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Stitches That Hold Me Together

2017 looks set to be another turbulent year for Kim and me. Only one week in and everything’s upside down and uncertain again. I’m bracing myself, head down and quietly stitching our troubles away. For a few moments at least. I haven’t had as much time for quilting this week as I’d hoped.

Getting through the day can be a struggle at the moment and it’s often overwhelming. All I crave is a period of stability so that I can concentrate on those goals and plans I make, but it never seems to happen.  I end up putting them aside to deal with one crisis or another, and I’m running out of fight.

Crisis Number 1, 2017

It’s only a week into the new year and crisis number 1 has struck. Kim had to leave college this week due to ill health (for the second time), which might scupper his hopes for university. It boils down to finance: free education stops at 19 regardless of circumstances (he’ll be 19 early this year) and he needs the intermediate qualifications he was studying for to get onto a degree course.  We’re incredibly lucky to have free education at all, of course, but this is where we live and you don’t get far without it.

In the mean time we have to deal with the short-term financial fallout. All financial support for him will stop, and he’s too ill to work. We may have to move again. I just don’t know what will happen and it’s knocked me sideways.

Tracking The Week’s Progress

© Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall UK All Rights Reserved. Plain Sewing, hand stitched patchwork work in progress. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Tracked. I’ve managed to make the backgrounds for more circles on Plain Sewing this week. Almost enough for a second panel.

It’s at times like this my ‘project tracker‘ should be useful. If I manage to get through this period of instability I want to look back and remind myself of the sewing I achieved. No matter how small.  It’s made me feel better already this week. I feel like I’ve done nothing, but I can see I’ve stitched something everyday.  I’ve been making a little progress on Plain Sewing.

Finding Meaning

This patchwork’s becoming more and more meaningful to me and takes me on thoughtful journeys whenever I pick up a needle to stitch on it. It’s about glimpsing the things that hold us together. The repairs we make, the seams, the darning, the patching – to ourselves, and our relationships. It’s about the things we don’t usually see or share with anyone else (unless you’re like me and overshare everything!). I suppose I think of it as a kind of excavation really, or at least turning ourselves inside out to expose hidden truths.

© Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall UK All Rights Reserved. Plain Sewing, hand stitched patchwork work in progress. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Crude stitches mimicking darning over a blue shirt patch. I use black thread to make it visible.

What Is Plain Sewing?

‘Plain sewing’ is a term you don’t hear much anymore (the link takes you to the text of beautiful old needlework encyclopaedia). It refers to the simple, practical stitches we used mainly for sewing garments, household linen and the like. Running stitch, oversewing, backstitch and hemming. I’ve always loved this kind of stitching. If you turn an old handmade shirt inside out you’ll see the drawn thread and the tiny straight, even stitches making a perfect seam. Narrow, neat hems seem to hold themselves up and fine imperceptible darning gives new life.

© Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall UK All Rights Reserved. Plain Sewing, hand stitched patchwork work in progress. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

More crude stitching in visible thread. It’s not so easy to sew this badly, haha!

Then there’s the workaday, get it done, get it mended kind of stitching; the rough hewn stone, rather than the polished gem.

© Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall UK All Rights Reserved. Plain Sewing, hand stitched patchwork work in progress. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Wonky circles and wonky backstitches.

The deft stitches of the maid, the seamstress, the poor worker – I feel connected by these threads.

And I hope the stitches I make over the next few months will be strong enough to hold me together.

Linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

25 replies
  1. Robin
    Robin says:

    I love the project you are working on. It takes me to a peaceful place as I see the textures and the repetitive quilting. I can see why working on it helps you cope with the things you can’t control.

    Reply
  2. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    I always enjoy seeing your work. Stephie, a while back you were excited about the beautiful new scissors you bought ( Ernst Wright ). I’ve been coveting them every since you wrote a post about them. How are they holding up? I think I’d like to get a pair for a birthday gift to myself. What size did you get and do you get a lot of use out of them?

