Art Friday: Busy hands

"The Sewing Circle" by Daniel Ridgway Knight (1839 - 1924)

Art Friday: Busy (and creative) hands

Women have had busy hands since the time of the Bible. Women, once all their chores were done - could be found sewing, knitting, quilting, gift making, embroidering, weaving, lace making, mending . . . the list was endless. Whilst women did these crafts for pleasure, many were knitting jumpers out of necessity, sewing clothes for the family to wear, making quilts to keep everyone warm, mending well worn garments. These days, most of us undertake these crafts for pleasure and no longer because we have to. 

Do enjoy these paintings of women with "busy hands". 

"Grandmother sews pants" by Adolf Humborg is one of my favourites.  Grandmother seems to have a very wiggly boy of her lap who thinks this is all so much fun and can't stop laughing. His sister watches with great amusement! 

Also, I would like to wish my dad a very happy birthday today - he is turning 81 and doing so well for his age. He is certainly a man with busy hands - always doing something. 

"A Little Girl Knitting" by Jonathan Guiness 
by Dong Ming Lu, China
"Grandmother sews pants" by Adolf Humborg (1847 – 1921)
by Carl Larsson
"After the Rain" by Peter Taylor Quidley
"Bobbin lace maker at the window with view on the beach" by Edward Antoon Portielje
"Gitte Learning To Sew" by Knud Erik Edsberg (1911 – 2003, Danish)
"Penelope" by Charles Francis Marchal
"An Idyllic Afternoon with Cat" by Jonathan Pratt (1835-1911)
by Lado Tevdoradze
"The knitting lesson" by Charles Moreau
Girl knitting, 1901 Anders Zorn
Knitting in the fields by Charles Sprague Pearce



  1. Once again some wonderful paintings loved the theme. Happy birthday to your Dad and many more.

    1. Thanks heaps :)) I was surprised to find so many paintings about knitting, its a popular theme in art it seems!!

  2. Hi, Jo. I recently came across your blog and am a new follower. Always happy to make a new friend. :-) I so enjoyed looking at these pictures.

    1. Thanks so much for dropping by - blogging is such a great way to find new friends :)) Glad you like these paintings - each Friday I post art if you are interested.

  3. Love keeping my hands busy - these are great paintings! :)

    1. We all know what the Bible says about idle hands :)

    2. I was thinking this afternoon... I know everyone is different and everyone has their own interests to pursue, but I think it's sad that things like sewing circles or quilting bees etc have fallen by the wayside in most communities/families. I think these days women are often very lonely (often working at their projects alone or sitting home alone on their computers etc)... In times past, women would get together when they could, and do handwork together and it was such a time of fellowship and companionship - or they would even just go visiting one-on-one with their handwork. So many women don't even DO handwork of any kind these days, and I think it's really sad.

    3. When my mother was younger she use to attend a 'craft circle" once a fortnight. Dad use to laugh and say it had nothing to do with craft, it was a time for the women to chat and that was quite true. They all brought their knitting and other crafts and sit around and talk about their children and life in general, the talking was just as important as the crafting. And they could enjoy it over a cup of tea and some biscuits. For women, this sense of connection with other women is so important and been happening for centuries as women gathered around the well or in each others homes. Its only in modern times as we have created impersonal suburbs and seems to want to isolate ourselves from one another. In the process we have become more lonely and and alone.

      Whilst I don’t do crafts with other women, I bring in my quilt for show and tell at work and often sharing photos and ideas with my quilting buddy (who I also work with and is my boss which is all bit unusual)!!

      I think you have given me an idea for a post in the new year.

    4. To an extent, you do get these gatherings sometimes with playgroups or home-school groups and such, but those groups too often can end up being a place for gossip, and they have that missing element of keeping their hands busy most of the time. It's a shame. In other spheres, everyone is far too busy with their own lives to have time to get together and craft - that's a shame, too.
      And I don't think those groups would need to be a reason for families to split up and do their own thing, either, as children could come along and learn skills and join in and do handwork, too! Certainly young girls joined in the quilting bees when they learned to sew in times gone by, and they possibly helped out in other ways before they learned to sew or do handwork too - you see the photos or art pieces that show young girls helping wind yarn or sitting at adults' feet joining in... There are too many reasons for families to go their own separate ways today, but this need not be one of them. :)

  4. I know this may be silly, but some of your Art Friday's make me cry...this was one of them. Lovely. I wish I could sit in front of all of them to admire...But really it is you, putting all these pieces in one post for our pleasure. Thank you, Jo.

    1. I am so glad you find these paintings all so enjoyable and it people like you that keep on encouraging me to do the Art Friday segment. I also wish I could see the originals too and just admire them. When a groups of expressionist art came to Australia and I was able to see Starry Starry Night by Van Gogh I was moved to tears. It was the most amazing painting I had ever seen and no reproduction in any book could replicate its beauty and magical feel that it had. I could have stood in front of that painting for hours. The thing I find with older art, in particular, is that someone in the past has left that record for us to enjoy and that is just beautiful.

      Have a wonderful weekend :))

      God Bless.

  5. The lady sitting doing patchwork with the singer sewing machine (which is probably a peddle one) reminds me of my grandmother. She had a sewing machine like that, which in her latter years she had it made electric. I spent many happy hours with her and her machine. She also hand sewed a patchwork quilt, which my mother gave me several years ago. I never knew of it's existance until she gave it to me. Brought back happy memeories. Thankyou Jo.

    1. So pleased your enjoyed that particular painting - I love it when an imagine sparks a memory of the past, of a experience etc.. I hand sewed a very small segment of a quilt and decided I would not be very good at hand sewing !!

  6. Jolouise, Can you email me at I have a favor to ask of you. Thanks!

  7. I love these paintings, Jo. That is really mending on the run! (Grandma stitching) Although they are all working the pictures have a certain peaceful, serene quality that I love. Also love the Singer! Both my mother and grandmother were diligent menders and darning socks was one constant job for them. Long time since I visited. I hope you are going well.

    1. Ruby, its been such a long time :) and so lovely for you to pop by.

      When people looking back at their mothers/grandmothers sewing or doing other crafts, we always have very fond and loving memories. I think they are imagines of joy perhaps because thought their crafts their love shines through. However sometimes when i am sewing, it isn't a picture of serenity at all, especially when something goes very wrong and I have to unpick!!!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

I wear skirts and dresses

Art Friday: Washing Day

The power of our homes

Modern modesty

Art Friday: Views from a window

True restfulness