Since autumn of last year I have become quite hooked on stitching. I use this rather nondescript term as I have yet to find a word that properly describes what I do. Stitching can cover embroidery, needlepoint, cross-stitch, tapestry, rug making and no doubt many others. What I do is probably a form of Needlepoint, but I'm not too keen on using that term as it conjures up images of young (and not so young) ladies daintily making a pretty picture of a house or an alphabet sampler. Usually in cross stitch. Which may also explain my aversion to cross stitch patterns. I am not too keen on dainty though I do work in rather simple stitches. My first finished attempt was this sampler. This was worked on a Penelope canvas (This is a double weave canvas and so two threads, not just one, are woven together to form a mesh) and features the Jacquard, Hungarian diamond and Scotch stitches, though most of the design just uses a simple vertical stitch. The threads are Anchor Tapisserie wool. I'm not sure about the colours on the outer edge.
I made this design myself based on a stained glass window hanging we have. Other designs I have also made up myself while most are adaptations of patterns I have come across in books or on the internet. The bookmarks are stitched on Aida 14 count band and use three strands of DMC Mouliné cotton. In all I must have completed about 25 bookmarks and give some of them away to family and friends. I have now run out of the Aida band fabric and will give bookmarks a rest.
My current project is somewhat larger in scale. This is a Bargello design on 18 count Aida using two strands of DMC cotton. (Bargello is a form of needlepoint in which (typically) only straight stitches are used, usually in geometric patterns.) I found the design on the internet and it uses stitches of two lengths, over two threads and over six threads of the canvas. This is what it looks like at the moment.
I like to stitch most mornings for an hour or two – at least three mornings per week. My workstation is the table in our front room. The windows are southwest facing – so I get plenty of light, and sometimes even sunlight! The windows also overlook the front garden, so it is a pretty peaceful place to stitch away.
I like stitching as I like to feel I am creating something – however simple. There is also an intensity and relaxing quality to this kind of manual work. You do need to concentrate on following the pattern. On the other hand most of the time the mind is free to wander, meditate or whatever. I usually listen to music, either Radio 3 or a CD. If I can get a good audiobook from the library I will listen to that. I am not very good at just listening whether it is to music or something on the radio. I guess that is one of the many reasons why stitching feels good for me. I get to do something creative while indulging in another favourite pastime.