My daughter and I have recently started going to a sewing circle once a week. My friend, S., teaches a few of us about embroidery and shows us what her daughters and she have worked on during the previous week and the kids...well, the kids see it as a great opportunity to play and play and play. So for hours I'm periodically reminding my daughter not to race through the house and to try to be a little bit more quiet as peals of laughter trail behind her while she's playing tag or hide and seek with her friends.
Women have always had sewing circles, or quilting bees or times of sitting and knitting together. When I was younger, I sometimes had sort of an intellectual contempt for the simplicity of it all. I think I felt it was a segregation of women from the important work of the world. It seemed odd to me that women would sit around sharing all of this picky work and invest all of this effort and strong feelings about it while out in the world there was suffering, and war. Important ideas and philosophical questions about life and meaning and death and infinite space and relativism and absolutism and art and birth, which were impinging on all of our lives, were swirling about and yet these sewing circle women would just sit there sharing recipes and laughing and embroidering with such tiny stitches that it took the hand a geological age to move across the fabric. I didn't get it and it just seemed so domestic as to be imprisoning.
God, the stuff we don't know when we are young!
At our sewing circle the moms sit and talk, and laugh and share nutritional information and homeschooling stories and ideas about fiber and color and composition and childhood and the sweet things our kids have said to us. We talk about going on long overnight trips together with the rest of the homeschooling group and where we could go and as I am sitting there I always realize that the value of these sewing circle times is not in the stitches and the fabric and the work of our hands, but the friendship and communing with one another while our children play.
Love is important work. Sitting with my friends laughing and sharing our ideas is not imprisoning and it hardly matters that our hands are busy with embroidery floss, or wool yarn, or beads. The communing is the important part.
This all started as a volunteer effort on my friend S's behalf. She generously offered to teach embroidery to the kids in our homeschooling group. Another friend, Unnamed, has always taught knitting to anyone who would like to learn. And, I have always taught the kids tennis in the summer at the park when we all meet together once a week. Another friend, a very good swimming coach, has shown the kids some strokes at the pool.
For some reason though, this sewing circle time seems to set the kids off and they so enjoy each other and are not paying a bit of attention to the new stitches being shown or the patterns being poured over in books. They just want to play.
So, we women sit and talk and laugh and share our ideas about color and composition and life and death and what is important to us and we let the children play.