Not long ago I could count the number of things I had made with my hands… on one hand. There was the obligatory pillowcase in Home Ec, that horrid attempt at a dress when my mother tried to teach me the ways of a seamstress, the needlepoint I made as a bored and budding eight year old. Sadly, none of those skills followed me into adulthood, but years later their absence haunted me.
And so, six months ago I learned to knit, from a You Tube video nonetheless. I lamented that it wasn’t at the feet of my sweet grandma in her rocking chair that this skill was passed down to me, but sometimes you have to take what you can get. Since that moment when I twisted that first strand of yarn awkwardly around my shiny new needle, a skill that used to be a necessity and is now a faddish hobby has begun to open my eyes to more of the heart behind hand work.
The popularity of crafting as a recreational activity or hobby has risen in recent years. Today the Hobby Lobbies and other superstores hold everything we could hope for in any crafting area we might desire. But in my return to the simple, time-honored tradition of knitting, I wonder if there is something more to it.
Recently I came across a quote from a book (that I have not yet read) and could not get it out of my mind.
“Failing to notice a gift dishonors it, and deflects the love of the giver… But to turn the gift in your hands, to say, this is wonderful and beautiful, this is a great gift– this honors the gift and the giver of it….notice the gift. Be astonished at it. Be glad for it, care about it. Keep it in mind. This is the greatest gift a person can give in return. ‘This is your work,’ my friend told me, ‘which is work of substance and prayer and mad attentiveness, which is the real deal, which is why we are here.'”
-Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature by Kathleen Dean Moore.
The ability to make something with your hands requires time, thought, skill, and perseverance. And then to give it to another—that is love. Perhaps a part (not the whole, but a part) of our lack of care for our things and for one another is because of an absence of making and giving things with our hands. An absence of time spent, of thought lingered on, of skill labored over and above all the sacrifice and service and pouring out of love.
I want to make things and give gifts that are of substance and prayer and mad attentiveness. And I want to be thankful for the things I have and the gifts that have been given me in the same manner.
I look at the simple knit hat in my hands, stitched carefully, somewhat imperfectly, but knowing it is the real deal as is the person I am gifting it to. I think on handmade gifts I have been given: sweaters, scarves, trees, soft grass, vegetables, fresh eggs, children, a husband, friends, neighbors… and the mad attentiveness and prayer poured into those gifts makes me weak with gratefulness.
Perhaps the current trend in handmade crafting is not just a cultural fad, but something our souls need and long and were even created for.
Have you considered the importance of the work and craftsmanship that pours from your hands? Whether it is with thread or thimble, bread or butter, or something entirely different?
Have you considered the importance of the handmade gifts you have been given, whether by a loved one or neighbor or Creator?Leave a Comment