Saturday, November 03, 2007

Found Moments

    As a busy Mama it's important to me to have some sort of creative outlet and there are many that I enjoy- sewing, quilting, making cards, scrapbooking, writing, beadwork, making dolls, and more. It's easy to lament not having more time to work on these kinds of things, but I remember the words of a high school teacher: "Time is not something you have, it's something you make." I never wanted to hear that when I hadn't had (or made) time to do my homework, but I'm starting to see the truth in it: we make time for things that are important to us. And while being able to craft things is something I enjoy, finding the time for it can be a challenge.

    Jinny Beyer, in her instructive and beautiful book Quiltmaking by Hand talks about how she finds the time to sew large quilts without the use of a machine. "You would be amazed at how much sewing you can get done in found moments throughout the day. I sew in doctor's offices, in the car, on trains, on airplanes, in airport, and in traffic jams.... I always have a little bag of stitching with me wherever I go. I advise you to do to the same, because you never know when you might have a little bit of time to take a few stitches.... you will come to cherish the times when you can quietly stitch- and your final quilt will have so many more memories attached to it because of where you were when you pulled out your little bag of sewing." She goes on to talk about how the key to being productive in your "found moments" is having spent some time in preparation. She has pieces cut out and placed in a small bag along with a needle and thread, pins and a small pair of scissors. She can then pick up her bag and stitch while waiting in line to get gas, talking on the phone or sitting with her husband while he watches a game.

    This idea of found moments inspires me. I think this must be how women of earlier generations were able to accomplish the amazing handiwork and quilts we see in museums now. (Of course, they made such things out of necessity, but I would still prefer to lay my children down under a quilt stitched with love by their mama then one bought at Stuff-Mart.) Peregrine and I are reading Farmer Boy, and I love the description of a winter's evening with the whole family around the woodstove: "Mother knitted and rocked in her high-backed rocking-chair. Father carefully scraped a new axe-handle with a bit of broken glass. Royal carved a chain of tiny links from a smooth stick of pine, and Alice sat on her hassock, doing her woolwork embroidery. And they all ate popcorn and apples, and drank sweet cider, except Eliza Jane. Eliza Jane read aloud the news in the New York weekly paper."

    I've found what Jinny Beyer said to be true; when I have things prepared I can get a lot done in a few moments on the couch or while riding in the van, watching a movie with Erik or talking together in the evening. And the memories attached to something do become more special- I remember stitching on Peregrine's baby quilt on the way to Crater Lake, and working on Alethea's on a road trip to California when I was six months pregnant with her. I also remember somehow managing to take a few stitches here and there while breastfeeding babies as I never seem to quite finish them before they're born! Some crafts lend themselves more readily to found moments than others, but there are many things that can be done in those small snatches of time. It's very satisfying, and almost feels like a necessity to me, to create beautiful things; things to keep or give away, things that will bring joy and beauty and comfort. And while I can't usually find hours to work on these projects, I can quite often find a few moments.

(The quilts pictured were all handmade by me. The first is Peregrine's, the second Poppy's, the the last one now belongs to a wonderful little guy named Zebedee. It's just about time for me to start in on another for our new baby!) 


  1. I agree with found moments - I leave my scrapbooking stuff out on my worktable, and often wander by and do something small on an item.

    Now, do you quilt? Those quilts are incredible!

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  4. I'm a lucky one- to have a beautiful quilt made by you...

  5. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! I'm inspired :-)

  6. These are beautiful!
    I started some stitching right after my son Jonah died in 2002. I have intended to make a quilt from the blocks I made telling his story. It still sits there. I have never quilted and have felted intimidated to piece it all together... I don't want to mess it up.
    This post made me remeber the quilt and gave me some motivation to just finish it!

    Any book recommendations to help me get going?

  7. Your quilts are beautiful and very inspiring. What time and love have gone into them. Thank you for sharing them with all of us and showing us how beautiful a handmade quilt is.

    God bless,

  8. Such beautiful quilts!!! Your kids are so lucky. I second the request for a couple of book recommendations, please.... Thank you for sharing!

  9. You do beautiful work. I also enjoy quilting and usually make smaller quilts. Thanks for the advice about the bag of sewing. I often do applique for just that reason....I can take it with me. I love to see women with their yarn - either knitting or crocheting but I've never been able to fall in love with that art. I will get myself a bag of sewing to have with me always. THanks. Beth


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