There is an intimacy to needlepointing, to holding a canvas, threading a needle, stitching a design, that is completely unlike the disconnected experience of Simple Touch-ing your way through a Nook.
Call me a digital Neanderthal.
Anyway, the other day, I was at B&N to graze at the needlepoint section, and delay the torture of concluding my Canvas of Waking Dreams think piece, the one that will cause no one to ever read my blog again after I publish it, and came across a wonderful book, Helen Winthorpe Kendrick’s Stitch-opedia.
More on this book in a jiffy.
Soon, I was eagerly standing in line, book in hand. I noticed a salesperson who was working a Nook booth that was practically in the checkout line. She was trying to convince a customer to buy a designer Nook cover to make the device sorta look like a book. Talk about ironic.
Call me out of touch, but I don’t want to pretend that something that looks like a nerd’s clipboard is almost a book. I actually want the real book.
Maybe these Nook and Kindle gizmos are just not a needlepoint thing. And yet, there are in fact needlepoint covers for these e-readers, so what do I know?
At any rate, I bought Stitch-opedia, and started reading it. It is really filled with tons of great material, but what immediately stood out for me was right there in the second paragraph of the Introduction:
“The first needles were found in Europe and dated back to the Paleolithic period, roughly 15,000 years ago.”
That is so cool. I was instantly mesmerized. I wasn’t crazy to mention this whole business in the first place. I suddenly realized that when I held a needle in hand to stitch, that I was actually using a technology that dated back to the Stone Age. To me, that’s pretty incredible.
Talk about feeling connected to the past.
This is why in my mind Werner Herzog’s The Cave of Forgotten Dreams has a great deal to say about the craft we love.
I won’t get all heavy and academic here.
But I will say that after seeing this film that it didn’t feel like it was such a reach to suggest that ancient figurative art has a very special connection to the designs I work with on canvas today. And that looking at the 32,000 year old figures on the caves of Chauvet Pont d’Arc is like seeing a distant echo of, as Herzog tells us, the invention of visual communication, almost the trace rumblings of a sacred world of Imagination, one that, in effect, signaled the advent of Homo Spiritualis.
So, maybe I wasn’t one of those digital Neanderthals after all.
Maybe needlepoint stitching is just one of those things that makes me a human being.
© Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016.