Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Worketh Willingly With Her Hands

I know several women who regulary turn to Proverbs 31 to meditate upon the verses and remind themselves of some of the virtues that make a godly woman's price "far above rubies." I regularly recognize how I fall so short, and I desire to do better in my walk. So, I have returned to focusing on one verse of this chapter each evening before going to sleep.

I am captivated by all of the details included in this text, but in recent years, I've become especially intrigued by four verses in particular.

Pr 31:13, 19, 22, 24
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

Even though I've always been interested in craft projects, I have often felt behind in some of the areas mentioned above. Home Ec class was wonderful for me, and I was thrilled to sew with a sewing machine, learn about the different stitches, and experiment with different material. But, as soon as those semesters were over, my access to a sewing machine would once again cease. I was blessed to have some special times with Grandma Stremmel who showed me how to use her old black sewing machine before her health declined, and I treasure those memories. And, once in a blue moon, Mom would have to bring out her machine to fix something. However, we never had a special place so that it could stay out and so that Mom could teach me what she knew about making clothes. I wish I knew more. Thankfully, Sister Tracy who is a very good seamstress has taken Lydia and me under her wing in the past few months, and I now have a used machine of my own so that I may experiment. Hopefully, some new creations will be made this spring... ones that I can actually wear.

Several ladies are turning back to the art of knitting and crocheting. I've even seen a TV special which featured celebrities, such as Julia Roberts, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz, and Vanna White, who reportedly knit as a hobby. My dad is the one who crochets in our family, and he makes the most beautiful afghans. (A gorgeous one he made me is displayed on the corner of my loveseat.) Dad learned from my grandma. I remember both of them trying to teach me, but I could never pick it up. I could make a chain as long as anybody would want, but it seems my patience ran out when it came to creating that second row. I really need to try it again so that I am able to learn from Dad.

There are so many other talents in this area that I hope to attain, so I have a lot of work to do in the future. Until then, I've turned back to a special skill that Mom taught me when I was very young: embroidery. I regret that I have not created anything in recent years, but it used to be my habit to work on some big projects in January, February and March each year. When the days are short and sunlight is scarce, it is simple for my mind to wander and dwell on topics on which it shouldn't. I feel so much better when I have a project to work toward and when I can accomplish something with my hands. So, in the last 3 weeks, I've stayed busy in the evenings with these:

It is odd to look at these pictures and see so little as results - yet know how many hours have been spent with a needle in my hand.

The red rose pillowcase set is one of my current projects and will be given to one of my close friends who has a red bedroom. The caterpillar quilted bib is for my college friend in California who is expecting her first child this spring. The white-on-white S pillowcases are for me. I made a set for Ketra's brother and new sister-in-law for their wedding in December and decided I'd like some just like them. These small stitches took quite a bit of time! I really need to work on the consistency of my stitch sizes and my satin stitches.
Here is the finished product of the sunflower that was a work in progress above. It has been attached to a big paperclip to create a bookmark, and I am going to give this to Miss Lydia tonight at church. I also have a different design I am working on to create a bookmark for Miss Tasha.

It is often like a treasure hunt in my house - as I can step down into my basement and find items that were in storage and that I have not seen for years. I was so happy to finally find my "embroidery box" this winter and all of the embroidery floss, pillowcases, iron-on patterns, and hoops that it contained. Many of these projects were bought years ago in kits made for beginners, so I started with them. And, thankfully, I am seeing some improvement in my work over time.

I love the homemade items that my friends and family have given to me, and I often lament the turn away from this tradition. For instance, when I was young and would attend bridal and baby showers, it would be commonplace for the guest of honor to receive handmade gifts - especially from the older women in attendance. Now, showers are quite different, and I miss the old days. Hopefully, I am not alone in this, and I am thankful Mom has taught me not only to embroider but to appreciate these special gifts.

While these types of skills are definitely not the most important areas in which I need to work to be a better follower of Christ, I pray God blesses me to become more skilled in these areas and in better keeping a home.


Elizabeth said...

There are so many wonderful skills that society has shoved under the bed in recent years, and I think it is time they are unearthed by the younger generation. Like vegetable gardens, and canning, and quilting...
However! I am against crocheting, partly because I am bad at it, but partly because it is a waste of time. I mean one little loop at a time, how inefficient! I won't hold anything against those that choose to crochet, but you aren't likely to find me doing it. :)

Dani said...

I love to crochet and sew. I wish that I could embroider and cook.

lydia said...

I am enjoying learning to sew. It is aggravating at times, but in the end it's a great feeling to see the creation that I've made. I would love to embroider and crochet and so many other little time!

Siren said...

I've got the opposite problem - I had access to a machine but no skills. I bought myself a machine after college and took classes, hoping to learn to make beautiful clothes and quilts like my Grandma, but I seem to lack that particular gene.

It's great to know there are still people who do this. I crotchet an afghan from time to time and have almost collected enough old jeans to attempt my first denim quilt - but my friends think I'm kinda weird for wanting to do craft projects.

Sandy-san said...

I think what you are creating is wonderful, Michelle! I think that creating gifts is SO much better than store bought items.

I can do needlepoint, and I love to crochet. I can even knit, but I am not that good.

My problem is time. I don't seem to make time or prioritize this kind of thing anymore. (shame on me)

I would LOVE to retire and build myself a victory garden to tend to every day, can my own food, and make hand-made quilts for my boys and everyone that I love. That is my goal before I die...