stitching through time ...
Needle and thread, my first love, my life’s constant … from the fearlessness of youth, sitting at Granny’s old Singer, toes barely brushing the treadle … the magic of threading the machine, transfixed as a line of stitches miraculously appears, then to hand-stitching and dyeing and making with joy and ease … through years of stifling suburban banality and spirit crushing desk jobs, to the reawakening in middle age of these makers’ hands, engaged, sore or blistered, good strong working hands, nimble fingers always coming back to needle and thread. Now entering the age of the crone, remembering and renewing dreams, vanishing doubts, stitching and dyeing, following inspiration wherever it leads, returning to fearless making, needle and thread my constant that binds it all.
Making and stitching have always been a part of my life. My connection to needle and thread came early, sitting at my grandmother’s side in front of her beautiful Singer treadle sewing machine. Later, with visions of becoming a fashion designer, I sketched designs, cutting out clothing shapes and hand sewing them directly onto my Barbie … fasteners were a bit advanced for that 7 year old maker. Through my school years I made my own clothes, junior high saw me saving my 50 cents a day lunch money, at week’s end having a whopping $2.50 to buy fabric! Mostly I bought unbleached muslin … it was super cheap, 35 cents a yard and looked great tie-dyed. In high school I made clothes for myself as well as my friends. I actually made a really adorable tie-dyed muslin dress for my English teacher. My sewing wasn’t quite as fearless as I got older, but needle and thread were never far away.
I held onto those fashion designer dreams through high school, but I’m pretty sure I must not have told anyone. For years I had been looking at those ads in the back of Glamour magazine for fashion schools, especially Bauder Institute of Fashion in Atlanta … I wonder if that school still exists? I even began the application process. But when graduation time rolled around, I had no idea how to make that dream happen. I can’t remember anyone talking to me about going to college, it just didn’t seem like an option.
So after graduating at the tender age of 17, I put that dream away and started working at a local department store. I shifted my dream a bit to becoming a buyer or merchandiser and by the time I was 19, I was the Junior Dress Buyer for that little department store. But that didn’t last and I found my way out of the malls into a series of spirit and creativity crushing office and retail jobs that lasted for almost 20 years. Sewing projects and clothes making came and went, but were never completely out of my life … just lying dormant.
In my late 30’s, urges for making resurfaced, in other ways and with new mediums. Stitching remained a constant, but was more tempered and timid. While I did become a full-time maker, I had never regained the fearless creativity of that wee girl in rural Florida. Through everything lurked niggling fears of not being accepted or that I would be found out to be a fraud.
And so it remained … that is until late 2017 … something changed, a shift towards openness and acceptance … allowing me to be me and recognizing the glory and grace that comes with that acceptance. I was still very much a work in progress, but some of that old fearlessness began to resurface … pattern making from nothing, fitting and customizing, dyeing and printing began to feel effortless.
But my shift towards Tending a Handmade Life two years ago got a little sidetracked. I got sucked back into striving and competing, once again looking for acceptance and recognition and, most recently, signing up for more online courses, following way too many motivational blogs and Instagram accounts, my email inbox overflowing and unread.
And that’s where I’ve been … up until two nights ago. A long-time follower of India Flint, I read her Prophet of Bloom Instagram challenge not long before bed and my mind began to compose an entry to her giveaway. One thought morphed into another, tossing and turning and deep breathing exercises ensued, struggling to shut down my suddenly super active imagination. But one thought stood out from the rest … “it doesn’t matter.” OMG, yes! How could I have forgotten, how did I get so far away from those excellent intentions I set at the beginning of 2017? Well, of course, I really do know that ‘how’ doesn’t matter either. No need to beat myself up. The only important thing is I am coming full circle. I plan to renew my efforts of Tending a Handmade Life and all that entails. I am not going to worry about numbers of followers or likes or clicks or whatever. I am going back to waking up each day and seeing where my gaze lands, what am I inspired to do today, what will I make, what will I read, what will I share? What is of benefit to those who may be out there reading this blog or viewing my social media feeds? Bottom line, what feeds my soul and makes my spirit soar?
Fearless making, here I come …
with deep gratitude and light filled blessings - kvk
p.s. heartfelt thanks to India Flint and her Prophet of Bloom Instagram giveaway for the inspiration to put these thoughts down in writing.