Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Just the Facts Ma'am

I was reading my alumni magazine the other day and in this article, they have a rather strange definition of cross-stitch:

During down times, Garrett would practice her favorite hobby: cross-stitching, a form of needlepoint where the finished product is a decorative tableau. Mike Bresson, a college friend, remembers traveling through Italy with Garrett and a group of others. “She was cross-stitching when everyone else was sleeping. She just never wastes a moment,” he says.

Of course cross-stitchers will immediately recognize their own practice of never wasting a moment. Who among you "just" watches tv or a movie (at home) or "just" visits with family? We once had a prospective grad student stay with us. He was from New York, so he woke up rather early. He didn't want to wake us, so he searched the coffee table for something to read. Back in those days, the only magazines we had out were my cross-stitch magazines. So he asked the s.o., "does your wife stitch while she watches tv?" The reply: "of course." "Does she see things you can't figure out how she can see while she's working?" As if your s.o. never asked that question of another cross-stitch widow(er)...but I digress.

You will also recognize that cross-stitch is a form of embroidery, like needlepoint is. That in fact, cross-stitch and needlepoint are cousins. But decorative tableau? I think Garrett must do landscapes. I want to respond to the article. What I want to say is that while some cross-stitch results in "decorative tableau," American cross-stitch has its roots in the sampler--at the very least in the functional. So I googled "cross-stitch history." I checked out the EGA. I cannot find a good history of American needlework. Remember the PhD means that my idea of "good" meets certain standards of academic discourse. You got something for me?

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