Monday, June 7, 2010

June Stitching Bloggers Question

Lee at Lake Stitcher has posted her next monthly question. This month, it's all about Dads! It's also a two-parter.

Tell us something that you have stitched or plan to stitch for any father in your life. Why did you choose this particular piece of stitching? Tell us the story behind it.

The VERY first thing I ever stitched was a bookmark for my father's birthday. I was 13 and living in Libreville, Gabon. (In Africa.) I was there over the summer, and all my playmates had gone home to the US, France or South Africa for the summer. The wife of my dad's boss was a really nice lady, who missed having her own girls around (they were in college) so, she took me under her wing that summer. She would pick me up a couple of days a week, we'd go and have a ladies' lunch, and then would go back to her home for an afternoon of needlework. She loved to cross stitch, and she set me up with needle, Aida fabric, and a book of alphabets. I decided to stitch a simple bookmark that said "SUPER DAD" in big bold block letters. Once I was finished, Mrs. Abrahamson took me to the local market, and we found a fabric that matched the blue DMC thread I used. My father was thrilled, and for years it was his ONLY bookmark. He always used it. Then, one trip to London, he forgot his book in the hotel where he was staying, and lost the bookmark. When my mother told me, I stitched up a new one for my Dad, which he is still using today.

My father is a man of simple tastes, and he doesn't ever really use the things that my mother and I make for him. He has a box full of his treasures, and that's where the things we make end up. It really just warms me up when I think of him using my bookmark.

Often times we identify our love of needlework and our skills with our mothers and grandmothers or other women. It's understandable because they were often our first teachers or role models. Now, let's think about our stitching life as it relates to our dads. Is there anything about our approach to stitching that we can recognize as traits of our fathers? For instance does your dad (or any other important man in your life) have an approach to one of his interests that you can observe and think, "Hey... if I substitute the word needlework for fly fishing we'd be pretty darn similar!" So tell us about it.

Well, this one is a little tougher for me. My father has only one hobby, gardening. He enjoys fishing, but for him, that has more to do with going out and staring at the water. Drives me nuts! LOL I haven't lived with my father full time since I was 14. For more than half of my life, I've lived away from my parents. First it was boarding school, then college, then just being grown. Now, when I go home to visit, my days are spent with my mother, and my nights are for my father. (They are still together, they just have WILDLY different interests, and my father still works, whereas my mother is a homemaker mainly.) I would say that my project planning comes from my dad. He stares at a spot in his garden, and sort of chews over it in his mind. Then, he comes up with something that he just knows will be perfect in that spot, maybe a stand of bamboo? Then, he goes to his favorite nursery and stands around staring at the bamboo, but his eyes keep being drawn to a lovely lantana plant. He's trying to make a decision about which bamboo to choose, but he just can't rip his eyes off of the lantana. In fact, the more he looks at it, the more he realizes that his whole plan is off! He must have that lantana for the right corner, so he'll have to rip up EVERYTHING and start again! He then comes home with a truck bed full of lantana and roses and other hardy flowers, and starts digging up the back yard, for the 5th time since he's been living in the US again.
Me, that's my approach to choosing colors for a piece. I just KNOW that I want to stitch that Quaker medallion in a ruby red. A yummy, bright ruby red. But, when I toddle down to my LNS, I see this gorgeous peacock blue. It's so deep and shimmery, and then I realize that I don't want to stitch this in reds and browns, I want blues and purples! So, I buy up everything, and go home to frog.

Of course, I could also say that I'm like my father's father. Actually, I'm nothing like either of my grandfathers. They were products of their generation, and while always loving towards me, not exactly close and cuddly. They are men to be respected and obeyed. I never ever feared my grandfathers, but I have always been closer to my grandmothers. (My father's parents are both still with us, while neither of my mother's parents are.) All that said, I've tried to be a good granddaughter and live up to the high standards they set (and met) for themselves. My father's father is a perfectionist. I am not, but I understand the impulse in my needlework, as he does with his watercolors. When we are doing work we like, we both show it off to everyone who stands still long enough. However, if we're not pleased with the work, we redo it, over and over and over until it's right. While we're in a redo phase, we don't show our work to anyone. If we miss a mistake, and realize it later, we're horrified.

One note, I was always happier when I was hanging out with my grandmothers, or my mom. I enjoyed their hobbies so much more. I have always been proud of the women I have been fortunate enough to be related to. I have picked up their traits over the years, and I hope to be a credit to them. That said, when I consciously tried to emulate my relatives, it was the men that I chose to imitate. I have a really weird walk because I tried to walk like my dad. My love for Afghan food comes straight from my paternal grandfather. And, just like my maternal grandfather, if I'm going to drive a tractor, it's going to be a John Deere.

I have been blessed with my family. We're all completely insane, and don't even get along all the time, but I have never questioned that I am loved. I see in my husband's family that love is not always guaranteed. I can honestly say that if I had a choice in family, I would choose mine, even with the crazy aunts, estranged in-law's and that bootlegger cousin we don't really talk about. (We're pretty sure it was the revenuer's fault and Jimmy Stewart did play him in a movie...)


  1. Fun post! I need to get over to Lee's blog; I am so behind in blogging! I think that's neat that your dad treasured the bookmark that you made for him. My dad passed away before he could see me stitching, crafting, etc. My parents wanted me to take Home Ec in school; I took Wood Shop. I think he'd be amazed that I could thread a needle... but I think he knows. ;)

  2. I'm sure he's aware that you are a well rounded individual. :)


Thank you for your kind words! They really make my day. :)