Friday, June 12, 2015

DRAGONS IS FINISHED - 7.5 yrs later

How can I even start the post that has been almost 8 years in the making?
All the photos interspersed in this post are from the finished piece. All photos can be viewed larger by clicking on them. 
All items in italics are 'personal milestones', all else are stitchy related (in case you want to skim this post). :) 

Let's start with...


Why Dragons? 
For those of you who haven't been long time followers, some history:
- Dragons was chosen by my uncle (who is like my older brother with only 9 yrs separating us, and he lived with my family when I was 11-12).
- Started following a break-up with a very rich, snobby and he's-not-that-into-you-guy.
- I needed an 'epic' replacement for given-up-on larger Disney project that I had imagined as my potential non-existent childrens nursery piece. The giveaway of the partially done Disney project also symbolized my understanding that I was unable to have children (which is a-ok) and accepted the truth of my likely future. 

Therefore, I needed a replacement project.
My uncle and I agreed to "Judgement", design by Character Creations (Kerry Blackwell), artwork by Lisa Hunt. The art is from a Tarot series that Lisa Hunt did back in 2007 or so. The whole set is absolutely gorgeous!
I know what you're thinking, why not a HAED. We looked at HAEDs, but "Judgement" just seemed like the right choice. I told my uncle it might take me a year or two because of it's "complexity". Boy was I wrong! LOL!

"Judgement" was started in August of 2008. 
87 colors and over 100 skeins of DMC thread were bought (I have quite a few skeins left over). Ivory 25ct evenweave was selected with the help of some local stitchers. After a couple of test I decided on  1 over 1 and was okay with the potential "loss" of coverage in the darker areas in order to avoid the bulkiness that I thought (still do) think 2 threads brings on over 1 on 25 ct.
The same year that my now DH and I got back together, we were in a high-speed truck rollover on the highway (in the snow).

Epic Stitching Blog Begins - March 2009
I started this blog originally because I needed a way to motivate myself to work on Dragons and wanted to reconnect with the online stitching world I had briefly forayed into in 2007 with a different blog (that I can no longer find sadly, long since erased by the interwebs I suppose).
I did not ever foresee myself 7.5(ish) years later posting about this finish. I saw it, at that time as a 3-4 year project. I was still sooo wrong on my estimate of time!
A huge call out to some of my first followers and encouragers in Meari, Evalina and (the greatly missed) Rene. I know so many more of you were there for each and every post and I truly appreciate that more than you can know. 

In March 2009 I was also living in an apartment with my now-DH and starting to really feel the effects of what was later determined to be vertigo and issues from our truck rollover the year before. Dragons became my one constant that I could always rely on. Like a good book you read over and over again. 

February 2010 - Coining 'Dragons'
Sometime between 2009 and 2010 "Judgement" piece got renamed to Dragons. It was just easier. I never meant to mislead anyone and did try to remind people it wasn't a HAED in some posts but honestly it just got tiresome and so it was thereafter known as Dragons to me both online and offline. I don't know that I ever called it Judgement after that.
In Feb 2010 I had major health issues starting to compound. A gallbladder surgery that was only "successful" in that they got my gallbladder out without killing me. Not so successful in that I had a litany of issues and many of which I am still medicated b/c of today. Epic Stitching went on a hiatus in Mar-Apr of 2010 as I just couldn't handle much at the time. Epic Stitching came back online early-Fall of 2010. 

January 2012
Halfway!! Now you're about to see what really got in the way of completing Dragons... it wasn't my health (like I thought) and it wasn't buying a house, traveling to Holland or having a full-time permanent relationship with the man that (one day) might marry me but is my common-law partner and DH today (just without the official piece of paper). Nope in fact it was the Etsy shop...

June 2012 
I officially changed careers from an Art Director in magazines to a regulatory technician. Yep it's a boring paperwork job. This was a milestone for me personally as it gave me a 9-5 job, more time for Dragons, (hahaha) and wayyy less stress. This was also the official start of Epic Stitching on Etsy. And the beginning of Dragons being neglected (truth hurts).

April 2013
A new house (first non-rental), a trip to Holland and so much stitching that didn't include Dragons. Etsy shop has really taken off by now and is taking up about 1/2 of my stitching time I used to have. I swear that without all of my followers and supporters I wouldn't have stuck with it. Carla started making comments that always asked about Dragons if it had been too long. I knew I needed to get to it if Carla had bugged me! :)

December 2013
Stitch from Stash was born. Again taking away time from Dragons (lol). This was the first year of us living in our own home and cutbacks had to made in stashing. While I may have had more room to store my stash in our house than in the apartment; I certainly didn't have more money (darn utilities and property taxes)! 

A push year. This was a huge year for the Etsy shop and I really did try to concentrate on Dragons when I wasn't doing Etsy stuffs. Stitch from Stash had it's first full year with a great group of ladies!

I had a goal in January of this year. I wanted Dragons done, actually done, in time for entries into the Calgary Stampede Western Showcase Arts & Crafts Competition. All entries had to be registered by June 16, 2015. The deadline of June 6, 2015 was firmed up as being the "drop dead date" in order for framing to be completed.

