I’m working on “On Ringo Lake,” a quilt designed by Bonnie Hunter. The classic nine-patches are all pieced together. One flock of brown flying geese and another flock of orange are almost done — quite a gaggle to get sewn together.
I’m doing the whole project by hand, and when it’s done, I’ll hand quilt the thing, too.
Last Sunday I was talking with a friend about it.
She thinks I’m crazy.
She teased me saying, “Look, if you need a sewing machine, I’ll buy you one.”
What can I say? For me, the fun is in the hand work.
When my husband and I were first married, he’d get frustrated with me because I would be busy with embroidery while we watched a movie.
I said I needed to be doing something.
He maintained I was doing something — watching a movie.
Nu-uh. Can’t sit with idle hands and watch a movie. Couldn’t do it then, can’t do it now.
Maybe it’s genetic?
My grandmothers were avid hand quilters, and they also knitted or crocheted, did embroidery work, or tatted. They and thousands of other women over dozens of genterations can’t be wrong.
All those grandmamas, mamas, and aunts stitched their worries away because hand work is oddly therapeutic.
Here are some ways it helps me have a more joyous life:
There’s the sensory nature of handwork. The soft material under my fingers. The fuzzy batting.
The sound of the thread as it pulls through the fabric–making it own kind of music.
Quilting is all about how the needle rocks back and forth through the layers of material.
Up and down. Up and down. Back and forth. Creating nice even stitches.It quiets my mind because I have to focus on it, but I don’t have to think about it.
Hand work also fulfills my need to be productive. When I spend an evening just watching television, at the end of the night I have nothing to show for it. But when I’m watching something and handpiecing at the end of the evening I look down and see there are ten or eleven flying geese that have been paired off with their mates into bigger units.
It’s portable. I carry a little sewing kit with me, and I pull it out in the doctor’s waiting room, so instead of being grumpy about the wait, I’m happy about the stitching.
Handwork is a way better than obsessing about social media, but it is social (in an odd sort of way). People always stop and ask, “What are you doing?” And very often, the conversation that follows is pleasant and rewarding.
In a world that’s moving a bazillion miles an hour, with so many things vying for our attention, give handwork a chance.
Take an adventure with fabric and needles and thread, grow a gift with a crochet hook and yarn, sit with a knife and a block of wood and whittle away at your problems.