Sunday, June 4, 2017
My favorite things 23
I can't remember how old I was when I first realized that you could do embroidery without using somebody else's pattern; certainly past the voting/drinking age. In those olden days, if you wanted to do embroidery you had several choices: you could buy a handkerchief or tablecloth or other article pre-stamped with a pattern, or you could buy a "transfer sheet" of designs that you could iron into your own handkerchief, tablecloth or other article, or you could buy a kit with a pre-stamped pattern and all the embroidery threads you would need to make the project.
I have worked with all three of those business models, and have the finished goods to prove it.
By the time I got married and moved to Europe my embroidery skills were pretty good, and I was enthralled by the wide variety of stitchery kits on sale in stores, things that I had never seen in the States. The design world was all excited about what we now call Mid-Century Modern (or Moderne), a clean, Scandinavian-inspired esthetic that was way less fussy and realistic than the stuff available at home. I think it was on our first trip to London, at Harrod's, that I bought the kit for a green linen pillow with green and turquoise stylized flowers.
With a kit, there it all is. Hard to argue against it!
I had already bought and made up my fair share of embroidery kits, and by the time I got to this one I had already developed my own approach to kits. Namely, I would start out following the directions, but after I got a feel for the stitches and the design I would usually veer off and finish the project with my own plan. The kit gave me a good comfort level with the materials, and confidence with how the design was progressing, to underpin my rebellion.
The colors have faded in 40+ years; the once rich avocado linen has become a drab olive-beige, the once vivid chartreuse has become a dull mustard-beige, the pink has lost its bite. And in the many years that the pillow sat on my living room couch, it developed stains, holes and threadbare spots. I retired it from active duty many years ago.