I wanted to introduce you to this book.
Not only is it a simply wonderful craft book from the 1970s - full of the earnest "hipness" of the era - it also marks one of the beginnings of my craft life. I say "one of the beginnings" because, as with all self-defining quests, it is often hard to identify exactly which moment - out of the collection of significant (indeed, momentous) ones that could apply - should get top billing. Plus, having lots of beginnings means that time is not linear and we are, therefore, living in a series of parallel universes (universi?) where everything happens simultaneously.
But, I digress.
When this book waved to me at an annual Lifeline Bookfest in 2002 (or there abouts) I leapt upon it with an enthusiasm that may have been embarrassing (I can't remember but can imagine). I didn't even know what stitchery was, but I knew that I wanted to know. And girl, was I rewarded. Inside is a veritable cornucopia of how-tos, ideas, inspiration and, of course, 70s inspired patterns. Like this embroidered tie. Very corporate.
Or this ghastly, I mean vibrant, adornment done entirely in crewel work.
However, as with all 70s craft books that suck me in, it wasn't necessarily the exact patterns that excited me (even if they secretly delighted me), it is how my imagination took off tweaking, adjusting, adapting, and possibly even updating these great stitchery suggestions for use in my own, much more modern (and rad) life. In my head I did amazing things with the help of this stitchery book.
Yet, before I embarked on my brilliant adaptations, I thought it best to start with a bit of humility and attempt the sampler featured prominently on the cover. Teach myself some stitches, as it were, before taking over the craft world. And so I did. Well half of it anyway.
Then life, crochet, PhDs, sewing, button glueing, and love falling-in all got in the way and before I knew it, it was two days before I was to leave Australia for Canada and I was giving myself a little talking to. "You can take one or two easy to pack projects with you," I said to myself, "and that's it!" And so, among my choices, I took this sampler and the book (because I could leave friends and family behind but not, Goddess forbid, The Book). Needless to say I've done absolutely nothing more on it since arriving on these frozen shores, but it has stayed reassuringly close to me, reminding me of why I am who I am, the whole time.
I took it out today and saw that the linen has not fared well. Unfortunately, two sets of extreme climates, and not being stored in the best possible way, has made it "rust" lightly in patches. But oh, the earnestness of my stitching, the sheer attention to detail so that I'd get it "right", just tugged at me. I have finished exactly half and have decided to frame it now. I will do the other half at some point soon and together they'll make a nice stitchery extravaganza diptych.
And then I will take over the craft world.
Until then, my friends!