Getting Started with Embroidery; Part 3

In this series of posts, I’ve taken the overly wordy introduction to my upcoming Embroidery Workshop and decided instead to offer it as a free educational tool through a series of blog posts! This is Part 3, see my last post for tips on preparing your fabric and planning your stitches.

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The last two posts have been about the physical aspects of embroidery, but I wanted to go into detail about developing the most supportive mindset for getting into stitching.


Embroidery is in its essence a slow process.

Stitching cannot be rushed, designs are built up in a gradual nature, and great joy can be found in this gentle evolution. This makes it the perfect craft for contemplation on how our lives can benefit from a slow build up of design.

Until recent history, the slow growth reflected from the natural world and in the required crafts of daily living was basically all there was. Our bodies and minds evolved thanks to, and in support of, slow growth.


We now live in a society that not only makes it possible to force growth, but in some cases expects nothing less.

It is not necessary to discard the progress already made, but we must weave the appreciation for slow growth back into the tapestry of our times if we hope to move away from the unnaturally frenetic approach of modernity.

Embroidery, and handcrafted textiles in general, provide an opportunity to return to the natural order.

Stitching by hand slows down the body, and over time slows down the mind, bringing us from the expedited expectations of the Beta state to the calmer, more soothing Alpha state.

While the Beta state of heightened awareness is great for navigating heavy traffic or managing a daily schedule, it can also bring feelings of restlessness and unnecessary stress when we don’t engage in activities that can get us out of this state. Learning to bring the brain to slower frequencies can make getting to sleep (Theta to Delta states) much easier and deeper, which supports our bodies ability to recover from stress in the long run.

Bringing ourselves into the Alpha state, a more relaxed but still waking state that enhances learning and accessing intuition, helps access the subconscious mind, which is where our beliefs in our own reality and abilities lies.

This means that engaging in calming activities such as drawing, meditation, and handcrafting can help us to not only calm the mind and bring our bodies to a state of health, but also to reprogram deep seated beliefs and visualize new realities for ourselves.

There’s mind-altering magic available through engaging in your own creative pursuits.


There is, however, one prerequisite to using creative practices to access these lower brainwave states: keeping your expectations at bay.

One of the most important lessons I teach in my workshops is that, contrary to much of what we have been taught, the lower your expectations are during creative practices, the more fulfilling and rewarding the practice of making art can be.

This is not to diminish the effectiveness of qualities like drive and vision… but to remind you that the materials have just as much to teach you as the techniques. Listen to the fabric and threads. Respond to their requests. Appreciate that the learning process is just that - an evolving process that you get to learn from.

Stop trying to make perfect work, as perfect can often be the enemy of progress.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

- Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille

Create, Makerschristi johnson