Thursday, January 7, 2016
When I was a girl of eleven, it was somehow arranged that once a week I would go to the home of Mrs. Abbott down the street in order that she might teach me how to sew. By hand.
Mrs. Abbott had just one child, a teenaged boy. She had an English accent and a very tidy home, with her sewing kit neatly stowed at the end of the sofa.
Mrs. Abbott showed me how to cut the fabric with the pattern pinned to it so it wouldn't slip around. Each week I stitched a white apron with big brown polka dots, a gift for my mother. The fabric had a little waffly texture to it, and I remember adding some lace trim to the pocket and the hem. We sat mostly in silence, Mrs. Abbot and I, as she showed me how to keep my stitches even and how to tie a knot that wouldn't show or pull through. It was the first time I realized how lovely sitting and working in silence can be. As the 5th child of six, I was used to noise and chaos from morning to night. I didn't know until then, that there was another normal. A tidy and quiet normal where you could hear yourself think.
I was thinking of her last week as I sewed an apron for my granddaughter. I use a machine mostly, but can still whip up a stitch when I need to. My home has never been as tidy as Mrs. Abbott's, but I still love to work quietly alone or alongside another. You never know what lessons are learned when you offer your time and expertise to another. I still hold those unintended gifts, like buried treasure.