What’s this? What’s this? It isn’t quite a knit….

Something’s here I’m not quite getting
Though I try I keep forgetting
Like a memory long since past
Here in an instant, gone in a flash
What does it mean?
What does it mean?

Jack’s Obsession – The Nightmare Before Christmas (Book by Tim Burton/Lyrics by Danny Elfman)

There are two possible ways of interpreting the current state of my crafting. The kindlier one is to see it as me taking advantage of a knitting break and instead putting in some solid effort on my longest-standing work in progress. The less foriving interpretation is that I will endeavour acts of sheer madness, even to the extent of picking up my needlepoint, in an effort to force my knitting mojo back into gear. Indeed, it takes a great deal to drive me from the safe harbour of knitting and to cast me upon the rocks of my neverending needlepoint project. Know this, dear reader: I do not enjoy working on needlepoint, not least because it hurts my hands and baffles my eyes. In some previous, parallel existence, I actually suggested a needlepoint cushion cover would be an excellent gift for me to receive and I feel eternally guilty that I have made such poor progress with it. I’m not sure how this can possibly be, because I believe I have spent several thousand years stitching it thus far. Why does needlepoint grow so very slowly?

My abysmal progress to date – perhaps 1/3 of the stitching done in, what, ten years? Longer?

Sometimes I study this project and it puts me in mind of the marvellous description of a certain lady in a novel I read.

“… you are in all your limbs hateful: your eyes are hateful and your mouth is hateful, and your hair is hateful, and your body is cold and vicious like a snake – and altogether you are perdition.”

Joseph Conrad – The Arrow of Gold

Like the once-ardent lover in that book, I slip across that knife-edge threshold which exists between worship of the object of desire and abhorrence at its all-too-flawed reality.

Every time I resort to disinterring this project, I think “Ooh, this is really nice. If I put in the hours, perhaps I’ll finish it,” and then, when I have devoted several evenings, each of which feels like a couple of decades, to my stitching, I look at the canvas and I cannot discern any progress at all. Do you think it’s possible that Rumplestiltskin nips in when I’m making my cup of tea and undoes it all? It’s the only likely explanation I can come up with.

I know I am being unfair, I know I don’t give the work a fair chance. I get frustrated by not being able to determine which colour is required in which area, but then I almost always pick up this project in the depths of winter when there isn’t a hope of sufficient daylight to enable me to distinguish the paler colours printed on the canvas from one another, nor determining whether the wool I am holding is the natural white, the pale apricot, or the palest pink. Or possibly one of the yellows. Every so often I abandon the section I’m working on and fill in some of the darkest red because that’s the only bit I feel I can be assured I’m getting right, yet I am painfully aware that I have to work on the pale sections too.

Given that aeons passed so far and the cushion cover is still attached to this frame, I think I can safely presume that the overall wellbeing of the universe is not relying on a perfectly-executed piece of needlework. Indeed, it may be that the whole point of picking this up right now is to show myself that I can afford to be less uptight about things, adopt an attitude of laissez-faire, accept that the colour wool needed for a particular area is one of the paler colours and it won’t matter much which one I use. Perhaps, just for this one project, “good enough” is actually going to have to be good enough.

The strangest thing of all about this needlepoint, which seems so tenacious in its ability to confuse and confound me, is that I have really enjoyed working on it the past few days. I have stitched my little heart out, listened avidly to Jane Eyre, my Christmas tree has glowed with its friendly lights, and I have dreamed that maybe, after all, one day I really will complete it.

Addendum: The difference between each colour seems much clearer in my photos than it is in real life which leads me to conclude that I ought to photograph each section of the work so I have something to refer to when I can’t see what’s what.

3 thoughts on “Something’s up with Pam

  1. You are too funny! Well, the piece is lovely. I have done needlepoint before, and only once did I have so many similar shades as yours. I think that was the one that did me in! The final product is very satisfying, though!

    1. I can’t help but feel that it would be such a terrific way to end 2020 if I could just finish it, but then I know there’s not a hope of pulling that off.

    2. Well, if it were me, I would not be able to finish. I am a slow crafter by many standards. I also have mental blocks when it comes to deadlines.

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