One week ago today... June 6, 2015
I finished stitching Dragons!!!! It was bittersweet and exhilarating all at the same time. It reminded me of high school grad a bit. When you know you've moved on and completed something great; but still have a ton of future to consider.
Right now, I'm savoring my finish. I am getting stressed thinking about what will be the next "epic" piece. There will be one that I know. But with 50+ HAEDs and dozens of other large projects of the "full art, no backstitch" variety I have to really think about it and want the DH involved in the decision. We may take it to a poll here... maybe. ;)
(Postscript: I had my long waited MRI on Tuesday this week, results this coming Wednesday. Wouldn't it be so fitting to have an official name for all my health issues in the same month as Dragons is finished? It would be almost divine as my health has been so much a part of Dragons progression in my mind). 

A Retrospective: What Do I See in Dragons? 
A lot of work, lol! And a lot of stitches. I see my health issues over the years, my life-long partner and I choosing to live together, changing careers, buying my first home and did I mention a lot of stitches?
I also see my online stitching friends, stash bought, other projects like Cottages, LK's Halloween and other stitching endeavors that detoured Dragons to take 7.5 years to complete.

Above all else I actually think I see 7.5 yrs of my life brought together into one beautiful piece of art that I can say I did all by myself and never gave up on.
We may not think about it much but our stitching is really a representation of the progress of our lives. Remember that piece you did when you got married, had a baby, bought a home or moved somewhere? Those are the stitches that represent your life and the change in it.
(This is easily the sappiest thing I have ever written, don't worry I'll be back to my much less sappy self next post.)

So let me share my sign of relief, a tear or two and absolute excitement that "Dragons" is finished. I look forward to the next chapter of my life that will be documented in more stitches. I hope there are many more "Dragons" in my future that I can look fondly on and see many highs/lows and a personal journey within their completion. It's not about the finish, it's about the journey. 

Stitched by Mel @ Epic Stitching
Stitched between Aug. 2008 to June 2015
"Judgement" (Dragons) art by Lisa Hurt, design by Kerry Blackwell
1 over 1 on 25 ct ivory evenweave. 87 DMC colors. 
297 (width) x 498 (height) = 147,906 stitches


Mrs Milkybar Kid said...

Saying congratulations for finishing this piece doesn't seem enough as it represents so much more than "just" an epic piece of stitching. This piece has seen you through a fair few life milestones to say the least! I say revel in your finish and be very proud that you stuck with it, how long it took to complete doesn't matter, I find with stitching sometimes it's more about the journey you take with a piece rather than just reaching the destination of a finish :).

Pull the other thread said...

Wow absolutely stunning. What an amazing piece with so much history for you. Congrats for sticking with it through all the trials and joys life has thrown your way.

Nic said...

A truly stunning finish representing an long and difficult journey for you. Can't wait to see what's next.

Lady Stitch-a-Lot said...

Your dragons are absolutely breathtaking =) I have been watching this piece grow for a long time and I am surely going to miss the posts on this one ;-)
I really like the post you did, I think it's a great idea to share a bit of the journey here, I enjoyed reading your thoughts =) I am looking forward to see this framed, I am sure it will be amazing =)
I will surely follow your next epic journey =)

Denise SA said...

Absolutely stunning looking forward to seeing your next epic

Dawn Rossbach said...

Wow Mel! This is amazing! What a journey and what an accomplishment.

Annie said...

Wonderful post, and so true!
Congrats on an epic, stunning finish! Looking forward to seeing your next one:)

Heather said...

Oh my gosh it's amazing! I'm so happy for you! You should totally film your uncle when you give it to him! If you need another epic piece haed has supersizes now which are around 999x999 stitches ;)😘. I can't wait to see what you pick as your next project! Congratulations :)

rosey175 said...

As a somewhat newish follower I did not get to grow with your Dragons. Thank you for the backstory!

I think these big pieces are meant to have a story anyway. You went through a lot but made it through... with your Dragons! I think their Judgement on you will be favorable! :D It looks amazing and I hope you'll show off the framing job too, as well as all the ribbons it will fetch lol.

Here's to your next epic journey~ \:D/

Shelly said...

I am glad you and Epic Stitching are back to stitching and blogging! Dragons is just beautiful! Staying power is a phrase that comes to mind after reading this post and you obviously have it in spades. I hope the medical news is good news!

Tiki said...

Wonderful milestone on a great journey.

Blu said...

Congratulations on an amazing finish!

Linda said...

Congratulations Mel on the epic finish. It is gorgeous. I really enjoyed reading this post.


Joy said...

This piece reminds me of a piece I did for Stitching the Night Away a few years ago about a UFO which is also about 7 years in the making and sadly still isn't finished. It's not nearly as complicated as yours but life has gotten in the way. I'm glad you finally finished it.

Irene said...

Congratulations Mel! I'll keep my fingers crossed that the health issues get sorted too.

Katie Haskins said...

Whoo hoo! *claps enthusiastically* Congrats on the awesome finish.

