I’ve gotten back into needlepoint lately. Counted cross-stitch, to be precise.
It’s great on multiple levels.
Even using a pre-planned design, working on a needlepoint project involves creating something that has never existed in the universe before. There is something primally satisfying about the act of creation.
This time around, I’m developing the design myself. I have an idea, and I’m planning out sections as I go. I picked the colors that I wanted (shades of coral and moss green, my favorites, with a tiny glimmer of yellow). Some of the specific patterns and fonts I’m stealing from other sources, but the overall plan is mine. I’m greatly enjoying the anticipation of seeing the execution of a design I’ve conceived.
Needlepoint projects are a mini-lesson in logistics. Do I start from the right or from the left? Do I do one stitch at a time, or go through the row one way and then back the other way? Letters first, or decorations? So many questions to answer.
I’m not a needlepoint expert, so I can’t give you answers to those questions.
But I can tell you that working on a project like this is a tiny way to stretch your brain in the arena of planning and execution. You know where you want the project to end up, and then you have to make all of the medium- and ground-level decisions to get to that end point.
Most needlepoint projects can’t be done in one sitting, so it’s also an object-lesson on working on a project bit by bit until it’s finished.
You can take this knowledge and extrapolate it to other areas of life.
While it sounds like the complete opposite of the long-term benefits, the thing that I like the most about needlepoint is the instant gratification. Every stitch that you finish is there, stitched into the fabric, for you to admire. That stitch, and all the stitches surrounding it, have changed the texture of the fabric forever. You can feel the difference if you run your finger across the stitches.
And that happens every single time you work on the project.
With other types of long-term projects, you don’t always get the satisfaction of a job well done until the very end. Cooking can be like that, and definitely event planning is like that. But with needlepoint, there are pretty things to look at (even if it’s just the colors!) at every step on the way.
I like the idea of meditation, but I’m not huge on the traditional practice of it. Experience has shown me that it’s valuable to stop thinking (in words) for a period of time, but I feel that it’s more important to shift the mode of thinking than it is to stop thinking altogether.
When I take a ballet class, I can’t focus on anything else. When I play music or focus on a drawing, my thinking shifts into those ways of thinking and all my verbal worries evaporate.
Same thing with needlepoint.
When you’re focused on creation, you’re not focused on yourself or what’s wrong with the world. Better for all involved.
Consider trying out needlepoint. It’s fun, satisfying, and therapeutic.