Every Stitch Counts

When I was a young bride, my best friend’s grandmother gave me a set of thread crochet potholders. You know the kind? They’re made with size 10 mercerized cotton with a #6 steel hook. Classic.

I had been crocheting most of my life and when I opened the gift I was thrilled. Such beautiful, even work. One was a hexagonal pattern and the other looked like a flower. They were worked in simple variegated thread, but the precision was incredible.

Through the years I used them to death. Literally. Scorched and stained and finally shredded; I reluctantly released them to the garbage bin. There were many attempts to duplicate those beauties and I mastered the hexagon pretty quickly. But mine never looked as even and precise as Judy’s Grandma.

Know why? I took the task of counting stitches a little more casually. As a young, busy mother, interruptions were the norm. Sitting down with thread and hook was a luxury that was quickly abandoned when the demands of life arose. That meant often losing track of the stitch count. The resulting potholder was a little raggedy, but functional.

Would I ever get it right?

But now, life is a little quieter in my empty nest. Making gifts of potholders and coasters, I now count every stitch, every row. I know precisely where I left off because I won’t set the work down until the row I finish is a multiple of five. When I pick up, I know it will be row 11 or 16 or 21 or whatever follows that five multiple.

And as I focus and count stitches, I can see how each row builds beautifully upon the last. Every stitch counts. The fabric slowly grows under my diligent effort. The item I create is the result of my focused attention and consistent action.

It’s similar to life. Every moment builds on the one before it. Moments begat thoughts, thoughts begat actions and the chain of moments becomes your life.

What would it be like if we counted moments the way we count stitches? What if we focused our attention a little more on the deliciousness of day-to-day actions?

My attempt to do that is my gratitude journal. At the end of every day as I retire for the night, I write 3-5 things from my day for which I’m grateful.   What I’ve learned after years of this practice is that now when those moments occur, I notice and relish them in that moment.

Like on my recent solo camping trip, a hummingbird buzzed me as I sat by the fire. Then, sure to get my attention, it whizzed over and stopped 2” from my nose and looked me dead in the eye. My mom loved hummingbirds and I couldn’t help thinking she was watching over me. Thanks Mom! That one went into the gratitude journal (yes, even while camping).

Looking through years of these journals, I can see how the fabric of my life was built. Tiny moments, like the hummingbird, become single stitches in the fabric of my memories. Each stitch builds on the one before, each moment build upon another, until you look upon the whole fabric and feel incredibly blessed.

Every stitch counts.

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