16 June 2008

Finding time for needlework

Some of you would remember that I bartered a couple of things for some fertile partridge wyandotte bantam eggs around Christmas time. Two lots of eggs were sent but none resulted in any chicks, which was mainly due to our inexperience. The second part of the barter from my side was a simple living stitchery, similar to the one on the side bar. I designed this a few years ago and had it in my home as an inspiration until I gave it away to Peggy at Hidden Haven Homestead. I think it might still be hanging in her home. Well, I've finally finished the stitchery and will post it off this morning. Hello Helen if you're still reading! I haven't forgotten you, I'm just slow. ;- )

My days are often peppered with short periods of needlework of some kind. I generally have several projects on the go at once, usually stitching or knitting, that will be used in our home or given as gifts. Right now I'm also doing a few dishcloths for the Etsy shop so I can package them with soap.

I know many of you love craft work and Renee commented recently that she could spend the whole day in the yard working, but wants to find time for her sewing as well. So how do you fit it all in? When there is so much work to be done, how do you manage to squeeze in the needlework, the work you enjoy and look forward to?

I don't look at needlework as a separate pleasure. I do find a lot of pleasure in it but I see it as part of my housework. When I want a break from more strenuous chores, I sit for a while with a cup of tea and my knitting or sewing, and I relax, regain my strength and then go to some other type of work. I believe we have to find our own pleasure in what we do. Working in your home on repetitive tasks, or physically hard work, would make even the saints among us complain. Try to structure your day with periods throughout it when you're doing something you love. That might be sewing, knitting, painting, writing or some other creative activity that you will benefit from. Taking time out from the washing, ironing and cooking with one of the gentle arts, will give you the strength and the motivation to keep going. It also gives you time to think about your day and what you're working towards.

I think some ladies feel guilt when they take time to sew or knit. They get a lot of pleasure from the doing of it so they think it's just a pure pleasure for them. That's not quite right, ladies. Yes, it is a pleasure, but it also contributes to your home - it is either part of your home making or your home maintenance. No matter how much pleasure you gain from the needles, it is one of your chores as well.

If you do get pleasure from craft work, or if it is something else that does that, structure it into your day. We talked about balance recently - this is a balance item. It is one of those things that you can look forward to during the day, it is still fulfilling your requirement to contribute in a meaningful way to your family and home, but because of its gentle nature, it will provide you with some respite from the heavier jobs.

Remember, this simple life is about finding pleasure in the ordinary and everyday tasks we all face. Don't be afraid to sit down with your craftwork. It is a great skill you bring to your family and if you find pleasure in doing it, well, that's just the icing on the cake.

When I first started reskilling myself for all the things I do here, I went straight to my old Needlecraft book. I bought this book in the 1980s and since then it's been the best guide for me with every kind of needle work. I checked and it's still being sold on Amazon, so I'll add it to my boxes, but you can very likely get a copy of it at your library. If you can get hold of a copy, it will be a worthwhile guide for you into the beautiful and sometimes bewildering world of needle craft.
The book gives excellent advice, clear guides and tutorials on embroidery, knitting, canvas work, crochet, applique, lacework, patchwork, macrame, quilting and rugmaking.

It also shows you how to recover from mistakes. I certainly needed that along the way.
For more information about the book, the link to the Amazon site is here.
And finally, it's Bloomsday! Some of you would know that my favourite book of all time is Ulysses by James Joyce. June 16 is celebrated in the book and has since become known as Bloomsday.


  1. I have that very same book - and have had it for decades! It is a wonderful resource and I pull it out every once in a while to remind myself how to do a certain stitch.

    Thank you Rhonda, for the 'permission' to sit and stitch. I often feel, because it is such a pleasurable thing to do, that it isn't really work, but something that I mustn't do until all my real work is done.

    Now I will look at it differently. Now, where did I put that embroidery hoop?

  2. How paths do cross. I too have that very same book and tomorrow is my son's 13 th birthday. Karen

  3. what a wonderful post! I am one of those who feels guilty for sitting and knitting. I feel even guiltier for reading on the internet! From now on I am going to classify the time I spend reading your blog as "professional development"! Thank you Rhonda for keeping me sane..;-) Regards Julia

  4. I bought myself this book when I was about 16 years old, and over the years have referred to it countless times.

    I am 'guilty' of feeling guilty when I am doing my needlework instead of 'proper' work.

  5. I just found your blog today! You are very inspiring. I'm a mum of four (hopefully soon to be five) and we have a veg garden. I also like preserving, and 'stockpiling'
    Not much cop at sewing, but I hope to learn.
    Thank you so much for doing this great blog! It'll take me a while to read all of it though LOL!


  6. Oh yes its still hanging in my kitchen where I can see it every day. I love it!

  7. Rhonda,

    Thank you! Thank you! Just hearing you say that sewing is part of my daily chores is so helpful.

    I like to stitch on my bed pillows. I have been buying plain ones and adding my own "simple beauty".

