Legend of the Gripit
From: email@example.com (Monique Reed)
Subject: The Legend of the Gripit--Part I
You asked for it. Here is the Legend of the Gripit--Part I
Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess who loved to do needlework. She could stitch on 40 ct. silk gauze without a magnifier; she could handle 60 different blended needles and keep her place in a TW design without marking up her chart. She never pulled the wrong thread doing drawn thread work, she never left needles in the arms of the palace sofas, she never hurled anything at the palace kitty, never got chocolate on her Belfast, and never, ever licked her floss. Her UFO's were always in rotation and always got finished. She mounted her own stitching, using only heirloom quality materials, lacing things right the first time on acid-free foamcore and selecting the complementing mats and frames with exquisite taste. She even designed her own projects. The people of the kingdom loved to work her designs, because she always indicated just how many skeins would be needed, she included a separate shopping list in numerical order, and she checked all her charts six times for errors.
So she would stitch away all day in her special stitching nest, with all her tools and fibers laid out around her, with a nice cup of tea close to hand. The princess' only problem was her Evil Step MIL. Evil SMIL was insanely jealous of the princess' stitching prowess, being one of those unfortunate people to whom crafts do not come easily. Oh, Evil SMIL had *tried* do so some stitching, nothing fancy, just an MLI bookmark or two, but she found it quite beyond her. Her floss always tangled, she always ran out of thread two stitches before the end of the row, she was always off by one stitch, and when she wasn't losing her needle in the carpet, she was leaving it to rust in the middle of her work. She flung lots of things...
Every day, when she saw the beautiful princess stitching merrily away, rage and jealousy burned within her. She vowed to humble her stepdaughter once and for all, to reduce her stitching efforts to nothing. Resolved, she set about studying ancient texts and back issues of CS and CC for something that would do the job. At the end of a week of frantic searching, she had it. The Dreaded Frog Stitch Spell...
(to be continued)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Monique Reed)
Subject: Legend of the Gripit, Part II
(you may remember that we left the Evil SMIL plotting to afflict the lovely princess with the Dreaded Frog Stitch Spell.... And now, part II)
Gleefully, Evil SMIL collected the ingredients for the Dreaded Frog Stitch Spell-- 27 different colors of knotted thread orts, 10 scraps of cheap Aida, 7 illegally copied charts, 5 dull, bent needles, 3 pet hairs, 2 splintery bamboo hoops, and an @ pin that had been through the vacuum cleaner. She locked the door so that she would not be disturbed and began to chant the Words of Power:
"Anchor, Anchor, DMC, Awful Stitching come to be! Zwigart, Bastin, Buckley Moss, Let her tangle all her floss! Lula, Lesa, Rainbow Row--May her thread ends always show! Queen Melinda's stitching court--Floss gone- always one stitch short! Miscount stitches! Needles lost! Purchase charts at twice the cost! Carpal tunnel! Hair of dog! Now NO MORE STITCHING! BE A FROG!"
The incantation finished, Evil SMIL put all the yucky ingredients in numbered floss-away bags, placed them in a SOXS tote, and left the whole mess under an Ott light overnight. The next morning, the spell was complete...
The beautiful princess sat down in her sunny bower to stitch on her latest project--a lovely sampler piece using several sweetly complementary shades from the Caron Collection.
But nothing went right that morning. First the sofa ate her scissors, then her needle. Her fabric turned out to be 1" too short, and she didn't have enough of one dyelot to finish the design. Her thread kept coming unanchored, she stabbed herself with the #26 tapestsry needle, and she noticed that one whole row of symbols had been obliterated by the crease in the chart. After discovering that her page had negelected to fill her glass full of M&M's, she burst into tears.
"Oh, oh, oh!" She cried, "What shall I do?" She picked up a skein of Waterlilies, thinking just to stroke it and comfort herself. It was a lovely bluey-greeny skein. It sort of reminded her of the waterlilies and water in the pond on a sunny day. She could almost feel the coolness of water on her skin, hear it lap against the stones on the shore... How calming it would be to spend a day among the waterlilies, lulled by the sun on the water and entertained by the antics of the dragonflies.... The princess nodded off.
She awoke to sun on water, cattails waving, and the splash of little fish jumping. Lazily, she stretched, only to find the cool smoothness of a lily pad under her hand. Or rather, not *her* hand. *She* couldn't possibly have small, green, webbed hands with sticky little fingers...
From: email@example.com (Monique Reed)
Subject: Legend of the Gripit--Next Part! (LONG!)
When we left the lovely Princess, she had awakened to find herself a frog... And now the story continues...
Well, it seemed, she could. Also wet, shiny skin of a weird speckled green and big strong legs, specially built for jumping. Horrified, she peered into the still water of the pond. Bulgy black eyes like fat Mill Hill beads stared back at her, and a wide, toothless mouth grimaced.
"Oh, no!" she cried. I'm a...a.. FROG!" Or that's what she meant to say. All that came out was a raspy "bbbbBBBBBRRRROOOOOAAAAAaaaak!"
It's a sad fact of anatomy that frogs can't cry. But how she wanted to! She wanted to cry because she was a frog. She wanted to wail because she didn't know how she'd become a frog. She wanted to shed buckets of tears because was rather sure she'd have to *stay* a frog. She wanted to howl because a frog isn't built for stitching. She wanted to die, because her DH probably wouldn't love her anymore. ..
After about a half-hour of pure misery, some of the Princess' natural sunshine started to reassert itself. "All right," she thought. "So I'm a frog. It could be worse. I could be a toad or an angleworm or a slug or a grub." This line of thinking started to make her hungry (!), so she tried another tack.
"I suppose I'll just have to adapt to being a frog. I'll just hop on back to the castle and start a new life."
Meanwhile, back at the palace, the Princess' absence was already being felt.
"Where is the Princess?" asked the King. "She was supposed to help me out with the knighting ceremony this afternoon. I need her to prompt me--I never can remember all the words."
"Where is the Princess?" asked the Queen. "I need her help with all the Royal Sibling Infants and the Palace Piglets. The new nurserymaid is all thumbs."
"Where is the Princess?" asked DH "The knee I banged up in the tournament is slow in healing, and I would love to have her sit and stitch by my bed while I recuperate."
"Ah, yes," asked Evil SMIL, "Where indeed? Perhaps she's wandered off to investigate some needlework sale or other. I think I heard something about a framing special? Or was it 10 for $1 DMC? Such a flighty creature..."
After many hours of steady hopping, the Princess arrived back at the castle. She hopped up the many stairs to her stitching nest, hoping to find some clue there to her transformation. All lay as she had left it. Compulsively neat, she carefully gathered the fallen skein of Waterlilies in her mouth (all the time wondering what frog spit would do to the fibers) and, stretching up on her hind legs, gently dropped it back into her basket. She looked longingly at her stash and sighed.
