For me, needlework would have to be my topic for the letter “N”! I’ve done a variety of types of needlework ever since I was a little girl, and today it is indeed the therapy that helps me relax after a hectic day and helps to satisfy the desire to create something artistic.
Like many, I learned needlework from my mom. Throughout my childhood, she created incredible clothing for my Barbie and other dolls, as well as amazing sweaters and clothing for me. She shared with me her talent for needlework, beginning with stamped designs on aprons, pillow cases, and dresser doilies, teaching me the basic embroidering stitches of cross stitch, lazy daisies (great for flower petals), and stem stitch. Next she taught me machine and hand sewing, knitting, and crocheting. As a young teenager, she supported my venture into needlepoint where I learned to experiment with different stitches and techniques on detailed hand painted canvases. I am eternally grateful to her for showing me the world of needlework.
When I went to college and became self-sufficient, I moved on to counted cross stitch as the patterns and materials were more affordable than hand painted canvases and special fibers. It was with counted cross stitch that I truly appreciated the therapeutic value of repeating the rhythm of poking the fabric and pulling the thread with the needle while I decompressed from my ever increasingly complicated life. I spent years stitching counted cross stitch patterns, experimenting with the gauge of the fabric and a variety of fibers to enhance details of the design. I remember the pieces that I worked on as I worked through a divorce, the death of my parents, the loss of many animal companions, and other life traumas. Needlework would help me work through my issues and feelings as I stitched away most evenings.
Within the last decade I’ve expanded my needlework skills by learning beading, ethnic embroidery styles, and canvas embellishment techniques. There is still so much to learn! This weekend I’m headed to a needlework retreat—48 hours of unstructured stitching time with 31 other like-minded women who are more than willing to share their knowledge and love of needlework. I’m going to learn how to stitch Hardanger and enjoy being immersed in the celebration of needlework, in a rustic retreat environment. I can’t wait!