Unforgettable Life Lessons Learned From Making Embroidered Wall Hangings
If there are two things I enjoy doing, almost equally, it is writing and embroidering. While one is a rewarding career choice, the other is a cherished hobby.
For as long as I can remember, I have been a firm believer in the benefits of having a hobby and I’m lucky to have found a pastime that not only gives me creative satisfaction but also teaches me important life lessons, enabling me to shine in my career.
As surprising as it may sound, embroidering has made me a better writer.
What Is Embroidery?
The term ‘Embroidery’ is derived from the French word ‘broderie’ meaning embellishment.
Simply put, embroidery refers to the technique of decorating any material such as fabric or canvas, using a needle and thread. It is a creative handiwork, capable of bringing alive any pattern or background design within minutes.
The art of embroidery came into existence as early as 30,000 BC. Since then, it has been appreciated and celebrated across different cultures, all over the world including India, China, Middle East, ancient Persia, Japan, Medieval England and Europe.
According to Greek mythology, Goddess Athena was exceptionally skilled in weaving and embroidery, and it was she who was challenged to a competition by a mere mortal, a maiden named Arachne.
Interestingly, embroidery is a great art form for kids too as it strengthens hand-eye coordination, promotes creativity, improves concentration, and teaches them essential life skills like patience and hard-work.
Different Styles of Embroidery
Though there are a large number of sewing techniques available (Cross Stitch, Running Stitch, Stem Stitch, and Chain Stitch), I find the Long Stitch to be one of the easiest forms of needlepoint canvas embroidery.
In the past couple of years, I have had the opportunity of stitching many long-stitch embroidered wall hangings that continue to add beauty and character to my living abode. Though the process is tedious and time-consuming, it has been an immensely fulfilling, rewarding and learning experience.
WHAT EMBROIDERY HAS TAUGHT ME ABOUT WRITING & LIFE
#1. Finish What You Start, Always
As much as I like selecting new and uncommon embroidery patterns, every once in a while, I end up choosing a design that is exceptionally pretty but overwhelmingly complex. More often than not, it’s only when I begin working on the design, do I truly realize its complexity and level of difficulty.
Stopping midway and giving up is an easy choice as I can always find another design. But having the determination to continue and finish what I have begun has always turned out to be the right choice.
In fact, I’ve done some of my best handiwork when I’ve had the drive to complete what I’ve started and the perseverance to move past self-doubt.
‘Perfect Paradise’ is a superb example of this positive mindset.
Having the discipline to bring each job to fruition is an essential life skill, especially for a freelance writer.
Whenever I’m hit by the notorious ‘Writer’s Block‘, words simply refuse to flow and I’m tempted to leave a write-up midway.
It is during such times that I practice perseverance and self-belief, a skill that I have been able to hone through embroidering ‘The Perfect Paradise’.
ALSO READ: Writing When You Do Not Feel Like It
#2. If at First, You Feel Overwhelmed, Try A Different Approach
When you have the drive to finish what you’ve begun, you’ll find it easier to work through any self-imposed feelings of doubt or insecurity. The moment you feel intimidated by a task, take a break and come back to it later to give it another shot. Look at the problem from a different perspective and you are sure to find an apt solution.
While working on ‘The Front Door’, I felt overwhelmed, just looking at the intricate design of the creepers and the quick color variations.
I could hear my inner voice, loud and clear –
I can’t do this. This is way too complicated. What was I thinking when I chose this design?
A few minutes passed and my better judgment took over. I wasn’t going to give up without trying a different approach.
After studying the design in detail, I decided to tackle the difficult portions first, one color at a time. This gave me a lot of free hand-space to work through the complex portions of the design with ease, moving on to the rest of the design. This systematic approach worked like magic!
Within two weeks, I completed the design, had it framed and gifted it to my mother, who loved it instantly.
Writers, too, must always find the best approach to handle a difficult writing job, a demanding client or that over-active inner critic. These simple yet powerful words always boost my morale –
I have done it before and I will do it again. I can do this.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed or doubtful, I look at this picture of ‘The Front Door’ and feel confident, instantly.
#3. Patience Pays
We are living in a world where all of us are conditioned into seeking instant gratification.
From posting pictures on social media and expecting immediate reactions to getting in touch with friends within seconds, life seems to be programmed to the fast-forward mode and there seems to be nothing we can do about it.
It is no wonder then, that patience seems to be a lost virtue, and this is where embroidering has helped me the most.
I don’t think I’ve done anything in life that has required as much patience as embroidering! Working on a large, blank canvas, one stitch at a time along a faintly visible pattern demands every ounce of patience I can muster within me. And no siree. There is no shortcut or quick-fix to motor the process; just plain simple hand movement from the first stitch to the last.
Often, it is the urgency to see what the design will look like on completion that keeps me motivated to keep going, stitch after stitch and bring the embroidery to fruition.
Whenever I gaze at ‘The Village Fields’, my heart swells with happiness, pride, and contentment. It reiterates my belief in these two simple words – Patience Pays.
Every writer, especially a freelance writer must have loads of patience to make it on their own in the immensely competitive world of online writing. Success is never guaranteed and it may take years at a stretch to make one’s presence felt and to start receiving paid opportunities.
What’s more, bagging a freelance writing opportunity requires patience too. Right from pitching for a job and negotiating rates to agreeing on terms and finally, receiving an advance payment, there are a number of steps to complete before you can actually start working on a project.
Whenever I begin to feel impatient, I take a look at ‘The Village Fields’ and remind myself to trust the process.
Savour the waiting. All in good time, I say!
#4. Everything is Falling In Place – Keep The Faith
Embroidery has taught me that it is just as important to look back as it is to move forward and to always believe that everything happens for the best.
To complete one long stitch, I have to work the needle through the front of the canvas to the back and come back to the front again, and as I work my way forward, one stitch at a time, I can’t help but notice how the reverse side of the canvas looks far from pretty.
There are ugly knots, trailing threads that need finishing, and numerous complex multi-colored threads crossing over one another in carefree abandon. However, despite the mess at the back, the front is slowly taking beautiful shape and coming alive!
Come to think of it, isn’t this the story of our lives? If we look back, we can surely identify at least a couple of events and situations in each one of our lives that have made little sense and have left us feeling confused, unhappy and even hurt. But looking at the larger scheme of things, we will realize that the mess of the past was actually giving shape to the beauty of today!
When I look at the beauty of ‘The Journey Homewards’, I can’t help but appreciate its complicated reverse side which, though nicely concealed behind the frame has been instrumental in giving shape to this stunning piece!
Writers, too, must have complete faith in the writing process and believe that any struggle they’re facing right now is actually giving shape to a better, brighter and more successful writing future.
So whether I’m overwhelmed by the complexity of the client’s brief, feeling the pressure of working for a referral client, rattled by the hours of research that has to go into writing that perfect piece or bothered by writer’s block, I always tell myself –
It’s all going to come together beautifully, you’ll see!
Each time I come across a difficult artwork or demanding writing task, I remember this line I read somewhere –
When faced with an uphill struggle, think of the view from the top.
So how do you motivate yourself?
Do you have a hobby that fills you with happiness and teaches you something valuable?
I’d love to hear about it! Do share your comments in the section below.