Passion Stitch Your Stress Away

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I have a scar on my knuckle.

I got it when I was nine, in the Design Center of my middle school, during needlework.

I leaned into the supplies cupboard and cut my hand on a screw.

Ouch!

It was quite a deep cut, but no matter. I bandaged it and went straight back to work.

Because I loved needlework. I was prolific at this age. It was a passion.

I made aprons and dresses and jackets and bags. A friend’s mother mentored me with a good sewing machine.

I loved poring through pattern books and imagining what each piece would look like.

I adored the thrill of choosing the fabric.

I would get all anxious as I pinned the paper pattern to my material and got really scared when I made the first cut.

Would I mess up? Scrap the fabric? I never did. Too careful.

I loved the technical aspects of sewing – threading, the logical process, the problem solving, the nap, the hemming, the different stitches, the math.

I loved how I could undo my work and redo it.

I loved the accuracy of it, the measuring, the working it all out.

I reveled in the astonishment of others that I made my own clothes.

I would spend hours and hours each day during the summer on my projects, regretful when it was time to sleep and looking forward to when I could jump back on my machine to make more progress.

I grew aware that I spent more time at my friend’s house than my own and was worried that I would outstay my welcome.

But my enthusiasm outweighed my concern.

And my hosts didn’t seem to mind.

Time passed without notice. Meals and bedtimes too.

Every new project was a new start, a new beginning. Full of promise and expectation.

And good work required concentration and focus. Everything else blocked out.

And now, I don’t sew.

I don’t even have a machine.

The only project I have done was make some curtains for nesting. With a borrowed machine I was too pregnant to lift.

Patching is what I do now.

But I like even that.

It is different now I am older. I look forward to the rhythmic, the repetitive, the opportunity to think while doing something not taxing and useful.

A welcome break from frenetic activities.

When I was younger, with fewer commitments, I enjoyed a good book. Now, my brain requires rest that even a book feels too taxing.

And so I get out my patching pile that is significantly larger since the boys got bigger and the addition of cats to our household.

And I meditate. While sewing. Ahhh, bliss.

Do you love to sew? What did you love to do as a child that you now don’t do? What do you do to just be still? Let me know in the comments!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanna November 5, 2010 at 9:41 am

I go back and forth with sewing. In fact, I’ve gone back and forth with everything I’ve ever liked to do. I think it’s because I have a short attention span. I could tell you hobbies I liked last year that I don’t do anymore. I get really passionately involved with a hobby or project and then once it fizzles, I move on to something else.
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Alison Golden November 5, 2010 at 9:48 am

Joanna!

Me too! I have always been like this and also feel I must have some form of ADD. Once I’ve learned my fill of something, I’m off – never to return. And of course, I wish I weren’t like that. I wish I had a field of study that would interest me for years and years and which I could become an expert in. As it is, I have done many things up to a standard that is exceedlingly mediocre. :-)

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Shell November 5, 2010 at 9:37 pm

I wish I COULD sew. I think that being able to actually do something, make something, start to finish, would feel good just about now.

Then again, who knows if I’d actually be able to do that!

I used to be a big reader. Books, of course. Now, I just squeeze in reading a blog post when I can.

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Alison Golden November 6, 2010 at 7:50 am

Hey Shell:

Love your avatar :) Yes, I hear you on the start to finish thing. That’s why I like patching. I can get a patch on in an evening. Not very creative but I find it satisfying. Books – too long. Blogs, yes. I always say my hobby is getting books from the library and then returning them. Without doing anything with them in the middle. Such is life :)

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Mary E. Ulrich
Twitter:
November 6, 2010 at 8:22 am

That’s funny about getting books from the library and returning them. Do you have a funny file–that should be included.

I think it is wonderful you have the skills to embroider, sew, patch… life is all about choices. A friend makes quilts. She does one square patch at a time as she watches TV and by the end of winter she has a whole quilt done.

When you were describing the steps you liked about sewing–it occured to me they were the same steps required for writing a blog. Maybe your blog is an evolution of your interest in sewing. You are creating/sewing from the pattern of your life experiences.

Keep up the great work Alison. This was really fascinating.

A stitch in time….
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Alison Golden November 6, 2010 at 3:54 pm

I had never noticed the correlation between sewing and blogging. In fact I had to reread what I had written with your comment in mind. And I think you are right, Mary ;-)

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Amanda May 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I love this Alison. I realized the same kind of thing about myself a couple of years ago. I freaking L-O-V-E puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles, word puzzles – any kind of puzzles. I don’t have much time for them anymore, but my current passion is building websites. I didn’t see a correlation until the incredibly insightful Josh Pais (http://committedimpulse.com) pointed out that building a website is a LOT like doing a puzzle.

Made me realize that most of the things I really love doing are very similar in nature.

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Alison Golden May 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Exactly, Amanda. The anticipation, the planning, the execution, the problem solving, and the anticipation of can I do this and what will it look like? Thrilling! :-)

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Donna April 12, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I have recently taking up my knitting again! I wanted to get back into reading…but like you said reading feels taxing right now…so the click of the needles is the sound that mellows me out and relaxes me! I can be productive and relax at the same time! Ahhhh!

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Alison Golden April 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Yes, I think we know that when reading is too taxing, we’re under some serious stress. Easy does it. :-)

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