So, there’s sowing to be found in sewing

Give me a needle and a thread and I will take on the world by its seam! I like to sew. It has been an unabashed pleasure for me since Grandma Smith taught me how before I attended kindergarten. Even before, when I attended what back was called nursery school (pre-pre-school), my favorite activity was the sewing cards.

Remember those brightly-colored, five-by-seven-inch cardstock with largish animal pictures and shoelace-like yarn strands you wove through pre-punched holes, clumsily outlining the animal?

Trivia bonus: The plastic tips that help shoes laces go through the grommets (the metal or plastic reinforced holes that laces thread through) on a pair of shoes are called “aglets.” Just doing my part to help make you more Jeopardy!-worthy.

Okay, now that I’ve got that educational moment out of my system, I can get back to business. The business of sewing. I come by sewing somewhat naturally. While my grandma Smith lived to sew, my grandma Kate did not. She did it to fulfill household duties. Grandma Kate didn’t hum like Grandma Smith did when she sewed. Her sewing equipment was comparatively rudimentary.

The quote (by that famous poet, Anonymous) that most reminds me of watching Grandma Smith at work is, “I cannot count my day complete ‘til needle, thread and fabric meet.” It was a joy to witness her mentally calculate the fabric needed and find it among her stash of fabric, comprised largely of previously dismantled clothing items.

Grandma Smith didn’t like to throw out anything, including outgrown, worn out or damaged clothing. As the Plains Indians religiously practiced with buffalo kills, no part of a dead garment went to waste. Grandma would fervently seam-rip garment buttons, strip linings for quilt squares, salvage collars, amputate pant legs for patches and harvest the remainder for cleaning rags or pillow stuffing. She could cut a series of cloth strips in nothing flat to make rag rugs.

Her creativity amazed me. While I admired her ability to envision and whip up a quilt in a flash, I couldn’t help thinking that something of that magnitude and effort was worthy of something more prestigious to cover its back than an old flour sack and toggled together towels.

Grandma Kate didn’t circle dead garments in that vulture-like way. No scrap stash for her. She wasn’t interested in garment or rug construction. She carried only the most basic of thread colors and confined her stitchery mostly to hems and buttons.

My mother was placed in the unenviable position between having a mother who managed only mandatory sewing and a mother-in-law seamstress extraordinaire whom she wanted to impress. So she took a sewing class. While Mom deserves an “A” for effort, the results were less than excellent. While putting the finishing touches on the dress she was constructing as her final project, she accidentally snipped a hole in the bodice, forcing her to cover it with an artificial flower to pass muster. That episode ended her brief sewing career.

For me, my soul is fed with needle and thread. I actually look forward to mending. I’m not sure if it’s due to the pleasant memories it evokes of time spent with Grandma Smith, or that I’ve made it a part of my time with God. I have some favorite shows I like to watch on TCT while I put my hands to good use serving my family.

“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy” (Psalm 126:5 NIV). How I like my homonyms! One night, years ago, I stayed until about 2:30 AM, creating a jacket. I knew I should retire, but wanted to finish the second shoulder before I quit. My husband got up to coax me to bed, watching me expertly line up the opening and sleeves and seamlessly join them. I turned the sleeve back right-side-out and said, “Ta da.” Unfortunately, the sleeve stood straight up, like the torch-bearing arm of the  Statue of Liberty. I’d sewn it on upside down! I reached for my seam-ripper.

“Do you really trust your ability to take out those stitches right now?” he asked. I knew he was right. Sometimes it’s more like “as you sew, so shall you rip.”


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Sharon L. Goble
    Mar 17, 2012 @ 00:26:53

    Just love your wit Kristy…. This one reminded me so much of the nights I spent sewing dresses (on the kitchen table) for my 3 little girls after they were tucked into bed.
    Appreciate your memories of G’ma Smith very much!


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