Aug 20, 2009

A Patchwork Life

I am cutting up pieces of fabric; crazy stripes and massive claret and gold blooming flowers on brocade. Old funky and retired dishtowels too pretty to throw away and some vintage pre-me baby clothes that I could never even PRAY to fit into again. I have taken out the Giant's trove of baby booty and have scissored them to bits. Leaping emerald frogs and mind dizzying plaids, soft nubby cottons that still smell like him and heavy but lush knits. I am working on a quilt. Or I should say, I am intending to work on a quilt. Once I start to dig myself out of this mountain of fabric and can try and put some order to the chaos covering my dinning room table, then I will be piecing a quilt, and starting the long and arduous process of creating something with my own two hands. This is the first project of this type that I am endeavoring by myself and I am slightly overwhelmed but mostly, I am incredibly inspired. Quaint, isn't it?

My compulsive creative need to make things out of stuff laying around the house is an old one with deep roots. I can remember trying to sew some hab jab nonsense out of old pillow cases on my mother's sewing machine with absolutely no idea of what I was doing. But something in that small spark of willingness, of wanting to make something with my own hands, stayed with me. This blitz of electric energy that streaked its way into me has culminated in collages and paintings, rebound books and my sad yet valiant attempt at knitting- which culminated in one thing, a rusty orange scarf that I still wear. All this ripped paper and yarn, glue and paint has all been about one thing, some latent desire to re-purpose the clutter of my life and make it into something useful and beautiful.

I have thought about becoming more self sufficient as the years have spun by and this here quilt, this insanity threatening to devour my son with its sheer volume, this fabric avalanche, is my first true effort at trying to use what we already have to make something we need. It seems so provincial to attempt and fall off the grid, to grow a garden and sew your own clothes. I can just hear one particular friend of mine saying it's all so Laura Ingels of me, so pioneer woman, so old fashioned. But I would disagree. I would hazard a guess that most of us are more adept at working on a computer than we are at digging in the dirt. And by dirt, I mean the brown stuff outside that has worms and bugs in it. Most of you will think I'm crazy for even saying that, of COURSE you know what dirt is, god. But really, when was the last time you stuck your hands in it? When was the last time you took a deep and gorgeous breath of how rich and full it is? Most folks don't know how to stitch a hole in their sock. Truly. Why bother when you can just go out and buy new socks? Because. It's important. In this age of mass over consumption and the hoarding of useless and extraneous crap it means something. It is markedly important to me to be able to take care of my family this way. I'm tired of throwing stuff away and just buying new stuff to replace the stuff that I really probably didn't even need or want, in the first damn place. Whew. I'm stepping off the soapbox now, I promise. But, I think now, we understand each other a little better.

This is not intended to be a lecture. It is not intended to make me cooler or more progressive than you. It is not a ploy at covert hip-ness or for that matter, hippieness. I am not advocating that you quit your job and run off to live in the woods, eating tree bark and hunting squirrels. I am simply saying, think about it. This is the reason we moved to Kansas to begin with, to try and re-arrange our lives a little. So I am making a quilt. A quilt that will keep my boys warm this winter when the wind is raging outside and the snow is falling casting a hush through the air. I am making this quilt because it is important.

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