no-one looks at the back, except you…

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27/12/2010 by Sarah Ritchie

Before the Fall, by Sarah Ritchie

"Before the Fall", an original needlework design by Sarah Ritchie (front AND back!)

Years ago I knew a girl who was a compulsive cross-stitcher. You know the type…the one who carries a cross stitch bag with her to every social occasion. Yes, that’s her.

This cross-stitcher was a living example of practice makes perfect. She would astound me, not only at the immaculate result on the front of her linen, but the reverse of her work was like a mirror image of the front!

For anyone who has attempted any form of needlework, you will know that it is nigh impossible to achieve a super-neat result on the reverse side…and yet, she did it! No little tails of cotton. No knots. No mistakes. Perfect.

Back in 2008 I decided to give needlepoint a go (tapestry, rather than cross-stitch). I understand the relentless pursuit of the perfect reverse side, but I didn’t quite get there (as you can see, above).

The irony is, apart from the person who will be framing your work (who will love you for making the reverse as tidy and flat as possible), the only person who will EVER see the back of your work…is you.

I never asked my old cross-stitching friend why she sought perfection like she did. I can only assume that she had honed her craft so well, the perfect reverse was a natural by-product of her skill. It may also have been the result of an obsessive pursuit of perfection.

I agree with the concept of aiming for ‘excellence’ in pursuits and life, but I don’t strive for ‘perfection’ as I did when I was younger. For me, I have reached the point in my life where I don’t mind leaving a few cotton tails here and there…or a few splashes of paint where they – perhaps – shouldn’t be. Those little “bits” are what make your life colourful and interesting and unique. You could try colouring outside the lines too while you are at it…I dare you!


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Finalist, Estuary Art Awards 2011
Exhibitor, The Original Art Sale 2011


© Sarah Ritchie 2014

Please do not use copies of my original artwork for profit, however you are welcome to share my artwork images as much as you like!

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