Well, I did it! I wrote every day from early October to New Year's Day 2010. Now I will write for fun when I feel like it and see where that gets me. Cheers to all my small-blessing-appreciating friends!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Needles and Thread

I have been using needles and thread for about 54 years, since my mother showed me how to sew around paper shapes with a blunt needle and colored yarn. Next came sewing cloth and making clothes for my dolls. A treasured gift from my English grandma was a small draw-string bag with needles, thread, thimble and tape measure. At about eight years old I timidly guided my first wiggly lines of machine stitching. My dad hammered nails around the top of a spool and showed me how to do spool knitting and my mother taught me to use knitting needles.

The left photo shows an excessive array of steel sewing needles, a collection typical of of anyone who sews. There are delicate sharps for fine stitches, large-eyed blunt ones for yarn, long quilting needles, heavy curved ones for upholstery. Needles have been around since the stone age, made from small fibula bones, long thorns, or carved from wood. For pioneer women they were prized items, often in short supply.

Thread is amazing stuff - strong, supple and colorful. My sons took a wilderness survival class, and of all the skills they learned, my favorite was how to make cords. You can take any long fibers such the soft inner bark of cedar, dry grasses, or of course wool, and twist two strands in opposite directions, holding the far end steady. When you release the far end the two strands twist themselves together almost magically. That summer I made many odd and lumpy bits of string. Colorful dyed cords and threads have been found in amazingly ancient archeological sites. With modern dyes we have a rainbow to work with, durable, colorfast and light resistant.

My needlework of choice in recent years is counted cross stitch. In this activity I easily enter the state psychologists call flow. Wikipedia defines it for me as: "the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity". In other words it is a form of active meditiation. There is joy in the way the image emerges from the separate pixels of thread. This is one of my blessings.

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