She hopped down all the stairs again, and wandered through the castle. In the throne room, she found a large crowd, all dressed in their very best and assembled for some important looking ceremonly. Quietly, she concealed herself in the folds of the tapestry behind the throne. As she admired the proper use of Continental stitch in the background areas of the design, she heard the King speaking to a young man kneeling at his feet.
"Ah, yes. Ahem. Um. And now. What I shall do... That is..."
"Oh, dear!" thought the Princess. He's as hopelessly muddled as a TW kit with no instructions! I was supposed to help him out." Making a quick wish for good luck and good volume, the Princess spoke up from behind the tapestry.
"Dub-it! Dub-it! Dub-it!"
The king, hearing a prompt from somewhere, looked confused for a moment, and then figured out what to do with the sword in his hand. He tapped the young man on either shoulder with the blade an in a proud (and relieved) voice proclaimed, "I dub thee Sir Balger, Lord of Kreinik!" The courtroom erupted in applause.
"Well, thought the Princess, at least I can be a *useful* frog!"
She decided to check on the rest of her family. She began the long hop to the Royal Nursery. When she arrived, she found the place in utter chaos. Dirty Royal Siblings and Piglets rolled and squabbled everywhere. A frazzled, none-too-bright looking young nurserymaid stood helpless in the midst of overturned furniture, spilled milk, and scattered Legos.
"Oh, my!" thought the Princess, "This poor nurserymaid looks as frazzled as piece of silk that's been stitched and ripped out six times! Perhaps it's time to make a few helpful suggestions." She hid herself behind a large stuffed bear and waited for an opportunity. When a particularly grubby Piglet careened past the nurserymaid, the Princess called out as clearly as she could. "Grabbit! Grabbit! Grabbit!" The nurserymaid, startled, made a wild snatch and came up with a struggling Piglet.
"Tub-it! Tub-it! Tub-it!" called the Princess. Dutifully, the nurserymaid carried the kicking Piglet to a tub in the corner. She held it in a firm grip while she soaped and scrubbed it, rinsed it and dried it in a big fluffy towel. "There," said the nurserymaid, "You're all clean."
"Clean indeed," thought the Princess with satisfaction, "it's its own proper shade of 954 again--- instead of 610 and 435. And I see that the ducky I stitched in the corner of the towel, using waste canvas, is holding up well despite many washes. It's that loop-start method."
Seeing that the nurserymaid in need of further instructions, she called out: "Crib-it! Crib-it! Crib-it!" The nurserymaid knew how to do that, too, and soon had the Piglet tucked up tight in its own little bed, under a cute Curtis Boeringer Noah's Ark afghan.
"That's one," thought the Princess, and proceeded to guide the poor nurserymaid through the process of catching, washing, and putting to bed the other screaming Siblings and Piglets.
"That's a job well done," she thought. "Though that nurserymaid is going to take some watching or she'll have them all dressed in pink acrylic like that tutor Tusler did that once. Hmmm. I think I'll go and see how DH is doing."
She hopped along, trying not to be nervous about the fact that DH might not like a visit from a frog. "If I could just take something to do with my hands," she thought, "Needlework always relaxes me. Oh. I forgot for a moment." She found herself at the door of her stitching room. "Well, maybe there's something I could do...."
She went in, and spent some time rummaging through her stash. Flower Power on its scroll frame was out of the question. The beaded Just Nan kit was too fiddly for her webby hands. Hardanger was undoubtedly too dangerous for someone who would probably have a problem holding scissors. Finally she decided to try a simple plastic canvas ornamentt. "It's light," she thought "I should be able to carry it. The needle's pretty big--I bet I could hold it in my mouth. And I'm just filling in, so I won't need a chart." Heartened, she took up the ornament and hopped along to the room where DH lay in bed with a sore leg.
She peered in. DH was awake, doing a crossword puzzle and looking bored. The Princess hopped to the side of the bed and looked up. She croaked softly.
"What? Oh! A frog! Hmmm. I suppose even a frog is company. Come on up here, froggy." The Princess did as she was bid. Eyes back on the puzzle, he continued to fill in the little squares. After a time, he asked, "I don't suppose you know a 5-letter word for a shepherd's staff, do you?"
"Crrrrrooook. Crrooook. Croooook," the Princess offered. "Yep, that fits, if I leave out some of the r's and o's," he said. "You're pretty bright for a frog." He looked up, and it occurred to him that this was a *mighty* bright frog, because it looked as if it were trying to *stitch*!!!
The Princess was trying, all right. She held the blunt tapestry needle in her mouth, peered sideways at the plastic canvas, and then slowly and laboriously dragged the point of the needle across the plastic grid until its tip landed in the hole she needed. She pushed it in, then with great effort turned the plastic square over, took up the needle in her mouth again, and pulled it through. Back and forth, stitch by slow stitch, she was doing it!
"My goodness!" exclaimed DH, "Looks like my sweet Princess has run out of humans to teach stitching to and has started in on the local wildlife! You're doing pretty well, little frog, but it looks like you're having a tough time. What's the problem?" (*Other than the fact that your hands are webbed, your eyes are on the sides of your head, and you're slobbering all over your yarn* he thought *but let's try to be polite.*) "What can I do to help?" he asked.
"Grip-it! Grip-it! Grip-it!" replied the frog.
"Ah," said DH, "I see. Having a hard time holding things, are you?" He picked up the plastic square and held it by the edegs. "Is this better?" To her delight, the Princess found that it went MUCH faster if she didn't have to keep flipping the canvas by herself. DH, who evidently had picked up something of stitching over the years (besides stray needles in his stocking-feet), turned it alternately back and front for her--all she had to do was poke the needle in and out. In five minutes she had done a whole row.
"There now," said DH. "That's a nice piece of work. But my hands are getting tired, and you really ought to take a break and let that yarn dry out a little. What do you say to a bargain? When I'm up and around again, I'll make you some sort of gizmo to hold your stitching. What can you do for me in return?"
The Princess put down her needle and soggy yarn and climbed gently onto his sore knee. "Rub-it! Rub-it! Rub-it!" she croaked , and proceeded to massage it tenderly with her tiny webbed hands. Much soothed, DH let his eyes roll backwards in his head and let her continue. "Ah. That feels wonderful. You have two hours to quit....It's a deal."
"Well," the Princess thought, "I'm not a total loss. I still have my family. I can still be useful. I can help DH get well. And I can still stitch--although I'm afraid the non-colorfast overdyed threads are out of the question in my current state. But it could be worse! And maybe someday I'll find a way to become myself again."
She gazed fondly on the now-sleeping DH and longed for the day when she could stretch out by his side in her own proper shape....
