“If you want to be interesting, be interested.”
– David Ogilvy
In my in-depth journey this year, I have been emphasizing and focusing on my mentorship by learning to develop a beautiful mind. According to de Bono’s book, “being interesting is much more important than winning an argument” or “showing how clever you are,” because being interesting makes “people want to be with you” and “enjoy talking to you” (40). One way to be interesting is to find and make connections that link matters together and generate interest. For instance, when my mentor and I were discussing the stitches I have already learned, we linked using and practicing those stitches to designing and integrating them into a pattern. My mentor then added that there are other uses for related skills if one thinks outside the box, like using the running stitch to personalize and embroider names on Christmas stockings.
Although it is important to be interesting, it is also critical to know how to respond. Only then can entertaining and informative conversation ensue. There are many different ways to respond, and the specific method best suited for the situation heavily depends on personal opinions and common objectives. In my interactions with my mentor, Michelle, I have encountered a variety of situations each necessitating a slightly different response. For instance, when my mentor asked me about my progress so far in our most recent meeting, I shared my personal successes and struggles, saying “I have had so much fun learning and practicing the stitches, and the resources you have given me were super helpful! I found your suggestion about measuring out and marking stitch lengths beforehand particularly useful for making neat, orderly stitches. However, I found it difficult to thread the needle, and I also had trouble separating the strands of embroidery floss sometimes. To combat this, I found it easier to separate the floss from the middle rather than from the ends.” My mentor then extended the conversation with a recommendation. She suggested using a needle threader, which I had never used before, and proceeded to teach me how to do it.
In another example of a different response, I modified an idea presented by my mentor to make it more acceptable to myself and to further contribute to the conversation. When Michelle said she would “search out some beginner patterns and designs” for me to practice with, I thanked her for taking the time to do so. Then, I added that I actually made a Pinterest board with designs I was interested in, and shared it with her so that she could use those pictures as inspiration while looking for resources to give me. Moreover, when my mentor showed me two different resources demonstrating various ways to embroider flowers, I asked for clarification by saying, “Which resource do you think I should start with? Is there a particular one that might be easier or more suited for my experience level?”
Lastly, when Michelle mentioned that she would like to keep up with my blog posts, I supported the idea by saying, “I have two posts up already that you can view, and the next one will be posted this coming Friday. It’s so nice that you are keeping track of my progress through my blog in addition to the regular updates I am giving you!”
Through conversations like these, my mentor has continued to teach and support my learning, and I am so grateful for the progress that she has helped me make. Since my last update, I have looked at various patterns designed by other, more experienced embroiderers, and gathered a collection of embroidery patterns that inspire me and contain certain elements that I wish to capture in my own designs. Click here to see some of these designs.
I have also been practicing some flower patterns from resources my mentor has given me. As all of the designs use stitches that I have already learned and practiced (with the exception of two new stitches), it didn’t take much time for me to get accustomed to embroidering these flowers, and I genuinely enjoyed every moment I spent on these practice projects. I found it especially interesting to see the various ways stitches were integrated into the patterns. For instance, french knots were used to mimic flower buds in one design, a running stitch was used for the stem of another, and a blanket stitch illustrated the rim of a bell-shaped flower in a third design. I also learned a new stitch involving casting thread onto the needle in a manner reminiscent of casting on for knitting, which created a beautiful, lavender-like form. Furthermore, practicing these flowers have allowed me to experiment with using different colours and amounts of embroidery floss, something my mentor encouraged in our most recent meeting. Although she suggested to start with three strands, adding more material could result in a richer, more vibrant colour and a fuller texture while using fewer strands could be beneficial for fine details or adding additional colour onto a finished piece. Michelle also proposed putting multiple different coloured strands of floss together for a more interesting effect.
Practicing these stitches in the form of simple floral patterns have prompted me to slightly adjust my plan for this in-depth project. Rather than delving into designing my own patterns right away, I have decided to spread out the workload better and practice patterns made by others to become more familiar with other approaches. This will also help me recognize and take note of styles or elements of embroidery that I appreciate. I can then find ways to incorporate these features into my own designs.
Over these past two weeks, embroidery has gradually become a form of relaxation, self-expression, and self-care that I can look forward to at the end of a busy day, and I have experienced nothing but support, sincerity, and joy when working with my mentor, Michelle. I look forward to continuing to develop a more beautiful mind, building my relationship with my mentor, and improving my embroidery skillset!