Each One Teach One

March 1, 2010 at 7:35 pm Leave a comment

The saying, “Each one, teach one” comes from the fight against illiteracy dating back to slave times.  As someone who loves words, the fact that here in the richest nation of the world we still have plenty of functionally illiterate adults is something I find heartbreaking and nearly criminal.

However, there are ways to foster “literacy” that have nothing to do with reading, but instead concern preserving and spreading knowledge on how to do things, make things, and how things work.  On my mother’s side I have frontierwoman ancestors, and I am shamed sometimes by my occasional inability to deal with my comparatively luxurious life when I think of what these women had to do to ensure the survival of themselves and their families.  Making soap.  Deworming babies.  Killing, plucking, and cooking a chicken.  These women had to have a physical fitness, an emotional toughness, and a wealth of knowledge that humbles me.

Therefore, I see it as being all the more important that those of us who can still sew (granted, with brand-new fabric on fancy machines and for pleasure rather than necessity) not only carry on the craft and the knowledge, but also teach it when we can.  I can feel proud this weekend for making the most I could of two separate opportunities to let this particular little light of mine shine.

I spent most of the weekend at my friend Kathy’s house.  Her sister is expecting her first baby (ultrasound says girl) and Kathy wanted me to second-chair as she made a baby quilt for her imminent niece.  While Kathy has been sewing for the last couple years, this was her first actual quilt — not that you’d know it from the results:

Kathy's baby quilt

Adorable Snowballs!

She has always had just an innate, intuitive sense for color and fabric.  I made a quilt for her several years ago that she chose the fabric for, and I barely had to offer guidance at all:  she just understood that you need a range of values, textures, and scales, and seemed surprised that I was so impressed.  And she certainly hasn’t lost the ability, as the quilt top attests.

After returning home Sunday night, I then had a fun visit from a woman from church (we’re in the choir together) and her 10-year-old daughter, who had gotten a sewing machine for Christmas.  Mom doesn’t sew and Grandma, who gave the gift, isn’t local, so the poor girl was trying to figure out the machine — an apparently solid and serviceable Kenmore, I was happy to see — from the manual.  I was able to get the tension balanced far more quickly than I had feared, and was then able to take her through her paces with straight stitch, backtacking, zigzag vs. satin stitch, what happens when you don’t put the presser foot down, and so forth.  I made sure she could fill and load the bobbin, thread the machine, and do some basic troubleshooting; I’ll be happy to be on call if the need arises.  I even demonstrated fusible applique because that’s what I’d want to do if I were 10.  She left all fired up with possibility, which is exactly how I want everyone to step away from a sewing machine.

So:  personal quilting accomplishments this weekend?  Pretty much zero.  Happy fuzzy karma about fabric and sewing?  Boundless.  Good, good weekend.

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Entry filed under: Fabric Shopping, Travel. Tags: .

Whoa… Quilt Fest of NJ 2010: Part I, The Quilts

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Siamese Cat on Sewing Machine

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