I have never understood the appeal of needle crafts. My mother once knitted, and made some beautiful things. I remember a sweater in a beige yarn that had gold and rich brown tones mixed in. I wore that sweater until it couldn’t be worn anymore. It was long enough and wrap-around-enough and warm enough to hug me for a couple of years.
She tried to teach me, but I had neither the patience nor the ability to keep a constant tension. By the fourth row of “cast this, purl that”, the tension of the wool on the needles was so tight, a surgeon’s scalpel wouldn’t slip between the stitches.
The tension between us was reaching dangerous levels.
My grandmother was a crocheter, and I have one of her afghans. I love it so much, even though it fits into none of my colour schemes. She too, tried to teach me but I had the same issue. Where her stitches were even and, well, quite perfect, mine started out loose and ended up (once again) tighter than the blood-brain barrier.
Then, there’s sewing. In high school home economics, I was required to sew a dress. The material was blue and printed with apples, some quartered, some halved (I know, don’t judge. It was the 70s). The pattern I chose was a long dress, A-line, cap sleeves. Why do I remember such a thing? Because by the time I’d ripped out three attempts at putting in the zipper, I’d finally managed to sew it perfectly. I’d mastered the flat seam. That is, until I realized I’d sewn it through the front and the back of the dress.
My solution was to borrow a friend’s lighter. The teacher rightfully intervened.
I never succeeded in mastering any needle craft, and my husband knows better than to ask me to sew anything. He does that. It’s easier.
In our home hangs a most wondrous gift. A woman I know creates incredible quilts. They are different than any I had ever seen before. She pieces them together in a way I can’t even comprehend. She has mastered the craft of painting with thread and scraps of fabric. This quilt is particularly special because it showed up in the mail one day, completely unexpected and it had the sweetest note. I feel so loved and blessed each time I walk by it. At least once each week, I touch it, quite amazed at the generosity of the gift and the beauty of what I consider a masterpiece.
My friends and I were discussing masterpieces recently. We were saying how hard it is to share our work, in part because the world can be cruel. The internet can be cruel. Writing (and painting, and dancing, and any art form where you pour out your best work) is intensely personal, and what if it isn’t good enough?
But, I think if we’re honest, that’s only the surface fear.
What if I’m not good enough?
Isn’t that the real question? What if I’m not good enough?
I’ve struggled with this for much of my life, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. It wasn’t until I lost everything, moved across the country and started my life over that I began to believe I never had to master it all. I can only work on one piece at a time. Sometimes, that means getting up in the morning. Sometimes that means learning how to walk on my own, figuring out the secret to pie crust, or being brave enough to press send on a manuscript. There are also days when mastering a piece means stepping back to appreciate the talents that belong to someone else, and to simply enjoy the beauty they bring by being who they are.
At some point in our lives, we need to realize that who we are is enough. That is the only piece we need to master. The rest is up to God. The whole masterpiece thing is his domain, and always has been.
I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.
You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;
Your works are wonderful;
I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.
The art featured here was designed and lovingly quilted by my friend, Elsie Montgomery in 2009. It is called Tall Mountains. I had never seen anything like it, and I love it so much. Visit her Etsy store or her blog ElsieQuilts to discover more about her and this aspect of her work. Perhaps you will find a design that speaks to your heart in the way this one does to mine.