Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Lost Art of Mending

Mending seems to be an art of the past, at least at my house.  I still collect things to mend, but they seem to sit and wait an eternity for me to get around to them.  My husband shortens his own pants,  lest he have to go “pantless”.  He can sew on buttons too.  Despite my button collection and sewing a zillion on a small bag, I don’t do buttons either.

Recently all this has changed.  Moose, one of my youngest daughter’s friends from college, has recently stopped by and brought me his weight lifting pants and shirts to take in.  I am not sure what they are made of, but each time I take a tuck in them, I know I am to stitch each seam several times over.  These weight lifting suits protect muscles from herniating, and Moose must wet them to allow the stitching to stretch as he puts them on to be sure that my seams won’t break and leave him unprotected. These under suits are very expensive and so each tuck carefully done extends the garment’s function by several months. This is a huge savings to a serious weight lifter.

Moose didn’t stop with his weight lifting clothes, and he recently brought me his work blue jeans to mend.  I scratched my head and questioned the point of mending them, as they were so worn and stained. Whatever happened to “a stitch in time saves nine”?  These were going to take more than nine stitches to be sure. I knew it would be a challenge to find strong enough material to hold the patches secure.  “I love them”, he said.  “They are so soft and comfortable now, besides which, I like to support the locals”, he added proudly, knowing that my husband still hasn’t found full-time work.

There was no pressure on the timing of mending these.  Judging by the looks of them, they had been retired for some time, and he added that his wife was wanting to just throw them out, but he had carefully rescued them from such a fate.

Dreading the task, I got to them and as with any sewing job, I was soon enjoying the task.  The challenge was there, and with my bag of iron-on-denim patches, I was soon trimming the holes of their fabric- free threads, reinforcing what needed to be reinforced with iron on patches and then sewing on nice big patches.  He will be surprised at the sizes of the patches, but they had to be that big to find solid enough fabric to stitch them to.  I am proud of my mending, and will not charge him a lot.  He is a hard working lad and working equally as hard to stretch his dollars and thoughtful enough to support us locals (or should that be locos?).

I am remembering the days when I remodeled hand me downs, and covered stains on my two favorite sweaters with some wool cross stitch designs and then saved them for they had become real works of art. Mending can be one of the most creative tasks for a sewer!  I am learning too that many long term projects need creative fixing for what doesn’t come out just perfect.  Mending is like doing a challenging puzzle and stretches my brain, giving me practice for those other creative ventures.  Of course in this day and age when time and money are at a premium, it must be a well-loved item to deserve this attention!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Non-linear Progress

Well, I am not sure how many of my readers do the “spring cleaning thing”? This isn’t exactly about “spring cleaning”, but is about my past seven months attempt to recover from a wool sale last Labor Day. You have all seen the horrendous mess in my sewing studio I published several blogs ago.  Well, I finally got around to working on this mess, but I am now here to report that progress is sometimes non-linear.

I have looked for a little silly drawing I saw on the internet of a "progress arrow" that instead of being a straight and upward line, it goes in a circle with many ups and downs before coming out the other side with a slight upward trajectory.  It was simple, but made the point well...that that is how progress is often made, and is so typical of how many of my tasks seem to go.

Although I was finally able to vacuum the floor, the table and desk are still covered and little by little I am finally sorting through all that needs to be thinned and thrown out. It is a work in progress and despite being quite busy and productive, it feels like I can’t name one thing that I have completed.  No, wait, I did complete the comforter for my sister, the one started ten years ago by my mother and me!   The one that should have taken me a weekend to do and the one that disrupted the reorganization of my studio and storage space!

I am working on the mess, but didn’t stop there.  I almost have “the other storage area” organized as well, and now just have two small mountains of “stuffs” to sift through…this task is small when I consider my storage rooms that resemble libraries with rows of storage shelves, all covered with storage boxes of all precious craft supplies and collectibles and arranged my my own sort of Dewey system.

Proudly  I just completed a blog and needed to photograph a couple of special items I had been saving for just this time and went to my well-ordered storage room, only to find that I couldn’t begin to find the special basket that held them!

Does anyone else have this problem? A clean and ordered house (well, almost clean and almost ordered) and can’t find what I am looking for!  And so I must resort to writing a blog to say that progress is not “linear”.  Like  everything else, my efforts fall short of my plans.

