I have always loved making things, using my hands to get things done.
For most of my life, that has meant sewing – making my own clothes, making patchwork quilts, making face masks, even making nifty little things to avoid spending money.
A good 10 years ago now I joined a quilting group. Over the years, the group has mutated to a craft group, where we sew and knit and do workshops and talk and support each other. We meet on the first and third Saturday afternoons of the month, in a local library.
At least we did until Covid-19 made us all stay home.
We have managed four meetings in the last year, all in gardens or well-ventilated rooms, and sitting at least two metres apart, and timed in the gap between South Africa’s first and second waves of the Dread Disease.
Here’s the thing, though. In those three meetings I had no work to bring out for “Show and Tell”, while everyone else was pulling out quilt tops and crocheted toys and knitted jerseys.
For most of 2020, I was simply unable to do any handwork at all. I could bake bread (though I have always done that) and work in the garden and declutter the house and do all the things that the middle classes did in lockdown. I could even read books, though many people said they could not settle to reading. What I could not settle to was handwork.
I made lists, I tidied my sewing corner, I made a box of small tasks and the necessary supplies. But I never actually sat down and did anything about it. I did make a bunch of face masks, but that was driven by necessity.
I began to wonder if I in fact had given up on crafting.
Then, on January 2, scrolling through Twitter, I came across the account of Josie George, who, unlike me, was very busy with her hands in 2020. She made a temperature scarf, a knitted record of a year of UK weather. I was electrified. I wanted to make one of those too! I did some Googling and that very morning, I went out and bought an extravagant amount of wool and I have been crocheting ever since. (More on temperature scarves here).
I cannot say how much happier I feel now that I have reconnected my brain with my hands.
Because that’s what I think Covid-19 did to me: the hidden worry of it all messed with the part of me that likes to potter around making things, that finds comfort in planning and executing a project, that marvels at the way the sewing brings small pieces of fabric together until you have made something that didn’t exist before.
Perhaps I just didn’t have any faith in the future? Or couldn’t see my way past the anxiety that was sitting right in front of me?
I hope that the pandemic did not affect you in that way. But if it did, and you are still stuck, I would counsel patience. This too will pass, and you will go back to you old patterns.
As for me, I have some rows to crochet!