The Biggest Problem With Slow Stitching Is The Time Involved. Or Is It?
By Kit Dunsmore
There are plenty of benefits to slowing down and taking the time to make something by hand. The health benefits are physical and mental. Slow stitching lets me breathe naturally and to go at a comfortable pace. I can do my needlework and relax at the same time. Slow stitching means getting back to basics, working with needle and thread, and reconnecting with generations past. My grandmother crocheted and embroidered. My mother taught me how to knit and sew. When my hands are creating fiber art, I am connected with my family and my heritage. I am part of a larger world.
“Slow stitching means getting back to basics,
working with needle and thread,
and reconnecting with generations past.”
The biggest obstacle to slow stitching is time. It’s easy to believe we don’t have time for handwork. Most of us don’t have as much time to create as we would like. Life keeps getting in our way. We have dinners to cook, laundry to wash, jobs to perform, bills to pay. When we finally get a hard-won hour to ourselves, dismay strikes. Fiber art projects can take from tens to hundreds of hours to complete. Looking at the scrap of work accomplished in a short time can be discouraging. We fear we must find a faster way or that the job will never ever be done.
Being in a hurry is all about our relationship with time. Our modern world meets our needs so quickly that we expect everything now. Need hot water? Turn on a faucet. Need dinner ASAP? Hit the drive-in on the way home or microwave a frozen burrito. Need information about something? Google and Siri have an answer for you in seconds. It’s no wonder we’ve forgotten how to wait for something we really want.
In America, we are also taught that the early bird gets the worm. Being first is often more important than being the best. Everything is a race. We are told that the guy who works the fastest and makes the most stuff will be the most successful. If we believe that we are competing with everyone else, then it’s easy to get caught up in a need to hurry. The first one there is going to get the sale. We need to make make make as fast as we can so we’re first. But if we take the time to think and put our soul into our handmade fiber arts, we will make something no one else has ever made. Our piece will be unique, something that has never been seen before and that no one else on earth can make. Competition doesn’t enter into it.
How long did it take Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine chapel? He spent four years (1508 – 1512) lying on his back with paint dripping into his eyes, painting 343 human figures. But those paintings took much longer than four years to create. Michelangelo spent his whole life drawing, painting, and sculpting. He himself mentioned all the hard work he put in to become a master. Along with that hard work, he devoted a lot of time to his art.
No matter how it looks from the outside, everything that is made by hand requires a lifetime of effort. The artist has to live her life, learn skills, practice, make mistakes, and have ideas before she even starts on a piece. It doesn’t matter if it takes only a few minutes to draw a quick sketch or ten years to make a quilt. Both things took the artist’s lifetime to create.
When considered in this way, it’s obviously a mistake to focus on the amount of time slow stitching takes. The process is a journey and the time spent is about much more than the object we are making. Fortunately, we’re in charge of how we think. Our relationship with time is our choice. We can make a commitment to slow stitching so that we can focus, breathe, and sew at our own pace. We can schedule regular time for creating and protect that time fiercely. We can look for lost time and steal it back. We can let others convince us to rush or we can choose to live in the moment, connected with our work and the past, even if it is for only a few minutes a day.
We have more control over time than we think.
About Kit Dunsmore
Kit Dunsmore is a fantasy writer who loves the fiber arts. When she isn’t working on one of her novels, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she’s made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, strengthening the delusion that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. In addition to hiking with her husband and imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and looks for new ways to live a handmade life.
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