. . . there once was an unfinished piece of needlework. My mother started it many moons ago, but it remained incomplete. Maybe I was bored one day and asked for something to do. Maybe she found it in a fit of cleaning and thought of me. Whatever the reason might have been is long lost in the sands of time. The design is of Persian descent (I think) - a central tree with animals all around it. It's about 18" x 15" and the colors are muted but lovely: navy, tan, light blue, rust.
My mother started in the center, but by the time I got it the threads had changed dye lots (can you tell?). I was about seventeen when she showed me the basic tent stitch (a name I didn't learn until years later), and I set to it. I had no book to show me how, and asked no teachers to give me guidance. I didn't use any sort of frame or stretcher bars, and managed my own way starting and ending threads by holding the tails on the back and stitching over them as I went along.
It took me about five years to complete, stitching regularly for a few days or weeks and putting it down for months at a time. It was so big I honestly thought I'd never finish. One day I just picked it up and didn't put it down. To this day I'm still not quite sure how or why it happened. I'll never forget the feeling I had when I laid the last stitch at my aunt-in-law's house on Thanksgiving Day ten or eleven years ago. The wave of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment was indescribable. I knew immediately it had to be a gift for my grandmother, then my oldest living link to my own family traditions of embroidery.
And so it began. Since then I haven't been the most prolific stitcher ever, but slowly my skills have improved and I'm constantly learning new ones. I talk about it all the time (ask anyone), and I focus my projects on presents for friends and family, but none of them share my passion. So I obsess a little, alone in my little stitching world - taking classes, subscribing to magazines, tossing almost all my books except those that deal with needlework or inspiration for projects. And that's just fine.