Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Needlework Story

When I was about seven-years-old, my mother began teaching me to do needlepoint and how to knit. Being a visual learner and a bit artistic, I quickly picked up on her love for needlework and I gladly worked on everything she gave me. The next year, when I was eight, my mother and one of her good friends decided to start their own business. They were both artists, and they both loved antiques and needlework, so they decided to open a little shop that sold antiques, artwork, and needlework. It was an eclectic little shop that looked like it belonged on the main street of a quaint little New England town; however, we were living in Colorado, and their shop was housed in a brand new strip mall. It was a thrill for me to be part of the planning and opening of the store. My mom let me help pick out needlework books, colors of yarn, and many pre-made needlework packages, with needlepoint, cross-stitch, crewel, and various other needle related hobbies. I used to go to the shop in the afternoons after school, and I sat in on the needlework classes that were being taught, as well as sitting in the large, wicker rocking chair, working on my own projects.

My mom's partnership in the little shop did not last long. Though she was dedicated to it, she had me and my younger brother to care for, and the full time responsibility of her own business turned out to be too much for her. After a couple of years, she sold her half of the shop to her friend, and came back home to be with us full time. But the dye had been cast, so to speak, and she had instilled in me a lifetime love for needlework.

Over the years, I continued to do needlework, occasionally knitting a scarf for someone for Christmas, or doing a pre-made needlepoint picture. When my first child was born, a son, I began my biggest project yet; I made him a needlepoint Christmas stocking with tin soldiers across the front and his name printed along the top cuff. This began my era of Christmas stockings. Next, I made one for my husband, then my mother, then my baby daughter, who came along five years after her brother, and my next daughter who came just one year later. As the babies came, my needlepoint slowed a bit, but I pressed on. I finished my older daughter's stocking when she was about three-years-old, and the youngest daughter's stocking when she was about five. Dotted in between the large stocking projects, which now don our walls every Christmas season, I worked on smaller projects and finally taught myself to do cross-stitch. For some reason, over the years, I had resisted doing cross-stitch because I wasn't as fond of the look as I was of needlepoint; but once I did my first project, I was hooked. I stitched together my son's ham radio call sign letters for him to hang on the room of his wall, among various other projects.

Today, now that my children are in their teens, I have finally begun working on my own Christmas stocking. I have one already, but not one that has been stitched personally by me, in needlepoint, like the others in the family. A few years ago, my children all pushed me into starting a stocking for myself. All our stockings are different, and so far, the one I'm making for myself is my favorite. It has a picture of a snow-covered church, surrounded by evergreens and Christmas lights. I began the project not long after I purchased the materials, but I found that I have not been as urgent and diligent about finishing my own stocking as I was about those of my family members. Plus, life is busier now with family activities and homeschooling. I still work on my smaller projects from time to time, but I only work on my Christmas stocking about two months before the holidays. I sit and stitch while watching the annual Christmas movies or while on a long car ride.

Perhaps one day I will actually finish my stocking, but in a way, I think it will signify the end of an era for me. My family will probably be all grown up by then and that will be sad. Of course then, perhaps I will begin stockings for my grandchildren!