(More of the Legend of the Gripit still to come!)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Monique Reed)
Subject: The Legend of the Gripit--ANOTHER (LONG!) part!
(We had left our enchanted frog longing for her human shape and the palace searching in vain for their missing Princess.)
By midmorning of the second day, the castle and the kingdom had been turned upside down in a frantic search for the still "missing" princess. The Queen had hysterics and had to be put to bed with a hot water bottle and some bon-bons. The King ran around, getting in everybody's way, and demanding justice, retribution, and help with his collar buttons--all at once. The king's ministers organized a thorough and systematic search, starting with the Princess' stitching room (how she shuddered to watch a bunch of grubby-handed soldiers pawing through her stash!) and ending with the smallest cow-barn of the poorest peasant in the land. DH concentrated his efforts on getting well. As soon as he could, he hobbled out of bed and joined the search. Throughout all of this, Evil SMIL just sort of smiled to herself. At lunch on the second day, she casually mentioned that perhaps the Princess had been kidnapped by agents of the King of Cashel to the north. That seemed to make sense--everyone knew that the kingdoms of Cashel and Zweigart had been enemies for centuries, ever since the dreadful Smocking War of 1183. Within minutes, the king's ministers were plotting a daring rescue mission...
"But I'm here!" the Princess tried to tell everyone. "It's me! I haven't been kidnapped! I didn't run away! I'm not out gathering herbs to hand-dye my own linen thread! I'm right HERE!" But all that came out was a silly-sounding "bbbbbBBBBBBRRRRRRIIIBBBBBbbbbit", and she knew she wasn't convincing anyone.
Things settled into pretty much of a routine. The Queen kept mostly to her chambers. The King got in everyone's way. The ministers formulated and discarded one bold stratagem after another. Evil SMIL kept her council. The Princess offered what advice she could to the incompetent nurserymaid. And DH, now fully mobile again, spent most of his time riding from one end of the land to the other, looking for clues to his beloved's disappearance. In his few moments of spare time, he kept his promise to the frog and started working on something to hold fabric for stitching.
After about a week, he had a working prototype. It was an awkward thing, all funny angles and knobs, but it looked as if it might work. DH carried the frog up to the Princess' stitching room. "Pick out some fabric you like," he said. "She is a generous person and I know she wouldn't begrudge you a bit of cloth. You've been so kind to me and my poor knee." The Princess, suddenly overcome with misery, sat numbly on the floor and didn't stir. "Oh, well. Here. Try this," said DH, and picked up a lovely piece of sky blue linen dotted with subtly-bleached cloud-shapes.
"No!" the Princess shouted. "I spent hours getting that just right so I could do 'Bird Power' on it!" But all DH heard was a croak. He took it for assent, scooped up fabric, frog, and a threaded needle, and went back to the main hall, where he had set up his contraption in a cozy corner by the great fireplace.
All that afternoon, the Princess tried to stitch. It was horribly awkward, holding the needle in her floppy mouth and trying to squint hard enough to see where to place it. The little holes in the line n were soooo tiny! And it really bothered her that she really couldn't railroad or fasten off her ends properly. DH had rigged a little lever that turned the work over when she hopped down onto it, so she could reach the back of her stitching all right, but it was soon obvious to everyone watching that the experiment was a flop. Evil SMIL, busy spinning in the corner, smiled to herself. "Everyone is so amazed by a frog who even *tries* to stitch that no one has stopped to wonder if there is any connection between the frog and the 'missing' princess," she gloated.
"This just isn't working is it, dearie?" said the Queen. "You really need a coarser fabric, a fatter fiber, and a larger needle." She sent a page for supplies, and he soon returned with some burlap (about 8 ct.) some red string, and a big darning needle. "Here, try this."
The Princess did as she was bid, though she wanted to shudder at such coarse materials. The Queen had been right. This did work a little better. After a few tries, the Princess began to be a little hopeful. Maybe if she were careful, she could embroider a message! She could tell everyone who she was! Maybe someone would know how to help her...
By supper time, the struggling frog had completed a capital "I" and the King's ministers had concocted another plan to invade Cashel and recover their Princess. The "I" was lopsided and crooked and had the stitches crossed in different directions and had long snags and loops on the back, but it *was* an "I". The plan was lopsided and crooked and had troops massed in different directions and had lots of snags and loopholes, but it *was* a plan. They would attack Cashel at the end of the week....
By sundown the next day, the Princess had managed to stitch "I AN" Debate raged in the great hall about what the frog might be trying to convey. "'I ANnounce'" proposed one. "'I ANticipate'" offered another "'I ANtler'", declared the nurserymaid, who--as we have seen--was not very bright. "'I ANnoy'" suggested Evil SMIL, who was beginning to be a little jealous of the attention paid to the marvelous stitching frog, even though it *was * fun watching the Princess try to stitch with twine on burlap.
The nest day, there was a lot of speculation about how the frog would continue its message. When examined at the end of the day, the piece proved to read "I AM THE"
"Oh," was the general consensus. "It didn't finish the 'M' yesterday. Who is it trying to say that it is?"
"It must be an agent of Cashel, sent to deliver a ransom note!" declared one of the King's ministers. Immediately, the burliest of the ministers snatched up the helpless frog and began to shake it.
"Tell us who sent you!" he bellowed. "Where is our Princess? What have you done with her?!" The poor Princess' eyes bulged even more than usual and she croaked feebly in his iron grip.
"Stop that, you idiot," said DH, and pried the minister's hand open to retrieve the gasping amphibian. "This is a very special *stitching* frog. We must give it time to finish its message and not frighten it." There were murmurs of agreement.
"If it's so smart, can't we just ask it what it knows?" All heads turned in amazement. This emminently sensible suggestion had come from the nurserymaid! Finding all eyes on her in astonishment at the one coherent sentence she had ever uttered, she flung her apron over her head and fled to the safety of the nursery.
What followed was a very odd game of "Twenty Questions" The Princess grew weary as she alternately nodded and tried to shake her head.
"Are you animal, vegetable, or mineral?" asked the King, who was *almost* clear on the concept.
"Are you an agent of Cashel?" demanded the burly minister. Shake, shake: no.
"Are you an agent of any foreign kingdom?" Shake, shake: no.
"Do you know where the Princess is?" Nod, nod: yes!
"Is she far away?" Shake, shake: no.
"Is she bigger than a breadbox?" (The King again.) "You're really not helping, dear," said the Queen gently, and sent the King off to bed.
"Will we ever see the Princess again?" Shake, nod...shake, nod. Frogs can't shrug and what could she say? She didn't know if they ever WOULD see her in her normal state again.
"Has the Princess been harmed?" (This from DH). Nod, nod: yes.
"Is she still alive?" Nod, nod: yes!
