Loving Thread

Continue loving that thread, wishing it all the good that you can think of, and running it through your fingers again and again. What you’re actually doing is working the tension out of the tightly twisted thread with rubbing, pressure, and the natural oils in your fingers. In the process, you’ve also taken a moment to calm the tension in your mind, concentrate on the task at hand, and add just a little bit of love to your garment or project. (Natalie Chanin, Alabama Stitch Book)

A few weeks ago, I learned the importance of loving thread when I got together with some friends to re-purpose some old t-shirts. With this project, the thread is really the thing. Carpet thread is strong and long lasting so when you layer a couple rectangles of cotton t-shirt, draw on a design, stitch the design with the thread, and add some seed beads, you have, for your daughter, a unique headband. Wah-La.

The thread, though almost perfect in its wear-ability, needs attention and focus. Loving the thread means putting it on a needle and then running your thumb and index finger down the thread, over and over. You do it until your finger tips feel a little ‘zingy’, the thread hangs a little limp and seems to be ready to do your bidding.

Five days after my thread loving introduction, I stood at a table in my basement preparing another headband for construction. All the kids were doing school, tucked away in their places and the house was first thing in the morning quiet.

One of the kids was at the same table and as I worked, we began to talk. It wasn’t a light topic. This was a long-term point of tension that has run its way through all our time together. We’ve come back to it as it’s needed attention and each time, it becomes heated and goes nowhere.

At one point we reached an understanding and I was relieved and hopeful. The conversation had been quieter and had moved forward. And the question came, Why today? Then I felt the thread I was holding and had been stitching with as we talked.

My attention to the thread had absorbed tension from the history of this problem and as we talked I took a wily object, petted it a bit and watched it settle down, having no idea how much it was settling me. In my short time using carpet thread, I knew first hand that my end product benefitted from the time I took to rub the thread and run the pressure out of it.

Later, as I looked through the book that introduced me to thread loving, I read that the intentions of thread loving match the desire I have for my kids. They are my best project and for sure, in our house there is someone wily and tense at any time. It’s not often that someone isn’t feeling jacked up about something and as the reigning adult, I seem to talk a kid ‘off the ledge’ on the hour. I realize though, that just as often, these moments feel like interruptions and I’m not sure I take the time to “infuse the work with kind intentions, …a practical step that removes excess [kid] tension and prevents pesky knotting.” (p. 21, Alabama Stitch Book)

Who wants pesky knotting? Especially in a kid. Or… a parent.

Standing with a child, who has a mind, a heart, and a soul is much bigger than a two hour project. It’s not quickly set aside and the vision for the task must be expansive and generous and committed. With some children, excess tension is a cord that surrounds and binds and then “continuing to love that thread, wishing ‘it’ all the good you can” becomes vital, a task that maybe doesn’t get completed but in the never-ending relationship, a soul is met as it is and then taken to a quieter, more settled place.

For now, I’m enjoying the immediate pleasure of making simple accessories for my girls. I wish I could always have thread in hand for the wily, pesky moments of our days. When I don’t, I pray that the promise of kind intentions will settle us all down enough that we can see past the knots of tension to the ultimate end product we long for, that love would be about us.

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