Slow Stitching on a Simple Project

Is grief like a baby, in that once you hit the 3-month mark you stop counting time in weeks? I’m not sure if I can stop counting that way. Every Thursday marks another week without my mom, another week of getting further away from her death, further away from her life. Today it’s been 13 weeks. It has also been exactly three months. Am I ready to stop measuring time by weeks? I don’t know.

Lately, I’m also marking time with slow stitches, and not the knitting kind. With my broken hand keeping me from knitting, I have been pushed to find other outlets for my impulse to create. And so it is that I found myself digging out a little cross-stitch project I started five years ago (can that be right? I just checked, and it’s right.) I bought this pattern from sewingseed on etsy, on Black Friday five years ago. I promptly got to stitching, but only sporadically. I lost it for awhile, then found it again the following November. I made some more progress and then put away again, until a year ago, when I picked it back up right after Thanksgiving. I had gotten this far:

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I think I worked on it for another day or two at that point, and then put it back down again for a year. I guess when given a choice between cross-stitch and knitting, I always pick knitting.

But during this time without knitting, I’ve picked it up again, and I’ve made more progress:

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I just need to finish the snow and then I get to do the deer. The strange thing is, as easy as cross-stitch is, I have found the stitching lately to be very slow-going, especially those white stitches. I feel clumsy and slow and frustrated. It gives me lots of time to think and to breathe.

Despite some of the frustration involved, I’m going to keep going this time. The progress is painstaking, but, as is often the case with my crafting, it is reminding me that, if I just keep stitching, no matter how slowly, eventually something beautiful will emerge.

I am choosing to keep believing that this will be the case with grief, as well. It is painfully slow stitching, y’all, and I can’t see the whole design of it from this point. But I trust it will yield its gifts, its wisdom, and its beauty, if I persist.

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Dear France, I Love You

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This right here was my first real craft. In sixth grade, my math teacher, who was also my social studies teacher, assigned this project to the class, as a combined exercise in using graph paper and studying geography. We each selected a country we were interested in, then drew it out on graph paper. then learned to cross-stitch. The local newspaper came and did a story on it, and they included a picture of me stitching away on France. It was my very first craft of any kind, and my mother framed it and saved it for me.

It’s clear to me now that I used threads from different dye lots and I crossed some of my x-es the wrong way, but I still love this project. The colors I chose (I’ve always loved purple, and do you see the little blue x representing Paris?), the earnest 11 year-old efforts represented in the stitches, my little block letter initials and date), the creativity of the teacher, but most of all, the subject matter. I can remember how, as I stitched, I dreamed of going there some day. In first grade, I went to a school where learning French was part of the curriculum for all students, and ever since then, France has held a special place in my heart. As a sixth grade girl, the idea of France filled me with visions of culture, and art, and music, and fashion, and cafes, and, of course, romance. Now, one of my own sixth graders is taking French, and I can see the beginnings of a love of language and of travel taking root in his heart. As a family, we have been dreaming together of a trip to France; we have every hope and intention of getting there some day.

But today, there is only longing, and sadness, and prayers. Dear France, dear Paris, I love you.

Craft Friday

I love Thanksgiving and always have. I love the simple focus on family and food. I love that there are no gift-giving expectations. I love the reminder that I actually already have everything I need – and a whole lot of what I want.

Given that I actually need nothing more than what I have, I am very happy to decline the frenzy of shopping on Black Friday. I choose instead for this to be a gentle, quiet day at home, with my family. As I pick up my needles and yarn, as I put my feet on my spinning wheel, as I practice ancient arts passed down through generations, as I use tools provided by the earth and the animals, I will do so with ongoing gratitude. I am mindful of what a great freedom it is to opt out of consumerist compulsion, and what a great privilege it is to create.

So I’m joining the Craft Friday Party!

A few things I’ll be working on:

handspun colorwork mittens

handspun colorwork mittens


A test-knit for Kirsten, which I had to set aside for a quick gift knit that I finished up in the wee hours last night (pictures and story of that soon).

handspun pi shawl

handspun pi shawl


Of course!

Hello Yarn Romney, "Tideline"

Hello Yarn Romney, “Tideline”


After a few weeks of no spinning, my stash finally told me what needed to go on the wheel next.

cross-stitch!

cross-stitch!


Yep! I started this on Craft Friday four years ago – ’bout time I picked it back up!

So those are a few things I’ll be working on today. How about you?