Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Stitcher's Blogging Question

Suppose we say that there are two types of stitchers.
There are those who enjoy the “process” of stitching. They stitch for stitching’s sake and if something gets finished, so much the better, but it’s not necessarily the end goal. Primarily, it’s the application of needle and thread to cloth that makes them happiest.
Then there are those who are “project” stitchers. They move steadily through their projects, certainly enjoying their stitching time, but finding their greatest joy in the completed stitching.
If you had to pick one to describe yourself, which type of stitcher would you be? I imagine that we could all say that we fall somewhere in between, but really think hard about this and try to pick just one. And once you’ve decided whether you’re a Process or Project stitcher, tell us if your recognize that approach in other parts of your life.

I'd have to say it depends on whether I am stitching my own design or some one else's.

I am definitely a Project Stitcher when stitching someone else's designs. I purchase the charts because they immediately inspire visions of finished projects. I almost always know from the moment of purchase whether a piece will be framed or sewn up in some other finish, whether I will keep it for myself or give it as a gift, and , if keeping it, where and when I will display it. For philosophical reasons [a need to declutter and simplify my life as I approach 60] and economic reasons [a husbanding of my leisure time budget as I choose to invest in retreats over stash], I have been stitching primarily from stash for the past year and a half, limiting myself to five new chart purchases annually. So far this year I have purchased only one chart but have purchased a little over $200 worth of fabric and floss to work on charts already in my stash. So clearly, I am still supporting my favorite shops and the industry as a whole ... though I do worry about the survival of my favorite designers ... if the trend to stitch UFOs and WIPs slows down the sale of charts substantially, what will be the impact on individual designers? This Project approach tends to typify my personal and professional life as well: I am nothing if not goal oriented. I run a religious education program for a little over 500 children in a suburban Catholic parish. I have daily to-do lists, monthly deadline lists, project lists, catechist lists, formation lists, e-mail address books organized by class, grade level, sacrament prep or session ... well, you get the picture ... my pastor once described me at a parent meeting as the most organized person he knew, "a woman who has lists even for days that do not yet exist!" People have begun to believe that a clip board is one of my natural appendages. I delight in crossing an item off my to-do lists or adding an item to an inventory list. I move systematically from task to task, working at each until it is done, multi-tasking only when I have overlapping [and sometimes overwhelming] deadlines ... I prefer to concentrate my focus. Even at home, I tend to focus. When I do housework, I do one room at a time, moving the out-of-place detritus along until I come to the room where it belongs ... I often end up with a basket full of stuff that has no place [usually odds and ends purchased by my husband on a whim] and either have to find a place or dispose of said stuff [when in doubt I place objects on his pillow, probably annoying him tremendously, but better than throwing out a treasure].

But I am clearly a process stitcher when it comes to my own designs. Once I have got enough done to establish my vision, it is laid aside until I can finish it ... often for years. I have to make a special effort to finish my own designs: not because I have lost interest in them but rather because I have succeeded in realizing the vision to my satisfaction. Sometimes that happens at the sketch stage, sometimes at a stitching stage and other times, so near to completion that it is just plain silly not to take the last few hours to complete a piece ... but I don't. Some of my projects never seem to make it beyond the research stage: I have an extensive file of photos of Indian [Asian] textile patterns [from saris], several books on Indian embroidery, and I follow a blog that discusses Indian embroidery techniques ... all in preparation for designing a sampler based on the Ghandi quote that "There is enough food in the world for everyone's need but not everyone's greed." Other designs actually get to the swatch stage and beyond.

Some examples are below:
Here is my Beach Find Pansies: Inspired by some shell fragments found on the beach last summer, I started this piece, meant to be the central band in a handbag. I do carry this piece in my current stitching bag but I always seem to pull out some other designer's work. I think that the problem is that my own designs are often based on mastering a technique or using found objects within a piece of textile art ... and once I have proved I can do what I imagine, I'm done. I don't have to have the finished object in my hand because I already have it in my head. However, this blogger's question exercise may just prompt me to finish a few of these projects of my own.

This is my Fertile Circle's Needlebook Design: The front is done except for couching a thick Caron wool as the snake circling round the nests. The back is done except for backstitching some blending filament between the bargello rows to conceal the linen threads [the raw linen threads don't show up in the photo but do in hand]. Just a few more hours of work and this could be a finished needlebook ... but though I always carry it in my current projects stitching bag, I never seem to pick it up.

However, the record is held by a crazy quilt top I designed and feather stitched, presumably for my baby sister's 16th birthday. Her 50th birthday is 41 days away and I am only now making plans to head to the local quilting shop to get batting and backing material to assemble and bind it. At least all the crazy 70s colors are back in style again!


Donna said...

Wow. I bet your sis is going to be amazed. What a great thing to do.

Kay said...

I would say I am a "process" stitcher because I enjoy the process more than finishing off the project once it's completed.