Thursday, October 04, 2007

Thimble Therapy

Took the afternoon off from writing about bathrooms to engage in some badly needed thimble therapy.

I'm hand quilting parts of a quilt. It's a slightly crazy endeavor, I will admit, but nothing forces you into the present moment like guiding a needle in and out of three layers of fabric in an attempt to produce tiny, even stitches, each the same size as the next.

The first (and last) time I hand quilted a quilt tells a story so absolutely typical of me that it still makes me laugh. And wince.

The quilt was for Evan, and I wanted it to be perfect. I read somewhere that the Amish won't let you work on their quilts unless you can create 12 stitches per inch. The first time I counted, I was at 6. I got books. I got better needles, better thimbles. I practiced until my fingers bled. Seriously. Eventually, my stitches were so tiny you needed a magnifying glass to tell they were there.

Looking at a display of quilts months later, I noticed that they looked much different from mine. The quilting had much more character. The store clerk summoned a teacher from the back to help me understand what I was doing wrong. My stitches, she said, were too small. They might as well have come from a machine, she said. But the Amish. . . I said.

Turns out I was counting the stitches wrong, driving myself toward a completely false image of perfection. Counted correctly, I was achieving something like 22 stitches per inch. Which achieved nothing at all.

Now I coast along without counting. If I like the way it looks, it stays. If not, I try to do better on the next section.

Like I said. Thimble therapy.


kario said...

I am so glad that this time, the thimble therapy is for you versus in order to please someone or something else. I hope that each and every time you push that needle through every layer of fabric you feel the stitches that you're putting into yourself to bind you together and keep you strong.

Love you.

Stacy said...

A great lesson in perfectionism. You must be (sew) patient to be able to quilt, especially by hand since you have that Berina. I could never be that patient. I am glad you are creating and finding solace. Oh BTW I love your new reflections photo.

Amber said...

Heh. What a usefull metaphor for so many of us.


magicaldamselfly said...

There is truly nothing like thimble therapy!
I love your reflecting pond picture.

::gentle hugs::

Anonymous said...

I love the thought of you doing thimble therapy, in front of your pond. Sounds perfect. I am reading a book, written by a blogger (not a deep book at all) called Crazy Aunt Purl, who talks about how knitting did just that for her. How it saved her, when her husband walked out on her. Knitting therapy/Thimble therapy, something to be said for creating beautiful things with our hands!

Deb said...

OMG what a great story. I'm in awe of anyone who is determined enough to get that many stitches in an inch - or who cares to. So glad you're finding comfort in the rhythm and the layers of fabric. You're making me want to get my stuff out and finish something - anything (but that's a whole other metaphor!).

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Love the metaphor!