March 11, 2012

In The Beginning . . .

. . . 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.


  1. Congratulations on finishing such a big and long-enduring project! One of the few good things about a project taking that long to be finished is that the length of time it takes seems to increase the amount of pleasure when it is finally done!


    1. Thank you! It still gives us all much pleasure when we looks at it!