Puzzle by Dessins DHC 

A Project A Day – Counted embroidery work is my main hobby and I have a huge stitching stash. Some of these projects are huge and take years to stitch, and while others are quick projects, I often spend months without stitching at all. So while I have hundreds in my stash, only a half-dozen ever see attention any given year.  To address this imbalance in 2012 I will each day write about one project languishing in my stash.

Puzzle by Dessins DHC

Copyright Dominique Hoel-Colin, copyright date unknown.

Dessins DHC

Puzzle by Dessins DHC

Chart: The Chart is print over two A3 sheets of paper with instructions in French. There is also a second, smaller copy of the chart, on a single A4 with instructions in English. Both charts are hand-drawn as if the piece is a monochrome, with cramped, handwritten instructions on the graph.  The crosses and backstitching are drawn at the same depth so it is difficult to differentiate between them. Even on the larger chart I cannot read some of the hand-written instructions or see some of the fractional stitches without a magnifying glass. Very very disappointing.

Stitches: Pattern uses whole cross stitches, petit stitches and backstitch.

Materials: DMC stranded cotton or Anchor stranded cotton. Stitched on 14ct White Aida. With the amount of fractionals called for in this design, I would recommend not stitching this on Aida.

Designer’s Notes: Each Square in the chart represents a cross stitch. The Small crosses in the designs are half cross stitches and are worked using 2 strands. Symbols in the square indicate which colours to use (see the colour key). The background of the design is filled-in using 2 strands of Ecru DMC.

Why I was attracted to this design: As previously mentioned, I love designs that are optical illusions.  There is a famous Renaissance painting (that of course I cannot find the details of now) where the middle of the painting is richly coloured and detailed and glorious to see. However what you don’t notice on first viewing is that the colours mute then turn black & white as you move from the middle to the edge of the painting. The lines move from crisp and incredibly detailed to blurred to mere shapes and vague lines. What is incredible, is that on first viewing, most people do not notice this, because this painting accurately mimics exactly what our eyes see.  I t has recently been discovered that this is how the eye see the world, and our brain fills in the extra details and colours when it delivers the images to our minds.  This painting from 500-600 years ago perfectly mimics this understanding. Incredible!

This design to me is an homage to that painting.

So why haven’t I stitched it? The chart gives me the absolute poops. It was ugly and disappointing when I first received it and now I’ve actually sat and studied it (and torn my hair out for nearly an hour) I *think* I’ve finally worked out the instructions.  I’m tempted to start this now, just so I wont have to decipher the instructions yet again ….

The chart is ugly. Very very ugly . The writing and x’s are so cramped, I would copy and enlarge each section so that I could see what I was supposed to be stitching. The first issue however, is that the instructions suffer greatly from being translated from French by someone who is not an English-speaking stitcher.

The instructions say that the small x’s are half cross stitches and are to be stitched using two floss. Given where most of the small x’s are placed, they are either quarter stitches or petit stitches,  i.e. over one / or over one X.  They are definitely not half stitches.

Each Alphabet letter is a single colour except for some of the broken up ones. The whole letters have a typed legend on the back of the cover, so it is easy to figure out which colour DMC or Anchor to use for each of them.  The broken letters have hand-written notes for each section on the graph, and those I cannot read.  Those I may have to guess at depending on which part of which letter that jigsaw piece is supposed to line up with!

Finally the instructions say the background of the design is fill-in with DMC Ecru. After much scratching of my head, I finally figured out this means filling in all the blank space on the jigsaw pieces – before the backstitch is put in so I know where the Jigsaw pieces will go and which areas will be left blank! Oh great, I have a whole slew of empty fabric with nothing but potential backstitch placement to show me where to stitch Ecru whole and petit stitches on white! Again an area where making a larger working copy and lightly colouring in the background so you know where to stitch the Ecru (and where to place the petit stitches) would be a great idea.

I’m definitely stitching this on an evenweave, and a solid colour evenweave so as not to distract from the design.  I don’t know if even I’m bonkers enough to stitch it on black though …. but I don’t know if the design would stand out enough on white …. Suggestions?

Where can you buy it? Check with your LNS and ONS as many do buy from Dessins DHC. Otherwise you can purchase directly from Dessins yourself.

Discussion questions:  Have you ever spent this much time scratching your head with a chart? Which chart was it and did you end up stitching it?

JANUARY RECAP: Added 1 February 2012
I’ve mulled over this one since I first posted it (and actually studied the chart directions and details for the first time). I agree with the commenters that this design will not achieve the illusion I thought it would. Couple that with the poor directions and my Swiss Cheese brain, and I wanted to throw this one back into stash and think on it next time it is randomly chosen. Again, if I’m thinking like that, then this chart is not for me.  As can be seen this month, I have more than enough charts that happily satisfy my stitching needs without agonising over a chart that maybe will or maybe wont do what I want, so I’m releasing this one.  Free to good home.

Usual rules – tell me why this chart calls to you, and where we know each other from. Unless I’ve spoken to you at least once a month for the last five years, do not assume I know who you are, I have medically induced memory issues :) If more than one person asks for the chart, I will randomly select in one week’s time.