When I Put Down the Yarn, I Reach for the Embroidery Floss
Hello. My name is Jenna, and I am a knitter.
I have only just begun knitting, but I never expected it to be so powerful. One row, I said. Just one, to see what it’s like. But then . . . I couldn’t stop. I needed it. I craved the needles. I just kept buying yarn; I’d do anything for another skein. Knitting consumed my life.
But I have realized the error of my ways. The truth is, even the most dedicated knitters must spend some time not knitting. We must pry our hands from the yarn now and then to experience life elsewhere.
So what do I do when I’m not knitting? Well, I get my hands on some embroidery floss instead.
Yes, embroidery was my first craft love. As it turns out, it was indeed a gateway craft. I began experimenting with embroidery about a year ago, and I quickly fell for the freedom and forgiving nature of the art. I am prone to making mistakes, so I appreciate a craft where I can make fixes with relative ease. I was also drawn to the versatility of embroidery; from an endless array of stitches, I can create anything.
I learned to embroider from a close friend who has been selling her work on Etsy for a few years. My first pieces were very simple affairs involving the basic backstitch, the first stitch I learned. Then I learned the French knot, and things took off from there.
I am constantly inspired by historical needlework stories in PieceWork magazine; for example, the story of Elizabeth Terry’s embroidered bed covering from colonial America. The article, “Elizabeth Terry’s Embroidered Coverlet” by Kathy Augustine, explores life in colonial America and how embroidery allowed women to find a sense of beauty and stability in a harsh environment. To see this piece and read about the coverlet, see the March/April 2016 issue of PieceWork.
In the September/October 2017 issue of PieceWork, a story by Susan Strawn, “Gaman: Embroidered Mittens from the Minidoka Relocation Center,” also tells the story of finding beauty amid despair with embroidery, though this time it was in a Japanese American internment camp during World War II. Embroidery has long been a means of finding some peace amid chaos, and although my difficulties in life certainly are not on the scale of colonial American women or those in Japanese internment camps, embroidery helps me find a calm place when things get crazy.
I am still learning new embroidery stitches and techniques all the time, but I can now bring some of my more elaborate ideas to fruition. The beauty of both embroidery and knitting is that anything is possible with enough patience and practice, and finding inspiration to keep creating is never difficult when you work at Interweave. Though I am not yet a skilled enough knitter to tackle many projects in our knitting magazines, I am keeping a list of ones to work toward. Currently on my list are the elegant and cozy Dejlig Sweater designed by Emily Ringelman in knitscene Winter 2017 and the stylish Skovgaard Hat designed by Grace Akhrem in knit.wear Fall/Winter 2017.
It’s inspiring and empowering to know that anything I create in my head, I can bring to life in stitches. Whether it be knitting, purling, backstitching, or French-knotting, I’m always creating. I like to think that if we put beautiful things into the world, the world will give beautiful things back.