There is something soothing about the pulling of thread through cloth. I find myself out of sorts if days (okay, even one day) go by without some time spent stitching.
Some say it’s a prayerful experience to sew. Some liken it to Zen meditation. Maybe it’s the rhythmic motion of the needle penetrating layers of fabric. Whatever it is, it soothes my soul. The ritual of pulling needle and thread through fabric has been a part of my life since childhood. Even when very busy with demands of family and motherhood, I had some sort of needlework project in the works. Then days might go by without much time spent with a needle in my hand, but just knowing it was waiting promised serenity.
During years that my mother and later my mother-in-law were in failing health, I learned to keep a sewing basket in the car at all times. Since each of them had also been seamstresses, I saw it brought peace to each of them to see me with a project in tow.
In the basket was always a project with a threaded needle in the midst of a stitch. That is still my strategy – without having to find the spot where I stopped, match the thread, locate the needle threader, I’m ready to take the next stitch. In preparing for a trip, I sometimes spend more time ensuring that I have enough to keep me busy than I do planning my wardrobe. I might not ever open the basket while away from home, but most times I do find some stitching moments.
I look at Ollie Jane’s Flower Garden and remember visiting with my mother while sewing those hexagons together. I look at Granny Zee’s Scrap Baskets and remember sitting with my mother-in-law as I stitched the fabrics she had kept from her mother’s stash. Both of these mothers of mine were suffering from confusion and dementia, but if words weren’t to be had, we communicated through our love of sewing. I stitched my soul to each of them during their last years of life.
The top photo is one of me working on Blocks in Blue while staying at the Inn at Iris Meadows in Waynesville, NC. That quilt was hand pieced and machine quilted in 2005. It finished at 27” square, and was one of my early attempts at free motion machine quilting. I used invisible nylon thread in the top, a matching cotton thread in the bobbin.