"Does someone in the castle know where she is?" Nod, nod: yes! At this point Evil SMIL found it wise at this point to slip away to her chambers, lest the frog point in her direction. Off she went, slick as Marlitt.
The questions went on and on, like a row of hard little French knots. It appeared that the questioners were going to run down the entire list of the populace one by one. The poor Princess was visibly sagging.Finally, as if in response to some unheard prompt, DH asked, "Are YOU by any chance the Princess?"
"HIT-IT! HIT-IT! HIT-IT!" cried the Princess.
"Oh, my poor dear!" exclaimed DH, and scooped the exhausted frog into a tender embrace. "We will find out who did this to you and make them change you back before we exact a horrible revenge! No more questions now!" he told the crowd. "Can't you see she's had a terrible experience? We will try to find out the rest of the story tomorrow...."
>>>>>>>>end of this bit...<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
From: email@example.com (Monique Reed)
Subject: Gripit Legend---a small bit to tide you over.
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 12:45:39
Nobody in the palace slept much that night. The King woke up wanting a midnight snack, but the kitchen staff were in such a tizzy that they couldn't help him find the animal crackers. The Queen alternately wept and shouted, heartbroken over her daughter's fate and enraged that she was powerless to help. Then she thought of what her *grandchildren* might look like, and wept some more. The Piglets and Royal Siblings were kept up by the semi-coherent mumblings of the Nurserymaid, who talked in her sleep about talking frogs, warm baths, rubber duckies, and something called a "ionized plasma field regulator"...
The King's ministers pulled an all-nighter, plotting revenge on Cashel. At about 2 a.m., they finally decided to turn the entire populace of Cashel into frogs-- and then invade and step on them. One of the ministers ransacked the palace, looking for graph paper to draw up a map. He finally found some in the Princess' stash, along with four colors of highlighters and a package of colored pencils. Another of the ministers went looking for a book of spells that would do the trick. In the library, he found a dusty old book that looked faintly sorcerous, wedged in between "The Care and Feeding of Fire-Breathing Dragons" by one Lefty Burns and a copy of "Celtic Designs in Counted Thread Needlework", which the Princess had misplaced.
By dawn, the plan was complete. Some logistics had yet to be worked out, to be sure, such as where to place the contingent of fighting llamas, but surely it would work. In two days time, Cashel would be reduced to a squashed green mess, and the Princess would be avenged.
And the Princess? She didn't sleep much, either. DH insisted that she sleep on his pillow, where he could see her and stroke her shiny green back occasionally. Unfortunately, he tossed and rolled a lot, and the poor Princess had to leap out of the way more than once. "Oh, dear," she thought. "If I'm up, I might as well get back to the stitching."
Downstairs by the embers of the fire in the great hall, she contemplated the burlap and twine on her gripit frame. "I really ought to frogstitch that last bit and do it over more neatly," she thought, before she caught herself. "But I suppose it's more important to start trying to convey who did this to me."
Then she sat very still. Because, of course, she didn't know....
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Monique Reed)
Subject: LEGEND OF THE GRIPIT--BACK AT LAST
I'm pleased to announce, after a long lapse, the next portion of the Legend of the Gripit. This is the story of a beautiful Stitching Princess who was turned into a frog. The earlier parts of the story can be found linked from Kathy Dyer's cross stitch page. Thanks to all who have been so patient!
(When we left our heroine, she was trying to figure out who could have done the evil deed.)
How on earth was she to figure out who had changed her into a frog? The problem was more confusing than trying to remember whether it was the DMC perle cottons or the flower threads that had numbers like the floss but began with a 2...
Around and around and around, like wraps on a bullion knot, went the Princess' thoughts. Surely no one in her immediate family--the King, the Queen, her own DH--surely none of them would wish her ill. *Though it's possible, * she admitted, *that the poor King my father might have gotten some speech or announcement muddled and ended up saying something that was a frog-making spell...*
Try as she might, the Princess just couldn't think of anyone who would hate her enough to harm her on purpose. Depressed and exhausted, she fell into a restless sleep.
Toward morning, she had the oddest dream. A beautiful lady hovered before her on shimmering wings. Her long white gown, blue stole, and golden sash were no less brilliant than the lyre she carried. Radiance shone from her serene face, while her auburn hair tumbled about her shoulders. The Princess, awed, asked in a tiny voice, "Who are you?"
"I am the Angel of Hope," replied the vision, "come to help you in your time of trouble. Tell me, little frog, what I may do to aid you?"
"That's just it," said the Princess, "I'm not really a frog. Or at least, I wasn't two weeks ago. One minute I was stitching, and the next I woke up in the palace lily pond like this. I'm really the Princess."
"A Princess should not have webbed feet and beady eyes," said the Angel of Hope severely.
"My thoughts exactly," replied the Princess. " I would very much like to return to my proper form."
"I see," said the Angel. "Tell me again exactly how it happened, and leave out not the slightest detail."
"All right," said the Princess, "It was an ordinary morning. I sat down to stitch, but nothing went right. My chart was ruined, I lost my scissors in the sofa, my fabric was too small, and there were no M&Ms. I was so frustrated and cranky that I picked up a bluey-greeny skein of waterlilies just to fondle--and the next thing I knew..." The Princess gestured at her moist green body and sat quiet.
"I see," said the Angel again. " Of a certainty, a most powerful spell was cast. Tell me, is stitching very important to you?"
"Oh, yes!" cried the Princess, next to my DH and well, you know, stitching is my most favorite thing of all!" And then she blushed as much as a frog could, as the thought hit her that maybe angels didn't know about "you know."
"It is obvious that someone has used your, um, second favorite thing to hurt you," said the Angel. "Is there anyone you can think of whose love for stitching is less than your own, someone who might be jealous of your skill?"
"Well," said the Princess, "I'm not sure if *anyone* likes stitching as much as I do, but the only person I know of who really doesn't like it is my Step Mother in Law." A little light dawned in the back of her amphibian mind...
"I think you know where to seek your cure now, child," said the Angel. Take Hope, fear not, and in the end all shall be well."
"Thank you so much!" the Princess replied, and found herself addressing the empty air. The beautiful Angel was gone. Heartened, the Princess sank into a dreamless slumber.
From: email@example.com (Monique Reed)
Subject: OT: NEXT BIT OF THE GRIPIT LEGEND!!
Date: Mon, 10 Nov 1997 13:16:54
As followers of the story will remember, our Princess had just been told in a dream who it was that had changed her into a frog....
Very early he next morning, the Princess awoke rather confused and groggy. The world seemed sort of foggy and painted in shades of gray, like a de la Tour design. She knew there was something she was supposed to remember... Then all the details of her dream came flooding back! Evil SMIL! She was the one responsible for the stitcher-to-frog transformation! Somehow she must tell everyone who was to blame!
