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Monday, March 7, 2011

Zen and the Art of Needlecraft

I have just finished reading Sandra Detrixhe's book, published by Adams Media, Avon, Massachusetts in 2005. It is now, I think, out of print, but I found a copy on Abebooks.

The first thing about this book is that it feels terrific in your hand. It is very light and a great shape - just slightly wider than a normal paperback. The cover is very smooth, and the pages quite thick.

Detrixhe takes the three goals of Zen Buddhism, to balance the mind, enlightenment ("superalertness") and enlightenment-in-our-daily-lives and applies them to needlecraft. While her writing is chatty, homely and centred in her own life it is rarely condescending. Her application of the Zen concept of  'beginner's mind'  (the ability to experience everything as if for the first time) was helpful and would be useful to anyone teaching needlework.

She goes on to explore the eight pathways to overcoming suffering: right understanding, right purpose, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right alertness and right concentration. Along the way are many stories about historical roles of sewing, the role of sewing in her own and other women's lives and stories about sewing in literature.

I found this a very comforting book. I empathise with many of the author's attitudes and experiences. For me, too, needlework is focus, de-stressing and deeply satisfying. It is good to take the time to reflect on why this might be so.

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