Needle work

6 February 2008

I wrote yesterday about focusing on your home and the importance of seeing your work there with respect. One of the things that helped me refocus on my life at home was to do things that I really enjoyed and that helped me live up to my new values. I taught myself to knit and sew again. I had done these things earlier in life but put them aside thinking they were irrelevant when I could buy, ready-made, whatever I needed. I've already told you, to my shame, that I used to throw away shirts and skirts rather than sew on a button or mend a small rip. I regret doing those things but it did teach me the true waste of doing it and that knitting, sewing, mending, patchwork and dressmaking are fine skills to have and necessary when I want to use everything to its full extent.

I bought my first ever sewing machine when my children were small and I wanted to repair their clothes. That didn't last long though and that sewing machine sat in the cupboard, unused, for many years. I started using it again about five years ago and when I took it to be serviced and the mechanic told me that it would stand only one more service, I decided to give it away on freecycle on buy another sewing machine. I use it frequently.

Although I knit, sew and make simple patchwork I don't regard myself as having a craft hobby, or even having the skill of a crafter. I see this work as housework. I don't sew and knit for pleasure, although there is much pleasure in it, I do it for the practical reasons of economy and maintenance, and to make unique practical items for my home.

I know some of you will be new to sewing and knitting, and some will not have taken up the needles for many years, so I want to encourage you to give it a try. I think there is a lot to be gained in learning these skills. You'll save money when you mend clothes rather than waste them, you'll be able to make unique gifts instead of buying one of a million, you'll be able to sew curtains, cushion covers, aprons, shopping bags, dishcloths, jug covers, napkins, tablecloths and tea towels. The list is long.

I've collected a number of sites that have helped me in recent years, maybe you will find help there too. I'll also include my stitchery how to and the link to my free stitchery patterns. I hope you gain a lot of enjoyment with your knitting and sewing, I have, although I'm not nearly good enough for my own liking yet. But I do get by and produce many things for my home that I'm proud of and use frequently. My hope is that you find that pleasure too.

Fingerless gloves. I am knitting these this winter. this is a nice knitting site with lots of wonderful ideas

How to sew - basic instructions to get your started.
Homespun Living - Deb's blog is a lovely mix of sewing, knitting and cooking.
Turkey feathers - this is a lovely blog for sewing and various craft ideas.
Sew Mama Sew
The wonderful rosehip blog.

These are just a few sites where you can teach yourself how to sew, mend and knit. If you know any other links that freely givegood advice, with pictures, please add them to your comment so we can all share this important homemakers' list.

PS: I have to apologise to many of you who are waiting for a reply to your email. I hope to have the time to get to them tomorrow. I do appreciate your notes and always enjoy catching up with what everyone is doing.


  1. I also enjoy crocheting and sewing. I have always thought of this as a craft. You have opened my eyes to the idea that this is part of my daily duties. I would love to put aside a little of my day to work on some dish clothes but felt this was just a crafty thing I like to do.

    This would give me a little down time to work on something for our home and also give me a minute to reflect on how to make my home a better place.

    Thank you!!


  2. Thanks for listing the knitting sites! Can't wait to check them out! Take care!


  3. I have been learning to sew and crotchet over the last few years. My Mom sews amazingly well and so I always asked her to do my projects since she would do it much faster and better. Then we immigrated to canada 8 years ago and Mom was far away. I have 3 girls who like wearing dresses and it is increasingly hard to find dresses as they get older(my oldest is almost 12). So, I decided I should figure out how to sew for myself and I thoroughly enjoy it. In fact , the more I sew the more I want to. We are expecting our seventh baby and now I am sewing myself some new maternity blouses. I find sewing clothing doesn't always cost me less than buying clothing, but the quality of the fabric is often better and so the clothing lasts better.
    I enjoy popping in to your blog everyday to see what helpful article you have that day.


  4. Rhonda,'
    I'm about to have my first EVER sewing lesson in about an hour and a half from now. I'm soo excited about it :) A friend of mine from Church has offered to teach me for free. I do own a sewing machine and I know how to sew on a button, but beyond that....nope, don't know where to start. We're making bags this evening.
    Wish me luck!

