When you sit down to work on a needlework project, is it a pleasurable pastime or a labor of love?
And does anyone work at any hobby?
If you are thinking labor and work, may I suggest you find another pastime?
As one who has had a needle in her hand since she could hold one, I used to think that embroidery was so much fun and so easy that everyone should love it. Later, I started wiping ‘should’ from my vocabulary and I became aware that my choice of a hobby was just that … my choice!
Sometimes I would encounter a student in one of my needlework technique classes who just seemed to struggle and express so much frustration. Fortunately, it wasn’t often. I would try to unravel the situation and figure out the source of the struggle. A bad day? A problem back at home? My instruction wasn’t clear? Of those few times, I found that the struggling students had something in common: needlework was a task, not a pleasure.
(I used to joke that it would be more descriptive to call it needle-pleasure rather than needle-work but then we’d open ourselves to possible mistaken identity with folks who were involved with recreational drugs.)
If the student seemed receptive I would ask: why spend leisure time in an activity that just wasn’t fun? Invariably, the answer had to do with either making something for someone who wanted it or doing needlework to please someone else. Hmmm. Maybe that someone else needed to be in the class.
Let me make this distinction: when you’re learning a new skill or stretching out of your comfort zone, you probably aren’t having as much fun as when you’re working on a project that comes easily. I’m not talking about mastering a new level or taking on a project that requires more concentration. If you experience satisfaction as you are making progress, that’s a good thing.
When I took up the challenge of stitching on a thread-count fabric like linen rather than Aida cloth, I felt like I had to give it my all to get a good result. Soon I was stitching as quickly as I did on Aida and keeping up with a conversation! I felt terrific.
So the question is: how do you feel when you are doing a needlework project? Is it relaxing? Does it reduce stress? Are you experiencing pleasure?
Because, honestly, we have so many things we have to do that are not relaxing. That create stress. That are work. Don’t get involved in a hobby that is a ‘have to do’ and not a ‘want to do.’
After all, there are so many choices, and so little time.
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