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Textiles and Me

Stimming through craft

By Natasja RosePublished 4 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - August 2021
Rowen Berry pouches, in three forms: embroidery, woven and leather beadwork

I've always enjoyed making things, though it took me a while to find my physical medium.

That happened when I joined the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA) and discovered historical textiles.

I try most things once, unless they relate to a known trigger. Costuming and sewing, embroidery, weaving, beading... if it looked interesting, I tried it. Weaving, sewing and embroidery are the ones that endured, though weaving was slightly constrained by the fact that my apartment did not have space for a full-sized loom. Nor was it big enough for a dedicated sewing room, though the house I moved into earlier this year does.

It took a little longer to discover an unexpected side-benefit: the repetitive motions were a fantastic way of stimming when I was self-concious about using figit toys in public.

Handsewn plushy. Pattern was unclear whether it's a dragon or a gryphon.

Being an Autistic woman with less-visible traits, born in the 80s, and thus well into adulthood before any real supports were in place that I qualified for, there is a stigma around stimming. Sometimes its just the general discomfort of having internalised the idea over a lifetime that I shouldn't need a 'crutch'. Sometimes it's the general attitude from society that I'm trying to be special as an excuse to goof off, because I "don't look Autistic" and therefore "don't actually need it".

There are certain past managers who, if I read their names in the morning obituaries, I would throw a private party.

Of course, these were also the people who thought that we should cut our lunch break in half, because who needs half an hour to eat? Leaving aside the fact that one also needs to heat up said meal, be interrupted by customers at least once, and digest their food, my break was the time I desperately needed to read, or otherwise decompress in order to effectively function for the rest of my shift. Join your union.

Having a small project in my bag was a life-saver.

Simple, repetitive motions helped me ground and focus, and it was a good reason to ignore co-workers who wanted to use me as a free therapist. Or insisted that I join them to eat, before proceeding to block me out of any conversation.

Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Occasionally known as the "Temporary Insanity Project", because what possessed me to do the background as well?

Upon discovering that I was actually good at embroidery, I started making things. At first it was just my adding a bit here and there to my own re-enactment clothing, but it turned out that other people liked it, too.

It kept my hands busy and my mind occupied when I had to be present at work or an event but had nothing to do. It gave me an outlet for my creative juices when I was suffering writer's block

Embroidered belt for a Christmas play. Poinsetta and Ivy vine, overlapping stitch and french knots, split stitch for the vine.

Embroidery has been around in various forms for a long time, at least as far as the early 600's AD/CE. ("CE = Common Era, for the non-Abrehamic religions)

The technique I use most is split-stitch, which is also one of the easiest.

It works well as an outlining or filler stitch, whichever you prefer.

Rowen Berry Embroidered pouches. Lacing holes are the WORST...

Another technique I commonly use is ribbon roses, in which you make five lines around a central point, then basket-weave a ribbon (over, under, over, under, repeat until you run out of space.).

Ribbon roses are still technically embroidery, but they add a raised texture and give your fingers a break from split stitch.

Embroidery and ribbon roses

If I'm embroidering clothing, I tend to stick to nature; leaves, flowers and vines.

If I'm making a pouch, cushion or other things that will mostly lie flat, I can be a bit more creative.

The most effective way to trace a pattern, if you don't like freehand, is a lightboard.

Me in person at an event

Pick your colours either at random or specific to a person or whatever else you're embroidering

Split-stitch embroidery, me doing archery

Fairy, because my stall was at a Ren Faire, and styalised flower.

Now that you know about embroidery and how it can be helpful with sensory issues and/or neurodiverse conditions, go forth and have fun!

By Gio Gix on Unsplash

To see more of my work, find my facebook page here

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About the Creator

Natasja Rose

I've been writing since I learned how, but those have been lost and will never see daylight (I hope).

I'm an Indie Author, with 30+ books published.

I live in Sydney, Australia

Follow me on Facebook or Medium if you like my work!

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (4)

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  • Mike Singleton - Mikeydred4 months ago

    Extremely interesting, thank you for sharing that

  • Babs Iverson4 months ago

    The history, your personal story, and your pictures of your embroidery work gives texture to your articles. It's fantastic!!! Outstanding and informative!!! Loved it!!!❤️❤️💕

  • Fun & interesting article. I've too much going on here to try picking it up, but still I enjoyed it.

  • This is fantastic!!! I love your embroidery work. The details are beautiful. I really enjoyed reading your story. Thank you very much for sharing.

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