Monday, October 18, 2010

A Common Thread?

Have you ever really looked at thread and thought about what it does?  I hadn't - at least until tonight, when I was getting started on this post.  You see, I had intended to write about my weekend, and still will, but my thoughts have taken a totally different slant because of thread.

We often use the phrase, "a common thread" to mean that something is joined with something else or has something in common with something else.  One thing is tied to another, so to speak.

A single strand of thread is so thin that you can sometimes barely see it.  Especially when trying to thread a needle!  But that same slender thread can combine with cloth to create seams for items to wear, blankets to warm, gifts to bring joy, decorations to bring beauty.  A strand of thread can bring strength; it can cover rough edges and stop raveling; it can repair.  

What is it about that tiny little thread that so many of us find so comforting?  The act of drawing thread through fabric, something so simple and yet universally known, brings to mind home and hearth, wistful images of a simpler time, a child's first exploration into creating something from a scrap of fabric.  We may think of our mothers making a dress for us to wear to school, or our grandmothers stitching a quilt together.  Sewing, the drawing of a needle and thread through fabric, even if only in the mind, creates.  And as it creates, it can also bring together.

During pioneer times, there were quilting bees.  Women working together with needles and thread to create quilts to ward of winter's chill.  Today we can buy warm blankets so there is no real need to quilt in order to stay warm.  But we are still drawn to that act of pulling needle and thread through fabric.  It could be that we sew for the love of creating.  It could be that we sew to keep our minds busy, because sewing is not a mindless task!  Sewing can be a type of therapy when one needs to stay busy.  And that needle and thread can draw women from different walks of life together to teach, to learn, to discover that common seam.

I am usually a loner.  Go to work, go home, do it all over again.  And most of the creative things that I do are self-taught.  But this past weekend, I decided to take a short class on making a faux cathedral window quilt block.  Years ago when my children were small, I made some cathedral window blocks, but the idea of taking a class was appealing to me.  So off to Murphy I went on Saturday morning, Marie and fabric in tow, to learn how to make these blocks.  I had it in my mind to make a table runner to put on my table at Christmas.  IF, that is, I manage to clear the table of all the sewing paraphernalia that hasn't made it to the sewing room yet!

Betsy, the lady who taught the class, was bubbly and upbeat and immediately put me at ease.  I had almost talked myself out of showing up for the class because I don't quilt.  I make clothes - so sometimes they don't fit, but that's what I do.  All this talk of fussy cuts, stitch in the ditch, fat quarters - that's like talking Greek to me, even though I've been looking at it on the internet for a while now.  But Betsy soon had me stitching away, both of us talking 90 to nothing.  Other women drifted in and out of the classroom swapping little snippets of sewing experiences.  The class, scheduled to last 3 hours, passed more quickly than I would ever have thought.  

I plan to take my cathedral window blocks to Atlanta with me tomorrow.  Knowing that they will be waiting in the hotel room at the end of the day will help keep me from being homesick this week while I am at a workshop.  And the thought occurs to me that I came away from my quilting class with more than 9 quilt blocks.  I met a wonderful lady whose path I may never have crossed had it not been for the love of a slender little piece of thread.  As a matter of fact, I was so inspired by those 9 blocks that I made a notepad holder this weekend to take with me tomorrow as well.  And it's quilted!  Ok, somewhat quilted.  Patterns are like recipes - I can never leave them alone!  So I added a layer of batting and did a little stitching in the ditch!  Betsy, I think you've created a monster!  Ha!

Two of my cathedral window blocks before the final stitching
A close-up shot of one of my blocks before finishing
This is the open view of the back of my notepad holder

The closed view of my notepad holder

And the open view


1 comment:

  1. Very, very lovely post, Jennifer! I agree...a single strand of thread can do so much yet we seldom give it a thought! I'm glad you enjoyed your class and that you learned something new. I really need to venture out and try something new myself! And I LOVE your notepad holder...great job!