August 03, 2006

Old Friends

This is an old friend that I pulled out of the closet last night. For the last few days, the fibers were nowhere to be found (later recovered from a plastic bag at the bottom of a plastic tub), although I knew where the enormous chart was (inconveniently done on both sides of a single enormous sheet of paper so that it defies careful folding or copying or laminating), in an under-the-bed storage box. The picture of what the finished product should look like is MIA, however, which is creating a bit of head-scratching for me. It's a very old project (I think I bought it at Total Crafts about 18 years ago), so my searches on the web for a picture of it are in vain. There are lots of Beatrix Potter charts out there (and plates and cups and clocks and earrings and all manner of keychains, Christmas ornaments, fridge magnets and other gee-gaws), which makes it hard to pin down.

The chart, while itself well-done, isn't cooperating, since in order to stuff all of the directions, charts, admonitions and advice onto one folding-map size page, the letters are broken up, with some printed on the back of the chart, and others on the front--sideways, upside down and backwards, so that they're stitched by holding the chart up to a mirror while standing on your head. Remember when we used folding maps in cars, and it was impossible to re-fold them precisely, and wherever you wanted to go was generally obscured by a greasy, worn crease? Thank goodness reliance on maps has been replaced by satellite-guided navigation systems in cars, although I will confess that I have not updated the $200-worth of CDs that slide into the CD-player thingy in my trunk and consequently I drive on roads the satellite swears don't exist (and on which the display shows my car as jolting across a field and over a cliff) while the little voice, with a tone of increasing alarm and irritation announces: turn back here...turn back HERE...TURN BACK, YOU MISSED YOUR TURN! IDIOT! (Little man in satellite smacking head and taking a long swig from a bottle of Jack. And, c'mon folks, I know there's not a little guy in a satellite personally guiding me; it's a woman's voice.) In short, essentially I have replaced the worn folding paper map with an out-of-date, poorly folded, creased and stained satellite-guided electronic equivalent.

I could make the decision on letter placement myself, I suppose. But I'm not one for fiddling with a perfectly good concept: if a chart has a house with a red roof, it gets a red roof, in exactly the color called for. I don't substitute, switch things around or delete parts of designs I don't like. I'm a slave to a chart, to an artist's interpretation, to the photograph. I don't think of myself as rigid, of course (who does?)--just...cautious. It's not for nothing that I'm working to become a CPA where a studious adherence to Generally Accepted Stitching Principles (GASP) is what separates the reliable, the lawful, the sober accountant from that creative, fun guy or gal with pockets full of money and a television crew outside their house whom the neighbors now refer to as...the Perp. Accounting is what makes me comfortable with counted cross stitch and uncomfortable with free-hand embroidery, where the placement of bullion stitch and hem stitch and alternating algerian-eye with an extended feather stitch are left to the embroideress' whim. Cross stitches are like debits and credits, all in nice, neat rows.

I'm fairly certain from studying the chart that the middle part of the alphabet (HIJK, LMNO) goes on two lines, and the size of the fabric supports that. So I supppose it looks like this (without the periods, which I used to force the short rows to center):

. A B C
. X Y Z

If anyone has this chart, I'd appreciate it if you could tell me how the letters are laid out! In the meantime, I'm going to go straighten my desktop, line up my pencils (throwing out the ones that are too long or too short) and count my paper clips.


Sue said...

Boy, what a UFO you decided to rescue! It is cute, if I come across any info on it I'll let you know.

Carol said...

As confusing as your UFO is, it is a super cute piece!!!! Good luck with it - I hope to see more updates soon!

Alison said...

Ooh I've got that chart. Well, actually it's a booklet. I've been known to stitch individual letters as gifts.