Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Writing Embroidery: Skeins of Thought

Writing is an effort of untangling the skeins of thought.

Rather than rolling them up in a ball, all neat and tidy, the writer finds plain cloth to embroider them. With each strand of thought stitching through the other the writer makes a new design.

My sister and I embroidered in the back seat of the 1955 blue and white Chevy on our family vacations.

We wore skirts over our shorts when we stepped out to tour factories and museums, but stuffed the skirts and sat in the back seat embroidering in our shorts and camp shirts once the door was closed.

Mother organized our embroidery project. Squares of flowers that became a quilt.

My sister, six years older, embrooidered with fingers much more nimble. When she died, her grand daughter feared no one could show her how to make a French knot. I said, "No sweat." Fruit from those long girlhood car trips.

And, untangling the skeins of embroidery thread was good practice in untagling skeins of thought for my writing life to come.

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  1. Oh, my! How long has it been since I did real embroidery with floss? I did several crewel embroidery pictures for the house back in the seventies, but the first "sewing" project I remember doing was embroidering a bib for my newborn cousin who arrived who is barely four years younger than I. Yes, I go way, way back with the outline stitch, and probably French knots too.

    And the skirts over shorts! One summer Mother made outfits for my sister and me with shorts, sleevelss shirts, and button-down-the-front skirts that we could easily whip on when stopping to sightsee on our vacation trip from Los Alamos, NM to Gatlinburg, TN. It wasn't any easier to get into those "wrap" skirts than any other, but it was a neat idea, and yes, I remember.

    Thanks for the reminders.

  2. Back seats, family vacations, stitching stories--you've nailed it again. I admire how well you untangle the skeins of memory and stitch a pattern that shows us our lives in a new way. In my case, it's the lurching conveyor belt image you left as a gift on my "Making lemons into lemonade" blog entry. You got that one right too--bless you!


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