IF You Can Dream It You Can Do It

I am a great admirer of Winston Churchill, and with the help of some of his quotes I would like to help those of you who suffer from a lack of confidence in your stitching ability to see that with a little enthusiasm and lots of perseverance you can achieve much more than you think you are capable of with your embroidery.

Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

Looking back at some of my earlier works I realise that needle painting embroidery did not come naturally.   It took many months (or years) of practice and dedication before I got to the point where I thought I may have got it right, but even today I still have doubts.  Every time I sit down to stitch a new piece I challenge myself to better my work and achieve excellence and many times I toss the finished piece into a drawer because I am not happy with it.  Below you can see one of my earlier attempts next to a more recent piece (before and after).

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” 

I am constantly trying to better my technique by making changes – shorten the stitches, lengthen the stitches, padding, no padding etc, etc.  Students often ask – “Trish you said in your last book that we should do it this way but now you are telling us to do it another way”?  My answer to this is:  “Well I changed my mind!”

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Every time I make a mistake I see it as an opportunity to learn and improve.  Learning embroidery should be full of quiet contentment not frustration.  Living in a world where we have instant gratification in everything from cell phones, to computers to online shopping this is one area where we can cultivate a sense of patience.

 “They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds.”

Patience really does make perfect.  Don’t compare your work with your neighbour’s, there are as many ways to embroider as there are embroiderers so each one of us will express it differently.  Some embroidery may represent fine watercolours and others look more like oil painting – but none the less beautiful.  If you have difficulty in seeing the good in your own work look at it from a distance or ask someone who you know will give you the answer you want to hear!

“It is a fine thing to be honest, but it is also very important to be right.”

Sometimes we need the opinion of someone who will be honest with us.  When I show my work to my family they automatically say “That’s nice Mum” but then I have my Friday group who I can rely on to give me an honest opinion.  It is difficult not to take offense sometimes but it is my experience that if I can get past my own ego the changes are always beneficial.

“If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly”

This week I am going to share with you some of the blunders I have made in my stitching career, in the hopes that it gives you a good laugh and shows that we all have our moments.  If there is a blunder that you have made and would like to share we would love to hear it.

There are two incidences that stand out to me, the first was when I first moved to South Africa and I was invited to attend the bi-annual convention Ighali.  Being new in the embroidery world I went as an attendee not a teacher so I decided to participate in one of the workshops. As an author of two books at the time, I was very aware that all eyes were upon me so set about the task in earnest.  We were told to tack a piece of interfacing to our fabric before beginning to stitch which I duly did.  Then we were told to mount the fabric + interfacing into our hoops – but when I lifted up my fabric the tablecloth came up with it – I had tacked my fabric to the tablecloth!!  Needless to say this did not make me look good, but I was consoled somewhat by the fact that I received the booby prize at the convention.

One of my best pieces (I am not going to tell you which one) has a well darned patch underneath the stitching.  Whilst unpicking a section of my embroidery I inadvertently cut the fabric underneath – so not wanting to start again I cut another little piece, darned it on and proceeded to stitch on top! ( I am very lazy about unpicking).

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

I am so glad I persevered, having the opportunity to share my work makes it all worthwhile. Thank you for your lovely encouraging emails and comments.  Have a perfect week wherever you are and remember  “If you can dream it you can do it”   Trish

31 thoughts on “IF You Can Dream It You Can Do It”

  1. Your quotes and comments are very inspirational (thank you, Mr. Churchill!). As someone new to the embroidery world, I often find myself saying quietly in my head: “This is just not very good. Bad, bad, bad”. And yet each time I do something new I can recognize how far I’ve progressed. Oddly enough, lately I’ve been revisiting some of my earlier work and (with a few adjustments and rips here and there) finding that they’re not so bad after all. Thank you for the reminder.

  2. Hi Trish

    Thanks for being like the rest of us. I just hope to be half as good as you, but if not it will by my own fault for not working at it enough.
    Your Protea is just too beautiful for words. I’m so glad that you have it on your site so I can enlarge it and really look at it. And really look at it, and really look at it. It’s so encouraging to know that its possible to create beauty with a piece of thread.

