“Rest is the best medicine.”
I’ve taken that advice over the past few weeks as this ugly cold runs through my system. I come home from work, gather the necessities (iPad, hot drink, cat, book), get on the couch, and wrap myself in luxury: a homemade quilt.
I love this quilt. A longtime friend made it for me. Abby and I met at a summer camp for sixth grade students and have been friends ever since.
She and her husband came to visit with me one hot August day during their annual get-away from the stifling, central California weather. Their lodging for the week was a tent on a beautiful state beach near my home.
When she handed me the quilt, I became like one of those blubbering winners you see on game shows — though I had won my true prize 45 years ago when Abby came into my life. The quilt was more evidence of her priceless friendship.
Today I examined the quilt closely and thought about the hours it took to create such a treasure. All of that work. All to give away.
Quilting. Knitting. Crocheting. Sewing.
Labor of love.
Needlework has played an important role in every culture, and especially for women. While doing research for one of the stories I’m working on, I came upon a home sewing article that inspired me to dig deeper. The information I found was so interesting — the cultural meanings of sewing in the U.S. — that I added a sewing circle to my story.
A group of women meet weekly to work on projects and “chew the rag.” I’m using the circle not only to highlight the fact that home sewing was a given during the Depression, but also to bring out personalities, attitudes, and back story. The circle ties in well with my story’s theme.
Here’s an excerpt. Eva has accepted an invitation given by Rachel, the landlord’s wife. She’ll be the first black woman to attend the circle as a participant. At one point during their walk to the gathering, Rachel expresses her concerns. Eva responds:
“Oh, I’ll be uncomfortable. But I’ll do my best to not let them see it. All I want is a chance to learn some things about sewing.”
Rachel admired Eva’s walk as she tried to keep up. Anyone watching would think the woman was on her way to a movie or a meeting with her sweetheart.
“I’m not looking for their boys to marry or their fancy ideas to change. Just teach me how to sew so I can make a living and move on from this place. That’s all.”
Rachel smiled. “And you want to show up Barbara Diller with that learned mind of yours.”
Eva looked sidelong at Rachel and her voice lightened. “That, too,” she said.
I have a feeling that the sewing circle will be a proving ground in more ways than one for Eva and all the women who share it.
I knit and crochet. What about you? Do you enjoy needlework?