Crafting ADHD

Yes, I'm a quilter, but I can't just leave it at that. Years ago I was a spinner and weaver, I've always been a knitter, and I love to sew all kinds of things that don't qualify as quilts. I've covered a birdbath with broken pottery, used boxes and fabric to make doll furniture, and heck, was even an elementary school art teacher for awhile, so you know I've tried every craft in the book. That's why I understood when a woman I recently met told me she had "crafting ADHD."

A couple of weeks ago I finished a big project and as a treat to myself I decided to give in to my love of all crafts and signed up for two classes at Home Ec. The first was something called Gujarati embroidery. I was a big embroidery buff during my college years (a few samples from my blue chambray "work shirt" and a patch for jeans) and keep wanting to get back to it. So, although I had no idea what Gujarati embroidery was, I decided to give it a try.

The floppy-looking framework for the embroidery at left
Turns out that Gujarati is a region of India and this embroidery hails from there. Our teacher learned it as a young girl (in 1953!) from an Indian man who stayed with her family when they lived in Costa Rica. She was a great teacher and actually gave each of us in the class a sample of the technique stitched out step-by-step on muslin. Good thing, because I certainly had to refer back to it time and again.

The back of Gujarati embroidery
The really amazing thing about this is when you turn it over and look at the back, you realize that there are very few stitches showing. You create a framework and then you weave your thread in and out to create a design. We learned two types of embroidery—one in which the motif's center is filled with thread and one in which it is empty.

Most traditional Gujarati embroidery seems to be one color, but starting with two colors helped us see where we were going. It was a fairly tricky technique to learn, but once I got the basics I could move on to the more complicated patterns. I even made a Christmas ornament using the design as it reminded me of a snowflake...will wait to show that closer to the holidays.

Filled center embroidery at left, open center at right
And as often happens, the first week I learned Gujarati embroidery I went home and read the word "Gujarati" in the book I was reading...Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I'd had the book on my shelf since March 2009 and finally read it. Recommended—a compelling read. And I'll tell you about my other class in the next post.