13 December 2008

Resources for Hand Work

Life's been crazy-busy lately, mostly with making Christmas presents and keeping up with school.

The girls and I found a couple of really cool websites that I thought I'd share.

We're learning how to knit. Well, actually Judith and Rebekah are already pretty good at it, but Melody and Eliza are learning and I'm re-learning (my Mémère Bert taught me to cast on, knit, and purl, but I'd forgotten how - it's been so long). This website has been so helpful!  It includes free video instruction for both English style and Continental style.  My mem taught me English style, and when I first tried Continental, I made a big mess.  But there was a scene in an indie movie we watched the other night (review coming soon) that included a woman knitting Continental style and it finally clicked.  I tried it again the next morning and took off.  It's faster than English, so I've been using it for my current, very basic, project with its Christmas deadline.

The other website is also a gem.  More videos, but this time about hand embroidery.  I love my embroidery machine and am using it lots, but there's something about hand embroidery that is just stunning and a lot of stitches just can't be recreated on a machine.  Sometimes you just need a break from the machinery, time to sit with a needle and thread.  I love technology, but there's there's room in the world for both hand and machine work.  Hand work is good for the soul; it slows you down, gives you time to contemplate, and requires a greater time investment - all antidotes to a hurried modern world.  I also think we must work purposely and intentionally to maintain those old skills.  If we lose them, they'll be gone for good.

Last night, Drew and I were chatting with the man who runs the local Viking Sewing Center.  After purchasing some machine embroidery supplies, I asked him if Joann's carried hand embroidery threads (I wasn't expecting beautiful silks, but was hoping for something besides run of the mill floss, and was pleased to find that they did carry some nicer pearl cotton and a tiny bit of very expensive silk - the silk stayed at the store, but I brought home some of the cotton).  He didn't quite understand the attraction of doing it by hand, but told me that he was working on his embroidery software to make it look more like hand work.  But then he shared how astonished he'd been when he was the recipient of a hand-embroidered gift.  He said of the giver, 'It took her three months to embroider it.  She must really care a lot.'  There is something about an investment of time and effort that speaks deeply to the heart.



  1. Lynne, I taught my daughter Eng. and I've been waiting long months for her to forget it so I can teach her Cont. It's so much faster! I have a gorgeous and easy scarf pattern that she will use to make Christmas presents. I think we can just manage it.

  2. Teri,

    When I couldn't do Continental at first, I resorted to English and worked quite a bit of the project that way. Then, all of a sudden, I could do Continental! The story to say that your daughter may not need to forget English to be able to do Continental.

    I've started changing the way I hold my yarn when I crochet, too. I'm finding it easier to hold my yarn the same way for both. Pretty weird, considering I've been crocheting for over 20 years!

  3. That's encouraging, Lynne. I'll let you know how it goes. Please post pictures of your progress!

  4. Lynne, thanks for your comment on Cather on my blog. I tend to agree with you. I may give her another try, but not for a long time. I liked your profile. Seems like we have a lot in common. I've bookmarked you on my "favorites" and I'll be checking in on you now and then.