A tedious job lies ahead.  Looking through my mystery bins, in search for the two items I have lost, and while I am at it, labeling all that each container holds. Fortunately, some things are already marked, so I just need to methodically go through the ones that aren’t.

So much for my plans to complete my blog on “The Lost Art of Mending” (pun intended!) and get back to sewing. It is more lost than I thought!! I seem to spend much precious sewing time searching for something I need, be it a special item, material, pattern or notion.  Sound familiar? Know that you are not alone!

St. Jude and St. Anthony are my best friends…the saints for the lost and hopeless (well, almost hopeless!)..  Meanwhile, I will take breaks from looking and sew on…fleece socks, flower pots, and prep work for items yet to come….Progress is being made. It is just not linear!

P.S.  The day after I wrote this I asked St. Jude and St. Anthony to help and sure enough, I found these two lost items in the already marked bin, just as I had remembered.  I want to thank them both for not only helping me find these items, but for helping me to locate my mind!!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Don't Just Curse the Darkness

I got up this morning to write to one of the news broadcasters, as I heard him say that this young nineteen year old terrorist will surely get the death penalty and then go straight to Hell.  I was appalled at his callousness.

As I listened to the news yesterday, and interviews with the terrorists’ family, I could only hurt for them.  This is not the way they wanted their children to grow, in fact this was not what they knew of their children and they were in a world of denial.  I could relate.  As a parent, my children have chosen paths for themselves that shocked and grieved me.  Fortunately they were not decisions that were irretrievably harmful and couldn’t be corrected, however serious they appeared at the time

We all have free will and make good and bad choices and I couldn’t help but wish that this young terrorist will live to see the error of his bad choices and get in touch with the gravity of his horrific acts.  But I don’t wish him death, but instead wish him remorse for what he has done.

Years ago my youngest daughter gave me a book for Christmas that was about the first home-grown terrorist cell group in the United States.  It was so interesting to read about how these were young boys, no different from any others, except that they all came under the influence of a leader who enticed them to seek their exceptionalism and Muslim pride in ways that were extreme.

All of these young men found themselves going to Afghanistan to train under Osama Bin Laden, and were very innocent of the gravity of their decisions.  To them it was nothing more than an exciting adventure and finding pride in what they thought was appropriate for their religion.  They were shocked by what they found and one even told Bin Laden that in the US, no matter how poor they were, they didn’t live like anyone that he saw in this terrorist camp.  He was glad to get back home and put this experience behind him.

One stayed on and became a true and hardened terrorist, the others returned home in a state of great confusion.  Their experience wasn’t so easily put behind them, and though they didn’t act with their training, their betrayal of their country got out and they all ended up paying a heavy price for their naïveté.

I remember too well, the days of my youth and my own struggle to find myself.  I too was sheltered enough to think I wanted something beyond what my parents designed for my life.  I rebelled, and did things that I am not proud of.  I never became a terrorist, but I made bad decisions, that fortunately for me were not life altering, except that they showed me the error of my ways.

I, in no way condone placing a bomb at the feet of an eight year old boy and annihilating him, and others and maiming so many!  But I have strong thoughts that neither can we allow ourselves to be caught up in the hatred that is besetting our country today.  Our Judeo-Christian beliefs that are interwoven into the fabric of our nation cannot be shaken by these acts of terror.  I am reading Killing Lincoln and am so impressed with President Lincoln and his desire to bind up the wounds and division in this country, and return our land to a land of freedom and respect for all.

In the days ahead, I believe that we Americans are called to bind up the wounds that have just been inflicted and we are called to love, not just the innocent victims of this horrible event, but embrace the family that “lost” their sons.  We need to pray that each of us will be careful of the youth of this country, and during this stressful economic time, reach out to those in need and do what we can do to be sure that our young people are loved and respected for their attempts to take the difficult paths ahead of them to succeed as students and young future leaders of our country.  How easy it is for our young people to feel unrewarded for their sacrifices to get an education only to find less opportunity than what we had as young people.

