Celtic Autumn in alternative colours – 6

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.

Celtic Autumn after 60 hours of stitching – gradually, the skirt is getting ‘filled in’ !
…and after 70 hours. Filling in the terracotta shades was fun to do. It’s all looking much more ‘solid’, now.
Close-up of the skirt on the right hand side. The gaps that are still left are to have gold seed beads stitched on, later.

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.

A doll’s house room, showing miniature needlepoint items from my range of kits

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.

This is a bag I made for my MP3 player, using surface embroidery, gold thread, and beads

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’!

‘Mrs Waddelow’s Huswif’ – a cross stitch design from With My Needle

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.

This is stitched in needlepoint on 40 count silk gauze – stitching the background is when it can get meditative!

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?


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8 thoughts on “Celtic Autumn in alternative colours – 6”

  1. I understand what you’re saying Janet. I find cross stitch most meditation where the base of the stitch corresponds with an in breath and the cross is the out breath, just like my mindfulness meditation. Right now, though it’s a bit different because I’m concentrating of the weave of the ground fabric as I am stitching over one thread. I haven’t found that meditative connection yet, but I had a glimmer yesterday, it wasn’t clear, but with more “practice” it will become so.

    I don’t do affirmations, though, as that is not part of my “practice.” I try to let my mind be totally free, aware only of what is in this moment, observing what is in the moment instead of controlling and hanging on to the experience. Not analyzing each stitch or the piece, but observing, hearing, sensing the flow of all. Don’t know if this makes sense to anyone but me, but there it is!

  2. I am currently working on a pattern darning piece which although counted, is repetitive and after the first few pattern repeats, I’ve found it very meditative as my mind can wander. Non-repeating designs are not nearly as relaxing; I will try your affirmation method next time I stitch one.

  3. Cross stitch makes my brain hurt cos I have to count – unless it’s a repetitive design, I find that quite relaxing. I like medieval split stitch best because of the curves in the drapery.

    Can I ask you a cheeky dolls house question? Gareth’s best friend has bought his wife a dolls house and one piece of furniture for Christmas. I don’t normally give her a non edible present (everyone gets home baking) but she had been saying for ages that she wanted a union flag cushion so I thought I’d make a tiny applique one for her new house, just as a daft thing, but I don’t know how big it should be?

    1. Most adult doll’s houses are made to the scale of one inch to one foot, so I should think this applies to your friend’s house too. So, a doll would be about five and a half inches high in this scale (equating to five feet six inches in real life). So, therefore, a cushion would need to be about one and a quarter inches square for a 15 inch square real life cushion, or maybe one and a quarter by one and a half inches for a 15 inch by 18 inch real life cushion. Hope this helps!

  4. Hi, I just recieved my Autumn in the mail. I have the color change chart (ty) which to me seems more Autumn. I was wondering if I could get a chart on the leaves you added? I just love that idea.. My entire house’s decor is fall.. lol it drives my hubby nuts. But its what I like. Anyways, please let me know. I love your work. I hope someday to me 1/4 as good as you are..

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