Sewing, the solitary hobby.

Last January, I took a beginning sewing class at a local sewing studio. I wanted a hobby that would consume my time and attention. A hobby that would encourage me to hide away in my studio and escape and lose track of hours – alone.

I took the four classes that made up the beginner class. In those classes, I learned to make a pillowcase, a lined tote bag, and a drawstring bag. Then I took other classes: I learned how to make a cosmetic bag, a gigantic shoulder bag, a messenger bag, a tote bag with applique, and an apron. I wanted to take a quilt class, but the studio closed last May and I never got the chance.

I really wanted to try making a quilt, but I resisted starting because it all just looked so overwhelming. I thought that first I would master sewing, then I would move to sewing quilts. I am not sure why I had it set up that way in my head, but for whatever reason, I had myself convinced that I was not ready to quilt. Not without a structured class and someone to tell me that everything I was doing was right or wrong.

A couple of weeks ago, I started my first quilt.

One of the women who I met through sewing encouraged me to just jump in and start. One day, she picked up a quilt kit from the sale rack in a quilt shop and said, “This would be a good first quilt for you.” The kit contained a pattern and the fabric that I would need to finish the quilt top. I bought it.

This woman knows how to quilt. She belongs to a quilt guild and goes on quilting retreats. But, even though she was so much more advanced than I was, she took the time to talk me through the steps of cutting and assembling the pieces and sewing the top together. She went and looked at fabric with me for the back and the border. She took time away from her own projects to talk me through the process and tell me what the next step would be. And it wasn’t just her. The woman who used to run the studio where I took my sewing classes jumped in as well. She helped me design my border. Showed me how to pin, and loaned me pins and a tool that made pinning much easier. Sent me instructions for how to bind the quilt, and when I messed it up, gave me advice for how to fix it and advice to make it go better the next time.

Remember, I met these women through the sewing studio that closed last May. That is over 6 months ago. We have kept in touch on facebook and gone out socially a few different times. But we have also started sewing together about once per month. This is sewing, my hobby that had me dreaming of solitary nights alone in my studio, closed off from the world and recharging my batteries through the hum and clink of my sewing machine.


But it didn’t work that way. The unexpected benefit of my solitary hobby has been more people in my life. An expansion of my circle of friends that I never expected.

When it was time to put my quilt together, I brought it to our monthly sewing meeting. There were six of us standing around the table where I had the top laid out. We all talked about the border – was it the wrong color? How big should it be? Should I even add a border?

Every person in the room had more sewing experience than me, but I still felt like I belonged in the group. It’s something good for me – being in a group that revolves around a skill and feeling encouragement, support, collaboration, and cooperation.

It’s also good to hear other people say that I can do this. Or I can even do that. Why don’t I just try it?

After all, it’s only sewing.




I haven’t had too much to say lately. I have had a rough holiday season. I couldn’t wait to take the tree down and move on from Christmas, and Christmas music, and lights, and the word Christmas.

An old friend of mine passed away on Christmas Eve, and I heard the news on Christmas day. Since then, and, honestly, since June, because I knew this was coming, I have cried a lot.

I met Anthony when we were just kids, barely out of high school. On some level, I feel like I still am a kid, because when I looked at his obituary in the paper and I saw the number 35 after his name, I just couldn’t read past it. Too young. We are too young to die and to lose dear friends like this.

His calling hours were two weeks ago, and I remember feeling embarrassed because I could not will myself to stop crying. The moment I composed myself, tears would just start welling up again. I had to sit and drink some water after hugging Anthony’s family and other friends. And then I just had to leave. I had to walk home and I was already almost out of energy.

Grief is so strange. I don’t have much experience with it. Most of the important people in my life who have passed away so far died when I was a small kid, ten or younger. I don’t really remember what happened “after.” After: sitting on the couch, crying, walking from room to room, staring at the floor, wondering if there is any way on earth I will make it to or through the funeral the next day.

It was snowing hard on the morning of Anthony’s funeral. It had been snowing for a while, and because it was early on a Saturday, the roads weren’t really plowed yet, and I spun and slid my way across town in the Camry, nearly getting stuck twice while I was driving up the hill to the church.

I can’t talk about the funeral here. All I can say is that when I got out the most beautiful snow was falling. The huge puffy snow, the snow that makes everything seem so quiet and still, the snow that looks like a painting came to life right here outside this old stone church. And I cried, and cried, and cried, and all I could say was, “It’s so beautiful out here.”

When I got home, I didn’t know what to do. That was it, that was my closure, that was the societal door that closes that says “now you have mourned.” But I still wasn’t OK. I just turned to my husband and said, “I just don’t know what I am supposed to do now.”

He suggested that we take a walk. In the deep, crazy, still-falling snow. We did, and we stayed out for almost two hours. We ate Chinese food, and cupcakes, and when my husband asked what my goal for eating was that day,  I said that I didn’t have one. My only goal that day was to make it to the next day. And it seemed like, every 5 minutes, a Dodge Ram drove past us. Anthony drove the mother of all Dodge Rams, and every time we met up for a walk this past summer, I would just shake my head in amazement at how bad-ass that truck was.

I still see Dodge Rams everywhere I go, two weeks later. I am not sure if there has been a recent proliferation of them in the area, or if my subconscious is just more aware of their existence. Sometimes I joke that Anthony is pestering me not to forget him (as if I ever could).

Yesterday was a hard day, a sad day, and as I drove east on the highway just before 5 pm, I just blurted out, “I miss you.” In that instant I checked my rear-view mirror, which was completely filled with a hot pink sunset just under a huge layer of clouds, a beautiful sunset like I have not seen in some time.

I take signs when I get them. I steal comfort from Dodge Rams and sunsets. I don’t know what else to do.