Needle work and embroidery, stitching and knitting, tatting and crochet, fabric painting and spray painting are some things that grip me in nostalgia. There was a time when I was crazy about patterns and colours and fabrics. I could spend hours with needles and threads. The atrocious amount of patience I had in such things makes me wonder in disbelieve today.
We used to have a needle work class while at school and at that time I wasn’t very good at it, though every year I secretly wished to be selected for the best needle-work award.
During my college days, I developed a sudden fascination with everything that could be hand-crafted. Not only did I embroider and knit, I would also make things like floor mats, table mats, coasters, woolen shoes, tote bags, and what not. Anything hand-crafted that caught my fancy, I just had to learn. Back then there was no Internet, no YouTube. I would get my way by pleading people who knew the art to teach me.
I even went to Usha Sewing School and got a diploma in tailoring, which turned out to be a useless certificate as I never bothered to cultivate my skill. At that time, I didn’t even realise that my hobby was a skill that I could use to my advantage.
All those hobbies and skills got left behind when I left my hometown, Shillong. Life in a big city was too glamourous to knit and sew!
As a result, today I have forgotten most of it. I forgot the process of knitting a sweater, I forgot how to maneuver a tatting shuttle, I forgot how to hold a crochet hook, I forgot how to blend two colours while painting a fabric, the list is endless. Only in very recent times, I have started missing those days of knitting and stitching.
In the initial days of Covid-19 in India, people had gone berserk buying and hoarding sanitizers and masks. My parents were with me in Bangalore then and were leaving in the second week of March. With great difficulty I managed two N-95 masks for them at a marked-up price. Thereafter lockdown happened and the rest is history. I never had a mask and would wrap a scarf around my nose and mouth when stepping out. Wrapping a scarf each time felt cumbersome and I decided to stitch my own mask. I do not have a sewing machine and so I hand-stitched one. Thereafter I have hand-stitched more than a dozen masks and given them to my friends in Bangalore.
Many people have reached out wanting to know how I made them. So, here is a step-by-step process for hand-stitching your own masks.