On Pins and Needles

By Lauren Zeller, M2, Class of 2022

[Featured below] are two “starter” embroidery pieces I found patterns for, and I decided to try my hand at embroidery as an outlet for some stress and anxiety during my second year. I learned to sew from both of my grandmothers and how to cross stitch from my mom at a very young age, and in college I did some free-hand embroidery on a jean jacket I wore all of the time. I got tons of compliments on the anatomical heart and eye that I did on my jacket, and found that embroidery was similar to basic sewing, but with so much more of an artistic flair. It is basically painting, but instead of using paint, you create the color and texture using embroidery floss (fancy thread). Embroidery can be very difficult, but the finished pieces are so beautiful and satisfying that it more than makes up for the time I spent on them and the number of times I stabbed myself with needles! 

Starter embroidery piece
Starter embroidery piece

I have many, many plants in my home and I loved the aesthetic of the Monstera deliciosa leaves, but the pattern called for a “Satin Stitch” that requires a lot of thread and sewing in perfectly straight lines to create a near perfectly smooth look to the texture. The Monstera piece took me almost two months to complete, but I found an odd sense of satisfaction with every leaf I completed.

Monstera deliciosa leaves

The second pattern involving the phases of the moon and the mushrooms has such a magical look to it, and I loved the feeling of fantasy and whimsy that it evoked. This piece was much more simple to construct and called for some interesting knotting and threading techniques to create the texture of the leaves and dandelion blooms. More than anything, all of the art and craft pieces that I take the time to make serve as a means to do work with my hands. The heavy book work of these first two years has left me wanting for a more tactile activity that I could escape into at the end of the day. Sewing, tailoring or altering clothing, and embroidery have been great options for the part of me that loves to create. I do often get asked how I balance my art and love for creativity with medical school and life, and my answer is pretty simple. If something is important to you, making time for it will also be important. I worked on these pieces during time that I made sure to dedicate to myself and doing what I love. I also love combining my love for medicine and science with my art, and in a way I honor both of those sides of myself with my artistic creations.

Moon and mushrooms

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