This is my response to the question posed by Naomi – What does sewing mean to you?
I sew because I am (was) a Guide. This is the first sewing project I really undertook, although it is not (quite) all my own work. It was my Grandad’s army blanket – my sister has the matching pair – and my Nan sewed on the first 20 or so badges. I have had it since the age of ten, and now, at 39, it is ‘finished’. Well, it’s never quite finished, but I think it’s full. Over the years I have sewed on badges that have been swapped at local, national an international levels, those that I have bought at camps or events or places I have visited, and those that have belong to other people. It started with a ring of badges around the edge, and has worked it’s way to the middle, with many badges having been re-positioned over the years. It is a talking point on camp, a conversation starter as we compare badges, and a gigantic memory of fun times with others. It was on my bed when I was at university, as a way of staying connected to home.
My stitches have definitely improved over the years!
As you can see, this piece was completed in the summer of 1996. I was 18, and had just started work on my Queen’s Guide Award. One of the sections required that I started a new personal skill, and developed it. My Queen’s Guide Advisor enjoyed cross stitch, and suggested this was something that I could do. I liked the poem, and designed the whole piece. Each of the images around the edge mean something and are related to that summer – Orchestra tour, first aider on Brownie pack holiday, camping with PHAB, a trip to Dominican republic and a summer romance. The mice also have a meaning, but I cannot recall (or find the piece of paper that explains it, which I thought was attached to the back. It’s probably inside the frame…). There’s a bee amongst the flowers, and finally my initials and a reminder it was for my Queen’s Guide.
I completed a couple of large scale kits during my time at University, and then life as a teacher got in the way. About five years ago, I started taking regualar train journeys with a friend. Some days we’d sit and chat, other days we’d gaze out of the window, but most days we’d do both, which meant reading was out of the question. I found instead a small cross stitch kit that I had, and tucked that into my bag. I can sew and chat at the same time, and it feels like I’m keeping busy. This moved on to sewing on the train regardless of who I was (or wasn’t) with; it’s a good conversation starter, if that is what you are after. I find that stitching helps me to switch off, you have to be concentrating or else it all goes wrong, and feel a sense of achievement when I finish, as I have never been particularly ‘arty’. Once framed though, these cross stitches become art, and are something to be proud of.