a modest series of impressive protoges

My husband supports my sewing to an extent I have simply not seen in any other partner towards their spouse’s hobby.

From the beginning he has championed my habit and praised my talent. He was the one to suggest a sewing room (and therefore, a shared bedroom for the kiddos) and he has hauled all my very heavy sewing machines from house to house. The first day after we moved in our new domicile he prioritized buying the expensive bulbs in the studio so I’d have good lighting. I mean he made a special trip to get me those bulbs. Whatever our budget indicates, he puts money aside for my fabrics or whatever else I might need. Now that I’m back to doing a bit of teaching, he prints out class notes for me and has driven from the college to home and back to bring my huge ironing board to class and in short performed a million big and small errands with the cumulative effect of feeling immensely supported.

Today due to the snow the on-campus class was canceled. Ralph called right away to tell me. I decided to invite my students over to my house during class time. I was able to reach three, and one couldn’t attend due to road conditions. At 5:30 a lone student, S., shows up for instruction.

It seems every person I’ve ever helped has delighted or surprised me – usually both. It had been a while since I’d taught and in my foolishness S. had seemed nearly hopeless to me a few weeks ago when we commenced class. She exhibited fear or trepidation at nearly every step. I would have to explain something to her more than once, not because she didn’t understand my verbiage but almost as if she literally did not hear me the first time. She showed what I at first would call a low social awareness: in class she would interrupt my “lecture” even if only seconds previous I had just personally assisted her. She is quiet – so quiet it is nearly impossible to hear what she’s saying, even if I’m in the same room with her. So I’d hear her interrupting but have to ask after her question nearly every interruption.

On the first day she attended class she took up a piece of work we’d sewn on the machine and embroidered a perfect elegant flower, freehand.

Tonight we spent most the “class” at my house in silence, as I directed her in tracing patterns. I tried to make small talk but she is not much of a small talker (although she did seem to enjoy my cats). Having her alone I was able to observe her more closely. She may not know this yet, but she has shown a tremendous amount of progress since I saw her first drive her machine. Her caution and trepidation have resulted in exact, precise results of cutting and stitching. Her requests for repetition means once she starts operation she does not make mistakes. What may have seemed at first like a dragging pace is actually serving her well for the rather advanced project she’s picked: many small, repetitive steps. She is, in short, a precise, meticulous seamstress in the making, right before my eyes. I had a wonderful time being with her tonight.

I think I could be as addicted to teaching the craft as I am actually sewing myself. Each student I have had is so unique. They see themselves as flustered, in a new territory. Most of them get rather peevish when given a difficult problem! Then in a few minutes with my guidance they are able to accomplish it. I see their potential talent. Every person I’ve helped has shown talent. I laugh (internally) at their colossal mistakes even as I laugh (internally) at myself for once again forgetting they are beginners. I remember once having a girlfriend show me the threaded bobbin for her brand new machine – it looked oddly formed. I asked if something was wrong with her winder and she gave me a quizzical look, “Well, my husband wound it” – by hand! I laughed but at the same time thought of course that made a lot of sense – and was so sweet besides.

It is sometimes odd to have to explain things I’ve known how to do since before I can remember knowing most other things.

What my students like S. probably will never realize is I am sure I love teaching them and watching them more than any of them like learning to sew.

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