I was doing some hand work the other day and realized, not for the first time, that this activity is frequently disrupted by the need to replenish the thread on the needle to continue and complete the project. We’ve all done this; cut off a new length of thread, waxed it (maybe), then go through what sometimes seems like an arduous process of threading the needle. But this simple act of threading a needle can be as thoughtful and as meditative a process as the handwork itself.
Hand sewing is being in the present. You are focused on what is going on in your hands. Watching the progress of the stitch work as it evolves all the while making adjustments as you go. This is as true for embroidery work and beading as it is for sewing on a button or hemming a pair of pants. Each project begins and continues with a threaded needle.
Each step in a project is, of course, its own meditative process. Careful consideration goes into which project grabs your attention. Feeling inspired by something you saw on social media you want to try? Maybe you’ve started a project and can only dedicate short periods of time to it and right now is perfect. Or, there’s that pile of mending you’ve been meaning to get to, and now is as good a time as any. Did you notice how focused you were, how thoughtful you were, how natural it felt to just be in the moment? If not, you probably noticed a tinge of regret when something or someone interrupted you by pulling your attention away from your point of focus. It’s so small you barely registered it happened, but it did.
For me, this process begins with that simple act of threading a needle. I let my hands do the work while my ceaselessly chattering brain follows along, eventually quieting down and finally becoming the observer. Knotting the thread and holding the fabric begins the meditative process I slip into without a notice and come out of when the last stitch is done and the thread is cut away. Setting the needle aside and examining my work I feel a shift in wakefulness and maybe for a few moments a sense of peace and quiet inside.
So much of what we doll makers/crafters do is meditative, solitary and healing. The creative process is what allows us to maintain our sanity, our sense of self and above all to be present in the moment. We go through many trials and challenges in the span of a lifetime. Sometimes we are alone and struggle in silence, while at other times, we are part of a bigger story and share in the collective experience. We get lost in all the noise and caught up in the fear. We can't seem to find our way back to center. When it feels like the world is crashing in, look for one of those projects you've been meaning to finish, or start. Darn a holy sock or two, then make sock monsters.
Handwork is all about being present and in the moment. It helps us find our center, our core. It helps us heal.