Have Your Say

11th June 2021

Comparisons and the Bayeux Tapestry | Part 2

The conversation continues! Luckily, we’ve kept the teapot warm and we’ve just opened another packet of biscuits, as we’ve received more thoughts and comments from our treasured readers.

Bellissimo by Paola Matteucci from Inspirations issue #102

We weren’t wrong in our belief that all of us compare ourselves somewhat unfavourably to others. Elizabeth Braun shared with us her experience of undertaking a City & Guild Embroidery course. Although she was a skilled embroiderer, Elizabeth had health issues that meant she felt she was constantly behind her fellow students. She also wasn’t as confident in her designing ability, so each week felt like she was ‘bottom of the class’. She’s still learning to appreciate her own strengths, but wanted to share a quote:

‘But let each one examine his own actions [or work, in our context], and then he will have cause for rejoicing in regard to himself alone, and not in comparison with the other person.’ (Galatians 6:4)

Ann Baseden also laments how the excellence we see in magazines and online can put off those who feel their efforts will never match up. She would like to see the efforts of beginners displayed too, and also asked whether any of the ‘experts’ would be willing to show off some of their errors.

In fact, we did a series in All Stitched Up! issue #231 and #232 called ‘Believe It or Not, Nobody’s Perfect’ that you can read HERE where a number of our professional contributors shared their stitching disasters with us, although perhaps it is time we did another series? As for beginner’s work, we encourage everyone, beginner and seasoned embroiderers alike, to send in pictures of their needlework for our ‘What Are You Stitching?’ segment. Whether it’s a finished piece, a work in progress or something through which you learned what not to do, we’d love to include it and share with everyone.

Regular ‘What Are You Stitching?’ contributor, Pat Demharter, does lovely work. But Pat is the same as the rest of us in believing that she could never match up to the talent out there. Comparison is completely relative! However, Pat says that we all have our own way of learning and doing things – we’re all unique. She reminds us that learning isn’t just pumping out one project after another, but rather a pleasurable and, at times, slow journey. Stitching should never feel like a factory line, churning out pieces simply to show off one’s skills. It should be an act of creativity and comfort.

Sue Donohue Smith was moved by the comparison article that she felt has changed her perception. It has helped her take more pride in what she accomplishes, no matter what her friends are doing. We’re really pleased to hear that our words have made a difference. 

There are two further thoughts to keep in mind:

Elizabeth’s friend’s comment: ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ Or perhaps simply Heather Leedman’s quote:

‘The grass is always greener over the septic tank…’

Now moving onto the Bayeux Tapestry, two of our readers wanted to share their experiences with us as well this week:

Gillian Martin was lucky enough not just to see the original tapestry, but to do a course in Bayeux stitch with Chantal James whilst she was there. She showed her completed piece to the members of her stitching group in Adelaide, Australia, one of whom was so impressed, they also bought a kit and completed it themselves. So, as Gillian says, there are now two reproductions here in Australia!

Not all of us have been fortunate enough to see the real tapestry, but Annette Rich has a magnificent book that has photos of it in actual size. Her book was printed in 1985 in limited edition, and although huge and heavy, it is beautifully presented. Annette has poured over it throughout the years and has never tired of the fascinating history depicted in it.

Rounding out our Have Your Say topics for this week, in All Stitched Up! issue #280, a question was posed about Hardanger, and Elizabeth Braun has been kind enough to offer an answer.

Elizabeth recommends working Hardanger in a hoop

In Elizabeth’s experience, she strongly recommends using a hoop or frame wherever possible when stitching Hardanger. If it isn’t possible, such as when you’re working an unusually shaped piece like a bookmark, the secret is not to pull the threads too hard. Just pull them through and let them sit comfortably on the fabric. There should be no pull on the holes in the fabric.

One of Elizabeth’s works-in-progress mounted in a hoop and a finished piece

Elizabeth commented how having your fabric in a frame makes it easier to count and check that everything lines up, which is vital before cutting!

‘Always remember, count twice, cut (or stitch) once.’

Thank you to all of our contributors this week. We’re really enjoying the back and forth that this segment of the newsletter invites, and we look forward to hearing from you as we continue our chat. 

We really shouldn’t, but OK, we’ll have another biscuit…

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