24th February 2023

In a previous issue of All Stitched Up! we unpacked some thoughts on what makes our ‘work’ with needle and thread worthy. After sharing some of Stephanie Duncan Smith’s thoughts, we came to realise that much of our work’s worth comes from how we dignify it ourselves.

From the many emails we receive at Inspirations HQ, it’s abundantly clear that whilst many of us see the worth in the process of needle and thread, we often hesitate to assign the same value to its product, especially when judging our own work.

A recent email epitomised the narrative of many we’ve received over the years. 

Whilst this member of the Inspirations Community was able to articulate that her time with needle and thread is ‘a soul-healing activity’, after hearing her work was going to be shared in our What Are You Stitching? segment, went on to express that it was ‘hard to believe, especially at a time when I feel my work and skills are absolutely unworthy and useless.’

The thing we’ve learned, is that when it comes to judging our own work each of us tend to be our own harshest critic.

We’re sure that if we were to compare how we judge our work compared to that of others, our internal dialogue would be completely different. All too often, we minimise the results we achieve as we count each fault throughout, all whilst marvelling at what someone else was able to create seemingly faultlessly.

Whilst the criteria we use to judge the work of needle and thread will differ for each of us, chances are there are some commonalities. Perhaps size, complexity, technical difficulty and/or ‘perfection’ are some of the ways in which we consider the worth of a finished piece.

After reading a recent article published in Needle Pointers, the Magazine of the American Needlepoint Guild, however, we sensed our criteria broadening.

Having recently held an exhibit at their 2022 seminar, one of the judges was asked what made the winning pieces stand out, and do you know what? There was rarely a comment about size, complexity, technique, or perfectness to be found.

Instead, Cindy Powell’s judgments were made on ‘smaller’ and more ‘organic’ measures. Observations such as ‘well thought out, consistent and careful stitching, unique, balanced, a fun piece, colourful, detailed, creative, finish made it cohesive, and whimsical’ were but some of the many ways in which Cindy found merit in what was on display.

We appreciated her ‘gentle’ approach to judging and will remind ourselves of such measures when we next judge our own work, hopefully finding our judgment a little more tender than usual.

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