Kelly aka STITCHNMOMMA said...

Congrats on your finish! It's beautiful and you should be proud of yourself. :)

demeter83 said...

Congratulations on a truly beautiful finish. I think I've been following you from very near the beginning. Amazing to see it finished!

Esmeralda said...

Congratations on your finish after 7.5 years
What a lovely story !
This is a very special piece and maybe your uncle will later on in live return the dragon to you
Look forward to your next huge project
Greetings from holland

Unknown said...

Oh wow, congrats on your big, huge, chart finish it looks great.

Carla - Alaska Wolf Pack said...

Apparently I love your sappy narrative and am sitting here sniffing and crying after reading all of that and saying "yep, every project does tell a story of our lives".

7.5 years and this finish....I'll bet you miss it now that it's done but the pride of accomplishment equals that feeling!

It is truly a beautiful finish <3

Unknown said...

Wow....and I thought my 3.5-4 year project was long. This is a beautiful finish Mel! I'm so glad you got it done on time for the festival.

It's always amazing how much these projects end up meaning to us as we stitch them. Something non-stitchers/crafty people have a hard time understanding I've found.

One again, beautiful and congratulations my dear. :) Now onto the next one! ;)

katjakay said...

This is magnificent, and I loved reading the story of how it progresses. Congratulations and good luck at Stampede.

D1-D2 said...

Congratulations on finishing your Dragons. I really enjoyed reading how it came about :)

Sally said...

Wow, Mel, what a stunning finish! Congratulations!

Kathy R. said...

What a great post and an amazing finish! I hope you get the answers you want from your testing and your journey continues on with many more epic stitching projects. I have learned so much from you and the other SFS ladies over the past 18 months and hope that Stitch from Stash continues on as well. Happy stitching and good luck in the competition.

Keebles said...

Congrats! You went through such struggles, it's a miracle you did finish it! I had a similar (but way less hard) experience with a project that took 15 years...I graduated high school, started college, quit college, got married and got divorced before I managed to finish mine (also a dragon, ironically). I make it a point to finish all projects (even HAEDs) in no less than 5 years now.

Leonore Winterer said...

SO much congrats on you finishing this awesome journey :) There are so much memories tied to that piece, and now, even if it goes to your uncle, you'll have something to always remember them by. I can't wait to go on another journey with you with the next big project you'll choose!

Deb said...

Amazing work!!! Loved reading you journey to finish!

Unknown said...

Congratulations on your striking finish! I have finished one piece some years ago which also means a lot to me, because it took me through my father's illness and death and was finished shortly before DH's mum passed away. It was her late dog and I am really happy that I finished it and she could see it before she died. This large picture has pride of place in DH's home office and every time I see it I think of all that happened while I stitched it.
Looking forward to see your new epic project!

Lyn said...

I am proud of you for finishing this piece, Mel. You are an inspiration to me to finish, Life's Little Tangles. Dragons turned out beautifully!

Miamina said...

I see my stitching as not just a hobby, but a constant that is with me through all of life's ups and downs. Every project has some memory attached to it. I'm so pleased that Dragons is finally completed. It looks stunning and I hope that you can look at it with pride and remember all the struggles and how you've come through everything in (almost) one piece.

Heather said...


I really love how you put this post together. I remember so much of what was happening with you, and it also brought back memories of what was going on in my own life at the same time.

Faith... said...

Congratulations Mel! I am so happy for you and thanks for taking us on your journey of your progress of this piece. I looks magnificent and I know you must be proud! Good luck in the Calgary Arts & Crafts Competition; I am sure this piece will come out on top! Can't wait to see what you pick next!

Justine said...

This is truly an epic finish! You have gone through so much as you have stitched this piece - both good and bad, it must feel very strange now to see it finished. I hope your uncle enjoys and appreciates it, and that we get to see it too once it's framed!

Lindsay said...

Congratulations Mel, Dragons looks absolutely fantastic and I for one knew you could do it :)

Cathy said...

Beautiful finish! Yes I look back at some of my finished pieces and they do remind me of what was going on in my life while I stitched that piece. Good and bad times. I look forward to seeing what your next epic piece will be.

Brigitte said...

It was more than interesting to read how densely this stitched piece was woven with your life during the last years. How exciting that it's finished now. Major congratulations!!!

Tricia T said...

I've been out of the loop since my husband's brain surgery and I just saw this. Congratulations, Mel! What an amazing accomplishment. I look forward to seeing what you choose for your next piece!

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

What a great epic story to go with this great epic piece of stitching! I haven't regularly stitched anything for that long. Pieces tend to be put aside and become UFOs or stay in the rotation. Although I've never stitched anything in the style of Dragons.

I am sure your uncle will love it and it will have pride of place in his home. If not, then send it my way LOL.

Unknown said...

Absolutely fabulous!

Unknown said...

Huge congratulations on this wonderful finish and thank you for sharing the journey

Suz said...

Absolutely amazing, you must be so proud. Congrats!

Loretta said...

I'm a little late to the party, but I wanted to say congratulations on the beautiful finish and a fantastic journey :)