Nana made this tapestry specifically for our children. It still hangs in what used to be the main children’s room in our home.
Nana was always on the lookout for new tapestry patterns. She usually bought them in France. They were made with wool thread, and she explained to me once that she took her liberties in following the tapestry pattern. She’d judge for herself which shade of blue, for example, would fit best. And of course she had a treasure trove of yarn! She was also a fairly good painter, hence her attention to colors.
While I appreciate my mother-in-law’s creative license with which color thread to employ, I also appreciate the simplicity of creating something beautiful by simply following instructions.
There is something relaxing about that! As a writer, I can’t create anything that way. With needlepoint you can just stitch along, while an image emerges from your hands, and let your mind wander.
Thus mine wandered to my Aunt Herta, whom some of you will know from reading my memoir Jumping Over Shadows.
Petit point needlepoint was Aunt Herta’s great hobby.
“Petit point” literally means “little dot,” describing the tiny stitches of this type of tapestry. It’s the same diagonal half-cross stitch that Nana did, just much smaller.
Like Nana, my Aunt Herta always had all kinds of projects going. We’d go the opera together, and she’d marvel at some lady’s evening purse done in petit point.
“Some day,” Herta would say, “I’ll make something like that.”
Instead, she created something far grander: Her masterpiece was a fairly large image of a frigate, sails billowing in the wind, riding a turbulent ocean. She labored over that for years, battling the many shades of blue the ocean required, peering at those tiny dark stitches with a magnifying glass.
“You’ll ruin your eyes!” my grandmother used to scold her.
Unperturbed, Aunt Herta did finish that petit point tapestry of that grand sailboat. Even when her life was reduced to a nursing home, that tapestry had a place of honor in her room. (I wish I had a picture of it.)
And then, as the needle went back and forth, I thought about my own past forays into needlepoint.
There was the cross stitch wall hanging of a rooster I did for my grandmother. It was a project from when we still had “handicrafts” as a subject in school in Germany. I cast about to find it but I have no idea where it ended up.
But I did find this half-done embroidery project of a spring country scene that I must have begun in high school and never finished. At some point it ended up in my sister’s place, and she brought it along on one of her visits. So guess what I am doing now since the little camera cross stitch project is done?
Yep! I am finishing that spring country scene! And I am even taking my liberties with which color thread to use as the pattern for this project is lost. I’m sure Nana would approve.