Since I’m already a couple days late on posting the WIPocalypse, I might as well get my own post up.
I made some progress this month on my chosen piece for the Olympics. I’ve been working on what I call my “brooding piece.” I think that everyone has something like this, either stitching related or some other activity… something to do as you’re working through thoughts and emotions.
When my dad first called me in early July to give me the news that he was at “weeks remaining” stage with his cancer, I picked up Blue Jeans and Daisies again. Because it has unintentionally become my brooding piece… the comfort piece I turn to while I work mentally. I can tell you exactly what I was doing at the time I was stitching different portions of this piece. It’s been my emotional working piece now since New Year’s Day in 2013. So this one deserves a little bit of a journey.
The first post is where the piece was as of March 6, 2013. Six days after this, my son would be born. We’d had a horrible snowstorm which knocked out our power for two days and sub-freezing weather, causing our house to dip down into the 40s. I’d gone through a pointless birthing class (pointless because I wound up having a c-section, and also due to being an OB/GYN’s daughter… I had a pretty good idea of the hell I was about to go through).
My stitching was done as I normally did – at night in bed, on my train commutes to and from work, and in the waiting rooms or during non-stress tests at the hospital to pass the time (which had increasingly been done at the hospital).
The tree was particularly special to me, as I was thinking about the family tree that was about to grow.
By late July of 2013, I’d finished “Part One” on the left hand side, and was now moving to the right into Part Two. I stitched the beehive while I was back in the hospital seven weeks after having Max. I had five days with no food, no water, and a whole ton of bed rest due to pancreatitis. So I stitched the hive. It was cute and fun and easy and killed a lot of time during which I really couldn’t do anything else. Trying to stitch with an IV needle in my dominant hand was a bit of a pain in the butt, though.
The rest of the squares above were stitched during the many hours of sitting with Max in my lap during my maternity leave. Max wouldn’t sleep unless he was in my lap, so I mastered the art of balancing a baby on a Boppy pillow and my stitching on the other side of the chair. I went insane sitting there, but this definitely passed the time and allowed me to brood over the newest thing in my life- a child, and the overwhelming depression that had slammed into my head. I stitched the flowers to try to help cheer me up. I distinctly remember crying over that sunflower.
Blue Jeans and Daisies disappeared from my rotation for a while. I continued to struggle with depression and my fight or flight instinct with motherhood. I stitched on other things. And then when my grandmother died, I came back to this. I finished the swans and the lower borders. The squares were done while I was thinking about my cat, Colley, who would be helped over the Rainbow Bridge about a week after this photo.
And then again, it quietly went to the side. I was struggling to stitch at all with a toddler around.
And then that call from Dad came. And I picked it back up in July of this year.
On the flight out to say goodbye to my dad in California, I stitched the square with the sheep and the border of the pink square (where eventually, there will be a peacock).
I stitched the bees in San Francisco’s airport while waiting for my red-eye flight back home. And then noticed a week later that the right one is one thread higher than the other one by mistake. And I’m leaving it that way, because it feels wrong to me to pick out the stitches done to sooth grieving when they won’t affect the rest of the pattern. So that little bee is a little higher for all eternity.
I stitched the blue square with the two white dots while at a stitching meet-up hosted in late July by my friend Abi. I only noticed after I stitched the square that both white dots are miscounted in a way that will affect the rest of the square.
I honestly don’t remember stitching the purple flowers at all. They somehow found their way onto the piece in a blur.
And I took this photo on August 5th, just before starting my Olympic stitching.
My dad passed away five days later. I had picked out the white dots that I’d miscounted the night before he passed. Again… I don’t dare pick out that bee. Now I’m convinced something ominous will happen if I do.
After Dad died, I needed to do another flower. So I did the one in the top corner. I needed to do the strawberries, remembering the patch we used to have at home many years ago. I did those while watching swimming and gymnastics. I think I did the entire strawberry vine during Katie Ledecky’s epic 800M swim, actually.
The basket of roses just formed itself during the closing ceremonies from the leftover strands I’d used in the strawberry square (since it shares all of its colors with the strawberries).
I didn’t get the peacock done as I’d planned – because I discovered during the olympics that my light blue had gone wandering. I probably lost it on one of the plane rides to or from California. And I lost the red and yellow, too – but thankfully I had extra of those two colors lying around from a previous Blue Ribbons Designs piece I’d done a couple years ago.
So the peacock and the blue flowers in the bee panel are next. And that leaves the little butterfly in the lower corner and the bigger tree motif in the red square. The flowers will likely be this weekend as I mourn my Fizzy, who we’ll be helping to cross the Rainbow Bridge by week’s end (two cancer deaths in as many weeks has me reeling).
It’s a piece with happy colors, of joyful things. And I’ve stitched a lot of it while sad. But I think there’s a reason for it… the brooding is to get it out of my system. The bright happy colors keep reminding me that I will get through it. There is joy out there, and I will find it again, even if it’s just in little batches of bright pink or red glowing off of blue fabric. I’m mapping a life journey as I stitch, and as sad as some of the events are, I look at this piece with pride because it shows survival and hope. Every little stitch is a small step toward healing, toward peace.