Friday, October 5, 2012

Starting Over

Winding the thread around each little hook was mesmerizing and my little hand moved through the motion like Cat's Cradle. Sitting in a small, stagnant apartment, my grandmother used her sharp hands to show me how to sew from the beginning: from cutting out the crinky, thin paper to pinning two layers of fabric precisely, to pressing the seams at the end. It was an old machine with an old pattern and drab fabric, but sewing captured me with its promises to show me a new world.

Ten years later I looked at the piles of unfinished projects, ideas and fabrics staring back at me: the red silk dress that I cut too short, the yards of wool that I was too scared to cut into, the muslins that never worked out, the pattern that overwhelmed me with its number of tiny pieces, the corners and edges of expensive fabric that I promised to use. Guilt rose in my chest and clutched my throat. I didn't dare to start anything new while abandoning these existing entities, but I was stuck in them all.

I did a ridiculous, regrettable, counter-intuitive thing; I purged them all. I donated the five yards of coat weight wool, tossed the test muslins, scrapped the red silk, recycled the pattern with oh-too-many-pieces, and shoved the bits and pieces into ziplock gallon bags and gave them away.

I wanted to start fresh with nothing holding me back. I wanted to rediscover that awe and wonder at turning a plain strip of fabric into an expression of my creativity. A year later, I'm just starting to work from scratch, buying one piece of fabric at a time and sewing it through to the end. I kept all of my tools, everything that would help me along the way, but dumped the guilt.

I miss that black wool and that embroidered silk - those ideas that were once so alive had died when I let them go. But letting go of the expectation allowed me to experience sewing anew. So here I begin again, without the comfortable weight of half-finished projects, winding the thread around the hooks in a motion like Cat's Cradle.

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