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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Encounter of the Pokey Kind

The first time I picked up a needle to do something productive was when I was 9. At that time my step-sister (since deceased) was learning tailoring and I volunteered to hem her projects. Little did Jie-jie (big sister) know that I used it as a ploy to get out of studying.

Jie-jie demonstrated a few stitches and thinking to myself this is "sap-sap-sui" (means "wet wet water" or "easy" in Cantonese), I took over. I fumbled a little, I jabbed myself a little but I finished hemming the dress in no time at all. Showtime now but praises were not coming my way. I asked Jie-jie what's wrong and she told me that the stitches were too "big". Haiyah, easy - I snipped off the knots on both ends and pulled the thread off. Haha... you guessed it. I'd used a single strand of thread that could go round the whole length of the hem to save work. Ain't it smart of me.

I re-hemmed the dress but this time I picked up only a thread from the dress for each stitch. Jie-jie can't say my stitches are big now. Showed her again the finished piece. Now, say something good, Jie-jie. No? I didn't get it right again? Then tell me what do you want. She took up the dress and used her thumb and index finger to show me that the width of each stitch was more than an inch apart and that's a no, no. Besides, I'm to pick up 2-3 threads from the dress so that the stitches stay. Jie-jie, why didn't you say so at the beginning.

I hemmed the dress a third time and feeling pretty smug, I asked Jie-jie had I gotten it right this time. "Okay", she said. That's all you'd got to say! Only, okay? You sure were a woman of few words but I love you still the same.

And that concluded my first encounter with a needle. It was nothing spectacular but it opened up a new dimension for me - my love for needlework.

I was introduced to other forms of needlework when my family shifted to Tapah. Here I was fortunate enough to have as my Primary Six English teacher one who loved to knit and crochet. We girls would rush through our assignments and with whatever time left before the bell rings for the next lesson, knit or crochet. I would like to express a word of thanks here too to my Malay classmates who introduced me to tatting. We may be young but we were mean with the shuttle; producing such lacy edgings sewn on to handkerchiefs. Homework? No such word existed in our vocabulary. Ah, such bliss. Shh... don't let my daughter get wind of this.



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