Lost in her art, lost for hours, lost in her own world away from the pain, the panic, the people. She can take it as slow or as fast as she wants. Sitting alone for hours, clearing her mind of nothing except for strategies to make different stitches and knots. There is no other activity that completely clears her mind in the same way that this does. Color palettes were the only worry; no more problems with friendships or worries about who she would be with forever. Finishing an outline of a pattern that had formed in her brain was her utmost concern; no longer thinking about finishing school, finding an internship, or a career she loved. Stitching one row at a time until the pattern was filled. There was physical evidence that her work was done. She considers maybe one day she could teach someone else the tricks of the trade. So she writes out her seven steps to stitch.
Step one: find a design you are drawn to
Pick anything you’d like. The world tells you there are so many choices, so many directions you could take with a single piece of string and a needle, all you need is the perfect outline. So you begin your hunt. You find what you love but then realize your skill set, what you have learned so far, could never complete a design to the beauty you see on a screen or in a book. That idea must be thrown to the side, never to be brought up again. More ideas come and go and the realization that you will never match up to the talents others seem to possess haunts you. You might crave to be better, but you are in your place and in that place you must remain. So you pick a design that can be completed and will be admired by the ones you love. Hopefully, you won’t let them down.
Step two: decide on a color palette
Again, so many great choices. The color wheel is endless and the supplies you have seem overwhelming. Then again, limits of nature knock at the front door of your mind. Your finalized color palette becomes a mixture of what society tells you looks good, what your own experiences have to say and the feelings you want to provide for whoever views your piece when you are done.
Step three: gather your materials and assemble the hoop
The least creative part of the entire process, but it still has to be done correctly or the whole design may fail. The stakes are high and more than anything you wish you had a nicer pair of scissors or a way to hold the hoop with more consistent pressure. Wishing you were someone else, simply watching the task unfold, rather than doing it yourself.
Step four: begin stitching
Usually the best way to do this step is to begin with whatever will be farthest away in your image area. Focus first on what the viewer will see last. Take your time to make sure the stitches are the way you want them to be. Pull the string slowly, don’t let it catch on itself and get tied up in a knot. Who knows how long it might take you to unravel that mess? A mess you know you don’t have time for in the moment. So you take your time, like you are told. Slowly stitching away and seeing the picture unfold, you begin to get excited. Pulling the string faster with each stitch, wrapping the string around your fingers to lead it through the linen at a greater speed. It feels like it’s a race, but you are alone. All by yourself, you race against no one to a finish line conjured up in your own mind. What’s the rush?
Step five: switch colors when you need to
As you continue on with your design you will find that not everything is the same color and you will need to reach into your color palette to find something new. Don’t get rid of the string you had before though, you may need it again later. Leave everything you have out on the surface in front of you. Do not hide your resources from yourself, or you will forget about them.
Step six: add knots and fine details
Once the basic outlines are complete, fine details can be added. Remember to take precautions and think about where you want the details to go. For a design to be more beautiful and of higher value, there is always more risk involved. The knots will be tighter and the stitches will be harder to take out if something goes wrong. Do not let anything go wrong.
Step seven: maybe you’re done?
It’s been a matter of hours or maybe days and you think you are done. Take a look at your original design sketch and take a look at your final product – are you done? You seem unsure, ashamed that the back of your linen looks like a tornado came through your thread box. At least it can be hidden if the hoop and linen are never held up to the sun. As soon as you are done find a location to display it. Hopefully you are proud of your work and want to show it off, even if you are the only one that it is shown off to for a while.
Was the time and effort worth it? That’s up to you. Will you try again? Improve your skills? Maybe. Only time will tell and you know we have a lot of that these days.
She steps away from her tutorial, happy she could relay what she had repeated over and over down onto a piece of paper. However, reading through what she had written, a tidal wave of realization hits her. Maybe her mind isn’t empty when there’s a needle and thread in her hand. Maybe it is full and ready to burst, but the instant distraction keeps the explosion at bay. In her step by step instructional, her mind seemed to wander. Considering expectations put upon her, regrets of what she has done and continues to do.
Lost in thought, painting with string becomes a therapy session. A one on one with her own mind. That in itself is a terrifying thing, but strangely satisfying. Despite her anxieties, the simple rhythm of her stitches keeps her grounded.
It is unknown if this instructional will reach anyone. She’s lost her motivation to teach another person what she has learned to love so much. Her motivation comes and goes like the rising and falling tide; a pattern but not the same pattern every day. One color, one thread, one thought at a time. Is she really only thinking about embroidery anymore?