I woke up this morning to the first snow of the season. I thought once the sun came up it would go but it’s mid afternoon and it’s still on the ground.
The fact that it snowed was somehow a signal to me to finish up a few projects in need of just a couple of hours of my time. My rug is a row of twisted fringe away from lying on the floor. Skeins of yarn were wound in anticipation of a new warp. Drafts were reviewed with the planning for Christmas in full swing.
Twisting fringe gives you a lot of time for meditation and today I was thinking about what allows a person to do seemingly mundane, repetitive tasks that build into the finer crafts that I have been playing with lately. I used to tell my husband that there was absolutely no way to bore me as long as I had something to do with my hands. I think it comes from seeing multiple generations of my family always busy with their hands. From knitting and quilting to mechanics and wood working everyone was always doing something. I’m fortunate that they also thought it was important to pass on the knowledge and interest in one way or another.
My interest in the things I learned when I was younger has grown as I age. When I was cleaning out the attic I came across the first piece of crewel embroidery I made with my grandmother. I think I was 8 or 9 years old. She bought some little kit and showed me the stitches. I would work them while she did some sort of handwork of her own I’m sure. If she wasn’t there my mother would show me what I needed to know. I learned many, many things from those women. I think the most important is the work of your hands can be a form of meditation.
Doing the same small thing over and over allows your mind to work out the problems of the day (or week or month). Almost all crafts allow you to do this. There’s a learning curve to everything but there always comes point where the work becomes known and it’s only in the beginning stages that it requires concentration.
Every new craft that I have learned to do I have always worked to perfection over whatever time it takes to do so. I will make one thing after another, honing my skill until I’ve worked it to death. For a number of years I made teddy bears, not ordinary bears but beautiful, jointed stuffed animals. The reason I did it? I needed to perfect the embroidery of their noses. Once I got to the point of knowing they could meet the expectations of even the harshest critic I taught others to make them. It finally ran its course. I know that if I decided someone needed a bear of their own I could make one with little effort and it would meet my exacting standards without the frustration of the first 10 or 20 bears that I originally made. Also, in making that bear now, I would be able to meditate my way through the entire process, think about its recipient and put more of my good thoughts into the gift.
So it would appear to an outsider that I have craft ADD – and I do in some respect but it’s also a sick pursuit of perfection that drives what to others looks like a crazy, boring craft project. I will work a skill a little at a time until I master it and continue to learn the possibilities within the craft.
That may be the appeal of weaving, I know there are so many aspects to it that it will take the rest of my life just to explore them all but there are little pieces of it that I can work until it’s perfected, then move on.
I think that’s the way life is, you have to break it down into little pieces, perfecting or finishing it one bit at a time. Not everything allows meditation but with patience and practice it can all feed your soul. For me it’s all about finding that sweet spot in everything I do. Now the season has shifted once again and I bring out the things that have been waiting for months for my attention. In a few more months all I’ll want to do is dig in the dirt but for now I’ll be doing those cold weather projects.