5 Sep 2013

In the quiet moments, when reading just doesn't feel right and knitting has already been done,
 some handsewing is just the thing. 
The rhythm of needle through cloth, pulled with just the right tension, needle through cloth, pull... on and on for as long as the mood takes me.

Handsewing small hexagonals of happy fabric is such a joy.
 I sew with no more than a vague idea of what this will become,
 I sew for the peace it brings and the fun of seeing different colours and patterns put next to one another.

These pieces of cloth I sew are not my own scraps but pieces carefully cut and stitched to backing squares by another Jennifer, far away in Edinburgh. such an indulgence and far removed from the time when handmade quilts were essential yet beautiful way to  warm the  family and add comfort to the home.

Imagine a time when every scrap from the dressmaking you have done to clothe the family, every scrap is kept and put to good use to make quilts for warmth for your family 
with the added bonus of cheerful colour and  a chance to give free rein to your creativity. 

 There is talk of quilting  in the book, ' On the Banks of Plum Creek', talk of Nine Patch and Bear's Track. 
 The hexagon quilt seems to have been more of an English tradition though I am no expert on quilting history.

Making a simple Nine Patch dolly quilt or a more difficult Hexagon dolly quilt must have a been a perfect way to teach a young girl the sewing skills that would stand her in good stead whether she married or not. 
In a time when you sewed your own or went without unless you were wealthy, sewing was definitely a survival skill.

Australia's patchwork history is long, with Aboriginal women patching together pieces of animal skins to make capes and bedding, the very first convict women coming out on ships in the late 1700s made quilts on the journey. 
My grandmother  in the 1920s and 30s made waggas and what my mother thought were very dreary quilts made from the wool flannel of worn out men's suits in a time when suits went from best to around the house wear to garden wear to scraps and maybe quilts and plaited rugs.

So as I indulge myself with my little hexies that have travelled half way around the world,
 from one Jenny to another,
 and enjoy the rhythm and peace of my hands at work,
 my mind travels here and there 
and always pauses for at least a  moment on the crowd of women before me
 who have found peace doing much the same thing, 
simple stitching with a needle and thread.

One Response to “Hexies”

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.