You might be working on the hem of a dress and you begin to think how it was with your ex-husband and you want to write about it. Your hands are busy sewing . . . — Natalie Goldberg

When I think of rest these days, I imagine my hands around a small hoop with fabric stretched through and around it. My right hand pulls a need up, through, and down – over and over again, as tiny crosses and satin stitches draw pictures without words.

Some people want to split wood or run marathons when they need a break from their mental space. I just want to sew.

***
In the fall and winter, it’s yarn I want draped over my lap. The weight and warmth covering me. But as summer approaches, my hands crave the minuteness of stitch and thread.

Embroidery floss becomes my indoor garden.

I sit evenings in my mother’s nest, now turned into my own with skeins of color draped about my great-grandmother’s blanket trunk. I lay back, lift my feet, and sew into designs that I do not create. My mind rests from the laying out of pattern.

***
When I see the samplers and embroidered art that woman of history have woven with their fingers, I imagine how much of their mind they have poured onto that canvas when so much of it had to be stifled, silent in a world where men spoke for all.

Now, sometimes, when I tell people I sew, they tilt their heads just a bit. Maybe it seems odd that I do this – with all my independence and liberal sympathies, with all my talk of equality and work toward that end – maybe it seems odd that I turn to something so traditionally “womanly.”

The best cross-stitcher I know was a man. He designed plays during the day, and at night, he created these gorgeous pieces from Irish linen and silk thread.

***
So much of sewing is like writing. One stitch, one word at a time. How could I not love it?