|In the four years that I’ve been living in Greece, I have never been able to make anyone understand exactly what it is that I do. Apparently, digitizing designs for machine embroidery is just incomprehensible. Today, our landlord came to do a preliminary inspection before we move out next week. He brought his wife with him, and she saw the sewing machine I have set up in the living room. She told me bravo, which means good or great in Greek. With no prompting, and with no English, she managed to ask me if I do embroidery, too. Translating through her husband, who’s English is not very good, I was able to make both of them understand exactly what I do.
It was such a fabulous moment. The inspection was set aside as we had a three-way conversation about machines and embroidery designs. Usually, when anyone asks what I do, I just tell them I’m a designer, but don’t mention embroidery at all. If I mention embroidery, everyone always asks if I do production work like logos on shirts and hats. They never seem to understand that someone actually has to design those logos or that something other than logos can be designed. So, I choose to sound a bit pretentious by saying I’m a designer, intimating that it’s in fashion.
It’s better than the frustration of not being understood. When I decided ten years ago to make my living through machine embroidery designs, I knew it was a niche area, but I never thought that it was so misunderstood, especially by those who sew or make their living through sewing. I was shocked, when I offered free embroidery designs, to be asked if my designs could be done through hand-stitched embroidery, including free-standing lace designs. I always try to be diplomatic and encouraging in my responses, but some days it’s just too funny.
I felt like a late-comer to machine embroidery when I started, so I thought more people would be way ahead of me on their knowledge. When we moved to Greece, I stocked up on my embroidery supplies ahead of time, knowing that my choices would be limited here.
Well, my choices here are so limited that a better description would be non-existent. I ran out of a specialized thread in the middle of some embroidery patterns. Thread is a big thing here, along with buttons and zippers, so I thought I could get some locally. I wasted two weeks trying, and only gave up when a shopkeeper got mad at me because they thought I was trying to sell them something.
I turned to my favorite embroidery design gallery for the thread I needed and never again looked for any supplies downtown. It’s been kind of lonely not having anyone to really chat with about what I do. I really wish I had known that my landlord’s wife had such an interest. The language barrier wouldn’t have stopped us for long! As it is, I think our household shipment may end up being a bit lighter. My first embroidery-only machine and some supplies could be finding their way to a very appreciative home. And, the next time we come here, I know I’ll have someone who shares my interest; all the more reason to come back to our beloved new home in Greece.