Now an awful lot of my stitching is done for other people, and anyone you would stitch for must be a loved one right?
So not tenuous at all really, which got me thinking not so much about which of my loved ones should feature as which bit of stitching might give the most interesting story.
One of the very first cross stitch pieces I ever stitched, having mostly done traditional embroidery before that, was stitched it as a gift for my Aunt Jenny and Uncle Jock.
Here is the story behind it. Aunt Jenny was my Dad's closest sibling, he was the baby of nine and she was the next oldest and pretty much his partner in crime.
Aunt Jen had no children of her own and always treated my sister and I as the daughters she never had. She was a very stylish and fashion conscious lady, and often took me shopping with her. It's probably where I get it from.
My Dad and Uncle Jock, on the other hand, used to take me to the football...
See I told you I spent a lot of time there.
I'm the very small one. The foreman is to the left and his wife is the one stopping me from wrecking a perfectly good photo opportunity by wandering off across the yard. The lady in the middle is another sibling, Aunt Sal, you can see how much she looked like her mother. You can just about make out the bread racks in the back of the picture.
I remember that their home was always kept really warm; my Uncle had grown so used to the heat from working in the bakehouse with three enormous ovens on the go (still coal-fired when I was very small, and the stokery was a really cosy place to hide out on a cold day), that he felt the cold very easily. They baked the best bread for miles around. I love the smell of yeast and baking bread and I still have a weakness for artisan bakeries (though of course they weren't called that back then).
One of my very early memories is of "helping" in the bakehouse by carefully placing a walnut into the icing on top of each of a long row of walnut cakes. I probably ate more walnuts than I placed, I've loved them ever since and the taste and smell of walnuts always takes me straight back there.
Anyway this is what I stitched for them, a stylised representation of one of their four shops.
As you can see it is stitched on aida, which really dates it, because I switched to linen and evenweave very early on, but this was way back in the eighties, before cross stitch was much of a "thing". If I recall correctly I adapted the design from one in Anna Burda magazine (I'm pretty sure it pre-dates most British Cross Stitch mags).
I featured chocolate eclairs in the design because they were my Dad's favourites (he always had one with his lunch on a Saturday), and a wedding cake, because they were Aunt Jen's province. She used to do the royal icing on the celebration cakes, and she was amazing at it, I could watch her for hours. I remember the cake she did for Sunderland football club when they won the cup, it was iced all in green and marked out as a football pitch (my Dad and Uncle helped her with that bit, she wasn't really a football person), and decorated with a little subbuteo team.
I could go on all day with memories but I'll leave it there. Looking forward to reading about everyone else's loved ones.