By Esther Starobin
I loved to visit the dime stores on 14th Street in northwest Washington -- three in a row. With the change my Uncle Julius gave me each day for helping in the bakery, I could buy something to embroider. I liked the feel of the cloth and the effects of the bright embroidery thread on the white cloth. My mind could wander as I worked on each piece. It reminded me of my happy life in England. I loved school there and needlework was part of what I learned. We knitted and embroidered beautiful objects in the midst of a harsh and cruel war. Life returned to normal, but I had learned a skill to pass the time when life was difficult. I didn’t have to listen to anyone or talk to anyone. I could be alone with myself in my new home in America.
Later in high school knitting was popular again, and I could again lose myself in the rhythm established by my hands. So it has continued as I faced many uncomfortable or difficult times.
When my daughter Deborah was sick and we traveled to the unknown of Iowa, I again turned to my hands. I decided to learn to crochet. Of course the a-line skirt I attempted to crochet came out as a parallelogram skirt. Not exactly wearable! It didn’t matter; only the act of creation was important. With each reoccurrence of Deb’s medical problems I knitted and crocheted myself through the endless hours of waiting and worrying. Finally when Deborah was recovering from a severe bout and needed to relearn some basic skills, I taught her to knit. Through this skill she strengthened her eye-hand coordination, her ability to read and follow directions, and her ability to sit and attend to a task. History seemed to be repeating itself, as hands became Deborah’s rescuers, as they were mine.
©2002, Esther Starobin. The text, images, and audio and video clips on this website are available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws.