21 March 2009
Spirit Of Cross Stitch: Volume 6
Spirit of Cross Stitch: Vol. 6
United States - 1994
Director – Chris Wilson
Spirit of Cross Stitch Video Library, 1994, VHS
Run time - 1 hour, 30 min.
The soft focus and soft lighting of the long pan shot really set the atmosphere for this head on head encounter between Hardanger Heirloom Specialist Linda Abel and Spirit of Cross Stitch host, Jean Farish Hulls. A dramatic, tension building piano medley sweeps us into the action with Jean and her guest.
The first thing you should know about Hardanger Heirloom style, is that it launders well, as Linda, clearly uncomfortable in front of the camera has told us, and as the awesome stitching on her house dress proves, her word is bond.
As Jean explains to us how the Hardanger style was passed on to Linda by an elderly member of her husband Bob’s Presbeterian congregation, oral-history style, she displays Linda’s fully loaded cross stitch bandolier, laden with all the weapons any professional stitcher will need.
Now, enter Katherine Huls, Jean’s tender innocent young daughter, a little skittish for her first time doing it in front of the camera, but determined (either through genuine interest or maternal compulsion) to see it through.
Wasting no time, Linda hones in on the first of the stitch patterns, the “kloster”, a five stitch, four thread count pattern that is the workhorse of the Hardanger style, and will be repeated throughout this exciting mission. If, like myself, you’ve been distracted by Linda’s immaculately sculpted and rigid “HMS Haus Frau” hair helmet, a digital animation of the kloster stitch (and others!) will bring you back up to speed.
The action starts stacking up like cordwood from here on out, so be on your toes…
Next is the more complicated “button-hole stitch”, which must go under the trailing edge of the thread to secure the edge of the stitch when you cut the fabric.
Then, they “eyelets”, which are different from Algerian eyelets (if you don’t know why, that means you’re fucking pedestrian, and Linda has no time for foot traffic on this flight) and you must radiate the stitches from the center hole, pulling each stitch toward the outside.
Without respite, Linda strikes out for the central flower motif, which she personally designed.
Watch out! Katherine seems to be getting bored, we’re losing her!
“Wait, now comes the fun part.” says Linda, “The cutting.”
“It’s kind of scary to cut your fabric.” A revived Katherine reveals in a moment of vulnerability.
Yes, yes it is, unless you’re stitching “twisted bars”, an attractive addition to any pattern, and sure to drive a dagger of jealousy into the heart of every woman in the congregation. Katherine, you had better be writing this down, the future of your lifelong happiness depends on it.
Wait. Don’t get a big head yet, we’re only now moving on to the “needleweaving”, one of the most complicated stitches which forms the “pico,” a tiny decorative circle which, when deployed in squads of three, forms the “doves eye.”
Once you carefully trim the fabric away from around your Hardanger Heirloom embroidery, (keeping the scissors to the right of the stitching) you’ll be the most envied housewife in the heartland…
In the bonus program, (this was never mentioned on the box! Sweet! (OK it does but my mind was busy being blown)) Our host Jean visits some fucking museum in the Carolinas (filmed strictly on location) where a frizzy haired clydesdale in white-woman Hammer-pants and a bowl-cut Quaker grandmother describe in detail the “cruel” stitching, and creative process on a series of tapestries depicting the history of Quakerism.
The only way this could have been better was if it was called “Great Spirit of Cross Stitch” and was presented by a Native American woman in war paint and a fringed squaw tunic.
Linda's very own pattern for the Hardanger design demonstrated in the video. It's copyrighted, but without the video, you are not going to be able to rock this doily. And the order form for the entire set of Spirit of Cross Stitch videos. I wouldn't recommend trying to order them though, their website doesn't appear to have been updated in over a decade.