I’ve previously written on the number of pieces that I have unfinished – and even more kits and charts that I have bought and then put away and never even looked at again.
I’ve become interested, however, in just why didn’t I finish these pieces of embroidery? Why did I buy that particular kit? That chart?
Some of them, I can honestly say that they were bought as an expression of love. I have a kit that my mum bought me a couple of months before she died – and I cherish it as it was the last gift she gave me. It’s still in the plastic bag from the needlework store – as yet (2 years later) I can’t even take it out and look at it. I’m not sure if I can ever stitch it – because by doing that it means that the gift is used.
It seems to be a pattern with me – I have another table cloth kit that was the last Christmas present my grandmother gave me that I have never touched – and grandma died 20 years ago.
Somewhere in my mind, I’m thinking that if I work these pieces, then the “new” of the gift is gone. I’m totally ignoring that if I do stitch them, I will have beautiful practical pieces of embroidery that will be visible memories of these wonderful women who taught me to sew.
I know embroiderers who buy new kits and charts as a way of spoiling themselves. Even if they do intend to stitch it as a gift for somebody else, they are indulging their passion for embroidery. Often, they will then get home with their purchases, look at the cost and think “I could have paid a bill with that” or “I should have spent that on XXX for the house”.
Rarely do we keep kits or charts that we buy and then decide that we don’t like them – they are the ones that get given away or sold on e-bay or similar sites. We have no emotional attachment to them.
That brings me to UFO’s. Often these unfinished pieces are ones that we have some sort of emotional involvement in. I’ve had UFO’s that I’ve happily passed to another embroiderer to stitch. I have a UFO that I stopped working on because I had made mistakes in it (my Or Nue piece), BUT – I can’t pull it apart because I have an emotional involvement in – the design was mine, and it was to be a gift to people I respect.
Other UFO’s I have I stopped working on because something happened in my life whilst I was stitching. Looking back, I can honestly look at these pieces and say “Yes. I stopped working on that because XX happened and I just couldn’t pick it up again”.
In one case, it was because the piece was to be a gift for a friend who was expecting a child. She miscarried, and I laid it aside – never to be finished. She’s had other children, but this particular piece was for that child.
Looking into myself, it seems that all these decisions mark emotional events in my life – an event that either caused me to purchase or receive the embroidery to do, or that occurred when I was in the process of stitching.
I have gone through my stash and cleaned it out – and every single piece I have, every chart, every UFO, represents a part of my life that I am not prepared to get rid of.
Once again, I have found that embroidery represents not only a hobby, but a way to mark passages in life. Whether I stitch a piece to deliberately represent that passage, or whether it just happened to be something I was working on, this is my life.
And one day, when I am ready, I will pick these pieces back up and finish them. Perhaps then, that passage in my life can be laid to rest, the memories securely stitched in place.
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© 2010 Megan McConnell