My Own, Personal Henry

While Julie was off celebrating her wedding anniversary, she invited me and several other bloggers to write a guest post about our libraries. Around that time, I had been chatting with Michelle from Reader’s Respite about life and blogging and how I’ve been feeling uninspired. We both love historical fiction and we both love crafting. She pointed out that I could put the housewife in Literate Housewife to spice things up a bit. I thought she was brilliant and I’ve been giving that some thought. Also around that same time Amanda from Dead White Guys posted her progress on a Heaven and Earth Designs cross stitch piece that she’s doing. It is and will be gorgeous. I had never heard of that designer before and took a look by artist. I of course had to click on the Hans Holbein link and then I saw this:

My Own Henry

And breathlessly I thought to myself, “My own, personal Henry!”

I went back and forth in my mind over the likelihood of whether I’d ever really finish something this size. I also wondered where I’d hang it if I did. I continued to search the site and found beautiful Van Gogh pattern. When I couldn’t decide, I put it up for a Facebook vote. Then I bought them both. I bought the Van Gogh for the windmills (I embrace my inner Dutch every chance I get) and I bought the Henry VIII pattern because he has been all over my blog and I have read more books about him or during his reign than any other historical figure or character. My post about Philippa Gregory’s Tudor novels in chronological order is without a doubt my most popular post. Wouldn’t a ginormous cross stitch likeness of him make the perfect addition to my future planned library which I dreamed about in my guest post?

Michelle liked it so much that she bought the pattern. We decided to spend the next 15 years of our lives stitching this together. As my eyes aren’t what they used to be (I cross stitched obsessively before I started a family – and always on 32 count linen), I opted for 18 count Aida. The piece of fabric I bought was 31 X 37 inches. Henry’s going to be huge! Then I assembled all 90 colors I would need. By far, that’s the most I’ve ever needed for any project I’ve ever started (note that I didn’t say finished because, sadly, most of my projects don’t ever get to that point…).

Henrys Threads

This pattern is really a large rectangle with every single square filled in. I quickly decided that if I was going to be able to keep my place as I went that I would have to highlight each section of each row I’ve completed. Thus far, here is what the first page of 26 total pages looks like:

Henry Page 1 of 26

Here is what the highlighted pattern translates to on fabric:

Henry to Date

As you can see, I have a ways to go. I am also getting sick to death of navy. You can’t see the variation of colors that there are in this picture, but it really is gorgeous up close. Soon I’ll be to the wording to either side of Henry’s head and to his hat. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. In the meantime, I’m listening to audiobooks while I pretend to be a modern day Holbein of an on during the week days and a little more regularly over the weekend. I’ll continue to post my progress over time. I’ll also be contacting a lawyer. If I do finish this project, I will haunt my children and their children’s children until the ends of time if this ends up in a yard sale or *gasp* dropped off at Goodwill. I need to put an ironclad provision in my will to ensure that my Henry stays in the family.

Are there any literary or historical characters you’d like to turn into a craft project? Have you created them already? I’d love for you to share.


  • At 2013.08.22 06:53, Sandy said:

    Oh. My. God. First of all, I don’t cross stitch, knit or any such thing. I think my grandmother taught me basic crochet when I was 8 but that didn’t go anywhere. But now I’m having this movie reel spool through my mind of you and Michelle sitting in a room with drinks and your ginormous cross stitch projects, and that is definitely something I’d want to be a part of. You two, you crack me up. You make me wish I could do something like this. And I have no idea what I’d stitch, but I’d know once I saw it.

    • At 2013.08.22 16:12, Jennifer said:

      Michelle and I would be happy to have you. If we drink too much, though, we begin making mistakes. I can’t speak for Michelle, but when I make mistakes in my cross stitching, I say some very unlady-like things. You may wish to cover your ears if you join the group. 🙂

      • At 2013.08.22 23:35, Michele said:

        She is leaving me in the dust. That is all.

    • At 2013.08.22 08:55, Julie Merilatt said:

      I love it! I have never cross-stitched a day in my life, but my Bestie is a pro, so I may have to have her give me a lesson. I would love this, or maybe Elizabeth. Or the Romanovs. Or something Alice in Wonderland. Good lord, this could turn into a new obsession. Thanks a lot, Jennifer!

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      • At 2013.08.22 11:00, Ellison Weist said:

        Julie – if you lay eyes on a Romanov pattern make sure to let me know. I’ve never cross-stitched either but would turn student in that case.

