I feel very privileged to have a job that I love.  I work in the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of Winnipeg as the Office Manager and Student Advisor.  This means that I get to spend my work days with wonderfully creative people – professors and students who are lively and talented and full of beans.  I always say these right-brained people with their heads in the clouds need practical me to keep them their feet on the ground.  However, working in that world, I have always been very glad that I have my own creative outlets – knitting and stitching.  I was especially delighted when two professors I work with answered my invitation to attend the Members' Show at Seminar in Winnipeg.  They were absolutely blown away by the beautiful stitching they saw there and I was so happy to share some of my art with them for once.

Every year our department offers an annual series of lectures for our students by successful people in "the profession".  Recently we were thrilled to have Djanet Sears with us.  She is a multi-award-winning playwright who was in Winnipeg as part of Sarasvati Productions annual theatre Festival, "FemFest" featuring plays by women for everyone.  The whole Festival was held in the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film, the building in which I work.  Djanet presented an hour-long lecture on playwriting to a group of more than 100 students and professionals.

I was able to greet Djanet and introduce myself but unfortunately I had a meeting at the same time and couldn't stay for the full talk.  I got lucky, though, and my meeting ended early so I slipped into the balcony for the last 20 minutes or so.  Djanet, who does a lot of teaching, is a fun and engaging speaker.  As her parting "gift" to the audience, she had us do a little writing exercise intended, I think, to prompt inspiration and see how ideas start and then get fleshed out.  I wasn't going to participate – I have no aspirations to be a playwright – but as I watched 100 people reach for pen and paper, I thought "why not?".

And this is where stitching comes in.

Djanet told us she was going to give us five words.  We had to pick one, then put our pen down on the paper and write – write anything related to that word for a full minute without stopping or lifting our pen off the paper.  Unbelievably, the first word she suggested was "thread" and I confess that I didn't even hear what the others were.  I was off and running.  She stopped us after our minute and I had a nice little paragraph.  Then she told us to read it through and underline two or three phrases that struck us.  We were then given another minute to write something that related to one of those phrases. 

With no forethought at all, here's what I came up with when prompted with the word "thread". . .

"Thread forms an integral part of my life – the thread of life.  But my life is about thread.  I take threads of all kinds and make beautiful pictures from it – pictures, pillows, sweaters.  I am a thread artist.

"I am a thread artist.  Some people draw art, plant art, colour art, draft art, act art, build art.  But I use a needle and thread to fill my leisure hours.  It's my hobby and my joy.  From my needle flows beautiful images!"

Amazing, eh?!  And I promise I did not edit one word.  In her initial instructions to us, Djanet told us we could write anything we wanted and that we should feel free since no one would ever see what we'd written; we had nothing to lose.  But I couldn't resist sharing my writing with you!  I suspect I'm not alone in noting that I've got "it" bad!


  1. Patti,How inspiring! What would we do without thread? She sounds like she was a dynamic speaker. What were the other words you had to write about?

  2. This is amazing Patti!! It somehow brings back a discussion at Seminar a couple of years ago about how we often say we "just" do needlework, or we "just" stitch. We need to lift our heads high and declare that we are Thread Artists!!

  3. You are such a great writer. I always enjoy reading what you have put to pen and paper. Thanks for sharing this wonderful article with us.


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The Embroiderers' Association of Canada (EAC) is a national non-profit educational organization whose purpose is to have a fellowship of persons who enjoy needlework and wish to learn and share their knowledge; and thereby to work towards maintaining higher standards of design, colour and workmanship.

Our aim is to preserve traditional techniques and promote new challenges in the Art of Embroidery through education and networking.

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