Bermuda sloop part nine: the home stretch

One of the biggest problems I have with cross stitching is the amount of time it takes to complete a project. After 10 weeks of work, I managed to finally tease the Bermuda sloop out of the soft bread cloth I have been working on.

Over the past week, I have concentrated on filling in those long-standing gaps in the picture I have been creating. I worked my way through the very center of the ship, placing dark stitches to serve as the ship’s many masts, and lighter ones to form the sails.

Those who have been reading along with me for the past couple of months know that somewhere along the line, I created an extra space in the first page and had to ad-lib the pattern to correct the mistake.

On the second page, I somehow managed to lose a stitch, which I did not realize until I went to put these final stitches in the center of the ship into place. Suddenly, I had two stitches both wanting to be in the same location for an entire stripe down the middle of the cross stitch. This was not a problem when I had several stitches of the same color in one area, but when a black part of the mast and a pink corner of the sail both wanted to occupy the same space, I was faced with a conundrum.

It took me hours of muttering obscenities under my breath to decide how I should go about keeping the ship’s mast more or less in place while still filling out the edges of sails or the hints of sky peeking from behind the cloth. Eventually, though, these fell into place, leaving me with a the mostly finished sloop.

I filled in the other spaces I had been forced to leave behind due to missing colors as well. I moved my cross stitching ring over to the first side of the cross stitch and dealt with the hole in the sky to the left of the ship. It became a hint of pink, while the bowsprit of the sloop began to take form as a dark spot against the deep pink sea behind it.

More spots worked their way in, filling out the lower corners of the first sail finally, and adding the definition I had feared was completely lost in the pattern I had created myself.

When I was done, the only spots that still stood out as blank were those destined to be filled in by the single missing color I was still lacking.

As I was generally happy with the cross stitch, I decided that I would finish it after all. I had been debating simply abandoning the project, but had decided that this much work at least deserved to be seen through to the end of the second page.

I switched over to the third page of the design, located directly under page one, and discovered that it was only approximately twenty stitches tall. Since a regular page normally holds a hundred stitches in height, this meant that I would be able to finish it quickly.

I made fast work of the third page, finishing it in only two evenings after my usual shift at the newspaper. The sea continued its array of pinks and reds, mixed with more brown hues as it approached the bow of the sloop. The colors changed abruptly to greens and blacks as the body of the ship emerged from the water finally, giving depth to the size of the sloop overall.

Page three was mostly a series of four colors interacting, so it came together swiftly. I was careful to keep my stitches in line, and had to fake an extra stitch to make sure the boat lined up with itself in the pictures above it properly.

Satisfied with my work when page three was done, I decided to pause here for this week’s column. Join me next week as I complete page four and fill in the one missing color finally, completing the cross stitch that everyone has been waiting so long to see.


Gretchen Richards is a reporter at the Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She is a fifth-generation artisan, skilled in numerous art forms. She enjoys sewing her own clothing and custom purses, making quilts, and weaving. She is skilled in knitting, crochet, embroidery, counted-cross stitch, and working with cloth of all types. Gretchen also paints with acrylic, practices calligraphy, and is skilled in metal-working and book binding.