Thursday, January 06, 2005

Zen and the Art of Cross-stitch

Back in September, I wrote this post, but never posted it. I thoughtfully e-mailed it to myself and filed it under "crafts." Recently unearthed, it's still relevant, so I share it below.

Mary asked, since she and I are cross cross-stitchers, or cross-stitchers without patience, why do people think xs takes patience? And it's a good question.

So I went to the source of all important human knowledge, written in part by a man who perfomed autopeotomy, so you know it's got to be good, the Oxford English Dictionary:
Patience (n) The practice or quality of being [wait for it] patient.
a. the suffering or enduring (of pain, trouble, or evil) with calmess and composure; the quality or capacity of so suffering or enduring.
b. Forebearance, longsuffering, longanimity under provocation of any kind; esp. forbearance or bearing with others, their faults, limitations, etc.
c. the calm abiding of the issue of time, processes, etc.; quiet and self-possessed waiting for something; ‘the quality of expecting long without rage or discontent’ (J.).
d. constancy in labour, exertion, or effort.
I think people who don't stitch think it takes patience because it seems really boring to them. There you have it. All that dictionary learning and it comes down to the small mindedness of others! ;) If you think about patience being the "enduring trouble with composure" or, even better, "the calm abiding of process," you can see why people would think that cross-stitch--and other needlework--takes patience. Needlework is small, it involves counting, and it takes time, and when we do it we seem composed. There is a certain angelic peacefulness to stitchers. Think about stitchers you've seen in the doctors office, or wherever you have to wait, they hardly ever ask a hundred times if they're next, or demand to be seen immediately, or get agitated. (Think about my Thanksgiving trip.) You know, until they've ripped something out* for the 40th time and they're about to tear out their hair. Of course, if you've been reading this blog, you know that definition "D" has nothing to do with me! And that's where the idea of stitchers' patience really falls apart!

*I hate the term 'frogged'; come back to me when it's made the OED

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