Character needs to be taught.  Rewards are not just monetary but rather about the pride taken in doing the difficult.  Kindness and decency need to be taught and when all else fail, use words. It is too easy to curse the darkness versus taking a light into that darkness. I hope that in the days ahead, we will all take seriously the challenge to replace division and hatred with unity and love.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

With Sympathy and Prayers….

I had just turned on my TV yesterday when suddenly on came the reports of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.  It made me sick!  I am so tired of hearing of killing and destruction in this world.

It takes courage, patience, and perseverence to challenge oneself  to accomplish something, whatever the goal, be it training for a marathon or just taking the time to be there to encourage another in their accomplishment.  It takes a coward to do evil and destructive acts to destroy others’ efforts and hopes of reaching for their dreams.

I am saddened by this heartless tragedy.  Hats off to the brave people who courageously came to rescue and help those victimized during this event.  My sympathy to those who lost loved ones and those who experienced life-altering events on this day.  My prayers are with you.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Winner is...

Congratulations to Melissa J. Michael on winning Nancy's beautiful earrings!  Keep watch for next month's Free Common-Thread Give Away!

Monday, April 8, 2013

April’s Common-Thread Give Away

This month's featured Common-Thread Give-Away Artist is Nancy Bariluk-Smith.  She is the artist that creates beautiful jewelry with her own hand-made glass beads. All  you need to do to register to win these free ear rings is to visit her web-site, and leave a comment for her.

I saw Nancy just this last month when all of the Common-Thread artists gathered for lunch at Jon and Maria Katz’s Bedlam Farm.  I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy these artists.  It was delightful to be with them, and I came away re-inspired.

Nancy is an artist that has used many different mediums before finding her nitch with her hand-made glass beads and jewelry.  She inspired me from the first time I met her.  She is warm and open about her process as an artist and very encouraging to others.  Her artwork is expressive of her life which is constantly open to new and exciting changes.

At our luncheon, she talked about her preparation for her next  future next life adventure and made me realize that each change in our life,whether elected, or forced, as in my husband's recent lay-off, is but a new opportunity to grow and evolve.  She and her family were in the process of shedding the “baggage” of their life making them more free to experience the new. I heard Nancy’s words and thought of all that is weighing me down, and we laughed about how, I too am thinking of paring down, but had considered getting rid of my last adult child versus any part of my stash of sewing materials!  I thank Nancy for revealing to me yet again, my own process, and freeing me to think creatively about letting go of some of the past that I continue to drag with me through life.

I will likely keep my daughter, but will consider freeing myself, like Nancy has done to continue to create new and exciting work.  Nancy is an inspiration both in her jewelry and her life.  Don’t miss visiting her website and merely leave a comment to win her free give-away.  Her beautiful ear rings are treasures made by a truly special artist and person and would be a wonderful gift to a friend or yourself.  Don't miss leaving your comment on her web-site today.  You could be the lucky winner!

Friday, April 5, 2013

“It is Finished”

It seems fitting that I finished my sister’s comforter Good Friday. Good Friday’s gospel reading included Christ’s last words and truly, not to trivialize them, His “It is finished” took on new meaning for me this year. I too had a finishing of sorts that same day and I will be back to doing small craft projects for a short while.  It is as though I have have been resurrected. I am so relieved! I love to start projects, but finishing them is another story, especially quilts.

Lent, to me, meant facing my own mortality and as I did, I again realized that I am not getting any younger and decided that there is no time like the present to finish what I have started.  Sometime a project is not worthy of completion, but many are not only worthy, but important to my well-being to complete.

Like most who like to sew, I have many beautiful projects started that need finishing, and my sister’s comforter was merely a beginning. It was so satisfying that I can’t wait to jump in and finish still more UFO's (unfinished objects). 
I think I will take them in the order of the projects that require the least amount of work first, followed by  the ones ones that will require more time and effort. I have decided that if I find a project too overwhelming, I will break it into tasks that seem more achievable and finish them in an incremental fashion. I have already learned that starting a project is half the battle.

Like my friends, I need to get realistic and get to those tasks I have put off!  I even bought myself a new little sign that reads “Finished is better than perfect”.  It will be my new motto and will apply it to even the little projects that need completion.

Easter and spring brings new life!  I have been resurrected, along with my UFO's and my sewing and quilting spirit has been renewed!