Busy Hands by The Ancient One

Posted by Wooly Dragon on

The people in my family have always had busy hands; the women all knit, tatted, crocheted and/or sewed.  They dressed their family & adorned their homes in drapes, bedspreads & reupholstered furniture. 

The men built, fixed and tinkered with everything. It’s what everyone did way back and some are coming back to it.

There is something very satisfying about sleeping under an afghan or quilt made by a loved one or stirring your hand-made tomato sauce with a whittled spoon made by talented woodworker.

So many people are learning these skills today that I’d like to pass on advice I received when I was learning.

Now, I know that men & women can do any and all crafts interchangeably.  They can do all of the above and also wood working, paper crafting, pottery, candle making, soap making, metal work, jewelry making and so much more.  There are also skills not always acknowledge as a craft, such as gardening, hair dressing, bee keeping, etc.

For this, I’m going to use a couple of favorite crafts: sewing & fiber work.  The hints below work for anything you do.

Use good tools.  You may not need the most expensive sewing machine out there but I guarantee you will hate sewing if you buy the cheapest from a big-box store.  Go to a real independent sewing store & ask to see their used machines.  You will get a much better machine for not much more & they will not only stand behind your purchase but they often offer free lessons with the sale.  And when you decide to upgrade, they will take yours as a trade in.

Over 50 years of sewing I have settled on my beloved Pfaff, Brother & Baby Lock machines, they have never let me down.   Not all the stores I have done business with are still there, but these are my closest ones now. 



You can find your closest dealers using these links. 




Use good materials.  When first starting out, it is fine to use lower cost materials, but keep in mind…not the absolute cheapest. It’s cheap for a reason.

Once you get comfortable with your craft, move up to better material because you will put lots of time & thought into your project and it is worth using good fabric or yarn.  Plus, the choices are so much more varied…you won’t find silks, tapestry fabric nor cashmere yarns at the lower end.  When one yarn says it’s merino & costs $4 a skein and another says merino and it $40 a skein…there is a reason.  There is merino and then there is GOOD merino…and you can feel the difference, and you will want the GOOD merino on your body.


Artists who paint & kettle dye yarn spend a lot of time making the yarn unique for people who want to knit with a one of a kind yarn & they do not want to waste that time on lesser quality fibers.

Spend time up front choosing colors for your project.  Experienced quilters, knitters & crocheters have stashes for a reason, sometimes you have to wait & search for just the right color to add to your project.

This is why you will find the better fabric manufactures put out color coordinated lines with colors designed to work together & why Indie dyed yarns are catnip to knitters & crocheters.

And lastly, understand that you are making one of the best items on the planet…a useful item that is a work of art.  Today, many manufactures spend a lot of money to convince you that their product is not only useful, but aesthetic. 

We who work with our hands have known that all along.


The Ancient One

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