Posted in crafts, cross stitch, family, needlepoint, photos, Thursday Thankfuls

Thursday Thankfuls: Mom and Needlework

I’m sure this is probably a Thing somewhere, but since I haven’t seen it I’ll pretend I came up with it!

It’s Thursday, so why not write about something I’m thankful for? For this first one, of course things like “a safe place to live” and “food in the pantry” come to mind. While I am super grateful for things like that, another thing popped into my mind: needlework.

Growing up, I remember my Mom always seemed to have some project or other in her hands as she watched television. She did knitting every so often, but it seems the creative passion was reserved for needlepoint and cross-stitch. I was about nine or ten years old when she decided she needed more peace and quiet than my sister and I were giving her during the summer days, and she bought us both a sampler. It was the alphabet, numbers, and a few pictures printed in blue ink on white cotton fabric, both sisters receiving identical kits. I think my sister, who was around six or seven, got bored and abandoned her project halfway through the capital B. I stuck with mine for a week or so, finishing probably 45% of it before the summer sun and lawn sprinklers on a hot day coaxed me away from my stitching.

1969 - Mom working on what will become a needlepoint cushion for the dining chairs in Minnesota. The beagle is Pixie, and the cat in the chair is Caesar.
1969 – Mom working on what will become a needlepoint cushion for the dining chairs in Minnesota. The beagle is Pixie, and the cat in the chair is Caesar.

In 1991, I moved out to California with a bunch of friends. As the U-Haul was getting ready to pull away from the curb in front of my parents’ house, Mom held up her hand for us to wait, went inside, and a few minutes later came running out to the passenger side of the truck with an old shoebox and a couple magazines. These she passed up to me: “Something to keep you occupied on your drive!” she explained. Upon opening the box, I found dozens of skeins of embroidery floss, some envelopes of Aida cloth of different colors, an old pair of fabric shears, and that the magazines were some of her old cross stitch magazines.

I stitched my first thing since 1976 on that trip out to Los Angeles: a little picture cobbled together from bits and pieces of a sampler in one of the magazines. A few years later I took on the entire sampler, and to everyone’s astonishment I finished it!

My first completed sampler, circa 1994. Please excuse the awful creases!
My first completed sampler, circa 1994. Please excuse the awful creases!

Through the years, cross stitch has helped keep me relatively sane. It’s been a good, quiet creative outlet, and the stitch counting that goes along with it tends to soothe my nerves. (Okay, unless I screw up the stitches – THEN everything’s irritating!) It’s also something I can now turn around and give back to my Mom – and my Dad – in the form of a gift. A couple years ago I was able to stitch a project in honor of their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Hearing the happy tears in my Mom’s voice and the smiles in my Dad’s felt simply amazing.

That’s another thing: this is something my Mom has given to me. Something she learned, and something her mother and aunt learned. It gives me a connection to her and our family’s past that is unique to us – even though millions of people can stitch. My Mom is the only one with whom I have had that experience, and that in itself is priceless.

I love this skill, something I wouldn’t have if not for my Mom, her patience, and her sudden idea to hand over a good portion of her “stitching stash” to me as I left to go to California. Thank you, Mom!