The Princess bounded pitty-pat, pitty-pat across the great hall and up the stairs to awaken DH with the news. In their chamber, DH slept peacefully. *He's so cute when he's sleeping,* she thought, *especially in those jammies I stitched the monogram on... It's almost a shame to wake him. But this IS, after all, rather important!* One flying leap landed her squarely in the center of his manly chest.
"Get-up! Get-up! Get-up!" she croaked.
"Who? What? Where?" DH was never at his best in the morning. He peered blearily at the small green frog bouncing up and down on his nightshirt. "Oh. It's you. Good morning sweetheart."
"Got it! Got it! Got it!" bounced the Princess.
"Hunh? Got what? You mean... You figured out who did this to you? Tell me! Tell me and I shall exact instant revenge!" He was rather more awake now.
The Princess opened her wide floppy mouth to tell him that it was none other than his very own stepmother, when two little things stopped her...
First, although she'd managed to work a few quasi-understandable words into her amphibian vocabulary, "your" and "stepmother", weren't on the list. And Evil SMIL's real name was Lugana... "L" was just not a letter that her toothless state would permit.
Second, she suddenly realized that accusing his stepmother wasn't exactly going to engender warm family feelings. Over the years, she 'd learned not to criticize her in-laws, even when they were less than enthusiastic about her exquisitely stitched gifts. And slapping a charge of transmogrification on SMIL, even if she *was* sort of "evil", was a whole lot worse than a few tight-lipped comments such as, "I didn't stitch a christening gift because the wedding sampler I did you is hanging face-to-the-wall above the cat's litter box in the storage room." If she were to point the finger, okay, flop the webbed foot, at SMIL, would DH still love her?
Nope. She'd just have to find some way to make SMIL implicate herself.
DH by this time was flinging on his clothes.
"Tell me, sweetheart, who did this to you?"
Glumly, the Princess hopped down from the bed and flopped her way to the door.
*Isn't that always the case?* she sighed to herself, *It's just like when you've got yourself a nice length of fiber and found your place and are all ready to go, you put in three stitches and find out you've gone and threaded the blankety-blank needle with the wrong end of the floss.*
On the third landing from the bottom of the main staircase, she had to side-hop to avoid the Queen, the Nurserymaid, and a whole troop of squealing, bath-defying piglets.
On the second landing from the bottom, she encountered two of the king's ministers. They were arguing about llamas and frogs and spells.
"Look," one growled, "We cast the frog spell on Cashel, *then* send in the llamas to step on all the slimy green devils. It's no good sending in the llamas *before* they're frogs!"
"All right, all aright, ALL RIGHT!!" hollered the other. "Frogs first, then llamas! We'll do it your way! Just make sure all the troops are ready to leave by sundown."
*Oh, no!* she cried inwardly, *They're going to invade Cashel and turn all of its citizens into helpless, squashable frogs! I've got one day in which to make SMIL confess, or thousands of innocent people will perish!!!*
At the bottom of the stairs, she ran smack into Evil SMIL....
(Note: some typos were corrected after the fact by request of the author.)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Monique Reed)
Subject: MORE GRIPIT LEGNED! (Long)
Date: Mon, 6 Apr 1998 20:12:22
By request: More of the Legend of the Gripit (the beginning of the story can be found on this page maintained by Kathy Dyer: http://www.wco.com/~kdyer/arch_legend.html )
Readers will remember that the Princess has just run into Evil SMIL, whom she now knows is the one who turned her into a frog!
The startled Princess took three terrified hops back and sideways and stared at SMIL with eyes more bulgy than usual. Every fiber of her being recoiled in terror. Evil SMIL! *She* was the one who had turned her into a frog! There must be some way to make her confess--be it as tortuous as unpicking six rows of Queen stitch, it must still be done... But what if Evil SMIL were to do something even *more* heinous than turning her into a frog? It didn't bear thinking about.
Evil SMIL was speaking, in a voice that grated like good Ginghers cutting tinfoil. "Well, hello there, my little slimy friend! I suppose there's no stitching for you *now*, is there? I've just had a look at your stitching to-do list for this week, my dear. 'Sort Mill Hill beads'," she mimicked. "Yes! Let's see you sort some darling little beadies!" She thrust a hand into the pocket of her long gown and flung a sparkling rainbow of tiny beads down the long staircase. "Oops! Dropped some! Better get the Bead Nabber! Oh!" She flung one hand to her mouth in mock dismay. "I'm *so* sorry! I forgot! You don't have any FINGERS!!!!" The last word unraveled into wicked laughter as SMIL trailed off down the stairs.
The Princess didn't know whether to cry or swear or try to bite the retreating ankle of her tormentor. She discarded the first option as appropriate but useless, the second as unladylike, and the third as probably ineffective. "Note to self," she thought, "Hop into library and do some reading. Maybe there is some Dreadful Disease that can be transmitted by bite of frog."
Still mulling over options, the Princess hopped on down the stairs, heading through the Hall of Samplers to the dining hall. She looked at the framed works of all her ancestors nostalgically. Never would she stitch another motto to grace the halls... Never would her work join the immortal "Practice Makes" of Gwynne the Terse or the "You may touch the dust. You may write in the dust. But please do not *date* it" of Mirielle the Untidy. Never would she send away a heavy gold pouch to Ye Scarlette Letter for their newest design. She reconsidered crying. Suddenly, her eye fell on a faded old piece by Great-great-great-great Aunt (once or twice removed) Tere. It said, ""A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. Thanks for noticing me"
"That's it!" thought the Princess. "I always did say you could catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Mmmmmmmm, flies."
She hurried after SMIL with a wide perky smile on her face.
For the rest of that day, the Princess was Sunshine incarnate. She tickled the Royal Siblings and the Piglets until they squealed with laughter. She winked at the King in the middle of an Important Meeting and made him smile. (Unfortunately, it made him lose his place in reading an Important Treaty, too. The next spring, Zweigart found itself obligated to import 70 tons of pickled prunes from neighboring Aidastan.) She danced a little dance for the Queen, and gave DH a big, wet smack on the cheek. (*Itsmywifeitsmywifeitsmywife* he reminded himself, in a valiant effort not to gag and wipe his face with his sleeve.)
And mostly, oh, mostly, the Princess tagged close to her Evil SMIL. Close as the shades from 500 to 504... Close as Bargello stitches on 24 mesh canvas... Close as a cat likes to snuggle when you're using a lap stand... Everywhere Evil SMIL went, there was the Princess, being Cheerful.
At first, Evil SMIL pasted on a fake smile and ignored her. She ignored her as she worked among the Henbane and Toadflax in her garden. She ignored her as she combed her cat, Or Nue', backwards. She gritted her teeth and ignored the Princess as she cuddled close while Evil SMIL tried to read the latest issue of "Bone Appetit" (The periodical for discriminating eaters of small, furry mammals.)
