Saturday, August 01, 2015

The Benefits of Adding Cross Stitching to My Daily Calendar

Woody and Buzz
As I have somewhat re-focused the use of my free time in the last ten days, I'm finding that two things have resulted.  My stress level seems to be going down and the number of pages I'm reading each day seems to have gone down by about 20 percent.  I'm still finding time for about 80 pages a day, and I attribute the positive result not to reading less but to my simultaneous return to cross stitching on a daily basis (and,yes, you read that correctly).  

Some of you know that I worked in Algeria for a number of years during a period of some of the worst terrorist activity in that Muslim country's history.  Needless to say, it was a stressful work location that kept me and my co-workers on full alert for danger twenty-four hours a day.  Sleep was difficult at times and all of us searched for something that would take our minds off the turmoil surrounding us.  For me that turned out to be cross stitching, a skill I was coerced into learning in the early eighties when my wife (a homeroom mother for one of our daughters) desperately needed some help preparing Christmas ornaments for the classroom (can you even remember a time when Christmas was observed in the classroom as a normal part of the school year this way?).

I found that I could totally lose myself in concentrating on the complicated stitchery patterns that required the stitcher's full attention at all times.  I also quickly learned that if I worked on a project for an hour or two an evening that I went to sleep much more quickly - and, at the same time, slept more soundly.

And, still works.

The cartoon photo is a project I'm finishing up right now for my youngest grandson's bedroom wall.  (I am embarrassed to think how long ago he asked for the picture to be done - think I started it at least five years ago.)  I just need to finish up Woody's shirt, put the spurs on his boots, and (probably) add their names in script to the empty spot in the upper lefthand corner.  

Then I'm thinking about working on this picture of the Lincoln family in the White House that I've also attached here - but it is huge and will take so long that I will probably be picking up smaller projects on the side.  Who knows?  I'm just grateful that I've rediscovered the benefits of this kind of thing.

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  1. Good for you Sam. I am a quilter and although I make many of my quilts by machine nowadays, I still always have one that I'm working on my hand. I can't have too many projects going at one time--that's my motto. I've often been intrigued by cross stitch. I just love the way it looks. Maybe I'll give a try one day. Happy stitching!

    1. That Lincoln piece is roughly a foot and a half by just under two feet in area, Maxine. More precisely, it is 408.5 square inches, with not a single part of that area left unstitched. At 14 "boxes" per inch, that comes to 5,719 of those boxes to count and "side projects" are pretty likely.

      (Can you tell I was an accountant?) :-)

  2. I think you may have given me the final push to go back to needlepointing. I used to do a lot of it, but then I stopped. Too busy. But I could definitely use something to ease stress and make me feel creative again. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I think I read too much. I need to apportion my time between reading and other things. Balance, they say.

    1. Joan, you hit on two other important aspects of regular stitching...creativity and balance. You're right; there is a feeling of "creativity" as you watch a piece come together over time. I think the fact that stitching is such a slow process, one demanding so much concentration, that the stitcher is almost surprised to look up and see what is happening with all the effort and progress being made.

      And balance...that is very necessary. I think that you will find, as I did, that your reading - if it does not completely dominate your day, every day - becomes more pleasurable and meaningful to you. It is easy for reading to go stale on us, and adding another regular hobby or activity like stitching, should help keep that from happening.