A million years ago, a pandemic struck, and I seemed to spend my time divided between subpar child supervision and frantically spinning my wheels, considering my small business’s doom.


Several months ago, as things settled into their groove of horrifying news that doesn’t seem to be able to get any worse, and the sticker shock has worn off, I began relishing one very thin silver lining: breaking out my sewing machine again. Early on in the pandemic, I made these quick and dirty masks that did the job, if grimly. At some point, quite late into all this, I decided that we were going to have a bit more fun with it, and I went deep into the rabbit hole of finding just the right fabrics. Did you know that there is fabric for basically everything in life? Peppa Pig, a truly endless number of cat-themed fabric, Darth Vader and rainbows. It’s astonishing. Jon has resigned himself to also now wearing on his face Peppa Pig and anthropomorphized seagulls and lemons.



It is extremely satisfying to stitch things together, pieces of fabric, snip snip, turning things inside out. To make something useful. I’ve been mailing them to people because the masks fit into letter mail and when you haven’t written to your pen pal in many months, it’s such a delightful way to apologize for your tardiness and overall inadequacies and show them that you care.


I’ve been listening to audiobooks while cutting fabric and stitching pieces of fabric together, and it’s been great. Fingers busy as I get lost into a story, almost as good as driving with audiobooks. I’ve already gotten through Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, which I had been meaning to read for a while. It is a blast, a ton of fun, funny and dry, and I’m glad I procrastinated on it for several years in order to have had it to enjoy in this specific time. I’ve now started Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips which is not at all as I thought it was, i.e. a non-fiction environmental book, but instead is a thriller taking place on a remote Siberian peninsula. But you know what, this is a surprise that I will take.


In any case, it’s sometimes nice to take a break from things. It’s not really a break from life (making masks during a pandemic) but it is a break from screens, from things flashing and glowing, and sometimes it’s nice to do something with your hands, writing with a pen on paper, feeling cotton in your fingers, stirring something on the stove.


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April 04, 2021 — Liz Chan


Ruth Martin

Ruth Martin said:

Gotta love that clothesline full of masks! And your final photo is priceless. My new pandemic hobby has turned out to be needlepoint, which is killing my one arthritic finger but is great fun nonetheless. Not very practical, mind you, unlike sewing masks.

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