2.01.2008

Sacred Fibers

Pictures are of my grandmother's handiwork..... I love that fiber is fragile and treasured. Quilts are passed down through the generations. Archeologists consider woven fiber products especially prized when they are found.
Over time all people have saved and treasured their handcrafted items. From ancient Egypt lace to the humble scrap quilts of the Appalachian area of this country.

It is a time honored tradition to handcraft something special and personal to gift or to use ourselves.
I started thinking about this while teaching some friends to crochet and knit. While we sat and stitched on whatever work we have, the chatter always seems to settle on the memorable handcrafted items either made by us or given to us.
"I can't believe I had the patience to cut out all of those little pieces and sew that quilt for my sister's wedding! My three boys were under the age of five." This statement was accompanied by funny tales of missing pieces and where they were found. (There was a very special frog that lived in a shoebox lined with a quilt square that never made it into the quilt.) Stories of sewing, and knitting during stolen moments of naps, early mornings, late nights, and anytime in-between.
This making and creating is part of us and our expression of love. No wonder these items are valued, passed on, and carefully kept. These quilts, blankets and sweaters keep us and our hearts warmer than a high tech goose down comforter.
Many of my friends tell me "oh I can't do that anymore" or "I can't remember how I did that." Yet when we they decide to join our group and start talking with me about what they want to make I don't need to hold their hands. They arrive with appropriate yarn, and needles or hooks. I don't need to help them learn how to hold their needles, or yarn. I am surprised constantly by these women. They may be awkward with their first few stitches but soon they are stitching along despite their protests of ignorance. Do are hands store this knowledge?
I use to work at a nursing home. There was this one little old lady "Nettie" who sat with empty eyes, and didn't remember her family members or anyone who was there 5 minutes ago.
One day a coworker was knitting, Nettie was interested and watching her. She gave her the needles and she started knitting away. She became alive and interested, we all watched as somehow she started making something.
More yarn was bought, a nice creamy yellow. Her family said yes she use to knit all of the time.
Soon we came to work and she had made a beautiful cardigan with the yellow yarn.
She became know as "the knitter", we all watched as she turned out mittens, socks and sweaters.
Do our hands remember? Is this knowledge stored in our brain somewhere that is beyond our understanding?
Maybe this is why women have been sitting and stitching for years together. It feels "right"; our differences fall away and don't matter.
While we sit and stitch.....


2 comments:

  1. The boss's wife came back in today. She didn't like the short-rowing so she frogged it and started a flapped heel. I needed to show her how to turn the heel. And the correct way to pick up stitches for the gusset. It is funny what the hands remember. I have always used my 'pattern' for the heel of sock until today. Now I realize that, maybe, possibly, it was a crutch because I had no problems at all showing the heel I make. The hands do remember.

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  2. I just wanted to say that your grandma's quilt is beautiful! It must have taken a lot of time and skill to make that.

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