I had a stretch of time there when I just wasn’t able to pick up any knitting. Normally I would have found knitting to be a calming and soothing comfort during a stressful time, but my brain was not up for anything that required counting or thinking, so all of my current knitting projects were out and even casting on a new project required more concentration than I had available at the time. There were sometimes stretches of sitting idly at the hospital though, when I really craved something to keep my hands busy. Busy hands bring a calmer mind for me, and anything that made me feel even the least bit more calm was welcome. So I grabbed an embroidery project and worked on it at the hospital a handful of times. Those simple stitches, that required no thought or counting, were just what I needed.
When we were settled back at home, I was busy and there still wasn’t a good opportunity to start anything new when it came to knitting, so I found myself gravitating towards my needle and thread again. When our family would watch a funny show at night before we started our bedtime routine, I would switch off between working on my embroidery project and mending clothes. I once had a pile of clothes to mend that sat for so long that the boy grew out of some of the clothes before they were repaired. (Can you relate?) I decided rather than have the mending pile off in some room where I never paid attention to it or remembered it was there, to keep my pile in a basket right by the couch so I could slowly start working through it bit by bit. I’m happy to report that the pile has been shrinking, and we’ve been able to enjoy wearing some old favorites again.
Last week I finally started a new knitting project, after many months with hardly any knitting in my life. The knitting needles felt so good in my hands and working with yarn again made me feel like all was right with the world. (That might sound funny, but if you have any handwork you do that brings you a lot of joy, you know what I mean.) The project I started was an easy one, perfect for those times when I want to knit, but am not able to focus on anything requiring much thought. It would have been a great project to have along during those months when I needed a project like that, but I’m glad I switched to something else because I love having a variety of things to turn to when I want something calming to keep my hands busy. Embroidery, mending, knitting, any handwork will do.
I recently found a pair of pants at the thrift store. I fell in love with the light pink color, and when I tried them on I couldn’t believe how comfortable they were. I quickly discovered why they had been given away, there was a noticeable paint stain on the front, something that wouldn’t come out in the wash. I bought them anyway because I knew that could be easily remedied. A friend recommended embroidering over it. I envisioned a small patch of fabric, and searched through all my fabric at home until I found which one I liked best with the pants- a vintage fabric with little pink rosebuds on it. I first folded over the edges of my square of fabric so it wouldn’t fray, and sewed it by hand. When the patch was ready, I stitched it onto my pants. I didn’t want my stitches to look even or perfect, which is good because my hand sewing doesn’t turn out that way anyway.
It’s such a simple thing, but that little patch makes me smile. Those handmade touches add so much character to our clothes, and once again I’m feeling inspired to add stitches and embroidery to liven up my clothing. I’m glad that visible mending is becoming popular because we can add so much life to our clothes by mending them rather than throwing them out with the first little rip or hole they get, and we can find secondhand treasures that other people have discarded for the same reason, and give them new life. For much of my life I wouldn’t have even thought to mend my clothes (or know where to begin), but now I find it so deeply satisfying to do so.
If you, like me, have felt like you didn’t have the time to do any mending (why my mending pile sat for so long), I encourage you to get creative in finding little pockets of time to do so. When could you take the time to do some stitching throughout your day? Throughout your week? Over the last month, I’ve sat and repaired clothes during my son’s activities, while I talked on the phone, and during family movie nights. Sometimes I brought my mending along with me in the car and our activities were not conducive for me to work on anything, but I still liked having it along because you never know when you’ll find a pocket of time. My mending pile hasn’t shrunk because I devoted large amounts of time to tackling it, but because I worked on it a little bit here and there and those stitches slowly added up. Handwork is an act of self-care because of the positive effect it has on my well being, and being able to do a task that directly benefits my family- mending our clothes- makes it a win-win all around.
Have you been working on any handwork lately? What do you gravitate towards when you want to calm your mind and keep your hands busy? Do you mend your clothes or do you throw them out? What are your favorite ways to extend the life of your clothes?