Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Honoring My Crafting Needs

I am a selfish crafter. Not because I don't make things for other people--quite the contrary, I make things for other people all the time. But because, for the most part, I only make what I want to make. I don't need to worry about what color might be trending next year or whether I have enough items to stock a shop or for craft fair season or whether foxes are the new owls (or is the other way 'round? I can't keep that straight). I just make what I please and what I need to make--not "need" in terms of the finished product but "need" in terms of soothing my soul.

I've noticed this month that all I really want to do is sew and knit. Possibly this is because it's Truly Spring, and it's a good time of year to sew skirts for me and my daughter, and that knitting pattern I chose to try and finish for Squam is very spring-like, too. But I think it's more than that. I think, in this very chaotic and anxiety-inducing month that May has become for us, I am instinctively turning to the very basic acts of making something serviceable out of nothing more than cloth and thread, yarn and loop.

Yarn through loop, over and over, until a sweater emerges.
I wasn't consciously thinking these thoughts when I began sewing my daughter's skirts, of course. I just thought, It's time to sew a skirt. And then another. And now I'm working on another.

It's just a pile of orange at the moment, but it's supposed to end up as an a-line ruffle skirt. Kim posted in the Ravelry sewing group that she was looking for test sewists for a pattern she is planning to sell, and I volunteered. I think the sole reason I volunteered is because I have always avoided ruffles; they look complicated and difficult. And I know if I've promised someone that I'll make this, I'll deal with my ruffle intimidation. (My sister, who can sew anything, told me ruffles deserve their pain-in-the-butt reputation and the way to deal with ruffle fear is to not make any. But I'd already committed by that point.) I'm supposed to have this done by Saturday, but all I've done is cut. I decided the sewing will have to wait until my husband is home, because I am so tired by the time evening comes when he's away. (Yup, he's gone again, but he's coming home late tonight.)

So I cut the pieces earlier in the week, after my younger two kids were in bed but my oldest was still up. Instead of reading his book or playing his DS, he decided to hang out with me while I traced and cut. He didn't want me to be all by myself--even though, if his dad had been home, he'd have been upstairs with him and I'd have been by myself anyway. It was very sweet, and he asked about the rotary cutter and why my clear ruler had lines on it and what a selvedge was and he marveled over the disappearing fabric marker--no doubt pondering its possible applications in the spy trade. I thoroughly enjoyed having his company while I worked.

While I was rummaging around in the fabric stash for something my daughter would like for the ruffle skirt, I came upon this.

There's three yards of it, and it's part of what I gathered from my mother's sewing room after she died. I didn't sew at the time, although I felt it coming (I bought a sewing machine just over a year later, eight months pregnant with my youngest). So I've had this fabric nearly five years, and I have no idea how long my mother had it before that. It was still folded up from the store, with the cutting tag stapled on. It's a big, all-over-the-place pattern, isn't it? I want to make a long, a-line, drawstring skirt out of it, hopefully before I leave for New Hampshire.

I know I'll be coming back to embroidery soon...I had my camera out at the playground today, wondering if I could capture, with fabric and floss, the sensation of being enclosed by the big tree that the kids call a fort. And I have lots of mixed media/painting in the future in the form of a class and a workshop. But for now, I follow my desire to cut and sew and press, to run yarn through my fingers and around my needles, to make exactly what I feel I must, something out of nothing, comfort out of cloth and string.

And because I couldn't walk by the delicate veins of the iris petal, the softly clinging raindrops, without taking a photo, I will share it with you. I hope you are crafting some soul happiness, too.

Shared with my creative space...


Carolyn said...

Ruffles aren't so bad, it's all in the gathering and measuring. Now zippers and buttonholes...those are bad! I used to make a lot of skirts with ruffles on them (my favorite pattern was a zippered prairie skirt with a big flouncy ruffle - yes, it was the 80's!)and I got to be pretty good with them. I've been crocheting Grace's afghan, I crochet so much better and faster than I knit. It makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something.

Jill said...

You are too sweet. I can't sew anything. Love the story about V keeping you company. My boy in the middle will do that, too, just hang around. It IS nice. I'm glad you got that time. The ruffles -- we both know you can do it! And I bet your color-loving girl will be delighted. See you soon.

Jill said...

That's great fabric, the blue, by the way; was it from weintraub's or lorraine's? I have a piece or two with the tag pinned on; one little bag of Christmas prints with the receipt still in even. Who knows what that was going to be. I'd love to see you in it.

lamina@do a bit said...

I LOVE you mums old blue and white fabric print.. WOW! It will look great as a skirt I think!

I make what I like too... no point making things you don't hey :)

GirlAnachronismE said...

I love that blue and white fabric, it will make a gorgeous skirt! And the knitting is looking great so far

Naomi said...

The batik-ish blue is perfect for an a-line skirt. Very summer holiday feeling.

Rose Red said...

Soon you will have V sewing alongside you!

Love the blue fabric, just perfect for a long wrap skirt.

And ruffles aren't really that hard - I have done them, and I have less sewing experience and ability than you!

Donna Lee said...

I think ruffles can be an issue if you are a perfectionist but since I am not, they've never posed any real problems.

I think that blue fabric will make a fabulous summer skirt. Good for throwing on when it's hot and you've got to leave the house.

Michelle said...

That iris petal is beautiful, and it gives the exact impression (in my head, at least) of a skirt shape.

I haven't done ruffles yet. I avoid them like the plague.

I got inspired to do something crafty this morning. Not sewing, but a creative project. Scrapping other plans for the day and taking the time for myself. It shouldn't take long to make, but I need more of those little creative successes.

iamrushmore said...

that blue fabric is gorgeous. Jill mentioned Weintraub's and it was like time travel. my mom used to sew all the time and would buy fabric there. i can't picture the store, but the name just brought back childhood and the sound of my mom's singer.

I think the "something out of nothing" is a powerful response to stress.

a few years ago I had to close down the child care program I was the director of. It was a huge loss of community and friendship. and I was not allowed to keep any employees on to help break down. so I worked for 4 or 5 days straight, by myself, cleaning and sorting and donating 7 years of my life and livelihood. I was exhausted both physically and emotionally. My first morning at home I immediately dove into a project of putting up shelves in my son's closet. i was absolutely driven. I couldn't rest or relax. it took a few days before i realized i was responding to all this breaking-down and loss by BUILDING something. I needed to feel permanence and forward momentum.

we know what we need even when we don't think we know what we need. may your knitting and sewing soothe and restore you!

Bells said...

that blue is gorgeous! I love the idea of him sitting with you chatting and keeping you from being lonely!

I'm a sucker for raindrops on petals, as you know, so that's just lovely.It looks like fabric, the way it's flowing downwards.

Fiona said...

Love the fabrics. The blue one will make a great skirt.

I only ever make what I want to make - as soon as I have to make something then I feel too pressured and end up doing nothing ... !!

Sally said...

I don't consider it selfish to create as your inner instinct dictates... isn't that creativity in its purest sense. Selfish sounds harsh, true to yourself I think is more apt.
Loving the yellow yarn. Love love love yellow at the moment. Strange how love of colour changes over time and season.