  5. Here is another fantastic knitting site:
    They even have free online videos!

    I just love your blog, Rhonda Jean. Thank you for all that you share.
    Beth in NC, USA

  6. Rhonda,

    I've made those very same fingerless gloves! They are great! Easy and very attractive! I made two pair and the only advice I can give is if possible, knit tightly, as they stretch with use and then are a bit difficult to keep on your hand. They tend to roll up (although the ones I made were with acrylic yarn--not having learned the beauty of a fine wool--could be the difference).

    Thank you again for all your sage advice and interesting daily blogs. I have learned a lot from you and you keep me thinking about everything I do and it's impact on the world. A very necessary thing today where we are bombarded all the time with advertisements and other people who have "things" but also a lot of stress and look at us askance because we have different values. It's especially challenging at times because we have a preteen daughter whose peers parents have different ideals than our own. You help keep me firmly on the track I wish to be on.

    Thank you so very much.


  7. I taught myself to Crochet when my sons were quite young and have made numerous afgans as gifts. I have also been a sewer since I was about 12 yrs of age and I'm now past 60. I am now teaching myself to knit ... making dish cloths to give away and teaching myself differing patterns as I go along. I shop at Thrift stores for 99% of my clothing, have done this all my married life. My Mom shopped there when I was a child and it just seems the good thing to do. Besides, I can't stand many of the new styles that you see in stores today. I am a button saver and cannot remember the last time I threw away a piece of clothing. If anything, I pass things on to other thrift stores.
    I enjoy your posts. They help reinforce how I'm living my life and teach us the necessity of simplicity.
    May God bless you & yours.

  8. I think making a simple and peaceful home is a craft in itself and maybe something of a dying art that is starting to have a small revival. I'm a crocheter and if you look at the label on some of the yarn you buy they often have a web site with some free patterns. I've found a lot of lovely little things to make that way. Sometimes you just have to sign up to get free patterns and some don't. It is another wonderful resource for simple living when you don't want to run out and buy a lot of pattern books that you may only use once.
    Thanks for another wonderful post Rhonda. :-)

  9. hello lovely Rhonda. I just wanted to let you know, if you are still in the market for cotton sheet sets, that "" have some great 400tc bargains atm. $35 DELIVERED - now that seems quite elegantly frugal methinks!

    duckie xxxx

  10. I really like to recommend "" to beginning knitters, because they have videos of how each stitch and technique are done, using both of the knitting styles (aka american and continental) as well as left and right handed.

    I just find that knitting is one of those things that is easy if you can see someone do it, but very difficult to explain how to move the yarn when you have to write it down (which makes it look much more complicated to new folks)

  11. THANK YOU for the great post on beginning sewing and knitting. This is just what I needed, and I can see you put a lot of thought and effort into it. You are fab! Many thanks again!

    Best wishes,

    Anna Marie

  12. Thank you for this wonderful post!
    I enjoy some needlework but have been wanting to learn to sew and knit and this has given me the incentive to try!
    Your blog is such an inspiration to me!

  13. I love the buttons in that picture!!!

  14. As always Rhonda Jean, you've inspired and encouraged me. I've always been a crafty type with big projects in the works (and many more unfinished). With the birth of my first child 3 years ago and his sister two years later, time for crafting like I used to has been one of those things that I feel deprived of in the bustle of raising little children. When I do get time to do it, it no longer is something I do for myself, but for others or for my home. I'm learning to adapt my creativity to better fit with my new mommy life.

    Your idea of classifying it as house work is interesting as along with raising children, I am still learning to keep house. (Makes me see the value of a stay-at-home wife before the babies come along!) I have begun to do smaller projects, things that are more portable and finished sooner. I even have a bag in my purse with a small crochet project in it.

    It gives me such a boost to make something pretty, use my creativity, and to do something that stays DONE.

    I do have to remind myself that not all bloggers are in the same stage of life too, so I don't overload myself with ideas and to-do's. I love your stitcheries, dish cloths, apron ideas and inspiration. Thanks so much.

  15. Rhonda, it's very kind of you to include me in these links!
    Thank you,



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