….have passed since my grandmother—-Harriet—handed me a fistful of floss, a dishtowel with an ironed on transfer easily seen, and a metal hoop. But my introduction to embroidery didn’t end there, Grandma sat with me—guiding me through my first stitches—outline, lazy daisy, satin and french knots. When I made a mistake, she taught me to take it out, because I would always know it was there, even if someone else didn’t see it. The gift of love she gave through those lessons has stood through the years. My stitching has been a comfort in difficult times, a source of wonderful friendships and a hobby which has warmed my home and the homes of friends with handwork—and the gift of time.
As the years have gone by, my knowlege has grown—a dear sister-in-law who taught me that cross stitch didn’t need to be stamped, another friend who insisted I try my hand at counted needlepoint and then a painted canvas. Then there was the invitation to the Hardanger class many years ago and, more recently, another invitation—this time to learn the art of Japanese embroidery. I now have a library of needlework books on technique and history that numbers almost a 1000 volumes. I have experimented with quilting, I love knitting and I believe I once knew how to crochet—and it’s just like riding a bike, right? I could pick it up again?
I have gone on wonderful retreats and road trips to explore new techniques and new sources of retail therapy. I will never forget the time that same sister-in-law and I drove about 300 miles one way just to visit Shepherd’s Bush Needleworks in Ogden, UT—to shop, and then drove back to the family reunion in Idaho that same day. It was an adventure, it drew us closer as sisters by choice and friends….and the miles flew by (helped along by a generous speed limit). A number of precious friendships grew out of retreats where we shared our love of silk floss and linen ground, not realizing that our needles were not only stitching designs on fabic but were also stiching our hearts together.
I own more kits and charts and suppies than I will ever stitch or use—a bit (or more than a bit) of excess on my part. But I do find joy in the beautiful materials that lay waiting for their turn in my hoop or frame.
I have spent some time pondering what’s next? I could go on shopping and adding to my stash, but I love what I have and if I keep adding to it, I will never touch most of what is there. And…my tastes do change over the years—I finally donated that country goose dresser scarf in mauve and blue that matched our bedroom about six iterations ago. So shopping for the sake of stash enhancement is losing its luster—although no one has suggested a road trip recently—which might test my resolve.
But I still long to test the frontiers of unexplored needlework territory. I want to try tambour work—the lunaville hook techniques that adorn couture clothing. I have at least 7 more phases of Japanese embroidery left before going to Atlanta to stitch Phase X for the Master. Stumpwork and other 17th century techniques are areas where I am still woefully incompetant. And finally the color and the passionate excess of crazy quilting draws me like a moth to a flame. So where from here? Classes—Japanese Embroidery with Kay Stanis this June and next fall. Tambour work with Robert Haven in Louisville, KY this fall and another of Tricia Wilson Nguyen’s on-line classes on raised embroidery this summer. Not yet sceduled but waiting is a class in crazy quilting with Judith Baker Montano—a bright star in the art of crazy quilting design.
Yes, I still plan to practice law—or some iteration of a career which uses my education, but in order to be whole, needlework also needs to be a part of whatever life holds for me beyond today. I lose a part of myself as months go by without a needle in my hand and I realize that it because my creativity is as much a gift of God in my life as my education.
So onward. Hopefully this will be a place to share my love of this artform and my adventures in stitching.
Thank you Grandma Buch—for the wonderful gift of your time and patience.