Amanda Blake Soule makes me want to run to my sewing basket and pull out needle and thread.

She writes: "When I sit to sew, I am fully aware of the sound of the needle coming in and out through my linen, and that quickly becomes the background - the heartbeat - to the other sounds in my life, the sounds of my children playing, the music of our days."

Soule, creator of the well-followed blog, Soule Mama (, and author of "Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials Into New Family Treasures" (Trumpeter, $21.95), has much to teach a world starting to rediscover the wonder of slowing down and making do.

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And teach she does.

"None of us has to look very far back in our families to find people who out of necessity were able to make new things from old," says Soule, 33, who lives, writes and sews in Portland, Maine, with her four children, ages 10 months to 8, and her husband, Steve, a civil engineer. "We all have that in our roots."

These are ripe times for repurposing, Soule says, and notes the point is not to whip off some "stellar sewing masterpiece" but rather to stitch layers of history and heart into the everyday.

Rather than a home and a day filled with disposables, Soule marks her day washing dishes with a repurposed cloth, making beds with quilts stitched from swatches of old clothes, or marking a page in a book with one of her children's embroidered-over artworks that makes for a fine bookmark.

Soule hopes that her projects "will encourage us all to be a little more mindful of the fleeting and beautiful moments of family life; and that all of us - and our earth - may flourish with just a little more soul in our hearts and our homes."

Amen to that.

Ready to repurpose?

Three best places to snoop around the house:

Grandma's attic: "Best place in the world, for sure." Be brave; cut old things to bits. "That's what I think it's made for," says Soule, of vintage finds. "It's giving it more respect by finding a new purpose for it than keeping it stashed in the attic."

The linen closet: Sheeting is your all-purpose friend. Use it to back a quilt or line a handbag. "We all have one random sheet, and that's a lot of yardage."

Bedroom closet: "When you're purging, before you give it to Salvation Army, stop and think, 'How could I use this?'"

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