I began this needlepoint back in March, while I was still in hospital. I had managed to teach myself to knit again, but it was very tiring for my left hand (and brain) and I could only manage a little at a time. So I bought a kit for a needlepoint cushion, and when I found myself unable to knit, I picked it up. All my left hand had to do was steady the frame. It felt good to at least be doing something.

As a non-taxing activity that I didn’t have to think about, this needlepoint became very important to me over the next few months. I stitched indoors and out. In Spring, when the weather was nice, I took it to the park, and worked on it there. While sitting on my park bench with my stitching, I met a lot of dogs who seemed to be having a lot of fun. I decided that it would be nice to have one of my own.

Then my sister came to see me. When she saw the needlepoint, she remembered that my maternal grandmother (who taught me to knit, and who died in 1994) had a needlepoint cushion in her living room just like mine. It was curious – I bought that particular kit because there was something evocative for me in those tent-stitched fuschias, and when Helen mentioned it, I could immediately see my Grandma’s fuschia cushion in situ in her house on Heywood Road. Perhaps Grandma stitched herself a cushion from a similar kit design, I don’t know.

As time went on over the Summer and Autumn, knitting became much easier for my left hand, and I put the needlepoint aside. I took it up again a couple of weeks ago, finished the stitching, and got out the sewing machine (for the first time since February). I shall be gifting the finished cushion to my Ma for Christmas. (As she is wending her way here now from deepest Lancashire, I can show it to you).

It is just a needlepoint cushion. But the ten most difficult months of my life, and many memories — good, and bad, and some associated with my wonderful Grandma that I didn’t even know I had — are stitched all the way through it. I think my Ma will like it.

60 thoughts on “fuschias

  1. What a year, Kate! But what a wonderful, positive outlook you’ve had (most of the time – but we’ll allow you the odd slip). I’m sure your Ma will love it! Have a wonderful Christmas. Sending you all the best for 2011.

  2. I have some knitted objects with similar stories (though not in such difficult circumstances). My particular favourite was the cardigan knit in the time when I was doing the final push for finishing my masters dissertation. It was the only respite I got from my computer those days and there was a lot of anguish and stress knitted into every stitch. One might think that would make me dislike the cardigan in the end, but now I take it as a symbol of a difficult time that I got through, and wear it with pride.

  3. Lovely story and lovely cushion, Kate.

    Where on earth did you find a needle point kit?! Such things are scarce as hen’s teeth around here and I live in a metropolitan area! Must have been an online purchase?

  4. As a mom I can assure you that your Ma will absolutely positively love and cherish this present( and the recover progress that you have made this year will be her other best present).
    Merry X-mas to you and your family

  5. What a touching story. I have always loved needplepoint and have several UFO’s around. Knitting and crocheting have taken over, but it’s nice to have a go-to project. That fuschia pillow holds alot of love and endurance.

  6. I imagine your Mum has had some tough moments this year too and I can’t think of anything more lovely than a gift that speaks so clearly of her daughter’s progress and determination.

  7. Thank you for sharing the cushion’s story. Your Mum will love it. Best wishes to you and Tom for a wonderful Christmas and a New Year of progress and strength.

  8. Although a longtime lurker on your blog and silently applauding your recovery, it was your last post that moved me to tears – and to post a comment. Your cushion ties together the generations it will be cherished because of this and because of the story behind the making. I truly hope that 2011 is a peaceful and happy year which sees you go from strength to strength. I’ll now go back to lurking.

  9. The cushion is amazing in many ways and your mother will treasure it. It is odd what the mind will do and leave us wondering but I don’t believe in coincindences. Wishing you the best of health in 2011.

  10. I think this is the most precious present to a mother from a daughter who went through all these harships. Every stitch holds both good and bad memories of the long process of recovery. I’m sure your mother will love it. It will always be a reminder to her of her strong and loving daughter who remembered her in the most difficult times of her life, as well as a reminder of her own mother. Best wishes of a new year of good health and progress.

  11. It’s not just a cushion. It’s a symbol of who you are and what you do. Your Ma will love every stitch.
    Happy Christmas, Kate.

