Redux, Redux

A friend is considering stitching a rug. “Do it!” I proclaim, “Stitching is so soothing.” Like a rosary, the repetitive motion is thoughtless; it steadies the mind, allowing it to take liberties. Rhythmic and reassuring, the threading of the needle causing pause and concentration, then the rasp of the wool against the canvas. In and out, over and over. And if your reverie is disturbed by the slo-mo of the replay or the recount of the trivia of the day, it matters not. Not like losing the place on your page, the interruption of critical dialogue or the bother of the counting, purling, or casting off. If you are good, or practiced at least, you can look up over the edge of your glasses and offer a meaningful, “Mmmm-hmmmm,” or, “Wow, that is really something,” without so much as a hesitation. Even if you are not, if this is a new endeavor, you can just stop, needle half in this stitch, half in that, while you confirm that, yes, of course you are watching, listening, before you travel on your way to the resolution of the day’s tangled threads.

The image, above, is of the late Russell Lynes, a writer, who, at the time of its publication (HG, January 2003) was the president of the MacDowell Colony. The piece was a reprint of an article from July, 1972. Of his passion for needlepointing Lynes said, “As we grow up we become more and more confined by patterns of socially acceptable behavior. But how we spend our leisure does not need to conform to patterns. What I stitch into a canvas is what I feel like putting there.” He also noted, “Needlepoint nearly took over my house.” This is something I can completely understand.
Photography by Dean Brown.
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20 thoughts on “Redux, Redux

  1. Mrs. B…. and what are you needlepointing at this time, something very interesting I am sure!

    Art by Karena

  2. This could be the start of a good chapter in the book. (I'd love to read pages and pages more just like this.)

  3. I agree, these are lifetime projects isn't the real point- to Start, rather than to Finish. Somewhat my idea of A Stitch In Time. Here you perfectly express it. pgt

  4. Lynes was a wonderful writer; have you read his intro to that 1960s decorators book by Katharine Tweed (has chapters on Rose Cumming, etc). Title escapes me. And his brother was the great photographer George Platt Lynes.

  5. i have read a number of russell lynes' books – one being "the good old modern"- v good- never knew he stitched. i agree with your stitching description – "soothing, repetitive, steadies the mind" and especially "looking up over the glasses…mmmmm…"

  6. What a wonderful word comparison of what it is like to do repetitive stitching. That is exactly how I feel whenever I get the opportunity to do hand quilting.

  7. A – I love your way with words. I am always forwarding something to someone (usually my sister). B – That patchwork pillow in the photograph is exquisite!

    Kathy B

  8. I will share my summer projects, both complete and incomplete, sometime soon. Thanks for the recommendations on Lynes books as well – I will look them up.

    And, thanks as always, for enjoying the writing as much as the pictures.

  9. I want to get back to my needlepoint because it is a beautiful thing to stop and to start, unlike knitting, I need to know where I am. I love getting lost when working on a needlepoint.

  10. Patricia – you are always creating something – truly, I don't know how you do it.

    And, Court, thanks!

  11. Thank you for writing the best justification of needlepoint that I have ever read. Needlepointing is enjoyable in and of itself, aside from the finished product, which may be quite beautiful, but is not really the point.

  12. Thank you for mentioning the McDowell Colony. It was the first philanthropic project of of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority.

  13. Russell Lynes is a Lucindaville favorite. The photo reminds me of William Lygon, the 7th Earl of Beauchamp, who embroidered the chair covers at Madresfield, the inspiration for Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead.

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