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Oh Sandra I LOVE them! I use them every single day for cutting thread and small pieces of fabric (behind appliqué circles for example). I got the embroidery size ones. They’re still extremely sharp and firm. I’d also like to get some thread snips and fabric sheers. Maybe I’ll give myself a birthday gift later in the year too, that’s a great idea! Yep, definitely recommend them 🙂

      Reply
      • Sandra
        Sandra says:

        I have nice scissors, but those ones keep calling my name. I just said to
        my husband that many women would be wooed with diamonds or
        vacations……me, just give me quality tools! I hope one day to have a
        trip to Scotland to visit my new husband’s family. I’ll have to try to
        pro-long the trip and do a sidetrack to your neck of the woods. It would be
        wonderful to meet you and give you a hug for all your inspiration!

        Reply
        • Stephie
          Stephie says:

          I’m like you – who needs diamonds, unless of course they’re used to make a precision tool! Cornwall’s a fair distance from Scotland, but if you make it here one day you’re on!

          Reply
  3. Bossymamma
    Bossymamma says:

    Sending you huge hugs, Stephie. I know it it is enormously hard, but please try not to panic about how the events of the past week might affect various aspects of your life. Take very good care of yourself.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thank you Dina. I’m trying very hard to take it one day at a time at the moment, which is easier said than done. My big coping plan is to get outside more, a walk every morning I hope. In fact you’ve reminded me I need to get out my map and look for some more local footpaths. I’m getting a bit bored of going to the same places all the time. xx

      Reply
  4. MaryAnn Mings
    MaryAnn Mings says:

    You are such an amazingly honest woman. And your writing is even more skilled than your creative needlework. I wish life would not feel so mean and basics in life were free. I am certain all this will sort itself out, maybe not neatly or soon enough. You are held in your regard quite highly by myself.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thank you for such kind words MaryAnn, it means a lot to me. I know everyone has difficult times, but over the last few years it’s felt like a relentless onslaught and some calm waters to regroup in would be very welcome! x

      Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      You can say that again Karen! Finding a path through the chaos won’t be easy, but I hope some of the stress and anxiety Kim was feeling about college will be a little lighter now.

      Reply
  5. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Thank you for sharing what is going on with you — it is all so connected with what and how we make, isn’t it. I will be praying for you and Kim, for his health, for your finances, for stability and that you can stay where you’re living now. Hugs!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thanks Sophie, it’s good to have something to bury my head into that isn’t just sand! (if that makes sense?!?). For the time being I’m telling myself ‘what will be will be’ and just trying to take one day at a time. x

      Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      He’s had chronic anxiety and panic attacks Deb, which have led to periods of agoraphobia – hence his non attendance at college. It’s being going on for some time and getting worse over the last couple of months. He’s got good support from his GP though, so hopefully there’ll be some noticeable improvement for him soon. As for everything else, who knows, we’ll see! x

      Reply
  6. Maureen
    Maureen says:

    I’m liking the way your Plain Sewing is going! I am so sorry to read that Kim is unwell and that this could make a difference to his future, and yours of course if you should have to move house again. Here’s hoping that he will recover quickly and could return to his studies, hopefully then you can both stay put just where you are.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Positive thoughts, Maureen, positive thoughts! I can’t deny that the thought of having to move home again fills me with dread though, especially as being here is the one thing Kim’s really happy about. We’ll see how it all folds out soon enough.

      Reply
  7. Kaja
    Kaja says:

    I’m so sorry that Kim is ill again and that this might mess up his education. It may be easier said than done but try not to worry about the future yet ,just concentrate on the stuff that needs to be done now. I hope you manage to keep stitching through the troubles; it gives you an outlet and something positive and tangible you are achieving. Like your plain stitching, life is not perfect, and real lives are seldom as shiny and beautiful and trouble-free as we like to pretend, but there is beauty in just living, struggling, keeping going too.

    Reply
  8. Lynne Nicholson
    Lynne Nicholson says:

    Sending love and hugs sweetie. The hardest lesson to learn is how not to worry about what is beyond your control and do what is within your power.
    Hoping Kim soon recovers.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      It’s knowing how powerless you are that’s the worst aspect of the situation really. I suppose all I can hope to do is make it as comfortable a ride as possible, because there’s no doubt I’m going to be forced into the car! With handcuffs and a blindfold probably 😀 x

      Reply
      • Lynne Nicholson
        Lynne Nicholson says:

        Oh I won’t need the blindfold the way my eyes are deteriorating. Won’t be long before I won’t be able to read as it is I struggle on. We will get through our challenges. It won’t be easy but we will do it.

        Reply

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