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        • At 2013.08.22 16:14, Jennifer said:

          Ha! My reply to this was meant for Julie. I will definitely let you know if I find a Romanov pattern. Wouldn’t that be decadent?

        • At 2013.08.22 16:14, Jennifer said:

          It’s a craft that takes time and patience, but the results can be stunning. I’ll have to find and/or take pictures of some of my projects from long ago. Unlike some of the things I’ve crocheted, spending 100s of hours on a cross stitch doesn’t make me never want to see them again. There are also cute and fun tiny projects for cross stitch. Give it a shot and see what you think. Alice in Wonderland would be gorgeous in cross stitch.

        • At 2013.08.22 10:49, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

          It’s gonna be gorgeous! I used to be somewhat crafty but just don’t have time for it lately.

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          • At 2013.08.22 16:16, Jennifer said:

            Thank you, Kathy! I think craftiness is something you can’t force. If you don’t feel it, then it just feels like work. You never know when the crafting bug will strike again, though. Be prepared!

          • At 2013.08.22 10:59, Ellison Weist said:

            I am so envious! since I’m a Tudor fan from way back. Have my “own, personal” Lincoln needlepoint pillow that is half-finished thanks to my waning eyesight. My mother-in-law is big into cross stitch so maybe it’s time for me to let her Tudor me (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and make the switch.

            Keep the pictures and play-by-play coming, Jennifer.

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            • At 2013.08.22 16:17, Jennifer said:

              I want to see your own, personal Lincoln, even if it isn’t finished. I bet it’s lovely. I’ve not ever tried needlepoint. When I was really into cross stitch I never had the money to pay for needlepoint canvases. I’ve admired a ton of them in my time, though.

            • At 2013.08.22 11:30, Amanda said:

              Yeah, girl! *raises glass in cross stitch solidarity*

              • At 2013.08.22 16:17, Jennifer said:

                Thank you for the inspiration!

              • At 2013.08.22 14:22, Xe Sands said:

                Wow. Dear Sweet Bob, that’s impressive. And what an excellent intersection of crafting and literature – LOVE IT. And those are some very fine stitches, btw. It’s been a long time since I’ve done counted cross-stitch and I doubt mine ever looked that uniform 🙂

                • At 2013.08.22 16:21, Jennifer said:

                  It’s going to be a project, my friend. Quite a project. I have had some great cross stitch teachers over the years and even worked on the newsletter for a local shop in my late 20s. That and working on linen are responsible for how neat my work is. I’m sure yours is beautiful, too. 🙂

                • At 2013.08.22 17:13, dogearedcopy/Tanya said:

                  It’s ambitious and gorgeous and certainly worth haunting your heirs over if they don’t treat it right! I’m looking forward to the day you get to the letters and beyond! 🙂

                  • At 2013.08.22 22:40, Jennifer said:

                    I will throw a party when I’m done with the navy. 🙂 I’ll keep posting updates. It will be interesting when Henry’s face starts to emerge.

                  • At 2013.08.22 21:13, Susan said:

                    What a awesome project. I used to cross stitch. I did one or two projects. Then it became tedious to me. My eyes got worse as the aida is hard on the eyes. I give you alot of credit. I am a history buff like you. Follow your blog for a few years. Like you I love Tudor family of King Henry the 8th. I love your posts about the novels of Phillapa Gregory. Unfortunately my weak spot is before Henry 8th. What is being featured with the White Queen on Starz. Don’t understand the family tree there. I have not read the books but hope to soon. I am cheering you on with your cross stich. Hope to see it when it is finished. Good luck!!!

                    • At 2013.08.22 22:44, Jennifer said:

                      Oh, my eyes will eventually declare mutiny. LOL!

                      I really do need to get back into historical fiction. I burned myself out there for a while. I’ve read three of the four books in Gregory’s latest series. I need to pick up The White Princess. What better audiobook to create my Henry with than about his mother?

                      I will definitely share when I’m finished. Pray God we’ll all be alive to see it. 🙂

                    • At 2013.08.22 23:40, Michele said:

                      Le sigh. I am already behind. But at least I decided to put Henry on a blanket to keep my tootsies warm. I’ve always thought that man should be at my feet. :p Googling medieval embroidery patterns has kept me occupado for hours. There is the famous unicorn tapestry series replicated that I want to do someday. Or the Bayeux Tapestry. Sigh. Too many projects, but I am so glad we stepped into this hell together!! Mayhap we should start a quarterly audiobook fest and new craft theme tradition. I like. Or maybe biannual given my slow pace.

                      Ps….the blanket works well for this project but it takes 5x the thread!

                      (Required, will not be published)

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