So here I am sitting at home alone with 3 hours of unexpected time on my hands. What should I do? While I've managed to fit in some knitting lately, I haven't done any embroidery since before Christmas. And I have a new DVD on how to play Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring on the classical guitar that has been calling to me. I also have to decide on the next article for a needlework column I am now editing. But, I have new classes to plan, a paper to write, a position paper to write, and a newsletter to pull together for my various jobs. And the house is in great need of organizing and cleaning since the decorations are sitting around (although mostly in boxes thanks to my DH's hard work). And the bathroom needs cleaning. And to top it all off, I'm thinking I would like a nap.
So why am I sitting here writing for my blog? Well, Elaine's post yesterday at Red Thread Studio mentioned blog as meditation
"Eventually everything in life becomes a meditation and an opportunity to be mindful, including writing a blog. At its best, it's a daily practice that allows many ideas to be explored and observed, with a focus that acts as a point of beginning and return. Meditation, disguised as blogging or knitting or beading or walking, is not sleepiness or passivity -- it's an active, fiery, energetic process that opens the doors of the universe and is also just what you do every day."
and I think today I will use mine that way.
As I think about all that I need to do, I could start by prioritizing things. Obviously there are deadlines for classes and columns that are outside my control, so they really should come first, but I do have other times that I can work on those things. I wonder if I really want to use 'found' time to work on practical things.
So that leaves me with household chores and hobbies, or sleep. What will really make me feel energized for the rest of the day? I sometimes think that getting a space organized helps puts my thoughts in place, so maybe cleaning up the desk or my stitching area would work. Although at this moment, I want to feel I've actually accomplished something, and putting away a few piles of stuff or sleeping won't help there. The guitar playing would be nice, but I need to put away stuff to get to the guitar and have a place to put a chair in front of a TV, so that is harder right now, but maybe I could push a few piles and manage it. The knitting I can do while watching TV with family (we have a few shows, like Antiques Road Show and Dirty Jobs that are family activities) so I really don't need to do it now. That leaves me with stitching, which does seem to feel like the best thing to do.
Of course thinking about stitching reminds me of the wonderful discussion going on at the EGA Yahoo group. It started out with somebody who was disappointed because the Embroidered Knot Gardens book by Owen Davies (which I LOVE) didn't have much instruction and most of the photos were on the web site. Some people agreed but others felt more like I do. The discussion then turned to the difference between US and UK styles of embroidery and embroidery teaching. How in the US people want kits and exact instructions, and in the UK people are encouraged to be creative. And the education differences were brought up - there are still many programs that teach needlearts in the UK, plus the City and Guilds programs. It was fascinating to read, and it was nice to see there are people like me who want both. Easy kits and instructions for quick projects and stressful times, plus other times when I want to create the whole thing.
And of course the conversation led to the idea that has been discussed on many needleart blogs - what is art? And why don't the needlearts get the respect they deserve? What is art and what is craft? Would you say a handmade chair is art or craft? I go back and forth on this one because whatever you call it, there is obviously some need inside most people to create something - hence the popularity of arts and crafts supply stores. Is every creation art? When my DH builds a wooden jewellery box from a kit, he has every right to be proud of what he has created. But is it art? When I make 3-D stitched flowers of my own design, I can be proud as well. Is it art now because I have designed the whole thing, or is it just craft because it is needlework? It seems that in some way, it shouldn't really matter. If somebody makes something and others like it and are willing to pay for it, what does it matter what we call it. But it does seem to matter. Rozsika Parker, the author of the fantastic book The Subversive Stitch, wrote and earlier book with Griseld Pollock, Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology. In that book they discussed how hard it was for women painters to be judged on the same level as men. There was always the female label attached. So if we are content to let people call needlework a craft, it will never be judged on par with art.
Well, after babbling on and rereading posts and browsing through The Subversive Stitch, I am now down to 2 hours so I think I'll start stitching, since that was what I finally decided on through my blog meditation.