Stitching / XML · 2005-10-28

XML haiku project

Lauren has informed me (and the rest of the world) that the XML 2005 conference website had a problem accepting poster and artwork submissions. The deadline for both has been extended. If you had already filled out these forms, I’m afraid you’ll have to redo them (or, if you like, you can drop me a line if you’re just submitting artwork).

I figured I might as well take this opportunity to share a snapshot of my stitching project for this year’s conference. I already mentioned it’s sort of a sampler that has a haiku about XML parsing in it. I haven’t stitched the actual lettering yet, but you can see half of an “O” at the beginning of what I will admit is the third line of the poem. Any guesses? :-)

XML haiku project as of 28 October 2005
XML haiku project as of 28 October 2005

So far this has been a very enjoyable project. Here are some thoughts on the feel of this piece, along the lines of the analysis I did here for another project in February (which languishes unfinished, by the way).

  • Under pressure. I’ve never cranked on stitching like this! If I get really desperate I may have to keep stitching through the beginning of the conference. Lynne Price did that when she first submitted her XML with Koalas piece; each day she’d return it to its display location with more done. She’s one fast stitcher…
  • Small but pleasant selection of floss colors. I was a little bored doing the monochromatic border, with only a few tricky holes and the corners for relief. I can’t believe I completed the border first on the theory that it would be a quick way into the piece. That sucker took me about 20 hours! But it was the right decision since it gave me the interoperable framework (heh) that I could now fill in.
  • Back to 14-count fabric. Yay! I was really killing my eyes on the siapo project at 18-ct. Of course, I’ve also since found out that I had incipient presbyopia by that point, so that explains a lot. Now I’ve got modern bifocals (they call them “progressive lenses” but I rather think they’re all about regression, don’t you?) and stitching is back to being a breeze.
  • Huge canvas. I mentioned at the beginning of this project that the piece of fabric was so large that it’s hard to work with. I managed to figure out how to stitch on airplanes with it nonetheless, but it looks wrinkled right now because I work free-hand, without hoops or frames. They mar the fabric and they keep me from getting right close up to the location where I’m working. But that means I’m constantly rolling or even lightly crushing the fabric. It’ll all come out with a steam iron later (heck, that’s easier to smooth out than the original fold lines from when I got the fabric in the first place — I much prefer buying it in rolls for that reason).
  • A hybrid design formed by adapting the work of a real professional. The main pattern came from Pat Emlet at, who has some gorgeous designs, including –as noted on her home page — Oriental, Celtic, Art Nouveau, and Mackintosh styles. It was the Oriental angle that got me interested, and the pattern I selected even conveniently came with a “hole” for me to put my own wording in. Pat kindly also supplied me with a very cool Asian-style stitched font for my haiku. The trouble was, the haiku didn’t quite fit in the space, so I had to extend the border vertically by more than an inch; move the boat-against-the-sunset picture; ensure that the fabric that came with the kit I bought was big enough for the result; and transfer enough of the original design to my own online pattern to doublecheck that the whole thing hung together. This process was really really fun. (For some definition of fun.)
  • Flying blind. Even though it was all designed by computer, I had no real idea how big this project was because I didn’t have a stitch count. Pat uses Pattern Maker software to design her pieces (which I first described here as the program that amusingly uses the .xsd file extension) and she sent me the files to work with in modifying the piece. But I only got the free viewer for Pattern Maker, which doesn’t allow you see stitch counts, and of course the portion that I designed in PC Stitch would give me an incomplete count. I’m starting to be able to eyeball the size of projects now, though.
  • Process optimization. The thing that looks like a dashed line in the middle is a guideline that I’ll pull out soon. I’ve finally gotten smart about how to parcel off the work — the guideline corresponds exactly to the horizontal page boundary of my pattern printout, which runs to four pages, and to the 10×10 grid markings provided by the software (I already pulled out a vertical guide-line that I no longer need). Maybe that’s why I stitch — it gives me new ways to feel efficient!

I’m hoping that exposing my obsession with this pastime will inspire someone out there to say, “Hey, I could make something better-looking and more related to XML than that in far fewer hours, and I’m willing to come to Atlanta to show it off…”