Stitch and Time


I promise this won’t turn into all stitching, all the time, but there was an interesting piece in The New York Times about needlework on Tuesday. The article reinforced all that I knew to be true (even though its focus was knitting.) “The repetitive action of needlework can induce a relaxed state like that associated with mediation and yoga.” “When my hands are busy, my mind stays focused on the here and now.”

Many of my canvases are large. People sometimes look at the 18 x 18 square and say, “That would take me forever. Could you make them smaller?” For some of the designs, smaller does not make sense. And, truth be told, other than those that are novelty, I don’t think pillows should ever be smaller than 18″ square.

But beyond that, I think the time put in should be viewed in a different way. “How long will that take you?” people ask me as they watch the movement of the needle, the canvas draped across my lap.  I could calculate it, though I never have.  What difference does it make how long it takes me to create? When I’m finished I will have something that I love for my home, or for a friend, that could last for generations.  I’ve made something.  I’ve put my heart and my time into it.  There is nothing you can do on your phone that will deliver that kind of satisfaction.

You can find the piece in the Times here.

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16 thoughts on “Stitch and Time

  1. I have worked on a large piece on and off for over a decade. It’s stored in a favorite shopping bag in a closet. The last time I worked on it was in 2009 in NYC when my godfather was in hospice; dying. He loved to wake from time-to-time to see me sitting there, stitching. It gave him a great sense of comfort. I will never forget it. Maybe it’s time to take that bag out of the closet again.

    1. Winter is a great time to work on a big project. Just a few minutes a day. Maybe it will bring you comfort again, too.

  2. I completely agree on not being able to calculate “how long.” I’ve been working on a needlepoint piece for the last couple of years. Not that it’s taking me that long to stitch, but that long to find the time and peace of mind to sit and do it. Life intervenes sometimes, you know? But it is meditative. Maybe I shouldn’t have picked a pattern with such complicated similar colors. I’m discovering a new-found need for reading glasses, dammit. But it’s all good.

    1. Oh! If you are just discovering reading glasses, I envy you. Go slow. It’s not a race. I’ve worked on projects like that, too, but those subtle variations create such beautiful finished canvases.

  3. I have said for years that human beings need to create things and it is becoming a rare thing these days. I am happy to say that both of my adult daughters are needlepointers–and they’re better than I am!

  4. I love your designs! I’m now working away on a Christmas stocking. Years ago I stitched one for each of my children and now I have a son getting married so that means adding another stocking! I agree with your thoughts regarding the time spent. The joy derived from the creating is worth any amount of time spent. Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. Yes! Our current obsession with smart phones is robbing our society of creativity, connectedness, productivity and the ability to focus. Thank you for weighing in on this serious topic. xoxo Mary

  6. I call if flow therapy and I never need it so much as I do in winter. “bigger is better” is my motto for selecting needlepoint pieces. I’ve done, and will do again, very complex pieces that I paint myself but for “flow” just give me a few colors, wool (love Planet Earth Yarn) and at least 18 X 18 and I’m a happier woman. I “watch” tv while I stitch but couldn’t tell you what the image looks like, as for my cell…it is downstairs in my bag waiting for the next day when it will be needed. It is definitely not needed while I’m stitching.

  7. I have been wanting to take up needlepoint, and maybe your designs will be the nudge I need. One thing I’ve found with raising children is there are so many pockets of 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there when I would love to have something to do with my hands, but it has to be something I can set down when it’s time to get back in the car/teeth are finally brushed/their turn to swim, etc.

    I’ll have to see if YouTube can actually teach me how to needlepoint, though. If it’s a skill where I need to carve out time for a live person to teach me, I’m not sure it will ever happen.

    1. Molly, if you have a good needlepoint shop in your area, there would be someone there who would be happy to teach you. Often shops have open stitch time for people who are getting started or just like to have company.

    2. I have small “travel” projects that slip into my bag-small canvas, few colors-so I always have something to do. You will be pleasantly surprised how quickly you can do a set of coasters, or a holiday ornament, just in those small snippets of time.

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