This section is from the book "Feeling Better? Amusements and Occupations for Convalescents", by Cornelia R. Trowbridge. Also available from Amazon: Feeling Better.
THERE are "thing-minded" people, who like to use their hands, and "idea-minded" ones, who are more interested in using their heads. The first chapters of our book are for the thing-minded. If you belong with them, either constitutionally or temporarily, and have the urge to "make something," you will find here various occupations possible for a person sitting up in bed. If you prefer to use your head at this stage of Feeling Better, turn to the chapters following page 126 and come back later to this section.
The occupations suggested require little physical exertion and are neither complicated nor exacting. You will see that most of the things needful for them are to be had in any household. For what has to be bought, exact directions are given. You can show any chapter to your nurse or your family and say, "On this page just what I want is explained. And this page tells where we can get it." Make out your shopping list on page 238.
It has been taken for granted that you will be provided with a bed-table, to which essential accessory Chapter XXVI (How To Make Bed-Tables), page 222 is devoted. If the table is large enough to hold, along with the equipment in use, a bookrest for this book, so that its directions can be kept before you, it will often be a convenience.
You will want to make as few demands as possible on the time and strength of those who are taking care of you. If you have a drawer in your bedside table or a wall pocket hanging from it, you can keep beside you any small tools you are using or supplies of materials. Quantities of things can go into those wall pockets that are used on closet doors to hold shoes. Such a pocket can be hung from the frame of your bedstead or be fastened to the end of a wide, thin board which will slip under the mattress. Sometimes unfinished work and your tools can more conveniently be kept on a shelf or in a bureau drawer. Sometimes everything used for a craft can be lifted off with the bed-table and set aside on it. It is worth while to give a little thought to systematizing your plans for work and to know where your outfit is kept. You as well as others will profit, for you can get started more quickly when the mood for work comes.
When you tire of working, you will want to have everything put away swiftly. What if scraps and splinters work under the bedclothes to your discomfort and that of your nurse? It will be a help to have a strip of cloth three or four feet wide, perhaps a piece of an old sheet, laid across the upper part of the bedclothes and tucked under the mattress at either side. It can be folded together to collect scraps and taken away to be shaken out. Or you can use for the same purpose a "bed-apron." This can be any ample kitchen apron with its band or collar slipped over the head and its skirts spread out over the bedclothes instead of being fastened around the waist. Whether you use a plain strip or an apron, it should be adjusted before the bed-table is lifted into place. Either device will help to keep the bedspread and the top of the sheet fresh.
The directions of each chapter cover the first steps in a craft and the completion of at least one article. There is no attempt at an exhaustive treatment of any occupation. It would too soon be also exhausting. But sources of additional information, instruction and equipment are given in the lists of books and the addresses of well-established firms at the end of each chapter and these lists can be consulted if you wish to carry further any craft. Useful hints will be found also in Chapter XXIV (How To Make Contacts) and the book list on page 191.
Following directions is not always easy. You may find things simpler if, after you have read a section through carefully yourself, someone reads it aloud as you work. Perhaps your nurse can help you still further by working out the directions herself and then showing you what is to be done. Somehow you should get in mind a definite picture of what you are to make and work toward it, with whatever improvements occur to you as you go along.
Care has been taken to suggest as far as possible articles of some real value that can be, if skillfully made, useful or beautiful or both. Besides having had from it diversion for idle hours, you should be able to take lasting pleasure in your finished work. If it has defects, it will at least record a stage in your mastery of a craft and add to your appreciation of good workmanship from other hands. This book does not discuss making articles for sale. But artistic work well done can usually find a market somewhere.
There is always the happy possibility that a handicraft may develop into a hobby. We hear much today of the Problem of Leisure in this Machine Age. With the shortened working day and the ever multiplying devices for saving labor within our homes it is a very real problem. The radio, the moving pictures, contract bridge may fill our time, but they give no outlet for our creative energies or skill of hand. When you are well again, you will still have hours of leisure to fill. If you get interested now in some handicraft, your hours of convalescence may provide a source of pleasure for after years of health. Someone says, "Spare time, if one can use it, may make life more worth living than any work time can."
The value of occupation for the hands in many forms of illness is increasingly recognized by physicians but this book lays no claim to being a guide to Occupational Therapy. It will be wise to ask the advice of your doctor before trying any of the crafts. As he will tell you, none of them should be attempted if it requires too much physical exertion or produces a nervous strain. And you should lay any piece of work aside the moment it begins to tire you. Always and everywhere it is half of wisdom to know when to stop.