With Her Own Hands:
Crafting a Meaningful Life Through Textile Work
“Our creativity... is diverse and integrated into our lives; it is cooked and eaten, washed and worn. Contemporary standards either ignore our creativity or rate it as second-class… Our creativity is valid.”
~Monica Ross, 1976
With Her Own Hands explores the personal meaning of women’s textile work throughout history and around the world. Textiles have been essential to survival, technological advances, and the development and expression of culture throughout much of human history. But more personally, textile work has provided one of the few avenues for women to develop and express their intellectual ability and creativity in areas of engineering, science, math, and art. Through textile work, women were able to tell their stories, shape and express their identities, process difficult emotions, stand up for what they believe in, nurture relationships, and improve their quality of life. This may explain why, for millennia, women went well beyond what was necessary for survival to dye yarn, create complex designs, and make textiles that are beautiful and imbued with meaning. It is with thread that women wrote.
“Like punto in aria, the spaces in between women’s “stitches in the air” also freed us to dream.”
Christine Zinni, 2014
With Her Own Hands provides a model for how to create a meaningful life today, whether through textile work or another outlet that engages our minds and organizes our time. The book is informed by my experience as a clinical psychologist and researcher as well as the personal meaning and purpose I have found in knitting and sewing, especially during the COVID quarantine when my domestic life took priority over academic and clinical pursuits. The title reflects our ability to take matters into our own hands to make the best life we can out of what we have to work with.
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