When I was a little girl, my grandmother taught me the joys of embroidery. I often admired her beautiful hand-stitched flowers, which adorned table runners and linens. We were a very formidable set, my grandmother, my mother, and I. I first started with cross-stitch, being ever so careful with the thread, and placing my work carefully in a see-through plastic case — those hoops were like a holy grail. I looked forward to seeing my designs come to life; there was a certain art and joy and sense of relaxation in guiding the needle through the fabric and seeing the beauty of what time and hands could create. It started a lifelong love of sewing, and opened up a world of opportunity to me. Those simple bonding moments, night after night, led to learning how to use a sewing machine, shop for patterns and fabric, and most likely shaped my love of fashion and all things having to do with design. I learned how to sew on sequins and make flowers from them, as well as embroider designs and hand string beads and seed pearls. I watched both my grandmother and mother do so for many years. I even wore some of the hand-beaded sweaters to school, often coveting what was in the hall closet for my own. There was a certain kelly green sweater that I always borrowed with silver and crystal beading — somehow, it always managed to find its way to the back of my chair.
Like most things, time passes, and the need for handcrafted items fade. Years ago, I saw a budding designer recreate the art of Matelassé (stitching to look like quilting) and was instantly reminded of my joy of creating with my hands.
In these times, I like to do things to ease the anxiety a bit. I’ve taken time to resort back to the things of childhood, such as baking, needlepoint, and embroidery. I find that keeping your hands busy even in a simple cross-stitch pattern helps to keep a sense of calmness and brings about a sense of balance to your life. Just seeing daisies take shape on fabric makes me smile once more. Maybe my ancestors had the right idea — keeping things simple was far easier. I’ve learned not to rush through things, and I’ve applied this even to my everyday life. The routine of completion in itself is rewarding, seeing how you can start from nothing and wind up with something beautiful. They taught me more than sewing; they taught me patience and perseverance.
Now, when I pick up those hoops and draw the thread through the needle, I see that I’m making the pattern of life.
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