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October 13, 2001: Your face is gonna freeze that way

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There are times when I am convinced that certain aspects of sewing were created by someone with a lot of time on their hands and a rather nasty grudge against any person who happens to have semi-decent eyesight. Counted cross stitch (my favorite type of thread-related artwork) falls into this category if you're going to take on the more complicated and therefore more gorgeous pieces. And today I got to learn another one.

Smocking. English smocking, to be exact (not to be confused with American smocking. I had no idea there were multiple types of this stuff in the first place).

For years my mom has wanted to learn smocking. At one point she insisted that none of us were allowed to produce grandchildren until she'd learned how. My two sisters, however, ignored that request. The arrival of both nephews wasn't too much cause for concern, as smocking is not normally a thing done on the outfits of little boys, but when the niece was born, well, things were suddenly Not Right With the World.

All of which leads up to my mom and I sitting in a little room this morning with four other women of varying degrees of age and skill, learning how to smock.

Uh. For those of you who are still hopelessly lost as to what I'm talking about, go into your local children's clothing store and look for the really adorable little girl dresses where the top piece has a pinafore or a bodice covered with pleated material, all sewn together (to keep said teeny tiny pleats in place) with itsy bitsy little stitches of thread.

The stitching itself is deceptively easy (I am just not even going to touch the whole pleating process) as it is simply several variations of your basic ordinary backstitch. I'm proud to say I picked it up rather quickly (being already used to making multitudes of miniscule little stitches from my years of cross stitching). But since you've got to stitch every single one of those no-longer-quite-so-adorable teeny tiny pleats with every row of smocking you produce, well…I refer you back to my statement about this being the product of a grudge. Either that or some demented woman's idea of a sick joke that no one ever quite got.

My little niece is going to get two adorably smocked dresses for Christmas, and then I have a sneaky feeling that the chances of her getting anything else hand-smocked from either her aunt or her grandmother are fairly slim.

That is unless either my mom or myself decides that a permanent state of cross-eyed squinting is something we're really in the mood for. Wince.

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