Getting Back to My (Fiber) Roots

For a little while now, I’ve been noticing little nudges from the universe, signals if you will, that it was time to re-examine my path, maybe change direction, and to get back into right relationship with certain parts of myself. It has all been a bit muddy, though I’ve known it has something to do with sewing. I guess you could say I’ve been aware for some time that I’ve been in a holding pattern of preparing and waiting, believing that when I was ready, the lesson would reveal itself. And several weeks ago, I cleaned out and reorganized my sewing studio, small as it may be, to work better for me. My discussions about sewing with my friend Emmy at work always energize me, and leave me a little bit either frustrated or anxious, or both. When I woke up yesterday morning, I found this in my daily horoscope (which I only ever really read for pure fun).

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Leo: You’ve been given certain gifts, but there is some assembly required. Unfortunately, right now it feels like you’ve misplaced the manual. Start asking around. There are many who can help you with the next step.

Shut. The. Front. Door. How about reading something like that about yourself on the day of the Chinese New Year? And it’s my year, the year of the snake. Uh-oh, I wasn’t sure I liked where this was going.
But I couldn’t get it out of my mind all day, so much so that I dug the paper out of the trash, cut the horoscope out, and pasted it into the front of a new journal. I was full of questions. What gifts? What assembly? Who? Was there *ever* a manual? That led me into a spiral of thinking that lasted all day. I thought a lot. About where my passions lie, how I spend my time when I am in my sewing room, what I really like to do, what I wish I was doing. Earlier in the weekend I had ordered a new table to take the place of the chest freezer in my studio, so that I can have two sewing machines set up at all times. And that started me thinking about what would I do once that change is made. Along the way, I came to a few conclusions about myself.

First, I love the act of creating garments. My innate talent with needle and thread was one of the first talents that others discerned about me, and it remains my first love. The joy that I get when I make a garment for myself or someone else, when it is something they really love and wear, is like no other. I’ve been missing this for some time, and I my first few attempts to recapture it making things for Juliette, well she hasn’t exactly loved the stuff. But how much is it fair to expect from a three year old, right?

Second, one of my gifts that my tailoring teacher, Mrs. Flowers, communicated clearly and strongly to me was my love of precision and fine detail in sewing. Few things make me feel as enraptured as the well conceived and constructed gown, coat, pants or dress. The perfectly constructed garment, sewn with the utmost attention to detail, remains a complete thrill for me.

Third, I love quilting, I really do. I love making things for people that keep them warm and cozy. And sewing them satisfies my need to commit the physical act of sewing with a machine. But to tell you the truth, I’m getting a little bored sewing ¼” seams – and always working with cotton fabric. I want ruffles and lace and embellishments and gathers and pleats and wool and linen and rayon and the entire wonderful world of silks.

Fourth, I love knitting too, and it satisfies that deep and intense need for handwork that is easy to pick up and put down. And let’s face it, most knitting is pretty immediate gratification, which is one of the nice things about it. Knitting is so deliciously tactile, but it doesn’t go far enough.

So although I have a couple of textile crafts that I really enjoy, I have still have fiber needs, needs that are not being met. Needs that won’t shut up or leave me alone, try as I might to ignore them. What’s a guy to do? I owe it to myself to be honest with myself. I got away from all of this garment making years ago, for reasons that were good at the time (I didn’t want to make for the people who could afford to pay me for custom made clothes), but that was about economics, not passion. And I am now in the enviable position of being able to sew purely for the love of creating and making something unique, and without regard to making a living. Yesterday and today I’ve spent quite a bit of time contemplating my years in tailoring school with Mrs. Flowers, my precious time with my grandma, my internship with Hazella and all that I loved about each of those women and my experiences with them. Yes, I have indeed been given certain gifts. And I am not using them, at least not all of them and certainly not well. To use a well-worn phrase, my light has been hiding under a bushel. Why, for so long, have I remained in denial about all of this? I think I owe it to myself to go back, pick up the tools I metaphorically laid down those many years ago, and carry on the legacy of fine craftsmanship and artistry to which I became heir from the experts who taught me.

So, it seems as though there are many who can help with me with whatever my next step might be. I don’t know exactly what that is just yet. I feel like I have to sort of sit with this knowledge for a while. I know I won’t be making a bespoke three piece suit anytime soon. But a pair of pants certainly wouldn’t be that hard, and I’ve got oodles of delicious wools that has been aging for 15 years waiting to be made into something nice. And there are a couple of dress patterns for Juliette that I think she will actually like, one of which she helped pick out. So there are some short term things I can undertake right away. I don’t know what the future brings, except that I know I want to keep an open heart and mind and spirit and see what comes my way. Maybe the next step will be clearer and more immediate than I can see from where I sit right now.

2 thoughts on “Getting Back to My (Fiber) Roots

  1. You are always so inspirational to me Boyd. After reading your thought process in thinking about this, it’s made me think about my own yearlings — to create art. My drive to create is so strong, but, I’ve gotten so caught up in quilt making and other needlework that I’m not doing much creating of my own designs. I’ve done it in designing my own Redwork patterns, but what I really want to do is make art quilts and perhaps even paint again. I really used to love that. What I can’t seem to work out is how to fit it all in. I was so sure that after retirement I’d have time to “do it all.” But that has not been the case. I’m as stressed out about my free time now as I ever was when I worked. I too have lots to think about. I wonder what my horoscope was?

  2. As a fellow Leo and Snake, that horoscope resonates with me also. My creativity urge has been knocking on my door for a while. Writing, knitting, scrapbooking, jewelry making. I just read Aviva Gold’s book Painting From the Source, and that’s what I’m doing next. Still haven’t found that one thing that I should focus on….you are inspiring me too Boyd.

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