Saturday, October 15, 2005

Gone Pear-Shaped

Not my back-tack project. Or my SYNO scarf, either. (Phew.) But in the absence of finished objects, or photographs of such (note some cross-offs on the To Do list) I’ll continue to write about my failures (with a hard-won success thrown in.)

This pear must have been abandoned sometime in the late seventies. Tapestry never really did it for me (however, I was a cross-stitch prodigy) which is why it is hard to fathom my enthusiasm for this project. The kit was purchased at Sunspun sometime in the late eighties by my wonderfully generous (and craft-enabling) mother. Kaffe outdid himself on this one: there are tens, if not hundreds, of shades of green in the design, requiring the kind of light conditions enjoyed almost exclusively by microsurgeons in their places of work. It is almost impossible to tell which shade should go where, something I found blindingly frustrating.

There was an initial burst of work around the time of purchase. I went off to university, and have a single memory of working on it at my friend Emily’s house on Rae Street as she worked on a cross-stitch sampler for her sister’s wedding. I moved to San Francisco. Then New York. At some point, it was retrieved during a trip home, and I worked on it a bit during Seinfeld re-runs and NPR broadcasts of the Democratic and Republican conventions. I was working on it during a particularly nasty marital spat on Cape Cod sometime in early summer, 1997. We moved to Ohio. It was here that I really committed myself to finishing it, unemployed, snow-bound and with a full subscription to cable TV. I fudged the shades, taking a free approach to the tonal make-up of the cabbage. Isaac offered me $1000 to stop working on it and toss it out. I perservered, finishing sometime in 2000. It’s now quite a lovely cushion, sewn up by my mother with a lovely green velvet border and back. Current status: in storage.

Over the eleven years or so in production, some realisations were had:
1. That a single cabbage cushion does not a Kaffe Fassett interior make. Where are the mosaics, the riotous plays of colour and pattern, the frowsy tulips in the blue and white Ming vases?
2. I don’t like a craft in which the instructions are printed onto the actual item. I don’t think I believe in grown-up colouring books either. Too Paint-By-Number (although I agree that this kind of thing can be strangely compelling.)
3. Unsurprisingly, I still don’t like tapestry all that much.

I have, however, been inspired to revisit cross-stitch, and branch into other embroideries. I’ve been having a lot of fun with my back-tack project, soon to be unveiled. Like almost everyone, I’m looking forward to this book. And, when Emily gets back from Paris, Mum is going to lace the back of her cross-stitch sampler for framing. Fourteen years, two nieces and a nephew later, she’ll present it to her sister and brother-in-law in honour of their wedding and the marriage they’ve made since then.


Blogger Di said...

it's amazing how a project completed over so many years holds so many memories. thanks for sharing!

12:22 PM  

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