Joys of the crafts

One problem of my mother’s restlessness is that she starts scratching herself, and then continues to do so till her skin had livid patches of red. They hurt, so she scratches herself even more. The doctor had prescribed mild anti-histamines for it, and the course he suggested got over two days ago.
And sure enough, she was scratching herself again within a day of the medication stopping. We try to keep her from hurting herself by filing her nails smooth every day, but she manages to snag her nails and break them despite their being short and neat. We tried to distract her, but it didn’t work.

So yesterday, I thought about trying out mittens. That way, even if she scratches herself, it is unlikely to be severe, and she may even forget to scratch…who know? Worth a try…

So could I make her some comfortable mittens at home? Nice, soft mittens, not the stiff oven mitts one saw in the market.

In school, as  kid, I was bottom-of class in stitching.  The good nuns in the Catholic convents I attended as my first five schools (I studied in 11 schools over 11 years) despaired, and I think they gave me a ‘pass grade’ only as an act of Christian charity–definitely, my hem was too coarse, and the reverse side of my embroidery was like a jungle of unruly threads. Even correct side up, my embroidery was worse that the reverse side of what other girls embroidered. Yet, I had continued to stitch over the years and in college I used to stitch my own bell-bottoms  and churidars, and they were not too bad (possibly because no one made me take them off to examine the reverse side and grade me on it).

So I located and downloaded a mitts pattern, located soft cloth suitable for the mitts, took out my sewing machine, cut the cloth, and threaded the needle.  An hour and a half later I had a pair of mitts ready–the worksmanship the sort that would have earned a tired sigh from my teacher. But they were ready, and they were wearable, and they were used last night. And I quite enjoyed creating them 🙂 (The experiment may not work, but at least we tried)

And I was thinking…when I talk to my peers (peers in age, profile of education and job, etc), I rarely find one who still stitches. Most use tailors, or boutiques.  The only ones who still have sewing machines at home are the ones who have mothers or mother-in-laws using them. I know for a fact that many of them would spend hours looking for stuff rather than even consider stitching it 🙂

In the last few years, I have often resorted to using crafts I learned in school, stuff I was bottom-of-the-class in almost every of my 11 schools. Just three years ago, I spent a couple of days creating a scrap book for my mother by locating and cutting out pictures of the brands she uses (toothpaste, soap, shampoo, biscuits, etc.). I stuck them, along with labels, in a folder so that she could point to them when she wanted an item, or use them to practice speaking or reading. I don’t think the quality of my cutting and sticking would have earned me a grade better than a C, but she used that scrap book a few times, and that was good enough for me.In fact, I was quite kicked about it 🙂

Funny how one has to turn 50+ to start enjoying craft activities and realize that the act of creating stuff others can use is fulfilling, even if the skill is mediocre or below.  If someone had told me forty years ago, that I would be doing such stuff decades later, I would have laughed to their face. Yet finally,I am enjoying what I was supposed to enjoy four decades ago…and definitely, I’d rather enjoy it now than have faint memories of having enjoyed them decades ago 🙂

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About Swapna Kishore
I'm a writer, blogger, and resource person for dementia/ caregiving in India. I have also been a dementia caregiver for well over a decade, and am deeply concerned about dementia care in India; on this blog I share my personal caregiving journey, my experiences as a resource person for dementia care, and musings on life, aging, dementia in India, and such sundries. More about me and the work I do for dementia care. For structured information on dementia, for discussions, tools and tips on caregiving issues, for resources in India, and for caregiver interviews, please check my website http://dementiacarenotes.in (or its Hindi version, http://dementiahindi.com). For videos on dementia caregiving (English and Hindi), check the youtube channel here.

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