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Some Moral Reflections On Needlepoint

Welcome to My Green Vermont - A Blog by Eulalia Benejam Cobb.
By Eulalia Benejam Cobb

I just this minute finished a needlepoint pillow I\’ve been working on for almost a year.  And by \”finished,\” I mean finished–backing attached, stuffing stuffed, the last seam sewn and the final thread firmly secured.

But as I look at the thing my thoughts turn, as they have every time I\’ve looked at it over the past months, to the day I bought it.  I had been suffering from one of my periodic bouts of itchy fingers–the  urge to do something mindless with my hands–and had found a website, Ehrman Tapestry,  that had the most gorgeous needlepoint designs I had ever seen. Instead of the hearts and kittens that are the staple of crafts stores, here were reproductions of medieval tapestries, Art Nouveau motifs, and designs taken from the paintings of Gustav Klimt.

I badly wanted one of those kits–in fact, I badly wanted half a dozen of them.  But they were expensive, around $100, and I really did not need another pillow.

Still, my fingers kept itching, and I thought that maybe someday I would buy one of those Ehrman kits.  But not now, not right away.  As a recovering Catholic, I knew all about deferred gratification, and how good it is for the soul.

I decided that before I got the kit I lusted for I would test myself with a cheaper, humbler one, just to see if I had the perseverance, dedication, and moral stamina to finish the project.  That way, if I lazily and irresponsibly gave it up half-way through, I would only have to feel a little bit ashamed.

I told my plans to a friend, and on a sunny, icy day we drove an hour to the nearest needlepoint shop.   I was not enchanted with the selection.  My friend watched me sifting dispiritedly through the stacks of hearts-and-kittens kits and said \”You know, you should get something you really like.\”

\”Look,\” I said, picking up an ultra-conventional design of blowsy roses on a white background, \”this is not too bad.\”  And I bought the thing.

I brought it home and put it on the needlepoint stand and worked on it halfheartedly for months.  And without fail every time I threaded my needle I thought about those medieval tapestries and those Klimt designs.

Now that the pillow is finished I can direct a compassionate look at the deferred gratification virtuosa that was me, and let her go.  No more little useless sacrifices that don\’t do anybody any good.  From now on, it\’s pleasure first, and the devil take the hindmost.

Go to the link above.  See the pillow with the eye-popping poppy?  That\’s what I\’m ordering the minute I post this.  It\’s not even on sale, and I need a pillow even less than I did before I finished the blowsy roses one.  But carpe diem is my motto now, because who knows how many diems I have left, how much longer my eyes will be able to find the holes in the canvas and my hands to grasp the needle?  

Bring on the needlepoint, then, but only the kind that will take my breath away every time I look at it!

13 Responses

  1. Yes yes yes. I have come to similar decisions about all the crafts I do. Soon I will post photos of cross stitch magnificent…no more insipid butterflies and daisies for me either.

  2. Hi Lali–I love your post! I most definitely agree with you: never settle for second best, if possible. I just linked to this post in my blog. You're mentionned in my latest post, Look List. Btw I think that several of your cards would make wonderful needlepoints!erin at

  3. Maybe you can have your special needle point framed instead when it is done. That may give you more satisfaction. My mother often did this and left behind some really nice ones. I would do it too if my eyes weren't so bad even with glasses. Good luck and gave lots of fun. xox

  4. Beautiful. You inspire me and your card designs(some) would be exquisite as pillows. I loved Raymond H. and Candace B. especially!

  5. I feel the same way about books. Life is not worth spending time and effort on a book that I have to force myself to finish, before I get to read the one I really want to read. And when I clicked over to see the poppy design, I exclaimed out loud. I love it, and so many of the others. Almost enough for me to want to try myself.

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