03 February 2011

Into the wayback Machine

My mother stitched when we were growing up. I have memories of her working on Told in a Gardens when we would go to my aunt's for vacation. I do remember going to the cross stitch shop in Virginia Beach as a wee lickle sprout. I was fascinated with the sheen of the threads and the way you drew a picture with floss; OK, I'm still fascinated by this.

I wasn't allowed to learn to stitch. My elementary school teachers told my mom I lacked fine motor skills. I realize now this was because they were insistent upon me learning to write with my left hand curled around the paper, with the paper at a precise angle, the measurement of which I couldn't tell you if I had to to save my life. I wouldn't do it, because I saw no need for the exercise. My abysmal drawing skills probably factored in, but we see how far that's taken me. So, instead of letting me adapt their way of doing things to a way that would allow me to excel, they told my mom something was wrong with me, and she thought I was developmentally delayed. Nope, just left-handed. I also liked to jump back and forth between things, and she thought I wouldn't pay attention long enough to finish a project that required counting.

I could stitch no-count pictures. That didn't require a lot of skill, I guess. I don't think they thought I'd finish. But I did. And something happened. I wanted another one. So it was off to MJDesigns for a kit--kits and rotating were natural parts of stitching for me.

(Oh, man, was MJDesigns a haven for stitchers back in those heady days of the late 80s and early 90s. Aisle upon aisle of needlework, or so it seemed to me. And aisles of charts. Everything one could want, all laid out neatly and invitingly. I can't stress how wonderful it was, and how I underappreciated it. It was only when MJDesigns closed and I'd bought everything that I loved at Michaels and ACMoore that I started shopping at an LNS.)

And I chose a design of bunnies. It took me all year. (I've often asked myself why it took a year for the early projects, when they don't seem to be THAT hard, and I wasn't particularly busy--we lived in a small town and I didn't do a lot of activities, illegal or legal, and I don't remember what we were doing that took up so much time. I'll never know). And this is how it ended up:

My father and I framed it with sticky board. We bought the frame at MJDesigns. I didn't realize people actually paid other people to frame for them. It seemed so easy, and it probably was, thanks to the stickyboard. I realize now, looking back on those days when my dad would frame my project (because my dad always framed my fair entries, we don't see eye to eye much, but he was always there with tape and pliers to do it for me), how much we lose in life just because people tell us what we are trying to do is hard. Whether it's framing a cross stitch project, stitching a Stoney Creek, learning to drive a stick, or trying to accomplish career goals, it only seems to become hard when other people tell us it is. Back then it was just a matter of popping it in a frame that matched the size pretty good, tacking it down to the stickyboard, and going. Am I better or worse because I know better?

The frame's a little battered from being stored under the dresser when my teenage tastes changed, the red floss at the top ran (yes, Virginia, regular floss can run too.), I entered it in the fair and didn't win, but I did learn all stitches have to go the same direction (I can remember the judge with her magnifying glass looking at it), and I'm pretty sure those French knots need lazy daisies around them, but it's pretty good for a kid who lacked motor skills. I even got really brave and initialed and dated it (I don't do that anymore.)I learned to stitch counted cross stitch that summer, and moved to my first big piece that fall. Yep, that one took a year too, but it was a start.

It's good to occasionally look and see where we've come from. This is not a favorite piece of mine because that bleeding red looks wretched, but it's good. If nothing else, it proves my teachers were wrong. I urge you to find an early work of your own, and enjoy it, even if it's just to show you how far you've come.


Donna said...

I love that you have this piece still. Everything that I stitched early on was given away. I kept none for myself. And the bunnies are very cute!

Meari said...

I enjoyed traveling back through time with you. What a great story. Thanks for sharing it.

I do my thing and you do yours. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, then it is beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped--Frederick Perls