Novels and Embroidery and Motherhood

Please see My Books, Bio, Art Intro, and FAQ’s for information on those subjects. 

Novels and Embroidery and Motherhood… How do they all connect?

Christy Matheson portrait in Cappadocia, Turkiye
Christy Matheson in Cappadocia, Turkiye

Why Novels and Embroidery?

  1. Women’s art is inextricably linked with women’s fiction. It’s what I do, and it’s what I write.
    • Art created by women — often with needle or pottery wheel or loom — has for centuries been relegated to “craft,” behind the “real” art which is primarily made by men. (Men who have women behind them to take care of their household and stitch their clothes!) Books created for and about women have been mocked and from the birth of the novel (“Penny Dreadfuls”) through the present day (the entire genre of romance).
  2. The challenge of making art while being a woman has informed my entire adulthood, and is at the core of everything I write. Can we be artists while being mothers? Do we need to put our husbands’ careers in front of our art? How do we value our art when it isn’t paying the bills? Are we artists when we stitch, when we use a pattern, when we sew practical objects? Is it wrong to resent our children when they won’t let us create — or we simply too tired to create any more?
    • If you understand this struggle, if you know it in your bones and your heart and your tears, then you know why I need to show my embroidery on my author page. You understand that they are linked together.
    • If this discussion is also your passion, I invite you to follow my “The Untold Stories of Womanhood” discussion on Substack
  3. If you’re here to learn about my books, why do you care about the embroidery? Well, for one thing, the thread paintings are a visual representation of what kind of writer I am. I don’t need to tell you that I’m a meticulous writer who cares about every single word — you can see it for yourself.
    • For what it’s worth my first career was as a classical pianist, so it’s just possible that “attention to detail” crosses over into “obsession.” Don’t worry, I’ve come to terms with it!
  4. If you’re here to see my embroidery, why do you care about the books? Well, for one thing, you can feel confident that if you have a question, I’m going to have plenty of words to help you out. For another, if you follow my artist Insta, you might already appreciate my voice and perspectives, and might be all ready to preorder my books whenever they come out.
  5. Also, most of my heroines are artists and I literally write novels centered around embroidery. If you’re a knitter, you’ve got plenty of books to choose from. If you’re an embroiderist who loves to read, your list is pretty short.
Mother, embroidery, sleeping baby
Christy Matheson trying to work on embroidery while rocking her baby to sleep

Some of my favorite resources about novels and embroidery and women:

  • Gail Carriger writes some really powerful connections about what women read and what women write, and how it’s been downplayed throughout the years. I know it’s in The Heroine’s Journey, and I’m still searching to links that she might have written on the topic online.
  • Dorothy Sayers wrote one of the most powerful novels that I have ever read about the intersection of art, love, womanhood, and becoming a wife. Celia, Rose, and Henrietta are direct literary descendents of Harriet Vane, and I would be honored to tears if anyone ever thinks anything I write is worthy of being in the same sentence with “Gaudy Night.”
  • If you’re looking for a book featuring embroidery, A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier is my favorite. A lot of history, a lot of embroidery, a little romance, and an over-riding character arc which drives the story. And even some bell ringing, in case you’re a fan of the rest of Sayers’ work too.
Working on my stitching while supervising my kids in a pool in Costa Rica. Spoiler alert: There was very little stitching accomplished.


I have five children, from preschool through high school, and I have written extensively about motherhood over the last twenty years. As some of my children approach adulthood, I am very conscious of letting them tell their own stories. I’m deliberately not connecting my mothering journey to my author journey, and ask for privacy on behalf of my family.

That said, all of my books turn out to be about mothering, parenting, and being a sibling and a child. The Gentleman & The Dreamer has a multiple subplots about choosing to be a parent, including some heavier themes around miscarriage and natal depression.

Art On This Website:

Most of the photographs on this website are taken by myself or my family members. A few images are in the public domain and I have credited photographers in the text behind them.

All the embroidery on this page is stitched by myself. When the original pattern was created by another artist, I acknowledge them in the caption, and in the Patterns by Other Artists page, I have more information and links on where you can find their work.

Watercolor artwork and drawings are original designs by myself or my daughters. I will add their artist links here once I upload their art. Please do not use any of our artwork without proper attribution and links back to this page or the artist.