I learned to embroider from my grandmothers while still in single-digit age, and I suspect that most people who enjoy and practice fiber art learned hand stitching at some point along the way. But like other basic skills picked up early on -- Spanish? algebra? -- it's easily forgotten if you don't use it.
So last night I led a hand-stitching refresher course for the members of my local textile and fiber art group. It's summer, we couldn't come up with another program, and an evening of stitch-and-bitch seemed like fun. And it was. We started with reminiscences, most of us recalling those napkins and hankies you would buy at the five-and-dime with motifs stamped on for you to embroider. And all agreed that we didn't want to go back to that kind of stitching. Instead we did freestyle.
A few people had brought hoops, but most of us just worked on the table -- much more conducive to freestyle stitching, in my opinion, because you can see your whole composition and can make long lines or skip around without having to reposition your hoop. Besides, if you're not making precise little stitches, such as those where you had to perfectly match the stamped motif, you don't really need the control the hoop provides.