Yesterday while having a manicure, the lady said to me, “very short nails”. I said, ” yes, I practice the piano and I stitch and I use my hands a lot.” She just smiled sadly at me. You see, in a nail salon, long, beautiful nails are the goal. I just wanted mine to be healthy, clear and polished.
This counted cross stitch piece I did several years ago (wow) measures about 12 ” X 14″. I stitched it on oatmeal colored linen. It has yellowed in just that amount of time. I stitched over two threads as one. This particular piece took somewhere around 90 hours to complete.
I really love the rhythm and rock of the needle with counted cross stitch. It makes me happy. I love to hear Jeopardy on in the background and stitch away, while Mr. Right shouts out the answers.
When our boys were younger and homework and writing was going on, I would sit and observe quietly, while they worked away. I have stitched at playgrounds while they played and all sorts of sports venues while we waited for the game to begin. I have stitched in airports and airplanes looooong before you were seen as evil if you dared to bring a two-inch pair of scissors with a blunt end and a needle on a plane of innocent people.
This particular sampler, I remember sitting in a chair, then a straight back chair, then a box, then the floor……..all in one day. The packers were boxing up our household goods for a military move. I had to be there, but could not help (insurance forbids folks from helping). So I stitched and stitched some more.
Almost every time a new President is Inaugurated, I am in front of the television, watching the pomp and circumstance, all day long and yes, stitching. You know I am serious, when I get up early, do my chores, put on something for supper to simmer all day and then nestle in to stitch.
Some people are lucky enough to have one piece or one sampler. I have taught cross stitching, I have made several for gifts. In the last 15 years or so, I have been keeping a few for myself.
I am fascinated with the sampler. In the days gone by, no paper to be had. So a person would stitch a sampler (practicing the alphabet and numbers), stitch their name, the date, animals, people etc… and then pass this piece around as the “pattern”. People would copy it, insert their name and date and pass it on.
Many times, in the late 17th and early 18th century, the letter J would be left out. The idea was that you could practice the letter I and then the loop of the J would be practiced with other letters. I have one sampler that I have done this.
Sometimes, I would finish a piece on say, March 28th. However, I have stitched one of my kids, nieces’, God children and now Grand babes birthday into the piece. I just thought that someday, when everyone is dividing things up my things, they would pick the sampler with their birthday stitched into it. 🙂
I have been sad to watch all the small businesses selling counted cross stitch patterns, thread etc.. go out of business. I now order all my patterns and fabric and threads on-line. Good selection, just not the same. I love to see what others have done. I love to compare and share and learn. There is a shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma and one in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania that are on my bucket list. Yes, I am coming to visit one day and I am bringing a sack lunch. I am staying all day long!
Why? Why are all the small handicraft business closing their doors? Why is it not a valued and honored skill and tradition? Are we spending so much of our free time taking a chance at a Casino? Is our free time eaten up with going to the latest and greatest restaurant or playing a computer game for two hours to “pass the time”? Are our crafting dollars being spent on the newest gadget and the latest must haves?
I was reading that every house hold needs a quilt or two or seven. Every bed in the house could utilize 2 or 3 or more. Each person we meet could wrap up in a quilt. There is a never-ending amount of people who would love a quilt. To quilt is a skill and it just happens to be very popular right now.
Yes, I adore quilting. I adore hand quilting. Going out of style very quickly. Folks want their pieces machine quilted and fast. I love the colors and the fabrics. I will continue to quilt. I do find great joy in the art of quilting. It is a hand craft that brings me a lot of satisfaction.
I guess most of us don’t “NEED” a sampler that took 90+ hours to make. Most of us don’t want to spend close to $100.00 to have a piece of needlework framed. A framed piece hanging on the wall will not keep us warm at night.
I must say, I still smile every single time I walk by that piece and the others. It warms my heart. I still love that first stitch. I love the wrinkled piece as I make the pattern come alive on the linen. I love the idea of my Grands having a piece that was stitched with love and skill.
I love the process. I really love the idea of making something of value to pass on. I am grateful for the skill I have built.
Popular or not, I will continue on. Every single day of my life you will find some piece of needlework I am creating.
Idle hands are the devils’ playground.
Sometime today, you will find me stitching. I would love to hear what you are creating in you neck of the woods.