By letters

What are needlepoint projects, aside from something you’ll find on the sidebar under that photo?

They’re things I’ve come across

things I’ve thought about

things I’ve lived through

things I’ve had to learn the hard way

things I’ve talked about

things I’ve written about

things I might write about

things which take a long time to work on

work through.

Life is a series of stitches. Day by day we weave another into the tapestry which forms the big picture. Laughter to brighten some here, grief to darken some there.

It makes a life. Birth and death are the frame, but the pattern is yours to choose.

No, I don’t do needlepoint. My mother has a collection of them, though. When I was growing up she always had one on the go. needlepoint.jpgThis one is called The Four Seasons, bought at Expo ’67 in Montreal, completed in 1970 and now hanging in the living room to brighten the home of her closest friend. It’s about three-foot square, 100 stitches to the square inch. One of her smaller efforts, actually. Did them all while bringing up three boys and nursing full-time at a hospital. Click on it to see a much larger version.

I’d most likely get blood poisoning three minutes after picking up the needle, so these are my needlepoint projects. Trying to put a new one in every week, and will leave them on a new page. Let’s see what sort of pattern they weave.

When we cannot find contentment in ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere. – François Rochefoucauld

In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. – Albert Camus

The envious are not happy unless they are making other people envious. – Comtesse Diane

Failures are made only by those who fail to dare, not by those who dare to fail. – Louis Binstock

Experience is a good school, but the fees are high. – Heinrich Heine

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. – Mark Twain

The greedy search for money or success will almost always lead men into unhappiness. Why? Because that kind of life makes them depend upon things outside themselves.
André Maurois

The struggle itself is enough to fill the heart. You have to imagine Sisyphus happy.
Albert Camus

Perhaps parents would enjoy their children more if they stopped to realise that the film of childhood can never be run through for a second showing.
– Evelyn Nown

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
– Hunter S. Thompson

Life’s greatest achievement is the continual remaking of yourself so that at last you know how to live.
– Winfred Rhoades

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
– Cyril Connolly

All the authors who say they write for themselves are liars.
Writing is an act of communication, it’s an act of love, it’s something you do in order to be understood.
– Umberto Eco

The aim of a festive season is to attain amiability, and perhaps actual joy, which we may find in our private moments but which at Christmas we seek to attain together, thus it is a true test of the power of the community to elevate its members, without which we may as well take to the woods.

Garrison Keillor

A change is as good as a rest.

– anon

All superstitions are such short cuts. Their aim is to make the unintelligible simple, and even obvious. – H.L. Mencken

An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.Buddha

I was born a dream chaser,
Running away from the country that made me,
Rock’n’roll you’re a home breaker,
Turnin’ my head from the family that made me. – Little River Band Days on the Road

The great paradox of the writer’s life
is how much time he spends alone
trying to connect with other people.
– Betsy Lerner

Don’t play for safety.
It’s the most dangerous thing in the world.
– Hugh Walpole

A confessional passage has probably never been written that didn’t stink a little bit of the writer’s pride in having given up his pride. The thing to listen for, every time, with a public confessor, is what he’s not confessing to.
– J.D. Salinger

We manufacture stories…from the fleeting sensory material that bombards us at every instant, a fragmented series of pictures, conversations, odors, and the touch of things and people. We delete most of it to live with some semblance of order, and the reshuffling of memory goes on until we die.
– Siri Hustvedt

The society we are born into is based on selfishness. Sociologists call that individualism, but there’s a shorter word: we live in a society of solitude. There are no more families, no more villages, there is no more God. Our elders delivered us from all that oppression and replaced it by turning on the television. We are abandoned to ourselves, incapable of interesting ourselves in anything else but our own navels.
Frédéric Beigbeder
– Love lasts three years.

…’Reality’ in America has become synonymous with the rank and sordid. We’ve fetishized the true story, the tell-all confession, reality TV, real people in their real lives, celebrity marriages, divorces, addictions, humiliation as entertainment – our version of the public hanging. The crowd gathers to gape.
-Siri Hustvedt
– The Sorrows of an American

You’ll lose a whole year on the Internet, just in terms of looking things up.
David Sedaris

(If you want to be a writer) To begin, don’t write about yourself. I’m not saying you’re uninteresting. I realize that your life has been so crazy no one could make this stuff up. But if you want to be a writer, start by writing about other people. Observe their faces, and the way they wave their hands around. Listen to the way they talk. Replay conversations in your mind – not just the words, but the silences as well. Imagine the lives of others. If you want to be a writer, you have to get over yourself.

