I’ve been stitching the skirt of Celtic Autumn for hours now – first, doing all the gold outlining (that took nearly ten hours just on its own), and then filling in the shading. The terracotta part was very detailed, using five shades (some of them very close shades, too), but it’s coming out beautifully. As I expected, I didn’t enjoy stitching the pale cream band quite so much, but that part’s all done, now.
As I’m working my way down the skirt of this Celtic lady, I’ve noticed that different kinds of stitching make me think of different things. Or, rather, stitching of different kinds gives me opportunities for different kinds of thinking.
Let me explain:
Usually, I do surface embroidery of various types – particularly stumpwork. Lately, I’ve been attracted to cross stitch again, after several years of not doing any. For my business, Janet Granger Designs, I do miniature needlepoint, on fine counts of canvas and silk gauze.
I’ve found that each of these types of stitching make me think differently as I’m doing them. For instance, with stumpwork and other surface embroidery techniques, although the planning stage can be quite tedious and needs attention to be successful (such as when I’m transferring the design to the fabric via tracing, or working running stitch over pencilled lines on tissue paper), once that part has been done, then the actual stitching is incredibly relaxing. I can get into an almost meditative state while I’m doing it. Each stitch almost ‘places itself’, as I don’t have to be consciously aware of what I’m doing, and yet I’m really concentrating – but in a relaxed way. It’s as if my left brain has been switched off, and my right brain can ‘get on with it’. So, I can really relax with surface embroidery.
Cross stitch (or any counted technique) leads to my brain working differently, I think. If I am constantly referring to a chart, then what I tend to have running through my mind while I’m stitching is something like ‘three green squares, miss one, two more green ones, miss one, down a line and one to the left, stitch five, miss two’ etc etc. So, there isn’t much opportunity to go ‘away with the fairies’!
Needlepoint is similar to cross stitch in the effect it has on my thinking, in that the design needs counting from the chart first, but then there is the ‘right brain’ part of the project where the background needs to be filled in (which isn’t usually the case with cross stitch). So I can get to the meditative state with that too, to some extent.
It’s not that one type of stitching is better than the other, it’s just that I hadn’t noticed the differences in the way they make me think before.
One way that I have found to introduce a bit of ‘meditation practice time’ into my cross stitching is to repeat affirmations while I’m stitching some of the simpler areas; either a short phrase with each up or down motion of the needle, or one word each time. I’ve got some of the Louise Hay affirmation cards, and also some of the Abraham Teachings (Esther Hicks) cards, and they both have good affirmations to work with.
It probably makes me look a bit strange if anyone were to watch me stitching, as I tend to mumble them just under my breath, but I have found that they help to keep me focussed on ‘inner stuff’, which is important to me, and I get my stitching done at the same time!
Does this approach resonate with anyone else?