I used to subscribe to a magazine called "Piecework." It was (and still is) devoted to articles regarding all the kinds of handwork that have been done through time and across the world: knitting, crochet, embroidery, weaving, etc. I like the sense of continuity I get when I pick up yarn and needles or thread and hook or sit with wool at the spinning wheel or at the loom. These are activities that have gone on since Man learned to make textiles and threw off animal skins. For me, it's the process as much as the product. There's a kind of genetic memory involved when your hands "remember" what your mind has not yet learned.
My mother taught me to crochet when I was a little girl. I can remember sitting on the front porch, struggling to crochet a simple chain stitch. I made yards and yards of chain stitch, not allowed to move on until I had perfected tension and gauge. Mother may have been a difficult taskmaster, but I appreciate her efforts now, rarely having to rip out imperfections and start over.
This train of thought started yesterday with a book I was reading in the sunshine (while it lasted) on the deck after chores. Debbie Macomber has a series of stories about a woman who opened a yarn shop, and her connection with her women customers and the calming effect of repetitive handwork. I remember my mother telling me that my hands had to be relaxed for the tension of the piece to be right, and in the process of relaxing my hands, I've found that the body and mind follow.
My reading was interrupted by the arrival of Tree Guy, who has now changed hats and has become Fence Guy. His first statement was, "You didn't have to get dressed up just for me!" It took me a minute to realize I was wearing a new set of go-to-town bibbies. Yep. I'm a fashionista! We staked out the line for the new addition to the goat pen in the south pasture, and discussed the placement of gates (and I do have spares). Like a kid in a candy store, Fence Guy ran around finding T-posts, peeler cores, rolls of square-wire fencing, bags of clips, a post driver, post-hole diggers, U-nails, come-alongs...just about all the materials needed for the three-hundred some-odd feet of new fence. As he searched through the barn, it was, "Oh, look! There's a (whatever) and more (thingies)! And there are even (something-or-others)!" Steve always said there'd be a use for whatever he'd saved or scrounged.
Just as I feel a connection with women through handwork, given Fence Guy's admiration for the accumulated treasure trove, I think men are connected through "stuff."