  12. Dear Kate,
    As ever, you have really inspired me with this post. As a relative latecomer to craftiness, I have never done any needlepoint (unless first-grade lessons in running stitch and French knots count) but have recently been intrigued by it, and seeing your gorgeous cushion confirms that this is something I should try! (May I ask where you acquired the kit?) All best wishes for the holidays and continued recovery in 2011. I’ll look forward to meeting up in January!
    All best, Marina

  13. The fushia cushion is beautiful! I love the old fashioned symbolism of using flowers to communicate messages, I read that fushias stand for “faithfulness” kind of a beautiful message coming through, as you strive so hard regaining your oldself, healthwise, and the syncronicity from your Grandma. “To thine ownself be true”
    Happy Xmas Kate and family, and thank you for sharing your 2010

  14. I love the backstories attached to artists’ work…and though it may be “just a needlepoint cushion”, it’s beauty is not lessened by that, nor is the emotional response I had to your story…lovely, all ’round…thanks for sharing!

  15. I can just imagine running my hands over your stitching and remembering your story. Your ma will, I’m sure, be most thankful. Hope your time together over the holidays brings happiness. x

  16. Isn’t the brain a funny thing?

    I love needlepoint and have several tapestry cushions that I’ve stitched in my work bag but I’m lazy about making them up. I need to get on with this.

    Have a lovely Christmas!


  17. It is beautiful!

    Somehow it if feels inappropriate to say this to someone that does not know you, but I have to.

    I am VERY proud of you! Well done!

  18. Your cushion is beautiful, you have come so far in such a short time and I will be thinking of you when I finally start knitting Dollheid and Neepheid as my holiday knitting.Very best wishes to you, Tom , Jesus and Bruce.

  19. I’ts really lovely Kate. Your Ma will be blubbering …but I’m sure extremely happy to receive such a gift.
    Wishing you and your family peace.

  20. It is NOT JUST a needlepoint cushion (and you well know it!), it is a lovely gift under any circumstances! Best wishes for a merry Christmas and a New Year that is possibly less challenging than the one just ending…from a complete stranger, it’s true, but being a faithful blog reader makes me feel like we are at least “acquaintances.”

  21. A beautiful cushion and inspiring post. I too have a gift of needlepoint from my mum who passed away 10 years ago, a Xmas scene in a paperweight, I cannot wait to get it out each xmas. Everything then feels ok. Love to you and your family xx

  22. A very touching story. Obviously your grandma also loved fuschias. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know the story of her life as she stitched.
    I follow your blog with interest. I have befriended a man of now 38 (he was 36 when he had his stroke) at the pool. His goal is to run a 5K marathon. I told him to go for it. I also told him about you.
    You never know whose life you influence. We live on the east side of Vancouver Island on the very west side of Canada.
    Happy holidays – expect some tears when your mom opens her gift!

  23. Beautiful! Love the colors and design. And, of course, the story that goes with it. A gentle reminder to us that there are many crafts out there that will suit our varying abilities (shall come in handy if I ever take up Art Therapy, I think).

  24. Wow, that’s amazing. I’ve only finished one needlepoint project to date. And, with no good excuses to boot! That’s persistence. And it’s beautiful.

  25. The cushion is beautiful and your mother will treasure it always, especially after this difficult year. As a mum myself, I know it was probably an agonizing time for her, too, worrying about you. You are young, strong, beautiful, and have been traveling a challenging and amazing road at high speed toward recovery. I admire your courage and gumption — not to mention beautiful Bruce! You give so much to your readers; if only we could return the gift. Greetings of the season, dear Kate.

  26. What a wonderful, thoughtful and special present.

    Merry Christmas to you and all the best wishes for the New Year. I hope it will bring you further physical recovery, many magical walks, joy, love and creative adventures.

  27. I have a secret fondness for needlepoint. My grandma had many needlepoint cushions all over her house and it wasn’t until I was an adult that it dawned on me that she’d made them. Such a sweet gift for your ma!

  28. This is simply beautiful, like all your work; and is, like everything you’d made this year, an inspiration.

    My grandma loved fuchsias too, as well as flowering cacti; for years, I thought them both to be the same kind of plant!

    Wishing you and all your family all the very best compliments of the season, love Kate.

  29. No doubt she will love it. That’s the special thing about handmade gifts, we put in lots of unseen but no doubt felt meaning into them.

    Hope your 2011 is full of laughter, love, and health!

  30. Merry Christmas Kate. You have overcome many things this year—I think there is an angel watching over you. I hope 2011 brings many more beautiful gifts from you to us. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us.

  31. I have found that having a physical thing to represent a divining moment is comforting to me. Of course, it has led to a cluttered home, which I’m now attempting to resolve, but I understand the significance of that pillow. Congratulations on completing it, as well as the first 10 months of your recovery.

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About Kate Davies

writer, designer and creator of Buachaille (100% Scottish wool)