I would liken it, in part, to the hours I spent practicing scales, arpeggios, five finger excercises and then my pieces, when I learnt the piano. I think in part you are developing muscle memory; allowing your body to do just this thing, whatever it is, without thinking about the why? You are being with your needle and thread, piano keys, the shading in this bit of the sketch. You are getting into the zone.
But the other thing that is happening is that the act of doing allows the subconscious to make associations: it resembles when you're trying to remember something, and the minute you stop trying it pops into your head, or a day later, or the following week. The trying can act as a block, but in doing, you are opening yourself to the possibility of something, without worrying about what.
So, with my stitching, I follow the length of thread, the colour, whether I feel like using a familiar stich or experimenting. Today was a catch up day, so four needles and thread.
Today was also the first quarter, the balanced moon, the moving towards light again. She rose today at 10:30 and will set at 2:15 tomorrow morning.
But inevitably, because it has been raining, or it's windy, or I've noticed leaves coming through on the flowering currant, or new growth in the soil - these things come out in the stitching (sometimes they masquerade as elephants)
Likewise with my tapestry weaving .........