilly in France. It was painted in the late 19th century by Diogene Ulysse Napoleon Maillart, a name which tells you rather a lot about him and his family.

Anyway, I’m completely in love with this image, and even though at this rate I will finish the piece in approximately December of 2018, I’m enjoying myself tremendously. The person who designed the cross-stitch pattern has done some work to play with light effects within the painting, creating more of a radiance emanating from the central figure. This is why my current progress looks more like army camouflage than cloudy sky.

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And for anyone who’s wondering, yes, that is a poker chip I turned into a needle minder by gluing a set of magnets to it. It’s a special commemorative poker chip handed out last year at the ALA conference in Las Vegas.

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