Tuesday, September 04, 2012

A Little Sewing, A Little Story

This post should, at least in part, explain my long absence from the blog. Please bear with me. It’s a bit of a long story.

I’m in two yarn clubs. Blue Moon Fiber Arts’ Rockin Sock Club, and the Interstellar Yarn Alliance, product of SpaceCadet Yarns, which is run by my friend Stephanie. The ISYA is currently open for subscriptions until September 14, and I’ve been a member since she started the club.

Anyone who has been an ISYA member for all of CY2012 has now received two “extras” that came from my basement. A drawstring bag in their February kit, and a notions bag in the August shipment.

Lens cap for scale

Stephanie and I talked about me doing some sewing for her (again) much earlier this year. The numbers were up for the current six-month window, and she wanted a notions bag. I had a good idea of what I wanted to sew, figured out yardage so she could order the fabric, and we discussed notions costs.

I got the fabric from Stephanie in early August. I did all the cutting and fusing of the fabric and interfacing the week of August 6, fully intending to spend the week of August 13 doing all the sewing. No problem. Plenty of time to hand the bags over to Stephanie well in advance of her end-of-month deadline.

Of course, that was plenty of time … until my Dad called me the morning of August 12, to tell me that my 67-year old mother had passed away in her sleep. She was totally healthy and scheduled to leave on August 18, to spend two weeks in Brazil and Argentina with her sister. This was completely unexpected.

I’ll probably write a lot more about my mom some time soon. For now, I’ll say this: I knit because I learned from my mom when I was little. So little that I don’t remember learning. I quilt because when I got to California and needed a new hobby, quilting was at the top of my list because I’d seen my mom take up that hobby fairly recently. I bought my first sewing machine (at age 27) because I knew that if I tried to hand-piece and hand-quilt like my mom, I’d never finish anything. And I have an eight-harness floor loom in my house right now because my mom split the cost with me. She never used it, but I don’t think that bothered her at all. I started this blog so she could easily see what I was up to crafting-wise while I was living in California and she was in Pittsburgh, since she couldn't (consistently) figure out how to view pictures I emailed.

Clearly, I did not get much of anything done the week of August 13. I sewed the first “test bag” on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 14, primarily because the visitation at the funeral home didn’t start until 4 p.m. and I was going completely stir crazy waiting until it was time to change clothes and leave the house.

 It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. I had already decided that I (probably) wanted to change a few details from the pattern I was using as a guideline. I got the zipper in OK, but first my serger wouldn’t sew correctly, so I completely re-threaded from scratch. I had to pull out the manual. It wasn’t pretty. Then, on the second side-seam, I broke a needle when it hit the metal finding on the zipper I was trying to avoid.


By Saturday night, I managed to figure out (remember) how to change the broken serger needle, and I had the assembly line going full speed to finish on Saturday, August 25.


These bags are far from perfect. There are things I would have done differently if my brain had been running at full capacity while I was sewing that first test bag, and by the time I was finishing the full batch, those things were making me a little crazy, so I didn’t keep one for myself (and asked Stephanie not to include one in my kit). (Don’t worry, I made something slightly different for myself out of the scraps)


But I finished the bags. All of them. On time. With enough days left over that I could finish a second sewing project that had been promised with an August 30 due date. There were lots of tears involved, but it was good to do something that didn’t require too much thought but was tied so closely to my mom. I’m OK because she taught me how to be a strong, capable, independent woman, just by following her example.


I hope the ISYA members enjoy these bags and don’t see the flaws that I see. I hope that they can see, after reading this story, that not only are they a fun little “extra” in their kit, but they are a testament to 41 years of learning everything from my mom. I hope I can continue to make her proud as I move forward in life without her.


Sarah said...

Many, many hugs, Amy.

Debbie said...

I followed Stephanie's link to your blog, and I am so sorry for your loss, but also so excited to get that little bag in my ISYA box! As a mom-taught sewer myself who hates to put in zippers (even after 44 years of practice), I am in awe that you did it FIFTY times! The bag looks perfect to me, and I'm a pretty tough critic! Every time I see that cute little space cadet smiling at me, I will remember your story and smile right back.

Unknown said...

Oh Amy I completely get where you are coming from. Thank you for your hard work on these. Your mom would be so proud.

Jenn said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. I am sure the ISYA members will love the bags and will see no flaws at all. We are all our own worst critics.

Your mother sounds like a wonderful woman - and taught you so very much.

Sue said...

Amy, I love your story. So eloquently put, and your mom would indeed be proud. The bags look flawless, by the way! You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Donna Lee said...

I highly doubt that there are many flaws in those bags. After watching your work all this time, I know you have a level of craftsmanship that is admirable. My mom got me started in the fiber world as well. I wouldn't know how to sew or crochet or knit without her. One of my fondest memories of her is making my wedding dress. She didn't like the lace we found so she cut it out inch by inch to make it what she had in mind.

I'm sorry for your loss but I smile at the way your mom will live on through your hands.

floribunda said...

So sorry for your loss, Amy. I lost my mom at an early age too, and both my sister and I are ever grateful for the love of fiber-crafting that she passed on to us. Big hugs!

DeezBlog said...

Hi, Amy! I'm so sorry to hear of your mom's passing. Thoughts of comfort coming your way. ~DeeAnna

lala said...

Amy,you are in my thoughts. I lost my mom in February, and crafting helped me through the grieving process. The bag is wonderful. I prefer something hand crafted and imperfect, than a mass produced soul less one.

blogless grace said...

I came from SpaceCadet. Very sorry to hear of your loss. The photo of the bags on the steps is terrific! "Keep Calm and Carry Yarn" Sending good thoughts your way.