If you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it well enough.’  Albert Einstein

I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason and these past few months have been interesting to say the least.  I knew I wanted to start a Podcast – The Stitch Safari Podcast – and I did.  So what’s been so ‘redeeming’ about that?  Easy.  I’ve had to research.  I’ve also created The Stitch Safari Facebook Page.

And research’s really been a new and exciting experience for me.  Happily, I can attest to its therapeutic powers as I’m enjoying every moment, and learning lots,  but I’m also extremely conscious of the fact that prior to this, I was simply a ‘technique’ type of girl.  When I look at my library, which is staring me boldly in the face as I write this, most of my books are technique-based.

‘When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.’  Walt Disney

Not all, but certainly the vast majority.  I overlooked an area of interest that has long held a huge fascination for me, indeed, one which I thought I knew a little about.  History.

Well, scotch that idea – I knew very little indeed.  And not just history, per se, but the how what, when, and why of things.  For instance, I kept asking myself how could I write and talk about stitch or embroidery, when I knew so little about the evolution of the needle and how thread came to be, and I know next to nothing about weaving.  It’s made me ask the sort of questions I really should’ve been asking but never really did.  I should’ve taken my own advice and looked back, not forwards.  And history does that, it makes me look back and think, plus it can play a huge role in spurring-on creativity.

‘What is creative living?  Any life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than fear.’  Elizabeth Gilbert

My circle of creativity didn’t include that area of interest that really talks to my passion for stitch and even design.  So to be able to write for The Stitch Safari Podcast, I’ve had to research history, to really understand all those questions that kept popping into my head.  I love history, and it’s opened my eyes and made me even more curious.  My circle is complete.

‘Let curiosity lead the way.’  Unknown

I now luxuriate in bibliographies, devour historical texts pertinent to the topic I’m researching and that could lead me through Greek mythology and writings, Chinese legends and beautiful poetry, ancient trading routes, idioms, politics, and even laws enacted to control the consumption of luxury goods.  I’m astonished at the role cloth and stitch has played through history,  and still does, along with the symbolism of dress and colour and the rationale put forward by scholars as to the role of women working in textiles over time.

It’s absolutely fascinating.  Plus, it’s never-ending.  I’m currently researching a 21st-century Chinese designer as I write this.  Her creations are culturally and traditionally relevant, yet they express her vision of women, beauty, and strength.  The embroidery and embellishment are breath-taking, not to mention her career and rise to fame after The Cultural Revolution.

So next week, I’m going to do a review of the books I’m reading now.  They range from Dragon Robes to Women’s Work to The Bayeux Tapestry and much, much more.  And I don’t think these books are always necessarily easy to find – I usually find them through bibliographies.

I must admit I’ve never had so many Amazon deliveries!

I look forward to your company next week.

cathy jack coupland