Thursday, April 05, 2007

Cross my Heart!

I was always fond of needlework, or so it seems. I remember hunting for small pieces of cloth to make handkerchiefs. Fortunately, my mom (and later I myself) had learnt tailoring from her sister (my aunt, who is no more) and did a lot of tailoring at home. So, I almost always found little bits of cloth. Also, when we were little, everyone in the neighbourhood was willing to teach us little things. I remember practising the running stitch at my neighbour's place and the lady of the house taught me how to hem. She also taught me some beadwork and I found all of it very fascinating.

My mother was usually making cushion covers and table cloths with beautiful designs. She has always been very good with colours and coordinating them. I would see her work her "magic" on matti cloth and would always wonder how she did it. I thought it was the most confusing stitch ever invented and could just never get it straight. My mom decided to get me started. Off we went to Handloom House in Madras to buy some wine red matti cloth. (The idea was to not let the messiness show.) She didn't allow me to practice with a straight line or anything... she put me on to a design directly. At that point, I must admit, I thought she really hated me. Why else would she traumatize me like that? I managed to get a hang of it and completed the entire cushion cover. This was when I was in Class 5. I gifted it to a friend (a much older friend) on her birthday and also went and asked for it back a few months later when we had to submit something for craft or SUPW (Socially Useful Productive Work) as we know it.

From that point on, I think I did a little bit every year. I took on complicated designs and took great pride in completing each one. From trying out new colour combinations to working my way on normal fabrics, each step was like an adventure into the unknown. You never know what awaits you at the end of the journey.

Whenever I made a mistake, I'd put the entire project away and not look at it for months, sometimes years. Then, cross stitch taught me one of life's important lessons. If you make a mistake, you can't let that bring life to a standstill. You have to go back, undo the wrongs and start over. If you do, what you get at the end of it is beautiful, truly a masterpiece. I took 9 years to complete work on a dress. A part of this is on the left here. The end result was so beautiful that I plan to cut off the embroidered portion and frame it.

I find this very therapeutic. I work at it when I am sad, when I'm angry, when I'm bored and when I am happy. I've gifted a lot of my work to friends and family. This is something that has truly touched my heart and my life and I felt compelled to blog about this. Thanks Amma, for being patient with me and teaching me a craft that will keep me company for all my life. I, too, hope to pass it on to someone in this lifetime.


Pritika said...

your blog reminds me of a film called 'the making of an american quilt'. It was a great surprise to me when i found out that there is something known as a 'traditional' American quilt. Apparently they sew patches of cloth from things that hold a sentimental value. Like a mother would stitch her son's junior soccer t-shirt, patches of his baby blanket, and other such clothes to complete him a gift he's never forget.

I think mothers sometimes come up with the best ways to help preserve memories of an eventful childhood, be it the therapuetic art of embroidery or the love that goes into the tradition on quilt-making. :)

Raaga said...

I must watch this film. I agree... I can think of a lot of things that I do today that bring back loads of memories. Memories of a childhood well spent :)

Pretty Woman said...

First of all, beautiful,lovely embroidery!!! :) It requires loads of patience....there are so many instances, habits and stuff I have learnt from Amma, that always bring a smile on my face. I understand her much much better now!! :)

Raaga said...

I agree... I think we will understand more when we have our own :)

lipstick said...

They are lovely! I have never had the patience to do this kind of thing...but you rock!! I also notice i have not visited anyone blog in so long....

nice going.


Ashwini said...

Hello Raaga,

I am Ashwini from Konkani Foodie. I went through your posts on Randon thoughts. Must say my Mom is a big Matti fan, even to date she regrets that none of her kids have that love. Now, after coming here to US I yearn to learn the art - but in vain.

I had a lump in my throat after readong your post. I will make sure I learn the stitching art from my mom. Some legacy I want to carry on for my love for Mom.