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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Why "Just String"?

Some might read the title of this blog and think it's belittling my love of stitching. It's actually quite the opposite. Here's the story of how "It's just string!" has become one of my mottoes!

It all starts back in high school, when I was dating the boy who would eventually become the man who is now my husband. One day I was watching my now-MIL working on a cross stitch baby sampler. That was the start of my addiction. My MIL put a needle in my hand and introduced me to the wonders of needlework.

Fast-forward about 10 years. Then-boyfriend had since become my wonderful DH, and I was still stitching. MIL had taken a hiatus from needle and thread due to issues with carpal tunnel syndrome, but was once again stitching. My SIL had also started to learn. At some point in any family get-together, our works-in-progress would come out, we would trade advice on technique, and set to work! During one such gathering, my then-BIL (SIL's then-husband!) remarked, "I don't get it - it's just string!" At the time, I just shook my head.

Over the next few days, though, I thought about the second half of his comment. I had always looked for a challenge in stitching (still do, in fact!). I never really understood why some stitchers look at a new (to them) technique and say, "I could never do that." To me, any style of needlework is worth a try, and presents a new challenge! What's the worst that could happen? Most beginning pieces are small (although I don't always subscribe to this!), and I might make a horrific mistake and have to toss the piece. Oh well - I learned s
omething from it. There's no point in being intimidated by a new technique. It's just string!

Take hardanger for example. Yes, you have to cut threads. Yes, all counting before cutting had better be correct. Yes, you have to cut on the correct side of the kloster blocks. But even if a cutting mistake is made, it can usually be repaired. Why? Because the fabric, too, is made of just string. It can be unraveled and rewoven in the place of a miscut thread. Or, in the case of a really big error, the piece can be restarted. While it's disheartening to have to discard something with so much time invested, it's not a catastrophe. It's just string.

To me, a stitcher that is curious about a new technique, tries it, and is dissatisfied with the result, is miles ahead of one who is too intimidated to try it in the first place. The former at least has learned something they can apply to future work, or at least has learned that they don't like the technique, or perhaps aren't ready for it now. The latter has learned nothing - but may still be curious!

So go ahead - don't be intimidated by a new technique, just because it "looks hard". IT'S JUST STRING!!! :-)

3 comments:

Kathryn said...

Ha, ha. For years my DH called my needlepoint and cross stitch, "Crochet". I guess that was the only string art he knew the name of. Although I was peeved at first and tried to explain the differences (I DON'T CROCHET), I finally just smiled and gave up.

Although my beloved MIL used to do a lot of needlepoint, even she seems boggled by my doing cross stitch and 18 count needlepoint. Too small for her! My SIL and nieces barely passed home ec in school, so no one in the family stitches now, but me.

Jeanne W. said...

That's typically my response when somebody refers to my knitting - "I don't knit!" (Actually, I know _how_ to knit, but nerve problems prevent me from knitting for more than 15 minutes or so - my fingers go numb!) I don't try to explain the difference - I just give them a good "catch-all" word, like "stitching", or "needlework". My BIL knew what it was called, he just didn't understand our interest in it! :)

MysteryKnitter said...

Jeanne W: I am sorry for that problem. It must be nasty. Kathryn: Sometimes men just can't see the difference.