Mask making (and wearing) has become a ‘hot topic’ which we’ve been carefully following to make sure we can offer sensible advice on ‘to sew or not to sew’.
It is clear that masks alone are not the full solution, but that they could be part of it, and it’s great to be able to take an active and creative part in your own and your communities wellbeing.
It’s good to use skills and materials on hand in ways which are useful and potentially beneficial to community health and wellbeing - acts of kindness etc. - even if you’re just wearing one yourself to be considerate of others. There’s also the social connectivity of so many people sharing and encouraging one another, and seeing the strength of sewing as a shared experience that helps us connect with friends and strangers alike.
Masks make the invisible (and therefore subconscious) visible (and very conscious). It impacts our awareness of the pandemic in a much more tangible way than regular hand washing, and social distancing, and even staying home full time has done so far. Perhaps that’s how they are effective?
Here are some good links to learn more:
There are also a lot of patterns, tutorials, and related resources available on the Masks 4 All Otago facebook page.
We are working (within our current capacity) with other groups to develop a coordinated approach, so materials and information are available as needed.
If you know of someone who would appreciate receiving handmade masks, or if you are keen to make more masks for (non-medical) essential workers in your community, please connect with the facebook group, or email Ling Ansell (email@example.com), or you are welcome to email us at Stitch Kitchen.
A couple of days before lockdown commenced, I took my car to the studio to pack up ‘a month’s worth of projects’ so that during the lock-down I would have access to opportunities to be creative and achieve some goals. (I’m sure lots of teachers can relate to the idea that it’s hard to get time to work on your own projects!) I took quite a lot of pleasure in tidying our compact living room, rearranging tables so I could set my machines up on the dining table, and we could use a vintage card table for when we still needed a table to sit at (because eating well is still a thing to be cherished). I set up my sewing machine and overlocker and my dress form. I sighed a contented sigh and enjoyed the vision of a well-ordered space.
I have 3 banana boxes of projects, including some very small ‘easy win’ UFOs (Un-Finished Objects - a term patchworkers in my life introduced me to), such as sorting out my tangled embroidery threads used in a workshop over a month ago, or sewing eyes onto a small herd of elephants; and some ‘stretch’ UFOs, such as recreating a jacket I tried to make about 7 (or 8?!) years ago which I had endless issues with, and in the end gave up on and put away in The Cupboard (dun dun daaaa). I still don’t know what I will recreate from the ashes of the project-which-didn’t, but unpicking is the first logical step. I still want to make a jacket, and brought home some patterns to play with and fabric to make a toile from. (Lesson learned! Make a mock-up BEFORE cutting into your $25m wool gabardine!)
I realised in looking through this selection, that they are all ‘no pressure’ projects (or maybe that’s just how I’m choosing to see them). Things I can do mindfully, almost meditatively: looking at colours and organising them; stitching and shaping the small eyes, and seeing the semi-spontaneous way the eyelashes sit; unpicking the MANY seams of jacket and lining. All things I can achieve with little thought or energy while listening to my favourite music, or an audio book, or just the birds (or lawnmowers) and enjoying the calm of almost no traffic.
I also added some ‘loose end’ fabrics which I had no specific plans for but could become all sorts of things (from the ‘when inspiration strikes' stash), so I could play and make something possibly useless but fun. Creating things for creation’s sake is good - it’s playing and learning. Plus the physical movement of sewing, especially getting up and down to press seams etc. regularly, is a nice change from other indoor pursuits of reading, working on the computer, and watching tv.
It’s been amazingly encouraging to receive emails and facebook messages with updates on what other people are creating at home! Beautiful, inspiring, and fun to see and share in a little of the pride.
If you’d like to share your projects with the Stitch Kitchen community, or just with me personally, I’d love to share your joy in what you’re making. (You can tag us in your photo @stitchkitchendunedin on facebook or @stitch_kitchen on instagram, or email us.)
And if you’re not making just now, that’s ok.
Having a goal, and knowing you do have the resources for when you’re ready, is great. So is noticing the smallest achievements and ways you can be creative… the way you cook, or dress, or brush your teeth. (Well, maybe not much creative potential in teeth brushing, but who knows!?) Hopefully you’ll be finding ways (however small, like a smile) to look after others, and to keep your mind and hands active.
Some ‘additional reading’ for those who’d like to:
News, updates and things we find inspiring, from Dunedin's Stitch Kitchen