A Stitch In Time: Irish Setters

irish setters cross-stitc

In Ireland over Christmas, I was very pleased to come across this cross-stitch of Irish Setters* at my father-in-law’s house. I hadn’t seen it for a few years, and didn’t know what had happened to it.  

If every picture picture tells a story, the same is true for cross-stitches.

This was the first proper cross-stitch I ever made as an adult, way back in 1995 (though I had tried it before, at school, some years previously)!  Alan and I were newly married and I wanted to give my new mother-in-law something truly special for Christmas. A colleague at work cross-stitched every day at lunch time. I loved her work and wanted to try it myself. When I saw this kit (sorry, can’t remember who by), I immediately thought of my mother-in-law, and the rest, as they say, is history.

My late mother-in-law had a wonderful way with animals. She loved them and they adored her. She always had a rescue dog or two loyally following her about wherever she went. While Alan and I dated, we bonded over a common love of dogs and nature.

At the time this was made she had the most beautiful rescued Vizsla, which I would have gladly taken home and kept for myself! Though a different breed entirely, the top dog in this cross-stitch reminded me of old Bill, and I knew my mother-in-law would love it no matter what type of dog it was. And she did.

15 years later, with many cross-stitches behind me, I’m amazed this was my first ever project.  Whether brave or foolish, it worked, and I was hooked. I have made peace with the silly mistakes I know are there, because I learned so much from this piece and have gotten so much pleasure from cross-stitching over the years. To this day I smile whenever I see it.

* Excuse the bad reflections. At the time of framing I did not yet know about diffused (non-reflective) glass and this was the best picture I could get after trying all kinds of weird angles! 


  1. What a beautiful story, how very thoughtful you are to gift your handwork. It looks like there must have been many hours involved. I collect vintage hand embroidered table clothes and adore looking at each little stitch ‘mistakes’ and all it speaks so richly of the human element that is poured forth into the cloth.

  2. Thank you Nicole, you are very kind! I have probably gifted 75-80% of all cross-stitches made!
    I know what you mean about mistakes adding a certain value to a piece. I own a lovely cross-stitch bell-pull of woodland animals made by my own mother many years ago. I love it all the more for the obvious, but oh so funny spelling mistake; “squirrel” spelled with 3 r’s!

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