Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Zen of Embroidery


I've been doing some hand embroidery on my table runners this week, and I have rediscovered that doing embroidery with a needle and thread has a unique pleasure and rhythm to it. I haven't done any serious handwork for many years, and though I still do not want to start piecing an entire quilt together by hand, there's something very rewarding about making even stitches with your own hand rather than by machine. When they turn out good, you immediately feel the reward, and when they turn out bad, you can easily remove them and make them good. It's as though the bad never existed at all.

It's quiet, too, sewing with needle and thread, a good time to be alone with your thoughts and watch the pattern emerge slowly, slowly, like a leaf unfolding or a butterfly emerging or a baby growing. And holding something in your hand makes it possible to see details you never noticed before. There's an intimacy about fabric and needle and thread all within a foot of your eyes that reduces the world to a very tiny, very manageable space, even if only for a short time.

I think I may put aside some time every day for some embroidery, even after the table runners are completed. It's better than yoga for relaxation and cheaper than flying to a beach somewhere and, dare I say it, nearly as good as chocolate!