I suppose the first embroidery I ever attempted were cross stitch kits bought at the local craft store in elementary school. I remember working on them in the back seat of the car on long road trips with my family - picture me slowly stitching in the middle seat, fighting for elbow room with my younger brother. Small pieces followed, even embroidery on photographs in college and just after. I recently went through a phase of hearts embroidered on thrift store finds and children's clothes. But I was never brave enough to attempt a large scale embroidery piece. It felt like there was too much to know and I couldn't find my way to the beginning.
And so it was, when I saw a certain map and I was drawn to embroider it, I knew I had found that elusive starting place. There was a kinship there, an understanding that the map represented something I recognized in myself. I began with a smaller prototype made last summer in my in-between time, a gift for a friend based on a story he'd written. I learned a lot from that piece - how many strands of thread to use, what kind of thread I liked, how to keep the back of my work from being a snarl of knotted threads - mostly I learned the important lesson of what not to do (if you're doing to use hand dyed thread buy a whole lot of it.)
This spring, with sheets found at the local Salvation Army taped into a sunny window, I traced the lines on the map. And the first colors, shades of green (then orange, yellow and blue) begin to reveal a story. It meanders. But then again, so do I.