04 April 2013

Five Easy Pieces

Several years ago a friend told me that her two children, both a year older than my eldest two, had hopped into bed with her and their Dad and the four of them had stayed there all morning, each reading their own book. This seemed almost unbelievable. The idea that my own children would ever be old enough to engage in independent activities that I also enjoyed was impossibly remote.

In my mind's eye, though, I harboured a secret vision of a fire blazing and my four daughters sitting around me knitting, sewing or writing, whilst I, a wise and gentle soul, dispensed advice when asked and otherwise quietly observed. This was obviously a fantasy.  I am not gentle or wise. I dispense unrequested advice. I talk more than I listen. I wondered, too, whether I would have harboured such a vision if I'd had four boys instead of four girls?

In the intervening years of parenting, which included quite a bit of sewing and (attempts at) knitting with my kids, reality had also dawned.  Trying to work on my own project whilst they worked on theirs would lead mostly to frustration. The constant rethreading, picking up dropped stitches, unpicking and tying off meant it was better not to kid myself that I was getting anything done myself.  So the fantasy remained just that.
Lily's 'things'
And then this past weekend, when autumn finally came, I settled down with a bag of bits and pieces to make a few things for our upcoming harvest festival. One by one, the girls came over and requested a scrap of fabric and a needle and thread. I didn't make any suggestions of what they should or could make (a common trap for me), and realised that they were perfectly happy to have no particular end product in mind but to sort it out as they went along. I threaded needles and doubled the thread and tied a knot at the end - not the 'proper' sewing I want to teach them, but it saved endless rethreading and frustration. I had some thick, big-eyed needles that could be threaded with wool yarn and were blunt enough for Lily to do no damage to herself (or others).
Grace's stitching

Grace started off making little bracelets but soon starting stitching a gift for our beloved Kim.

Ruby's stitching
Nina stitched a little chicken and then a little bed for it, but it disappeared before I could take a picture (and remains lost).
Ruby stitched her name.  After a reasonable start she flirted with the false economy of giant stitches before realising the error of her ways.  By the time she reached the 'y' she had really hit her stride and was regretting her dalliance with haste on the 'u'.  Lily stitched 'things' and a great many of them.  She was absolutely thrilled with herself.

Cushion for Kim
During all this industry I was able to actually finish a couple of things of my own. Later I helped Grace turn her stitching into a pillow (her idea and design). She can't really use the machine yet, so I moved the fabric while she pedalled. Of course the results are not perfect which is what makes it so perfect.

I'm not sure that this scene, with the five of us stitching all afternoon companionably, will necessarily be repeated very often.  For sure if I attempt to make it happen it won't.  It is that strange sort of magic that has to occur by chance not design.

ps. And I remembered that last easter, when four of my nephews were staying with us, three of them spontaneously came and stitched with me, so I'd at least be in with a show of realising the same fantasy, regardless of the sex of my children.

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