Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Stitcher's Gift of Giving (and Receiving)

I heard recently that the careful selection of a gift makes the giver feel closer to the recipient, but that this doesn't necessarily translate to the recipient feeling closer to the giver. This is especially true of needlework gifts. This holiday season, one of my guild members was re-gifted a large framed cross stitch of a sewing room, because the original recipient claimed it didn't go with her decor. She must not be a needleworker. That cross stitch picture took dozens of hours to create and over $100 to frame. During the time she worked on it, the stitcher thought about the recipient and their relationship and hoped she was making something that would adequately show her regard. She did, but the recipient couldn't see the gift's real value.

This is a scary reality, because most of us give our creations away on a regular basis. We want the love we put into these creations recognized, but once they are out of our hands, we have no control over how a non-stitcher may value them.

Of course there is the opposite dilemma. Should you give handmade gifts to a stitcher? Will they judge your work and find it lacking? I know people who won't make things for other stitchers because of this fear. But I say go for it! A stitcher will understand.

Over the years I have received remarkably few hand made gifts (except from my mother, who I wish would make me more)! Two gifts, though, have special meaning.

My friend's first cross stitch has a place of honor over my sink.

The first is a small 4" x 6" cross stitch. Years ago, a friend asked me to teach her how to cross stitch. For me, cross stitch is the entry drug to embroidery. The most important thing when starting out is to find a pattern that isn't too difficult. So we went together to the store and found a kit and I gave her a few tips. Later that year on my birthday, she presented me with the finished product, unframed because she didn't know how to lace it up. It is perfect. I can't tell you how much I value having her very first cross stitch. I framed it and it hangs over my kitchen sink where I see it every day and think of her.

The second is a large framed cross stitch of an an angel carrying an American flag. This was made by a temporary roommate and expert stitcher. We were both going through a rough time. I was getting divorced and she had been waylaid in her medical residency due to health problems. We roomed together for six months and spent a memorable 4th of July on a whale watch and viewing fireworks on Boston's Esplanade. The next year, for my July birthday, this elaborate tribute to that day arrived in the mail. The angel hangs in my sewing room as a reminder of a good friend during a bad time. Even though we lost touch, we will always be connected through these stitches.

This angel is more than wall hanging. Each stitch is a binding reminder of friendship.


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