One Stitch at a Time

One stitch of time.  

To a quilter's heart, it's the right answer to anything.  

Whether it's the slow, satisfying pace of one stitch at a time, or scooping up 3 or 4 stitches to pull through, there's a quiet satisfaction to be found in slowing down to a simpler pace of life and stitching that's found when picking up a needle and thread.

This weekend, Washington is bracing for high winds and rain.  There's been more time spent mucking out storm drains than sitting down to my sewing machine for some patchwork today.  However, now that hockey season has kicked off again, I'm likely to be found watching hockey (or football, of course) while I'm hand quilting in front of my fireplace.

I might surface again in the spring.  This is my semi-productive version of hibernation.

There's something I find very peaceful about hand quilting.  With multiple sclerosis, it proves to be a challenge.  Yet it forces me to slow down to a very different pace of life.  Years ago, I might never have bothered with it.  I'd work on embroidery or cross stitch projects during 24-hour duty, but that was just to stay busy and awake in the wee hours of the night.

Nowadays, I find myself fighting to sleep instead of stay awake.  I deal with nerve pain and musculoskeletal pain that keeps me awake, and when that doesn't cause it, sometimes nightmares get the better of me.  I used to work on thread sketches with my sewing machine when I couldn't sleep.  My son told me I made too much noise when he wanted to sleep.  So I grabbed a hoop and a needle and thread and found a quieter way to pass the hours.  

My dad and son both tell me I should sleep instead.  

I concur.

But it is what it is.

I get through long, dark nights one stitch at a time.

It might sound like I only started hand quilting due to inconvenient circumstances.  That may be true, but I found something that is part meditative, part solace, part occupational therapy, and part general distraction.  (You can check here for a little bit more about why I love Very Slow Stitches).  I also definitely value being able to "exercise" my hand-eye coordination and keep challenging my dexterity.  

Big stitches take less time than traditional hand quilting.  It's also an excuse to use a larger needle and heavier weight thread.  The thing I love most about hand quilting with big stitches is the vintage, crinkled hand after it's washed.  When I quilt with big stitches, it adds a layer of texture.  It's also slightly sentimental.  After I quilted a bed quilt with big stitches, my dad said it reminded him of something my mama would have made.  That was an added bonus.

For many people, big stitches might be a trendy, vintage-sorta throwback, but for me it's a way to maintain my sanity, keep working on something that gives me a lot of contentment, and I end up with something beautiful.

I don't view my wonky stitches as mistakes.  

I count 'em as my pride and joy.  

They're my little successes in the daily battle of Joy versus MS.


Do you enjoy hand quilting?  I'd love to hear why!  

Or maybe you just burn the midnight oil (intentionally or not) like me.  What do you do when you can't sleep?  

As a side note, I'll share my mama's advice for my insomnia:

If you can't sleep read a book you want to read.  If you still can't fall asleep, pick a dull, drab, instructional book.  If you still can't sleep, it's time to pick up your Bible.  (Pretty good advice, even if I don't follow it ALL the time.)