Have Your Say

15th October 2021

Finding Joy, with a Side of Crochet

In All Stitched Up! issue #297 we opened the newsletter with a discussion about joy. One of the reasons we stitch is because it brings us so much joy. Whether you’re the most accomplished stitcher in the world or you’ve just picked up a needle for the very first time, needlework offers us an abundance of pleasure. There is so much joy in so many aspects of stitching and we have stories from you to reflect just that.

Bette Kelley shared with us that much of her artwork reflects her own version of ‘looking with intent’, a corollary to the current emphasis on ‘listening with intent’. She points out that so many people walk around, apparently oblivious to the world around them as they stare intently at their phones. She laments that they are missing all the sights, smells and sounds around them. 

She encourages people to just go out and look!

Through seeing detail and appreciating what is here and now, Bette finds it brings a richness to her own work.

We received an email from a new reader, Barbara J., who shared with us her own story of joy tinged with sadness. Barbara is currently mourning the loss of her adored and talented mother. It was at her mother’s knee that she learnt to sew, making dresses for her peg dolls from her mother’s off cuts. Her mother worked hard keeping Barbara and her siblings clothed and fed by taking in sewing and holding sewing classes, as well as teaching needle skills to primary school students.

Since her mother’s passing, Barbara is now having to sort through her sewing room. This means deciding what she is going to keep and what she needs to give away. Most of the fabric she’s found has a story or memory, which makes it difficult to part with. Furthermore, Barbara has all of her own notions and accessories but is going to try to fit some of her mother’s possessions into her collection. 

Now, when she has a bit of spare time, Barbara will take herself off for a joyful trip down memory lane. She’ll pick things up from her Mum’s sewing room and let the memories, and sometimes tears, flow. Barbara is consoled by the fact she has two granddaughters who are both creative, so she knows her mother’s treasures will continue to be used and she’ll be able to pass the skills and knowledge on to them in the same way her mother did for her. Barbara said:

‘There is so much joy in having a needle and thread in your fingers. It is so much more rewarding than swiping a screen!’

We agree wholeheartedly with you Barbara.

Finally, Lynda Steele wrote that her moments of joy came when she started art classes 15 years ago and her teacher told her to start looking at things around her and begin defining the colours. From that moment on, she really started to see what colour the stone of an old building was; what colour the flowers were; in fact, anything she saw around her. It brightened up how Lynda saw the world – and it is something she’s continued to do until this day.

Hopefully there is a little something for all of us in these stories. Whether it’s spending a few extra minutes each day taking the time to look carefully at something we would normally walk past, or really considering its colour, texture and shape. Perhaps it might inspire your needlework in ways you hadn’t thought of before. Or perhaps it will simply succeed in bringing you joy.

De Haakrol Facebook Group (source)

You might also remember in All Stitched Up! issue #297, a reader shared a link to the Dutch Facebook group ‘De Haakrol’ where members got together to create a crocheted sampler roll. The organisers of that group contacted us and gave us a wonderful story about why they started it.

Yolanda and Gera said that in the 16th and 17th centuries, girls were often given lessons in handcrafts. They were taught useful crafts such as knitting, crochet and embroidery, which were seen as important for their future lives as housewives. Girls learned different techniques and different stitches, which they practised carefully. 

What they made was then sewn into a long piece that could be rolled up. As they worked, records were kept of what was made and how it was done. As a result, the roll become a reference work and a demonstration of stitch mastery.

Nowadays, these kinds of rolls are made mostly for fun. In the past, there were no books to learn from, so these sampler rolls were vital for passing on skills. Today they are made simply to honour our ‘foremothers’ and take part in living history.

It is wonderful that these rolls are still stitched, knitted and crocheted simply for the joy and pleasure they bring.

If you have any sampler stories to share, or you just want to share your own moments of stitching joy with us, we’d love to hear from you.

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