    I like making our bed and seeing what I have made to make our bed look more lovely. It just makes me happy:)

    It will be hard to just stop in the middle of things. (to take a break and stitch) but I think I would enjoy my day more if I had just a few minutes to do what I enjoy:)

    Thank you again Rhonda for being such an encourger:)

    Blessings to you!


  8. If I waited til all the boring work was done, I'd never knit or sew, the house will never be completely clean or completely tidy. I'm also not taking sole responsibility for the state of the house. I do a bit of cleaning and tidying and then give up, and move on to something achievable. Nobody questions my partner's right to do work he enjoys (he also does work he doesn't enjoy), so I don't have a problem with squeezing some enjoyable tasks into my day too.

    There are some very handy knitting tutorials on youtube.com for people who are looking for video rather than diagrams. It's almost like having Nanna there teaching you, except the videos don't mind replaying.

  9. Rhonda Jean,
    You once again have inspired me. I just orderd the book you showed and I am going to teach myself to knit and make some dish clothes and potholders. Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts. It is wonderful to have the art and love of homemakeing to share with others. Hugs, Bobbi Jo-Az

  10. What a wonderful post!
    I am guilty of not allowing myself to sit and stitch until other things are done...
    I won't be doing that anymore!

  11. Your stitchery is beautiful, it inspires me to have a go myself. I recently found a copy of this book at the op shop for $5 but I didn't buy it!!! I may go back and check if it's still there. I didn't realise what a wealth of knowledge it held within it's pages

  12. Dear Rhonda,
    Thank you so much for this post. I'm one who feels guilty if I stop doing the less pleasurable tasks to do something I enjoy. I feel that I'm wasting time and as I don't work outside the home I seem to think that I need to be 'working' all the time to justify my staying home. Like if I have any fun then I'm just being lazy.
    I'm feeling negative impacts to my health from this thinking so it's really timely advice for me.
    Thanks Lenny

  13. What a fabulous way to look at things Rhonda Jean. I love your wisdom. :) Why is it that we automatically feel guilty when we do something we enjoy doing? Do you think that's a society thing?

    I have started the stitchery pattern you sent me and can't wait to show it to you when it's finished. :)

  14. I was reading your post and was thinking to myself, I'm going to buy that book right away, and then I saw the cover and realised that it's the very same one that my mother has.... guess I'll be borrowing it from her!

  15. I remember reading this book when I was a teenager, it's definately a great resource. I've been building up a general craft resource from books bought in second hand shops (country ones seem to be better than city ones for this), and there are so many great ideas in them.

    I also need to let go of the guilt to spend some time doing my knitting, thanks for the reminder.

  16. I bought this book a few years ago at a flea market, it's truely wonderful and I use it a lot when I want to look something up.
    About sitting and doing some type of needlework, I usually do it in the evenings after everything is done and the kids are in bed. During the day I'm a bit scared they might hurt themselves or it gets messed up, so it's just nights. But sometimes I really feel like it and I sneak in a few lines of chrochet etc.:-)

    Christine from the NL

  17. I love taking the time for needlework, here and there throughout the day, and more liberally in the evening. The delicate nature of it soothes, refreshes and motivates me.

  18. How ironic! I just bought this book on Friday at our Friends of the Library book sale. It cost me all of $2.00! I now own four of the Reader's Digest books. In addition to the needlework book, I have Back To Basics, Crafts & Hobbies, and the Complete Guide to Sewing. All but the last one were bought at the library sale over the years!

    I do have to admit that I also feel guilty when I am doing needlework or other household tasks which I enjoy. I wonder why we always tend to associate work with not having fun?


  19. We visited two Amish areas of the country this Spring. I hadn't intended to do this but the first was a weekend trip to visit friends and the second was a week long vacation with my daughter and her family in the heart of Amish land.

    These women work quite hard, without the use of electricity. However, they produce the most amazing quilts and needlework. I love it that there are fabric and needlework stores everywhere.

    This is what they do to rest. I must admit, their "resting" (and yours) provide much more of an outcome than sitting down watching TV for hours.

  20. I often listen to a book on tape from the library while I sit & sew. I love reading but feel guilty sitting & just reading so this way I work & be read to - a good way to read all the wonderful books in the world & work too - even though sewing is fun for me.

    Love Leanne NZ

  21. I love your blog. I admire your way of life.

    Did I understand correctly that you have an etsy shop? How do I get to it? Could you list the link?

    Thanks :)

  22. Guess what I'm knitting? Socks!

    I had a touch of the sock phobia mostly because I'm rotten about finishing projects and don't need any other socks without mates floating around the house.

    Handwork, knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, counted cross stitch, and whatnot top my list of favorite activities for relaxing. I like that I can pick up my latest project and take it with me to waiting rooms, meetings, and whatnot.

    Another winning post!


  23. I just found your blog and will visit again. I just love the words on your needlework project...very inspiring words to live by.

  24. I think perhaps if more of us spent just a few moments doing some type of handwork we enjoy - whether it be knitting, crocheting, sewing, or embroidery -- we'd all be a bit more relaxed and less stressed. Lay the guilt aside and just revel in the creativity. I'm going to challenge myself to do this for at least 30 minutes a day for 30 days and see how I feel afterwards.


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