A friend is considering stitching a rug. "Do it!" I proclaim, "Stitching is so soothing." Like a rosary, the repetitive motion is thoughtless; it steadies the mind, allowing it to take liberties. Rhythmic and reassuring, the threading of the needle causing pause and concentration, then the rasp of the wool against the canvas. In and out, over and over. And if your reverie is disturbed by the slo-mo of the replay or the recount of the trivia of the day, it matters not. Not like losing the place on your page, the interruption of critical dialogue or the bother of the counting, purling, or casting off. If you are good, or practiced at least, you can look up over the edge of your glasses and offer a meaningful, "Mmmm-hmmmm," or, "Wow, that is really something," without so much as a hesitation. Even if you are not, if this is a new endeavor, you can just stop, needle half in this stitch, half in that, while you confirm that, yes, of course you are watching, listening, before you travel on your way to the resolution of the day's tangled threads.
The image, above, is of the late Russell Lynes
, a writer, who, at the time of its publication (HG, January 2003) was the president of the MacDowell Colony
. The piece was a reprint of an article from July, 1972. Of his passion for needlepointing Lynes said, "As we grow up we become more and more confined by patterns of socially acceptable behavior. But how we spend our leisure does not need to conform to patterns. What I stitch into a canvas is what I feel like putting there." He also noted, "Needlepoint nearly took over my house." This is something I can completely understand.
Photography by Dean Brown.