    Hugs, Christine

  3. Hello Trish,

    What a great way to start a day! I love quotes and these are great for everyone
    who does embroidery or anything else in life.

    Having teached for 2 years Hardanger embroidery, it can be frustrating
    at times I agree with you. Many times when I was learning the technique
    did I just put it down. Frustration with some of the stitches was part of learning.
    But I always came back and said to myself: I will learn this, no matter what.

    Well I did learn and unpicked and started over. But never regretted one
    minute of it. This gave me the chance to teach other embroiderers this
    art and I am so happy that I did.

    So for me needle painting is my new challange. For now I need to
    rest my left shoulder I injured myself last week. I canno’t do anything
    and this is very frustrating. But I will be back at my embroidery as
    soon as I can.

    Have a great day everyone and Trish thank you for being a teacher.


  4. I too like the quoted aphorisms scattered through your column. But I always understood that it was ‘if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing properly’.

    The other one I like is ‘ Always aim for excellence, if you don’t all you will ever have is mediocrity’ – my husband who is a wood sculptor lives by this.

  5. You have already inspired me to step out of my comfort zone, Trish, thank you. These words of wisdom are just what’s needed. It also doesn’t hurt to hear that you make mistakes too :).

  6. Thank you for the quotes, they touch each of us differently because “for everything there is a time and a season”. Several of them touched my heart. I too will be watching for your early pieces and would take your throw-aways! I am attempting thread painting, I have all your books and DVD, but I’m not doing well. I think I need to do more practicing before doing more of the project! Keep on doing what you are doing! Ill be watching!!!!!

  7. Trish, I read your column by the good graces of Tonie Evans. She has been my patient teacher for more years than either of us wants to admit. Your words in this column echo so much of her philosophy that it is amazing. I am grateful to hear so much encouragement from another fine teacher. I am trying to get back to stitching after having a reverse shoulder replacement. I despair of ever getting started decently but Tonie encourages me and I appreciate having your words added to hers. Thank you!

    1. Tonie Evans was instrumental in encouraging me to teach many years ago and I will always be grateful to her for her that. You are very fortunate to have her as a tutor! Best wishes with your stitching. Trish

  8. What a lovely email to wake up to today – so very encouraging and inspiring. Love all your quotes – need to think about these from time to time. I would be happy to own a piece of your work that you might have thrown in the drawer.

  9. Thanks for the reminder that ‘quality’ of life is what I strive for. Your post is beautifully said, Trish!

  10. Yesterday was 11 years that my beloved husband has been gone. Dale was 55 years old when he died from Esophageal Cancer.

    Hopefully, anyone here who has reflux and takes antacids will have a simple procedure called ‘endoscopy’ – where a gastroenterologist can look at your esophagus to make sure it is not damaged.

    The life you save could be your own.

    Oh, and EC is also familial and/or genetic.

  11. Your post is very timely for me too! Just yesterday I unpacked an old UFO, and I think parts of it were done by a completely different person! I did unpick a little of it, but the rest I have chalked up to experience and I’m just moving on. Can’t wait to hear your other stories!

  12. Your post came at just the right time – I am struggling with the little kingfisher and finding it a huge challenge. But still love dong it. Thanks for the encouragement.

  13. You certainly hit the nail on the head this morning, and I fully agree. Have shared with all my students. So good to have these thoughts on paper. Thank you,

  14. Dear Trish, I have fallen totally in love with needle painting. I have only been at it for the past 3 years and enjoy every minute of it. I am self taught through books and the greatest tool of all, the internet. Thanks for sharing your great tips and one day soon I would like to embroider a protea too. Your protea is absolutely magnificent. I just love the blending of your colours, so watch this space.

  15. Darling Trishy —I agree with all your comments and am myself a GREAT admirrer of Winston——however I do admire your acheivements too and agree that you carry on with your passion and love——-while I will carry on admiring your work and correcting my faults in life —its a full time trial trying to do things correctly and I am running out of time.and you still have plenty. Your students are starting and will have frustrations and fun plus their own ideas. Well comprised letter LOL MUM

Leave a Reply to Laurie BCancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.