On Needles & Art

Dear reader,

If you’ve grown up in the world, then chances are high that you know what needlepoint is. You know cross-stitching? I have a very vague memory of being a wee thing and watching my dad’s mom work on a cross-stitch of a rose, as I gazed upon her magically making an image out of just a bunch of thread. I mean, that’s what a large part of textile art is really. A bunch of thread.

Behold, the beauty of a bunch of thread. Artwork by Faig Ahmed.

I started down the dizzying spiral of textile arts with sewing, but it was merely a gateway drug into this world of beautiful things I could make with my hands. I quickly signed on for an introductory course in embroidery, and immediately became obsessed with it. The precision, the attention to detail, it was positively dreamy. If there’s one thing I love about clothes and textiles, it is attention to tiny detail (which explains my particular fixation with historical costume…drool). I scrounged together some extra money and purchased a quilter’s hoop, and spent all of my free time outside of work trying to fill up my embroidery sampler.

That says ‘great’ (as in big) in Farsi there. Don’t ask questions.

My adventures into embroidery have resulted in some pretty interesting projects. I get pretty enthusiastic about things, so I tend to tackle really big, and sometimes highly impractical, projects right off the bat (go big or go home!). I decided to encourage my patch addiction by starting to make my own, all hand-embroidered and had my first go at actually having an angle to the work I was doing.

Artist’s Statement: I’m mixed and I like it! #vivalaraza

So back to the issue at hand. Textile arts are highly addictive. We all know the happy part of this addiction as “the zone.” Errbody knows when they’re in the zone. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that there are many days (most days actually) when I wake up and fall asleep at my sewing machine. Or I stay up way past a reasonable hour to just finish this one section of embroidery! And most often, I forget to eat and sometimes go pee. I personally love the zone. I love feeling productive and using my hands. I need to be occupied with something 97% of the time.

Which brings me to my latest project. For this blog, I wanted to make a little header instead of the current picture I have now. And I sat and thought and thought, and thought some more, about what would be the most fitting for a blog about someone who is a textile artist/traveler. And I thought to myself, oh! I could make a stitched world map! Huzzah!

But how the hell do I make this.

It being digital, I had a go at trying to make this with ProCreate on my iPad. However, while I drew a fairly nice looking rendition of the map, I couldn’t figure out how to get the realistic texture of stitches onto it. I scoured the interwebs for ideas, but could not find any way to make this possible in the way I had it envisioned in my mind.

So I decided to actually embroider it instead. How will I take this physical embroidery piece and turn it into a digital rendition? Not a clue. But I’m not there yet. I’ve barely just finished South America and Australia, so can we just hang on with the technical stuff?


South America, la tierra de oro.
My Aussie friend was much dismayed when he realized I had made this blue and gold instead of green and gold. S’oz!



I refrain from showing a picture of the entire map at this point, because it’s mostly just a bunch of pencil marks with random blue lines across it. I pause on that so that you may have the full of effect of being completely in awe once it is complete.

For those who want to get into embroidery, I highly recommend trying to organize your shit. One of my first purchases after the hoop and a packet of embroidery floss (yes they call it floss…) was an organizer as pictured. God it has been a lifesaver for my sanity.


And even then, as you can see to the far right, chaos still follows me.




Aptly decorated Floss Box!

If embroidery is intriguing to you, but you’re intimidated (for some reason) to try it, then I don’t recommend you go to Instagram.

There are some accounts on there of embroiderers that will bring tears to  your eyes with their beauty and precision. Or is that just me?

More progress to come on this, and hopefully this header will be all that I’m dreaming of!






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