Pretty soon, though, Evil SMIL found it harder and harder to pretend the Princess wasn't there. Because she obviously *was* there. She was there as Evil SMIL took a bubble bath. ("I'm never stitching her another monogrammed robe, that's for darn sure!" thought the Princess.) She was right at hand as Evil SMIL dressed for dinner. And she was very, very near as Evil SMIL sat down to eat her dinner.
It was not a festive meal, despite the Princesses efforts to be gay. The King pushed his turnips around uneasily--he had a sinking feeling he'd missed something in the Treaty. The Queen was distracted by squabbling Siblings and Piglets and spent half her time calling for the Nursery Maid. DH chewed and thought and chewed and thought and cast suspicious eyes around the table. Who could have changed his beloved into a frog? The ministers gobbled quickly, mumbled some excuses, and dashed off without dessert.
Dessert was not much cheerier. "Don't put your snout in your dish, dear," the Queen admonished the Piglet nearest her. "Or you either," she admonished the King. "Yes, love. No, love," mumbled the King. DH pushed his Jell-o away. "I'm not in the mood for blue food."
The new Jell-o was blue, all right, and it fascinated the Princess. Slowly, she circled around Evil SMIL's quivering bowlful. *Blue,* she thought, *it's that same electric blue that DMC made but which no one ever uses. Neat.* Around and around she hopped, all the while remembering to simper up engagingly at Evil SMIL.
"GET AWAY FROM MY DESSERT, YOU LOATHSOME LITTLE TOAD!" screamed Evil SMIL, whacking at the poor amphibian with her spoon. "I have had ENOUGH of you! Good heavens! I thought you were annoying as a silly stitching princess, but SHEESH! You're even more annoying as a frog! I wish I'd never put that stupid spell on you!"
For a moment, there was stunned silence as every eye turned toward Evil SMIL. Then many things happened at once. The Nurserymaid, the Piglets, and the Siblings all began squealing in frightened unison. The King said over and over again, "Please? I don't understand. Will someone explain what's going on? Is someone turning frogs into Jell-o?" The Queen flung out an accusing finger at Evil SMIL and shrieked, "Off with her head! No! Wait! Get her to undo the spell and *then* off with her head! No, wait! Get her to undo the spell and then turn *her* into a frog and THEN off with her head!" DH lunged half across the table at his Evil SM, grabbed her by the collar, and jerked her to her feet.
"Change her back, you old bag!" he demanded. "I don't know why I didn't figure this out sooner! You're jealous of her and her talents! Change her back this minute."
Evil SMIL knew that she was well and truly caught--run under five stitches, turned back, clipped off, and firmly and fairly caught. But it wasn't in her to show the fear that she felt. Slowly, she removed DH's fist from her gown.
"All right," she hissed. "I'll change your little mindless stitching wench back. Really, I don't know what you see in her."
"So change her!" growled DH.
"Well, if I have to. But I need my spell book, first."
"Then let's go *get* it." He grabbed her by the arm and frog-marched (oops) her out of the room and up the stairs towards the library, a whole astonished parade of monarchy, piglets, siblings, nursery help, and amphibians trailing behind like a skein with the wrappers off.
Ten minutes later, Evil SMIL surveyed the rifled library shelves with an unsettling sneer. "Well, darlings, as much as I'd *love* to reverse the spell, I'm afraid I just can't do it without my spell book. And as you can see, it's turned up missing. 'Turned up missing!' Isn't that just the funniest little expression?"
DH exchanged looks with the startled Princess, a horrible thought dawning in his mind. He flew to the window. There, outlined in Japan Gold agains the setting sun, was a line of tiny figures disappearing into the distance as they galloped furiously away from the castle and over the hills toward Cashel...
From: email@example.com (Monique Reed)
Subject: STILL MORE GRIPIT!!!!
Date: Tue, 7 Apr 1998 13:14:23
Wow! Two installments in one week:
DH turned to the King. "Quick! The army and the ministers are heading for Cashel! And can those be llamas?! What's going on?"
"Um," replied the King. "They're going to Frogland to squash llamas. No. Wait. That's not right. They're going to Cashel to stitch llamas and frogs. Ummm. They're going to visit the Dalai Lama and ask him to teach them to frog stitches on squash-colored linen?" He smiled weakly at DH, hoping this was the right answer.
"You're a tremendous help, darling," the Queen told him. "Listen," she said to DH, "The army and the ministers are headed for Cashel. Their plan is destroy the country because they think Cashel is responsible for turning your wife into a frog. They plan to turn all the citizens of Cashel into frogs, and then bring in llamas to squash them. They must have taken the spell book."
"Are you sure? How do you know?"
The Queen gave him a you-must-be-joking look. "Look," she said very quietly, "I've been married to the King for thirty years and I've been Queen of this country for twenty. You know how the King is." She darted a loving glance at her spouse, who was fiddling happily with a loose button on his robe. "Look around you--we have a stable economy, we haven't fought a major war in years, the peasants are happy, and *most* of our citizens are decent, useful people." She paused to glare at Evil SMIL, who didn't dare try to dash from the room, but who was still wearing a sly smile and looked as if she wanted to happy-dance. "What sort of shape do you think we'd be in if I *didn't* listen at keyholes and around corners? Give me a *little* credit!"
DH ran his hands through his hair. "All right," he said to the crowd in the room. "We've got to stop them somehow. Not only must we avert a war with Cashel, but we have to retrieve the spell book and return my beloved to her proper form." He rapped out orders like a neat row of kloster blocks.
"I want whatever is left of the guards and the knights mounted and ready to ride. You," he said to a servant, "see that my horse is saddled and ready to leave within the quarter-hour. I'll need provisions for several days, my good armor, and both sword and bow. You," he said to the nearest guard, "Bind this foul sorceress, tie her to the back of some swift but bony nag, and be sure she is ready to leave with us. You, " he snapped at the Nurserymaid, "Tell that Piglet to stop drooling on my boots. You," he said to the Princess' maid, "pack what my lady might need for such a journey."
"At once," replied the maid. "In fact, I believe she always has a small bag packed and standing ready to go--for SOCS, you know."
"Very good. Each to his own task, then." Turning to the King and Queen, he took their hands and said, "Don't worry. I will follow the army and the ministers and stop them before they reach the border. I will retrieve the spell book and make sure your daughter is restored."
He scooped up the poor frog Princess. "Come, my love," he said, tucking her gently inside his shirt, "You will travel with me, and as surely as needle draws thread, I will bring you safely home again."
His gaze strayed toward the window. The army of Zweigart was no longer to be seen. *I just hope* he thought *that we're not too late...*
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Monique Reed)
Subject: OT: A NEW BIT OF GRIPIT LEGEND--thanks for waiting...