-Allegra Goodman, author of Paradise Park

Memoir is the last place you’d expect to find the truth.
– David Sedaris

Travelling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, “I would stay and love you, but I have to go. This is my station.”
– Lisa St. Aubin de Teran

This is no time for Celebration
This is no time for Shaking Hands
This is no time for Backslapping
This is no time for Marching Bands
This is no time for Optimism
This is no time for Endless Thought
This is no time for my country Right or Wrong
Remember what that brought.
– Lou Reed, from the album New York

12 Responses to “Various needlepoint projects”

  1. November 29, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    The Four Seasons is beautiful!!! It’s amazing what you can do when you work on something slowly and steadily.

    Found my way here via Smoke & Mirrors and will be reading more.

  2. January 13, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks for this blog. I really enjoyed it. I came across it as I was looking for information about author, Winfred Rhoades, whose book “Meeting the Challenges of Life” my father owned and I’ve recently become engrossed in. CS

  3. 3 Janie
    January 31, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    I also came across this site while looking for information about the author, Winfred Rhoades. After my father’s death in 1993, I too found one of Winfred Rhoades books, “The Self You Have To Live With.” I don’t know if he read it, but I do know he kept it through all the years. He was the only doctor in a very small Texas town, and a gifted diagnostician. I like to think the spiritual lessons within the book helped him become the caring individual that he was.

  4. 4 TC
    March 30, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    The good life starts only when you stop wanting a better one.

    I don’t know who said this, but it certainly is true.

    These two are my constants:

    Worry is payment on a debt not owed.

    Forgiveness is the giving up of the idea of a better past.

  5. July 8, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Keillor, Eco, AND the great gonzo journalist himself, all in the same list of quotations? I have found me a blog to love.

    The Cyril Connolly quotation is new to me. It’s extraordinarily satisfying – just the thing to keep a new writer firm in her resolve to stay off the stats page and working on the next draft.



  6. 6 Thank You!
    July 12, 2008 at 4:22 am

    I also did “The Four Seasons” in the 70’s and am delighted to find a picture of it here. Mine had a lot of sentimental value because I worked on it over a period of two years when I was quite ill. Unfortunately, several decades later, it was ruined by water and I’ve never been able to find it anywhere. What a delight it was to find it on your site. You really brightened my day.

    Thank you,

  7. July 12, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Hello Kathleen,

    You’ve brightened mine too! As I recall it took my mother about two years to do it as well. She had it framed and displayed it in our living room for a long time. She later gave it to her best friend, who also has it in her living room. When I went over to visit them last time I was in Canada, I was floored to see it there… had forgotten she’d given it to her friend, and hadn’t thought of it for ages.

    Such a shame yours was ruined. I know how much work you put into it.


  8. 8 Cheryl
    September 25, 2008 at 1:07 am

    I was so excited to find The Four Seasons. I just received from my 88yr old father the needlepoint that my mother stitched back in the seventies. My mother had passed away when I was 15yrs old so it has many sentimental memories behind it. The needlepoint has such incredible colours woven in it!

    Cheryl (from BC Canada)

  9. 9 Barbara
    September 23, 2009 at 1:38 am

    I LOVE to needlepoint. The Four Seaasons would be a perfect project. I’d add the phrase: the secret to life is enjoying the passage of time. Where can I find the painted canvas? Thank you very much. Barbara from Wisconsin

  10. 11 deborah zaretsky
    February 19, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    I just purchased a copy of The Four Seasons done in petit point…It was for sale on ebay…I find your thoughts about needlework to be just wonderful…I am myself a “stitcher” and enjoy your words that both value the work of ones hands and at the same time take it deeply into life.

  11. 12 Molly Finney
    January 16, 2015 at 2:38 am

    Hi Ian, I loved seeing the photo of Les Quatre Saisons. I also completed this tapestry, took me about 2 years on and off. What is amazing for me is the clours used. The Aqua border in the original is a rust colour. I didn’t like it so I changed mine to Aqua.. I also used brighter colours than was recommended. This one looks almost exactly like mine. I still have mine hanging in my living room

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The banner photograph shows the town of Britannia Beach, BC, Canada, where I grew up. It's home. But I don't live there anymore.

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