Thursday, June 02, 2022

stitching together a lovely, messy, chaotic life

nearly a month after my disappointment at not getting hold of a kit that would enable me to participate in the dataspejlet community art project at trapholt museum, i was at a friend's house for a board meeting. i saw that she had a kit and i told her how sad i was that i missed out on getting one. i snapped a picture of it there on her side table, but that sense of sadness and being on the outside of something i wanted to be part of welled up in me again and i found it almost too painful to look at. i even thought the colors she had gotten were great and would have been so much fun to work with. she told me that her neighbor also had one and she would ask her if she was going to use it. i went away a little bit hopeful, but still mostly resigned to not getting one.

then, a week or so later, my friend sent me a message, telling me she'd left me something up in our creative group's workshop at the library. i crossed my fingers that i knew what it was and i was delighted to find that she gave me her own kit. i breathed a sign of relief. 

oddly, i didn't start stitching on it right away. i got out my data files and chose the words i wanted to work with and i drew a sketch on some graph paper that husband had lying around on his desk. and then, i went around pondering it in the back of my head for a couple of weeks. i'm one who always works best close to a looming deadline. and i wasn't doing nothing - i was pinning stitch inspiration on pinterest and thinking about how i wanted to express the words i'd chosen. i was also keeping an eye on the #dataspejlet hashtag on instagram, but not a lot of posts were being shared and i didn't want to have to open the dreaded facebook to go see what people were posting in the group. plus, i figured it was best to do it my way anyway, without too much inspiration/influence from others.

but during our long weekend, i finally got stitching. it was beautiful out in the garden, on the pillow-covered bench between the greenhouses. i started with the circle representing husband. it has a circle within it that represents sabin. 

i chose the golden mustard color for husband and pink for sabin - my colors were those, plus purple. i probably would have chosen other colors if i were choosing myself, but these were what i had to work with and i do like them. i decided to  completely fill those two circles with stitches, because they represent the two people who complete me. 

the next circles that i worked on were the overlapping ones representing time/reality and cats - funny that those overlapped, but i think the time/reality comes from posts i did about reading murakami and of course, cats figure heavily on my facebook page. i chose to leave more "air" in those circles, not filling them out completely with stitches and there, where they overlapped, i used both colors, plus i added the third color, to show that the interesting part is where my preoccupations overlap. 

and then i turned to the similarly overlapping circles representing ships and LEGO. i filled those out with little + signs (i should note that we were only allowed to use stitches that go horizonal or vertical, no side-ways or curves or french knots or fancy stuff). and i stitched three hearts in the space where they overlapped, to signify how much i do love both. they are both from my work life, but both have become something of who i am.

i really enjoyed sitting in the sunshine, stitching. when i needed a break, i'd get up and pull a few weeds or water the plants or plant a few seeds. and i picked myself a small bouquet of fragrant lilacs, my favorite flower, to have at hand while i stitched. i sat in the sun with my big sun hat on and enjoyed the meditative stitching, seeing where it would take me and what thoughts it would provoke.

i didn't get it all finished on the weekend, so monday after work, i started my second to last circle. this is the one where i chose a group of words from the data, as they all seemed related and harmonious together. they were: story, fabulous, beautiful, sunshine, awesome. and reality was in that circle as well. i think it's my favorite circle - the three colors complementing one another best. it was also one i stitched most intuitively, letting the colors tell me where they wanted to be and how many stitches and the length. it simply felt freer than the others, which felt careful and deliberate. i liked this one best.

it was getting a bit dark by the time i finished, but i took a picture anyway. i'm pleased with the result. and then on tuesday, i had only one circle left to do. the bad one. 

we were given white thread to use for stitching those bits that we wished weren't there or which we didn't want anyone to see. for me, that circle came down in the left lower quadrant, far from the other circles, which was good, as i hate to have this word touching any of the positive words. and the word for that circle was trump. i used couching, i think wanting to keep that embarrassing evil clown under control, limiting him and tying him down. that stitch came to me naturally and intuitively as well. funny how those last two circles were the most intuitive, like i had to have warmed up to the stitching before i could let myself go.

and i thought a lot about stitching outside the circles and i can see now that others have done so - stitching connections between them and such. and i thought i wanted to do that as well. but as i began - trying to make a joyful spray of stitches surround my favorite circle at the top - they came out awkward and not at all how i envisioned them, so i picked them up. i think it would have worked if i could have used french knots, but alas, they weren't allowed. so, i decided i was content to only show what the data showed and keep the rest of my lovely, chaotic, messy, awesome life for myself.

i'm so happy i got to participate after all and i'm very grateful to my friend for giving me her kit. it meant a lot and the meditative stitching time was just what i needed during a very busy time at work. i can't wait to see how my work will fit into the larger work that astrid skibsted puts together at trapholt this autumn.  it will inevitably be a dialogue with the many other embroiderers and the whole will be so much greater than the individual parts and yet they will be beautiful and unique on their own. and i'll bet it will be harmonious and lovely, messy and chaotic, just like all the lives that went into the data that went into all those stitches. and we will all belong exactly where we are in the work. 


Molly said...

What an interesting and fun process. I am SO glad you got a kit in the end, and that it mitigated your feeling of being left out and that your work will now be INCLUDED in the bigger project.
Your little spot in the sun between the greenhouses is gorgeous too - a lovely place to hang out I'm sure, with the added joy of being a space you created yourself for yourself.

julochka said...

@molly - i'm so glad i got one too! so weird how belonging keeps cropping up for me. or maybe not so weird, having lived outside the country of my birth for 20+ years. you'd think i'd get used to it.

and yes, the little space between the greenhouses is perfect! i absolutely love it.