Monday, September 1, 2008

In stitches

If you ever require some humbling, just try a new hobby for which you have no natural inclination whatsoever. That ought to humble you. It surely did me.

I decided to try my hand at sewing. And I literally tried my hand, because we don’t have a sewing machine, nor do I yearn for one. I got out my cutesy little basket with needles, thread, seam rippers, pincushion and pins, etc. and I attempted to make a little critter using a simple pattern I’d found online. I won’t go into detail here, because if I am able to improve my technique then I just might make some of these for Christmas. Suffice it to say that my husband and child got the first attempts, and they were less than impressive.

My husband, good sport that he is, thanked me and admired my crooked little accomplishment and then promptly deposited the stuffed thingamajig on top of his dresser. But my little boy admired his dad’s thingamajig so much that I made him his very own the next day. And he carried it around, and loved it, and it became friends with his dad’s little critter, and it was very sweet.

I have long expressed my preference for homemade—food especially, but also other items. Anyone who knows me is aware that I enjoy baking and that I fall back on baked goods as gifts quite frequently. Some of my favorite possessions are homemade: a rag doll stitched by an elderly aunt no longer living, an apron one grandma made for me, a ragged old quilt that another grandma sewed painstakingly, a pretty basket woven by an aunt. These are so special, so meaningful, because I can picture those women planning and working to create that artistic endeavor; the items mean more to me because I know that those treasures were formed with their hands. When they were made specifically for me? That's even better.

The worst part of trying to sew that little creature out of scraps and thread and fluff was knowing how much better my more gifted seamstress ancestors would have done it. But the best part was this: the next morning, I had awakened and gone to make coffee when I heard my little guy showing his hand-sewn critter to his dad: “Look Daddy, did you see this? Mommy made it for me.” And I almost wept because my little boy, small as he is, had grasped the gesture—someone made it for him. Just for him. He watched me make it, was a little frustrated when it took some time away from my car play, and was amazed when I turned the project inside out and he recognized a form. But most of all, he realized the importance of homemade. Even if he forgets about it, never plays with it again, I’ll know that for a brief moment he appreciated the time and effort it took.

Perhaps someday he, too, will treasure some homemade somethings.

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