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!)