Years ago, when I was a child living in north Florida, I spent a lot of time at my nanny’s house. She did all the classic grandmotherly things: canning, making jelly, falling asleep in the recliner watching her “programs” and the like. But something that she did that has stuck with me, which she also taught me to do, is embroidery.
She had a great big sewing basket with countless bundles of embroidery floss and plenty of scrap material. She taught me how to embroidery delicate, beautiful flowers and leaves, showed me how to do a back stitch and a french knot, and most importantly how to take my time, and to not be afraid of starting over when something wasn’t the way I wanted it.
After I started learning I can remember wanting to embroider all the time. I would get off the school bus, go into my nanny’s house, and start my work as a cartoon played in the background. I did this pretty much everyday. But then, slowly, my interest in embroidery began to fade. From lack of interest or ability, I am not sure, but it was probably something to do with one of them.
After I stopped embroidering I rarely thought of it again. It wasn’t even one of those things that you tell yourself you’ll start when you’re “not busy” but rather it wasn’t even a thought in my mind. That is, until years later. Much to my surprise I’ve recently remembered everything I liked about embroidering, and I’ve taken a second shot at it.
Now, with much less nimble fingers and a more ambitious vision, I’ve picked back up my embroidery hoop and have been working on a project for a little over a month. Upon first starting to embroider again, I was reminded of all the times my nanny helped me fix a stitch or showed me the correct way to embroider something. I realized these were memories buried deep in my brain, dusty and covered in cobwebs.
Slowly, I was able to remember a lot of what I used to know, at least in a technical sense. And through remembering the technique, I was also able to remember my nanny. The way she would always choose a specific color of thread when any color would do, or the way she would tell me, “Since you’re left handed it’s going to be different when you try to do it.”
I like to think that my nanny would be proud of the fact that I’ve started to embroider again. Even though it wasn’t something I did for a long time, she would always act impressed when I showed her something new I created. Even though I’m not sure if my ability to embroider is any better now than it was then, I’m sure she would give me the same positive reaction if I was able to show her my latest project. In this way, it feels like a piece of her still lives.