My sister - like myself, perhaps - does not always recognize her own talents. She is an accomplished seamstress. At least, that is my view, though she will scoff at the idea.
Well, just look at the graduation dress she made for her daughter and tell me I am wrong:
I mean, really! I am ever in awe of her skills with fabric and thread (the irony of which will become clear after reading my sister's story).
"And so without further gilding the lily and with no more ado..." (that's a quote from A Knight's Tale, a movie I highly recommend, by the way), I give you, Cookie's Aunt.
I am stuck.
I am staring at a beautiful piece of fabric.
It is two metres in length. It is the colour of cream, with an intricate open pattern of flowing lines and abstract leaves in shades of autumn, earthy browns and coppers. I have been staring at this piece of fabric for an hour, more or less. It has become a ritual to stop as I pass by my dining room table where it rests in repose. Each time I pass I imagine a new design that will showcase its fluid composition, that will realize its potential and promise.
It is meant to be a quilt top. That much I have committed to. That is why it was purchased, and so I am at least decided on that. Even this decision was challenging, because I have a mental block where fabric is concerned. While I remain in that place between plan and action, between design and creation, between concept and reality, the possibilities are endless and intoxicating. I am free to explore anything my mind can imagine. Once I decide, once I make that first definitive cut, I am committed and it is up to me to create what I imagined. I am responsible for the outcome and the execution.
My mother would groan if she were reading over my shoulder.
She would be reading over my shoulder if I had my druthers. She would tell me I am being overly dramatic, that there are more important things to fret over and to get on with it.
She would be right, of course. She was an amazing seamstress, and I was in awe of her courage and talent. As we both got older, and I began to try my hand under her guidance, she found it more and more challenging to thread needles and to do fine hand stitching. So we made a bargain, she and I. She would cut my fabric for me, and I would thread her needles, hem her skirts, stitch her buttons, tack her seams. It was a good deal. It kept me moving.
I remember her deciding one night when I was in high school, that she did not have anything to wear to a Christmas party the next evening. She came down to her sewing table after tidying up dinner with a lovely gown that was in fashion ten years before, and began ripping the bodice from the skirt. She pulled a bit of fabric from her stash and doggedly went about creating a new gown from the old, using bits of the removed bodice to accent where needed. She worked through the night, lost in her creation, in a bubble world all her own. We tiptoed around her, determined not to break the bubble and draw attention to the fact that we were up past bedtime.
Next day, as my parents were getting ready to go out, I remember Dad commenting on her new dress…she winked at me and wafted out past the babysitter with a panache I have never been able to emulate. I can only aspire to that kind of confidence and commitment. I awaken to my son's peck on the cheek. He reminds me he has football practice and hopes we can have supper a bit early. With one last wistful gaze I move back into the traffic of my life, out of my own bubble to start another load of laundry before beginning supper. Concurrent activity. Very efficient.
It will be another few hours before I pass by again in my travels about the house. I will have forgotten that I have strategically placed the fabric there on the corner of the table, and I will be once again surprised to see it there. I will draw my hand across the fluid surface, slowing with the mental friction as I lose focus on my current mission and pause a moment in that quiet creative space.
One day I will start. I will have planned it through in my mind. I will find the right catalyst and the stretch of free time when other vital activities are not crowding me, and I will begin. This piece of fabric deserves my best, and one day soon I will devote my energy to it. Until then, I can spend a moment here and there in that space out of time, in my head, in my memories, at once at home and adrift, where anything I dream can come to be.
Thanks for visiting today, B! Thanks for the trip down memory lane. And thank-you for the reminder to dream, to create in our minds and to be patient in the process. I can't wait to see what becomes of this fabric!
Have you entered my book giveaways yet?
WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT by Sarah Winman
(plus, see the inspiring interview with Sarah)
AN ELECTION OF PATRIOTS by Andre Jute
REQUIEM AT MONZA by Dakota Franklin