A stitch in time

by Andrea Elizabeth

I intended to do a weekly update on the progress of A Mon Seul Desir, but I was too absorbed to stop and take a picture. The marks above indicate 10 stitches on fabric that’s 18 stitches to an inch. So I’ve done about 600 stitches that equals an area of about 2×1 inches out of the 36×30 it will be. This is going to take a long time. And I’m very much looking forward to the more defined patterns further down. I don’t know if it’s quicker to keep the colors threaded individually like is shown above, because it takes me so long to consult my pattern and figure out which color is which for almost every stitch. But it is neater and it lays flatter if you go in order instead of doing a block of one color, then filling in between the spaces as I started out doing before I read the “tips” page on Scarlet Quince. Plus you don’t have to rethread needles nearly as much.

My deep thought this week, in addition to the metaphor of God’s sovereignty being the top and our view being the bottom of a tapestry, has been about ludditism. What machines have done is make it so that it hardly takes any time at all to whip out a highly detailed piece of art or equipment to give us more time to do other things. But I don’t think other things are as worthy of our time as hand crafting. It’s what monastics do between formal prayers. They fix and make things. It keeps them out of trouble. The time and personal involvement in a hand crafted thing automatically represents the value of the object. If it only takes a few minutes to produce, a similar object looses most of it’s worth. People want to value and keep their possessions. Things of little value are then disposable and replaceable. I think this leads to discontentment. We don’t want to throw away something that was hand made for us. We feel good about it and treasure it and feel that we have a link to someone. We can dwell in this link. But if that link is broken, then we take no lasting pleasure in the object. We end up forever pursuing replacements, living for the thrill of conquest instead of satisfaction with what we have or have made. This isn’t the only issue as people have always wanted more and better, even when things were hand made. But at least it slows down the process.

Slowing down is the other thing this project helps me think about. I don’t know if my habit of rushing is because in the past there wasn’t enough time to do what needed to be done, such as when I was a young nurse, and then the sudden mother of 5, instead of 2, then 6 when and shortly after I married George. But it has become a habit. And it is a stress-inducing one that also puts pressure on my kids. My M.O. is that if a bunch of things aren’t done, mainly during crunch periods, then the world will stop spinning and everything will fly off into space, further and further apart from each other till there is no connection between anything anymore. But what if you stop and take the time to get your threads parallel, and highlight the stitches you’ve done on your pattern chart, and contemplate which place is the best option to park your thread? What if it doesn’t matter if it takes years to finish this piece? All that matters to me is that I stick with it doggedly. I enjoy the concentration it takes, as well as the multitude of colors. I look forward to getting to the tree and out of the shady background. I like not needing tv or music. It’s freeing, really.