Odd title, I know. Read on.
Friday night's stitch group was loaded with over-the-top silliness and I haven't laughed that hard or that much in a long time. When I'm laughing really hard, I'm not a big "Har-Har-Har" laugher. I'm a body-shaking, tear-producing, silent laugher. It's like the giggles start and then I can't stop and it just comes on me in waves.
And there wasn't even any wine...
Anyway, because I had a long drive home, I thought about our conversations and our stitching for at least a solid hour and I went over again in my head everything that was said and all of the beautiful pieces being stitched.
Is this a trait unique to women? It seems to me that after men leave each other, it's as if a door shuts in their head and whatever conversations they had are completely over. Women, on the other hand, (or at least the women I know), will still be thinking about and replaying those conversations, sometimes for days.
But that's a discussion for a whole 'nother day.
Getting back to last night... what I was going over in my head as I drove home, was the way that all of my stitching friends seem to get along. Large groups or small groups, or even just two people sitting in a cafe with their stitching...we are so darn congenial. Of course, every now and then - actually, very rarely - I run into a stitching person who makes me want to stab myself with a dull needle. But honestly, in the past five years or so, since I've discovered the fun of stitching in groups, I've only met one person at a retreat who drove me crazy, and that's because I was spending the whole weekend with her and she never shut up. Not even once. It was five years ago and I can still remember every detail of her life. Because she told us all, loudly and repeatedly. Over the course of the entire weekend.
Sorry...I've veered way off my intended course. Again.
SO - This has been on my mind for a long time, I've been thinking about WHY our stitching groups, large or small, work so well. Why do I treasure all of these interactions with stitchers? They are all so diverse. Some I see one at a time. Some I see thirty at a time. Some I see regularly. Others I get to see once every couple of years. Others I've never seen at all, except photos on their blogs.
What is it about having a needle in our hands and knowing that others around us have needles in their hands that helps us get along so easily? At first I was thinking that any group that gets together on a regular basis will develop this sort of congeniality, but I'm in other sorts of groups and if I really think about those relationships - well, it's just not as easy with them.
This is what I've come up with so far:
1. One of the first things that stitchers do when they get together is admire one another's work. Once the basics are out of the way - your name, where you live, etc - the next revelation is always that we want to know what you're working on. So we all pull out our work and everyone comments graciously and generously. It's easy to feel comfortable in a group when you've just been complimented. It makes you feel important and worthwhile and makes your spirit feel generous, too. I think that this activity - this mutual sharing and admiration - sets the stage for the entire interaction.
2. In a casual stitching group, no one is made to feel responsible for the happiness of anyone else. We just bring our own stitching and then your work is your work. How else can I say this? We have nothing to prove. The pressure is off. Among other groups, sometimes there's an unspoken undercurrent that makes us feel like we have to "do our part" or live up to a certain expectation. Not so in a casual stitching group. If you're not moving along quickly on a project, or even if you're blazing through your stash...well, we've all been there. We may sympathize. Or we may tease the heck out of you (good natured teasing, of course!) But still, your work is your work and you don't need to worry about making any of us happy.
3. Having those needles in our hands seems to take the pressure off of us to generate conversation if we're not prone to talking a lot or if we just don't have anything to say at the moment. Silences are a normal, healthy part of the get together. How many groups can we say that about?
4. And when we're not silent, I've found that the sharing level of stitching conversation can be quite deep. I used to think it was that we weren't looking each other in the eye and so people were more likely to say things that they wouldn't ordinarily say. But now I think it's that Numbers 1,2 and 3 set the stage for stitchers to really speak from their heart. I think it's all about developing that level of comfort so quickly.
So I think that's it, in a very large nutshell. I'd also be curious to know what the rest of you think. What dynamics make your group work? And I use the term "group" loosely. Define it however you'd like..an online group, a big organization or a buddy or two that you see occasionally.
And as for my title? Ahhh. It's just what happens in such a diverse group. Sometimes someone will tell a story from their background and it's a little foreign to all of us, like the story one of the stitchers was telling us about a situation on her family farm. So the group listened and nodded politely and we tried to understand it, because we genuinely like this woman and she's very sweet and interesting. But just like the saying goes, "there's one in every crowd" who will speak up and say something that we were probably all thinking, but she put it out there in a funny way.
"What are you? Amish?"
And I dissolved into pee-my-pants laughter.
I'm sorry...I simply can't do that story justice. But it was hilarious.