You may remember that about a month ago, I bought a needlepoint canvas and threads:
I worked on him a little, then got distracted by a hat pattern and had to make two hats. Afterwards, I went back to the dachshund and discovered that this thing -- this needlepoint -- is beyond addictive. For years I've watched Lo working on various needlepoint projects and thought, "That looks so satisfying. And soothing," and then when she took me to her favorite needlepoint shop in Menlo Park, I choked. For some reason, the expense (if you buy separate canvas and thread from a dedicated needlepoint shop, it is even more expensive a hobby than knitting) felt unjustifiable while the same amount spent on knitting yarn and books felt perfectly valid.
Last week I made serious headway on the dachshund, so I went back to that same needlepoint shop on Happ Street to buy thread for the background. Since I want the dachshund to have a Day of the Dead, mystical quality as opposed to looking kitschy, I decided to go with tomato red.
I didn't mention this last time, but the woman who waited on me at the needlepoint shop was extremely dour. She looked at the canvas I had selected and flinched in horror, as if she could not believe the shop where she worked would carry such a design. I told her it would be my first serious needlpoint project. She said to me, "Have you even done ANY needlework before?" I told her that I'd been knitting seriously for most of my life, and that I knew how to sew. She remained dubious. She reluctantly helped me choose the colors, and it was her idea that I not buy the background color until I did the dachshund himself. When I left, I had the impression she was 100% sure she would never see me again, and that the dachshund canvas and bag of threads would languish with my belongings, forgotten until someone came across them after my death.
Having had the experience of spending many hours teaching someone how to quilt, and how to knit, and having that person not only lose interest but make the statement, "I've decided that I'd like to spend my free time on more intellectual pursuits. Like reading plays," I understood why the clerk did not want to become emotionally invested. I fully expected that when I returned, she'd be thrilled at having been proved wrong.
Instead, she showed no sign of even recognizing me. She calculated the amount of thread I needed for the background. Then I asked her if the shop sold headlamps or perhaps a light on the end of a chatelaine for close work. She said, "No," and at that moment I noticed a display of boxes containing lights you could wear around your neck to illuminate the project. When I said, "What about these?" she did not even acknowledge she'd been wrong.
Finally I said, "Do you remember when I was here before? You were the one who helped me select the threads for the dachshund." She admitted she remembered, with absolutely no change in affect. Then I said, jokingly, "I didn't get the feeling you were very fond of my little dachshund!" She said nothing -- just stared back at me and let my attempt at chumminess hover in the air like a bad smell. I decided to really antagonize her and buy a pair of thread snips. She said, "Don't you have scissors at home?" I pulled my scissors out of my work-bag: kindergarden scissors with rounded points. She just rolled her eyes.
I've experienced Chilly yarn stores before, but nothing like this. That evening, I looked up needlepoint shops online and found one in Highland Park. Usually Highland Park is snootier than Northfield, but I decided to give it a try anyways.
The proprietress was immediately kind to me, and made enthusiastic noises about my dachshund and his lack of torque. I decided that when I send the finished dachshund to be blocked and made into a pillow, I will do so through the Highland Park shop. Then she helped me pick out a new canvas for my next project, and got so invested in my thread selections that we almost had a disagreement before she yielded to my preference.
Since there are three women in this design I told her I wanted to make one in the color shown, one in Korean tan and one in Kenyan brown, and she like that idea very much. Or at least, she had the good sense to pretend!
I haven't felt this excited about a new hobby since 2002, when I first learned to sew. I got my first sewing machine, and then I didn't look up from it for a solid month. Several times last week I stayed up very late doing needlepoint, and then actually chose needlepoint over napping after dropping Olive off at school. I think I should watch a few more YouTube videos though -- I've developed a nasty, callus-covered blister on my right thumb from pulling the needle through. Lo opined that my needle may be too large for my canvas: come to think of it, I'm going to switch to one of the needles I got from the friendlier shop.