By Tina Bury
I find I've been holding my breath; at odd times like when sitting on the couch and expected times like when I go on a grocery run. I imagine you might be too.
Last night in a wise move, I took a long bath after everyone had gone to sleep. I was physically exhausted myself (all that breath-holding after all) but I felt drawn to the water.
AND, here's the clincher, I heeded the call! (yes! Cheers all around.)
With great effort, I set aside my phone and picked up a book. A real, paper and ink, book! (Do you read in the bath too?)
Threads of Life; the history of the world through the eye of a needle by Clare Hunter.
I am thoroughly enjoying it. (I'll be honest here though, I struggled to get into it several months ago when I first picked it up, and last night as a last-ditch effort I jumped ahead a bit and found myself enthralled!)
Did you know that historically embroidery was often added to clothing to protect the wearer? I find the idea of stitches as a way to ward off trouble and protect our loved ones so, so lovely.
from the book...
"Traditionally, in many cultures throughout the world, embroidered textiles were thought to be as efficacious as a shield for protecting human beings in this world and the next. Imbued with the force of nature - the plants from which dyes have been extracted, from which thread has been spun - textiles provided a natural armory to ward off attack. Through needlework, however, greater defenses could be assembled, to ensure human safety.
"Evil could slip and slide into any opening. Clothes therefore were cunningly constructed to withstand danger, especially in areas most vulnerable to entry. The hems, cuffs, and necklines of many traditional garments were densely patterned in an array of different colors. This was no idle fancy for ornamentation, but purposeful safeguarding."
As luck would have it, I had already planned to do some hand-sewn embroidery along the neckline of a recently drafted knit t-shirt dress. (Maybe I need to consider the hem and sleeve opening too!)
I've always felt the "something extra" of a thing made by hand...slowly and intentionally. I'd like to believe that there is a bit of magic, protection perhaps, in the garments that we spend our time and energy in and in which we infuse our love.
I honestly have a very different connection to the garment I distractedly rush to make and the garment I take my time on, mindfully considering all the details and allowing the flow of creation.
And like the author, I've been enthralled with the possibility that plants could infuse their healing properties into the cloth they dye. Isn't it lovely that so many medicinal plants are also fabric dyes?
Like many, I've recently made some face masks for my community and while I've not embroidered them, I have sent my love and prayers for protection into them as I sewed. Perhaps it's the same thing.
And if ever we needed a bit more love and protection, it's now.
So, if you're inclined...dig out that needle and thread, stitch some protection and find some peace in the mindfulness of handwork at the same time. (I love a two-fer!!)
I'll join you, dear one!
In Deep Kinship,
Tina Bury called the Newaygo area home before tramping off to the snowy north where she found herself a mama and a sewing teacher. She hosts sewing retreats and workshops in Michigan for garment sewists who crave connection and finally want to wear and sew clothes they love. Tina also has an online course where you can get mindful and intentional about what you wear and how you show up in the world and give yourself more joy in your craft. She shares her musing on making in her weekly e-letter and on her blog. Kinshiphandwork.com