Time to Stitch

When I ask stitchers what their biggest needlework-related problem is, one answer I hear over and over is, “I don’t have time to stitch.” I once addressed this issue by offering tips for making use of tidbits of spare time, waiting time, and time when multitasking is possible.

  • Keep bags of portable projects in your purse and in the car so you can stitch while waiting for appointments, attending meetings that require listening only, watching baseball games, etc. I find small projects like bracelets, bookmarks, tags, and zipper pulls perfect for this.
  • Leave a project set up at home so that you can make use of ten minutes here and there (while tea water boils, for instance). I love my homemade floor stand because I just remove the dust cover, tighten the scroll bar, and start stitching. If you have to set up your project each time you want to stitch, you’ll need larger chunks of time.
Three barrettes with blanket-stitched outlines.

These blanket-stitch edgings made great portable projects because they could be done in hand, eliminating the need for a hoop, and they required no pattern, eliminating yet another thing to carry along.

But I think there’s more to the time issue. We live in a culture that seems to equate “busy” with “important.” People flaunt their busyness with pride, bragging about exhaustion and hardship, pretending to wish to slow down. Conversations turn into competitions, participants one-upping each other about how much we have to do, how far behind we are, all the things we’re not getting done. The hours we spend running here and there in a frenzy are a measure of our success.

I think that’s nuts—and not the good, uppercase kind of Nuts.

We’re all busy. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and we all have more things we need to do, should do, and want to do during that finite amount of time. It all comes down to what we choose to do. You may want to disagree with that idea—you may want to claim that work demands you spend your time a certain way or your children require you to do certain things, but I maintain that you choose to let them. You make your job or your children or however you spend your time a priority.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing: If you have a newborn, I think it’s great that you choose to get up in the middle of the night to feed and change her. I, for one, am glad you make your infant a priority. If you’re an ER doctor on call, I’m glad you make treating the heart-attack patient a priority. If you’re a teacher, I’m glad you make staying after school to help a struggling student a priority. Maybe you consider these obligations, but they’re also choices. I think it’s important to own them as such. Acknowledge your priorities and choices. Having control of your time is a surprisingly simple matter of claiming that control.

That can be a hard thing to admit. In some cases, all available choices might stink—for some people, in some places, at some times, life can be horribly difficult, not to mention unfair. Sometimes the choice is to jump or go down with the ship. Bleh! Even then, we make a choice.

Once we claim control of our time, acknowledging that we choose how we spend it, we can evaluate the priorities we’ve set and alter them as we wish. If we don’t like the way we’re spending our time, or if we wish we had time for something that’s been neglected, we can make changes.

Small embroidery projects.

Small, portable projects: barrettes, bracelets, tags, zipper pulls, magnets. Again, edge stitching can be done in hand, sans pattern.

Do you really want to stitch? Do you believe there is value in stitching? We know it

  • lowers a person’s heart rate
  • develops and improves fine motor skills
  • increases confidence and boosts self-esteem
  • nurtures creativity and self-expression
  • is cheaper than many other kinds of entertainment
  • produces beautiful and useful objects
  • connects individuals to the past and future
  • contributes to our cultural legacy
  • and more!

The big question is do you value your stitching time enough to make it a priority?

Take a good, honest look at how you’re spending your twenty-four hours. Is everything you’re doing more important to you than stitching? When you get right down to it, if you really want to stitch, if you genuinely value the experience and results of stitching, I’ll bet you can find some time in at least some of your days to do it.

I’ve taken to keeping a small project right here by the computer. (Right now, it’s a Stitching for Literacy book thong!) Whether it’s my slow Alaska connection, my dinosaur of a computer, a busy site, or downloading time, I find I have waiting time on the computer. I also listen to a number of webinars and watch tutorials. Hello, stitching time!

Look at your schedule. Where and when do you have time to stitch?

Have tips for finding or making stitching time? Spill, please!

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