Date: Mon, 3 Aug 1998 13:15:01
Organization: Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
You may remember that the Princess and DH were on their way to try to stop the ministers and the army from wreaking havoc on the innocent kingdom of Cashel...
It is a sad fact of anatomy that frogs cannot cry, but they *can* become motion-sick. The poor princess and her DH found this out, much to their dismay and the detriment of DH's fine linen shirt with the hand-bound buttonholes and perfectly-reversible blackwork collar and cuffs.
"I'm sorry, darling," said DH, as he squelched down the urge to rip off the shirt and fling it to the winds. "I guess the road is just a little too bumpy. Here, if I hold you in front of me on the saddle, you can get some fresh air, and maybe you won't get so queasy."
**Sorry about the shirt,* thought the princess. This emerged as a feeble "crrRRRRoak--urp." The road *was* bumpy--rougher and more full of holes than a six year old's first practice sampler. And the pace!! They were going faster than someone trying to finish something by month's end just to have something to add to the "What I finished in..." thread.
But there was every need for speed. If they couldn't catch the army and the ministers, all the poor people of Cashel would be turned into frogs and squashed! The thought was even more appalling than the idea of being on such a long trip without a travel project.
So on they flew through the night, the inky blackness all 310-ish around them and only a few little stars sprinkled in the sky. **I could do those in petite beads,* thought the Princess,*or else baste a piece of same-color fabric behind to cover the long runs from stitch to stitch. Drat! I left my Project Ideas notebook behind.* She clung to the saddle and concentrated on not falling off.
Dawn came, as it usually does. The Princess and her DH could see--what luck!-- the camp of the army and the ministers just up ahead. They had stopped for th e night, knowing they could reach Cashel the next day with ease. Now, as DH an d his followers thundered down upon them, they were just waking up and rooting about for breakfast. Someone could be plainly heard in the shrubbery, shrieking something about spiders knitting and purling...
DH reined to a stop in the middle of the camp and shouted with all his might. "BY THE ORDER OF THE KING AND QUEEN, STOP!!!"
"Huh?" The ministers appeared in dribs and drabs, like so many snippets of off- brand floss on a breezy day. "What's all this fuss, now?"
"You must stop your murderous errand! You must not attack Cashel!"
"The dickens you say? Not attack Cashel? As soon as ask a man to surrender the remote to the telly. Why should we stop?"
"Because it wasn't anyone in Cashel who turned the Princess into a frog. It was... It was..." How to admit that it was his own Evil SM who had done it? "It was one of the King's own subjects," he finally finished. "We must return at once with the spell book you have taken, so that the spell may be undone."
The minister looked from DH to the cranky, I-ll-get-you-for-this face of Evil SMIL, who was still bound tightly to the back of a bony nag. He now had a pretty clear idea of who the culprit was. Should he risk the wrath of the nastiest woman in the kingdom, or just try to proceed with his magnificent Operation Llama-Squash?
"What book?" He asked, trying maintain a blank expression. (It was easy--his face had as much character as an unhemmed square of plain muslin).
"Don't play stupid with me. "
"He's not playin'." That was one of the soldiers, an old man with a face smocked in a thousand wrinkles. "No, I tell ye truly, e's the daftest bloke I ever met. If'n it's some book ye want, most likely it's that big one he's got hid in his tent."
"Get for me instantly!"
The old campaigner scurried off. The minutes went by, interlocked and tight like practiced tatting. Just as the Princess was starting to think he would *never*come (just like waiting for mail-order-S.E.X.), he reappeared.
"Be this the book ye're wantin'?" He held up the evil-looking book of spells.
DH examined the book. "Yes! Yes it is! We've got it!" He turned to Evil SMIL and shook the book under her pointy nose. "Now, you old bag of remnants, here's your silly book! Change my wife back!!!!"
Evil SMIL smiled greasily, like a toddler leaving potato chip handprints on damask. "Can't"
"What do you mean, 'can't'?"
"How sad not to speak the language," she purred. "I mean, can't. The spell can only be undone when uttered backwards in the exact opposite of the circumstances in which it was first enacted."
DH glared. "You were alive when you cast it. Dare I hope this means I can rectify that situation?"
Evil SMIL paled, like something accidentally washed in Woolite. "Um, no," she babbled hastily. "It, uh, it will be sufficient if we return to the castle and do everything backwards." DH glared harder. "Honest." Glare. " Cross my he art and hope to..." GLARE. "Take my word for..." GLARE! "All right! All right! I'll change her back! But she has to promise not to try to teach me any more stitches. I HATE stitching, do you hear me, I HATE it! I'll change her back if I never have to pick up a needle again. Deal?"
"Deal!" Can you do it here?"
"No, I really do need to go back to the castle."
"Then back we go." DH looked at the army and ministers and llamas, still standing confused like non-stitching husbands at a 20% off sale. "Mount and return as quickly as you can. Thank goodness we were in time."
"Does this mean no fighting llamas?"
"No, no fighting llamas."
"No, no frog-squashing!"
The ministers and soldiers turned away, deprived of their playthings and woebegone as damp mice. Sadly, they began to break camp.
"Now, my love," cried DH, "home we go to free you from the spell!"
From: Monique Reed <email@example.com>
Subject: ---NEW PIECE OF THE GRIPIT LEGEND--
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 13:05:48 -0600
The return journey to Zwiegart nearly took longer than the trip to the frontier had taken, mostly because the route went past the princess' favorite LNS. Even in her froggy state, she was unable to resist stopping in for just a peek. As they passed the quaint little cottage, she bounced and croaked so in DH's saddlebag that he was forced to stop.
"What is it, my darling?" he asked tenderly.
"Cred-it, cred-it, cred-it!" she managed.
DH was puzzled. "You want what? Oh, I see, you want to smoke the VISA."
DH sighed. "I really thought you'd want to get home as quickly as possible so that you can become your old self again. Promise you won't be long?"
The Princess hopped joyfully toward the shop door. "He just doesn't get it," she thought. "The new MLI is due out, Lizzie Kate has two new designs, and if I'm going to get something stitched for the millennium, I'd better get a move on!"
The proprietor of the shop was more than a little amazed to see a frog enter, but DH soon followed the princess in and explained everything. "Ah," said the shop woman. "I think I see. Well, all these charts here are marked down, and we've a trunk show this week from The Drawn Thread. Oh, and here's a list of the classes we'll be starting next week. There's a darling little Hardanger heart that she'll surely want to try."
"Thanks," DH mumbled and went to follow his wife around the store to look for things. He held her up to see the framed models on the wall, sorted through the shades of linen for her, and had the shopkeeper fetch twelve more skeins of Needle Necessities overdyed, just to make sure she had four that matched for the sampler she was thinking of doing. She had to look at chatelaines, scissor fobs, do-lollies, and bead-nabbers. ("I bet my sticky tongue would be even better," she thought, "but hopefully I won't have it too much longer!"
