This is an old Shaker saying, and one that I love to think about as I work on my cross stitch designs. I have always loved the simplicity of the Shakers. I think about their commitment to excellence in all things and the magnificent handwork that the ladies would produce.
I am grateful that I too like to create things by hand. Simple Samplers are my favorite, partly because they are doable, but there is something lovely about the purity of the designs. Working with quilts as I do, and being lucky enough to see many of my students antique quilt collections, my first thoughts always go to "what was the person who made this quilt thinking
as she creatd her work". Was she dreaming of the life before her, or thinking of how her life has passed. Did she shed tears of joy as she stitched, or were there tears of sorrow? Our lives can be so connected with the things we make with our hands and share with our hearts.
So to give you an insight into what was going thru my mind as I created my last piece ( the small alphabet and tree design) I will try to describe my past few weeks of stitching. Picture my time at Bear's Paw Ranch ( Eleanor Burn's lovely log home) as I would finish my teaching at camp and come back for a night of rest. I would wash my face, brush my teeth, get into comfy jammies and then happily crawl into bed. I would pull up the warm wool blanket and the quilt that Eleanor provides. I would rest my head against the logs, prop my pattern on a pillow and quietly stitch the night away. I listened to the wind in the trees. I felt such peace, such joy....is this what the Shakers felt after a day of work completed well?
I finished most of the design in that one week time, but there was finishing work to do. So picture me now sitting with my Mom. She has made a delicious cup of coffee and something sweet to enjoy with it. We talk, we share our thoughts, we laugh and admire each other's handwork. Mom is making lovely knitted gifts for her holiday list and I marvel at how fast her hands continue to move.
So when you look at my framed stitchery , picture me with the greatest sense of contentment. My Mom said I should add the sentiment "Take Joy" at the bottom of the tree. Sadly I was to close to completion to add what was one of Tasha Tudor's life affirming sayings. But even though the words may not be there, know that in my heart I "Take Joy". What happiness there is to know that my hands continue to find joy in my work, and my heart is abundantly blessed by God.