A Deliciously Mixed Bag

16th July 2021

A Deliciously Mixed Bag

Remember when you were a child and you’d go to the corner store armed with a coin or two to buy a bag of mixed sweets? Perhaps you knew them as mixed lollies or mixed candies, but whatever they were called, who didn’t love plunging your hand in and not knowing what delicious delights you’d pull out. Well, our mailbag has been exactly like that this week! What a delicious treat it has been to hear from so many of you about so many different things.

Jan Jones wrote to us in response to our article in All Stitched Up! issue #285 about ‘Embroidered Maps’. The article reminded her that she still owns a tablecloth that was stitched for her mother in the 1950s. It had an embroidered map of Nauru on it and had been gifted to Jan’s mother by the wife of a Nauruan university student who had been living with them. Although Jan’s mother passed away in 1985, she has kept the tablecloth as it had been a regular feature at the table when Jan was a child. This precious piece of memorabilia now has brown stains on it from storage, so Jan would love some advice on restoring it and the best way to keep it safe.

The discussion on comparisons and competing has been ongoing – it is clearly a topic we all think about a lot. Susan Tigwell agreed that comparing ourselves to others unfavourably is neither uplifting nor productive. But she also made an important point that even comparing ourselves to different stages of our own life can be difficult. Like many of us, Susan’s eyesight isn’t as good now as it used to be which has made close work challenging.

Furthermore, Susan’s physical limitations have meant she can now only sit in an upright chair for 10 minutes on a good day. Both of these things have led her to refocus again on the ‘doing’ rather than perfection. As she says:

‘I can only do my best, and that’s good enough.’

Self-comparison is something Pat Demharter has also been considering. After recently reviewing some of the work she completed years ago, it was nice to realise how much she has improved. The project pictured is one she completed whilst she was raising a family, working and running a household and to this day she wonders how she achieved it. Seeing it has helped her to remember that the only person she needs to compete with is herself, and the only stipulation is to be the best she can be.

Pat Demharter’s completed stitching project

Ann shared a story about threads that all of us can relate to. Recently she was offered a stash of threads by a friend whose mother no longer wanted them. Ann was conscious of the fact she already has an enormous stash, so she was set to refuse the offer… until she saw them. She said they were beautifully stored in a box in colours you could only imagine. She couldn’t take her eyes off them. ‘So,’ she asked, ‘did I turn them down?’

Of course, she didn’t! Not only had she rescued them from potentially ending up in a skip, but she now has the pleasure of sorting through them and imagining what projects she’s going to create with them!

Finally, Marla J. Redding sent us a story about being an inspiration. Marla has always loved stitching and crafting and has tackled many different techniques over her life. Since she retired, she’s tried a whole lot of new things, with each challenge reminding her how much she still has to learn. Like many of us, she’s always felt that her skills were inadequate – which sounds to us like that old problem of comparing oneself to others!

However, recently, Marla was given the loveliest compliment. A friend had decided to try knitting for the first time. She told Marla that the reason she’d given it a go was because she had seen Marla constantly trying new things, and her friend wanted to be brave enough to do the same. Marla rightfully observed that often we don’t realise how much of an inspiration we can be to someone else, and it doesn’t matter what stage of development we’re at.

‘So, maybe there is an advantage to not being perfect just yet.’

Indeed there is, Marla. It means we’ve always got new things to discover, new techniques to master and new skills to add to our repertoire. That’s why we keep coming back to needlework day after day without ever losing our love.

Thank you to everyone who wrote in this week. We’ve got more fantastic stories from our readers next week, but in the meantime, keep writing as we love our sweet bag being stuffed full!

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