My latest pursuit. I’ve been working with an embroidery kit. Oh yeah, I did tapestry and cross stitch as a child, but I’ve never before pursued the solitary activity of choosing which stitch goes where, with a tiny needle and tinier stitches.
It’s been a revelation.
Why did no one warn me? That embroidery could be so emotional? Every single stitch in this project hugs to it the most precious memories. I know exactly where I was sat the first time I punctured that black canvas with a glinting needle. I remember the joy and distraction of learning a French knot whilst watching a film. The mantra I repeated in my head as other parts of the embroidery took form and the times I cast it aside as the gloaming merged into night and I had no more light by which to see. All I had left to do was listen to the quiet.
But then, the next morning, I’d pick up the bamboo hoop again.
I already know that I’ll remember every imperfect stitch and what they have meant in my life. The scent of jasmine in the air, the work pursued or put quietly away. The summer of 2019.
Embroidery captures the most heightened emotions, I’ve learnt. It’s small, intricate, demanding of perfection and concentration. Your life bleeds into every stitch, whether you like it or not.
And this led me to consider what my other forms of making mean to me.
This, for me, is the adrenalin rush. The sprint to the finish line, wanting a dress – NOW! – and something that makes my brain spark and fizz. It can be meditative, in moments of hand stitching, but largely it’s an exercise in euphoria. Or disappointment. Either way, it seems to be full of highs or lows.
The most meditate of pursuits, I’d argue. You have to play the long game, with no instant results. I can spend nine months knitting a garment, only to pull it on and hate it. No matter. I still love knitting. It bleeds life, emotion and thought out of my mind. For which I’m very grateful!
And now a new hobby. Embroidery. All said above! Emotional as they come. This isn’t mindfulness, it’s connecting with yourself – and sometimes, for some of us, that can be painful. Consider yourself warned!
So, what is it for you? How do different activities make you feel? And is there one that’s better for your head?