Three area men bring pictures to life

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 12/10/96.

To help pass the time and to keep busy, three area men have one thing in common, they all do counted cross- stitch. Jim Loomis has done several Christmas and angel scenes. Stan Marple enjoys doing religious art and wildlife. Paul Embretson has completed 20 Hummel panels.

Loomis, rural Paynesville, started doing cross-stitch and reading after his retirement 10 years ago. I watch a lot of athletic events on television and I sit and cross-stitch during commercials, he said. Even if I see a poor game, at least by doing cross-stitch I have accomplished something.

Loomis said his mother taught him to knit when he was a teen, many years ago. His wife, Betty, was the one to get him started on cross-stitch. She had a picture she didnt like and he finished it and has been doing the craft ever since. I find doing cross-stitch fun. I love to do it, he said. I started small and worked up to more complicated designs.

He stressed that once you start a picture, you have to make up your mind you are not going to make a mistake. If you do, it only multiplies and gets worse. A person needs to follow the pattern closely.

Loomis gives away many of his finished pictures as presents to friends and family. Several can be seen hanging around his home. He has made each of his nine grandchildren a sampler which hangs in their bedrooms.

Loomis biggest project was the Christmas nativity which consisted of five large panels. The project took him two years to finish. It involved using 150 different colors of thread and five spools of gold thread...thats 275 yards of gold, he joked. He said one good thing about the project was that some of the panels could stand alone. So if a person didnt want to complete the entire scene, they could just do a single panel. The scene is proudly displayed on his fireplace mantle.

Among his favorite projects are the angels on linen. They are more difficult, but the finished product is worthwhile, he said. The series is called Lavender and Lace and features angels in various color schemes and angles.

Depending on the pattern, some of the linen pictures require stitches every two squares on the cloth and others are stitches every square. The single stitch per square is tougher, he said. One angel features a lot of beading on the pattern. You need to use a long sharp needle to pick up the tiny beads, he said. The beadwork is time consuming, but I have the time, he added. Loomis has completed two bead angels.

Loomis work has also been featured in a book on cross-stitch. Jodie Davis wrote a book in Virginia on cross-stitching. She doesnt cross-stitch her- self but sought advice from those who do. The book is full of hints, basic stitches and patterns. I had to call and ask if I could correct the pattern she gave me as things didnt line up, he said. People tease me that Im a professional now since my name and pictures are in the book. She even sent me a copy of the book as payment.

To make cross-stitching easier, Loomis cuts all his thread into 17-inch long lengths to make it easier to handle. He also makes copies of the original pattern in order to keep the original intact. After working with a pattern several months or years (depending on the pattern), they get pretty worn and frayed, he said.

Sometimes the symbols on the patterns are hard to read and you need to use the trial and error method to see what works, Loomis added. Im always looking for different patterns, he said. He orders a lot of his patterns through the Nordic Needle which is filled with information and necessary supplies. He makes many of his own frames for the pictures. His next project is the Christmas Angel on linen. It is tougher, he said, but Im looking forward to the challenge.

Stan Marple, Rice Lake, has only been doing counted cross-stitch seven years. Ive done latch hook rugs and needle- point so I thought Id try counted cross-stitch, he said. I needed something to do while watching television, Marple said. Im not a person to sit with my hands idle.

Marple said he buys Aida cloth by the yard. Aida cloth consists of a woven pattern and comes in various stitches per inch. He has done pictures of flowers, covered bridges, farm scenes, wildlife, religious themes, and even a monopoly board. He said the monopoly board went to Idaho.

One religious theme consisted of 12 panels which was designed as quilt blocks. It took him six months to do the 12 panels. Eleven of the panels can be seen at the Grace United Methodist Church. They were framed and now hang in the churches fireside room.

Marple also makes copies of the original pattern. He then colors in the pattern so it is easier to follow. I dont use a hoop, I just lay the cloth and pattern on my lap when I work, he said. However, you do need a hoop when you do needle-point, he stressed.

Marple said he never keeps track of the hours it takes to complete a picture. He does know it took him over a week to do the outlining on one of his pictures. The pictures look blah until the outlining is done. Then they come to life, he added.

Marple has even taught three of his grandchildren to do counted cross-stitch. They have exhibited their pictures at the Meeker County Fair. Their mom doesnt cross-stitch and they wanted to learn, so I said okay, Marple added. What does he do with all his pictures, he gives them away to his children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors. Ill try almost anything, but his favorites have religious and wildlife themes, he added.

Paul Embretson, rural Paynesville, does a little bit of everything. He does speed hooking, weaving, embroidery work, and counted cross-stitch. Embretson said he had done weaving for 25 to 30 years and counted-cross stitch 15 years. If Rosie Grier can do needlepoint and embroidery, so can I, he said.

I have always been interested in hobby crafts. I have three looms: a four harness loom, an Inkle loom and Kirke loom. All are used for different types of weaving, Embretson said. He made the latter two looms himself.

A lot of people do woodwork, Id love to paint or draw but Im no good with color so the next best thing is counted cross-stitch, everything goes better when you follow a pattern, Embretson said. Embretson says he usually does his cross-stitching in the evening. I find it hard to do during the day as I feel those hours are for working. I have made my own patterns, but find it easier to follow someone elses.

Embretson said his favorite project was a quilt design consisting of 20 Hummel patterns. It took him from 1992 to 1996 to finish all the panels. My original intent was to make a quilt out of the panels, but someday Ill pass the panels onto my children, he added. I made the panels for my enjoyment. I had made things for the kids and grandchildren and I wanted something for myself. Instead of using the panel in a quilt, he positioned them on four long strips, five panels on each. Each Hummel picture is velcroed onto the long strip. His daughter helped him position the pictures. I even repainted the wall to match the Aida cloth so everything matched, he said.

Embretson said when he sews, he keeps the pattern on a magnetic board to help him keep track of where he is going, so he doesnt lose count. I try to do as much of one color at a time as I can, he said.

His present project is a Sun Kachina. When he is through with that, he plans on going back to his weaving. I have a lot of yarn left and havent used the four harness loom in 10 years. The only limitation placed on a person using a loom is their imagination, he added. After completing the Hummels, I have a better idea of color shading which should help me in my next design.

Embretson stressed that in order for him to make a counted cross-stitch picture, he needs to have somebody in mind. I dont do things just to be doing something. I always give them away as gifts.

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