Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Needle and Thread

How many of you reading this have a needle and thread available to mend the heel of your best wool socks?  You know, the pair that wore thin in the heels during hikes in your new hiking boots.  The favorite pair that you love to wear hiking Hannegan Pass Ridge Trail. The pair your cat or dog likes to carry around the house.

I have a sewing basket.  In it is a pin cushion full of pins and needles, some threaded, ready for me to sew on buttons, to repair a three corned tears, to darn socks.  Do you know that a lot of folks these days don't know how to mend.  Lots don't even own a needle.  Lots of folks just shrug and say, why mend?  Why not throw out those holy socks?  I repair my garments if possible.  It makes me feel like a good recycler.  And good about my ability to keep things in service as long as possible.

I have been sewing since I was a child.   I made a pair of shorts when I was six years old.  I cut the fabric out on my own, and stitched the seams by hand.  And they fit.  When I wore them to show my mother, her mouth fell open.  Yes, she was sitting there in the kitchen, as usual smoking a Salem, drinking a cup of coffee, maybe even on the phone.  Maybe with her hair up in pin-curls.  Whatever the case, she stopped what she was doing and said, "You made these?"

Well, that was just the beginning.  I was sewing all my clothes by the time I was in junior high.  It was typical then, back in the early sixties to learn to sew in home economics.  Most of the people I know who don't know how to sew are younger than me.  My theory is that they grew up in the era when budget cuts dropped home economics and shop from the class list.  There was a period of time in there where you could take shop as a girl and home economics as a boy.  Not when I was in high school...just a little later, after I graduated in 69.  When girls could wear jeans to school.

Anyway, I'd like to start a movement to recover some of the lost arts.  Of course we have letter writing, which would be nice to save.  I'd also like to save mending.  We could get longer wear from our socks and shirts and shorts, if we were to learn to mend.  We could also save ourselves from the internet, from too much cement, from killing off our drinking water, from _____________.  I'm sure you have some ideas.

May I suggest the first lesson: Buy a sewing kit.  I saw a great one at Village Books in Bellingham.  Yes, it looked like a little book.  Inside this nice little book box were two drawers.  Inside the drawers, spools of thread of different colors, tiny scissors, pins and needles, safety pins, a measuring tape, a thimble, some buttons, and a needle threader.  Needle threaders are good for those of us whose eyes are not as sharp as they used to be.  But I have to be honest, I don't want to use it...I don't want to give in.

Buy yourself a kit and then bring out a stack of holy socks.  Sit on the sofa, flip on some music or TV.  Travel shows are nice for mending, or nature shows.  A thriller movie doesn't work so well.  You end up watching the movie and not mending.

Now cut a piece of matching thread two feet long.  Thread the needle and double the thread over, knotting the two ends together.  Now you have a double strand of thread, which is stronger than a single strand.  Now slip an old-fashioned light bulb inside the sock you intend to mend.  I like to make a gathering stitch around the circumference of the hole and draw the edges together in a kiss.  Once you've done this, weave the needle in and out across the edges until the area flattens smoothly into a mended patch.  Viola...you've mended a sock.  Now take three to four tiny stitches on top of each other to end the repair.  Clip the threads close.  You're finished.

How to mend.  Let's mend our lives...however we see that as possible.  Slowing down.  Meditating.  Ordering our kitchen drawers.  Giving away unwanted clothing, books, toys, and jewelry.  Write!  Everyday.  Call our friends.  Love each other.  It's important for our souls to get down on paper what we think and feel and want from life.  It's important to try for what we want.

In peace,
Nancy Canyon 

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