Finally DH left her to look through the stitching magazines and went to amuse himself with the little plastic farm play set in the Children's Corner. He had just figured out how to make the barn door moo when the princess hopped up.
"Ready to go?" The frog nodded. DH reluctantly put down the horse and pig and scooped up the pile of purchases.
The shop keeper was happy to ring them up. She had to comment on each purchase. "Oh, this is lovely. I did this for my niece, but over one on lime green linen. Stunning. You'll enjoy this, and the companion piece is due out any time now. Don't forget, we'll be closed next Tuesday because we'll be at Market. Now, have you got your keytag for me to punch?" Not surprisingly, she didn't. "I couldn't be expected to pack *everything*," said DH defensively, "and it wasn't in your SOCS bag."
At last they were loaded, every saddlebag as full of stash as a TW's full of blended needles, and ready to resume the journey home. They arrived at the castle just as the sun was setting in a Wildflowery blend of red, purple, and orange. DH lost no time in hauling Evil SMIL off her bony horse and getting her, her book of spells, and the princess down to the pond. Carefully, he wrapped the princess in a piece of hand-dyed linen (without fray-checked edges) and set her on a sturdy lily pad. The water lapped around, smooth and soft, like Thread Heaven.
"Now, you old bat," DH said. "It's evening, the opposite of morning. What sort of paraphernalia do you need to work this spell backwards?" Evil SMIL thought for a minute about lying, but DH's eyes were as narrow as those of a #28 tapestry needle, and she knew she couldn't put it off any longer. Mutinously, she set about collecting the ingredients she would need for the Un-Frog Stitch Spell--27 different colors of silk floss, all exactly 18" long and stranded to lie perfectly flat; 10 fat-quarters of highest-quality Belgian linen; 7 Lanarte kits still in their original packages; 5 brand new platinum needles; a boo-boo stick for removing pet hair and fuzzies; one no-hoop, no-baste Lok-Scroll set, and a brand new @ pin fresh from HOCS.
"Okay, " she said. "Now we can try. But remember, this might not work..."
From: Monique Reed <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: THE CONCLUSION OF THE GRIPIT LEGEND!
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 13:03:37 -0600
There. Now I can't say I didn't finish anything in 1999! Here, for
your delight and edification, is the thrilling conclusion of the
Gripit Legend. Thank you all for being so patient!
(Evil SMIL has assembled the ingredients needed for reversing the Dreaded Frog-Stitch Spell...)
"Is that it?" asked DH, staring at the pile of stitching stuff.
"Then say what you have to say and be done." On her lily pad, the princess waited impatiently. Oh, to be human again!
Evil SMIL screwed up her Mill-Hill-beady eyes and recited:
"Loran, loran, WIP, let this frog a princess be! Belfast, Ribband, and Gazelle; no more web-feet, all is well! Perfect works again to stitch with fibers fine and colors rich! Tools all handy! Chocolate near! Charts all printed nice and clear! Custom framing! Best of show! Stash supplies are never low! No miscounting! No cat fur! SPELL REVERSED-BE WHAT YOU WERE!"
There was a loud crack like a hoop breaking, a sound like ripping muslin, and a blinding flash like an Ott bulb exploding, and there, sopping wet and wearing a lily pad on her head, was the princess! She wore DH's bits of hand-dyed linen and a wide, radiant smile.
"My beloved!" cried DH and scooped her lovingly from the pond. He held her tight as fabric for needle-punch, heedless of the mess the water was making of his reversible-blackwork trimmed shirt.
"Oh, my love! Ribbit! I thought I'd never be myself again! Croak!" caroled the princess. "Oh, my! Ribbit! I suppose some things may take a while to wear off!"
Just then a rag-tag crowd came tumbling down the path from the castle. "My darling! My baby's a person again!" sang the Queen. "I've needed you so much; you've no idea-I've got hoop marks on my linen and you're the only one who can get them out." The King looked around him with a puzzled expression. "Good to see you again, dear. You're all wet. Say, have you seen that talented frog about anywhere? I want to see if I can teach it to play checkers with me..." Piglets squealed piercingly and played in the mud at the pond's edge. Royal siblings played noisily and squealed in the mud of the pond's edge. Round and round they went like floss on a bobbin-winder. The Royal Nursemaid tried vainly to shush them all and wipe them clean with the corner of her cutwork apron. The princess just laughed and hugged everyone and promised to stitch needle-rolls for them all.
"And what about me?" All eyes turned to Evil SMIL where she stood like a tall sack of undone laundry ignored in favor of stitching. "What happens to me, now?"
The princess turned to her. "Thank you."
"You're thanking me?"
"Yes. I forgive you."
"After all I did to you? I was as awful as a full-color chart spread over 6 pages in 4 separate issues and with the key only printed once and one corner obscured by an advertisement, and you *forgive me*?!"
"Yes, because I'm sunny-natured and kind hearted. I promise not to try to get you to stitch any more. Everyone has a special talent. You hate stitching. What *do* you like?"
Evil SMIL stood pondering, like someone in bad light trying tell DMC 436 from 437. "Well..I've always been sort of good with wood..."
"That's it!" cried DH. "That gives me an idea!"
Time passed, as it does when collecting stash and not finishing WIP's or UFO's, but the princess, her DH, and her not-so-evil MIL were busy with a WIP of their own. Between the three of them, they came up with major improvements on the stitching stand DH had once made for his froggy wife. He took care of the engineering. The princess made sure it was fully adjustable and had all the features a stitcher could want. Not-so-Evil MIL selected the woods, sanded them to a satiny smoothness, and concocted a varnish that would never yellow even the most delicate fabrics.
The whole palace was invited to a big party with M&M, cheesecake, peeps, all sorts of delicious snacks, decorations by Martha the Steward. It was more exciting than the debut of new DMC colors! At the height of the merriement, they unveiled their invention.
"Ooooh," said the Queen.
"Ahhhh," said the Royal Nurserymaid
"Nifty," squeaked the piglets and the royal siblings together.
"Keen-o," admitted all the ministers.
"What's it called?" asked the King
What was it called? The princess, DH and Not-so-evil MIL stared at one another as blankly as a pre-finished bib waiting for a baby saying... In their haste to finish the job, they hadn't stopped to think of a name.
Finally, "I know!" cried the princess. "Of course!" She puffed out her cheeks, made her eyes go bulgy, and proclaimed, "Gripit! Gripit! Gripit!"
The rest, as they say, is history.
"Legend of the Gripit," Copyright ©1997, 1998, 1999 Monique Reed.
All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the author.