I learned to sew from the best surgeons. I entered medical school with knowledge of and some experience with embroidery but emerged from residency with a bounty of useful stitches and techniques.
My teachers’ words came to me yesterday as I was sewing a blanket stitch (known as the mattress stitch in medical parlance) on a rug I am trying to salvage.
The mattress stitch is used to approximate tissue (skin, fascia) that is bleeding. Tissue is actually easier to sew than a rug because it is alive and does most of the work on its own.
I wove my first rug with a cotton warp and wool weft and fulled it a bit too long in the washer. It shrunk to a strange size and list all the warp colors. So now, I have folded it in half, woven a tablet band and applied it on top, to remind me of the colors I lost in the wash. Next I evened up the edges, and embellished it, with a blanket stitch border.
My technique felt awkward. I quickly realized why. I needed an assistant. In the operating room, someone always held the trailing thread and wrapped it around my needle as I sewed the mattress stitch ( and swabbed away blood).
In addition, it wasn’t going smoothly until I remembered the words, “always sew towards yourself”. I may have been slow to learn; one of my mentors once head butt me when he didn’t like my work. I’m still learning.