For the past few days, I've been sifting, sorting, and organizing in the studio as much as possible so I can get back to work. It's taking me longer than I'd like because I'm only about 99% better and still feeling weak but... it's coming... and this is good... and I'm almost done. This afternoon for sure.
Whenever I clean my studio, it's like an exploration of self. I discover the themes that happened over the past year that I may or may not have been aware of and that's always interesting. In 2017, I purchased quite a few high end, second hand garments like this metallic linen, Eileen Fischer, skirt. Right now, it's too big for me and eventually I'll take the seams in but only after enjoying the quality of the material and of the workmanship and copying the pattern which is...
... also why I purchased a pair of Oska denim trousers on the weekend. I didn't have enough energy to try them on so I took my best guess that they'd fit me and thankfully they did but - once again - even if they hadn't I planned to copy the pattern because I have saved LOTS and LOTS of images of Oska pants and they obviously speak to me. They were new, never worn, and the consignment price was $60.00 while the retail price is over $400.00. I'm very grateful for the quality of merchandise at the new consignment shop that opened in town. Even if I'm only snoop shopping, there is plenty of inspiration and there's something about high end garments that informs and inspires better sewing.
At this time of year, most people buy gifts for family and friends and yet very few people give gifts to themselves. I believe it's important to celebrate who we are and to support who we are becoming. One of the gifts we can give ourselves is curiosity. If you are curious enough to explore ideas and then to explore what those ideas are telling you, you'll learn so much about yourself and about what you want to do and have and who you want to be. Along with what's in my studio, I discover themes in my image files. This year, there are numerous pictures about texture, one-of-a-kind garments, and jewelry. Following up that inspiration will require....
.... risk taking which is another gift we can give ourselves. It can be so easy to get caught up in the quality of what we know how to do well that it's hard to step in new directions and be less than until we become more. The Flat Houses textile art piece I began a few months ago started yakking at me while I was cleaning. It wanted to be finished. It wanted to be entered in the exhibit. It wanted to know just what was I planning to do with it if I wasn't planning to finish it and enter it. I realized that while it is true that I'm far more interested in creating clothing than wall art, I was also avoiding finishing and entering this piece because the quality of my workmanship is not what it was ten years ago and because I'm somewhat disappointed and embarrassed by that fact even if it only makes senses. I decided that finishing and entering was the goal and good and enough. And I've realized that risk taking is likely to be the theme of the next year because I find myself wanting to be braver and an even more authentic expression of myself.
Good and enough is a gift we can also give ourselves because creativity is not so much the product as it is the process and it's what we learn along the journey that nurtures us and takes us forward. If I can be good with the enough of this particular piece, I can be good with the even better enough of the next and the next piece as I continue to develop my skills. I cleared some space in the fabric cupboards for the Bits & Pieces of Potential and made them more visible so I'll begin to explore what they have to offer. Some of these fabric rolls are garments that didn't work out and that I'm planning to recycle and some are left over bits of fabric that I particularly loved working with and want to use up. I also have purchased garments to refashion that are hanging in a nearby closet. It doesn't matter if any of this potential turns into something wearable or even something wonderful. What matters is exploring the bubbling ideas. Recognizing and accepting that concept is another gift.
Over a year ago, I cleaned out twelve boxes of potential that I'd stacked under the stairs and gave away what I wouldn't use keeping only what truly resonated with me. This is one of the great gifts of getting older - knowing ourselves better. And when we know ourselves better, we can move along what no longer works for us and pull forward and explore further what does. My image files are FULL of garments that intrigued me in some way and I'm learning to define what that way is. With the top above left, the fit and the monochromatic texture works for me and with the top right, the curved hem, the colours and the sparkle of the black and white work but the fit is so not me. I'd never wear it. I'd feel sloppy. Taking the time to know ourselves is another of the gifts we can give ourselves whether that's through our image files or magazines or snoop shopping and then... try out that learning... work with it... tweak it... until you find that ever growing and increasingly authentic expression of self. I am so far from who I was even five years ago that if you haven't observed the journey you might not even know me and that is SO EXCITING.
Shoes are something else that has come up this year. Again, at the consignment store, I've been able to buy some brand name footwear at amazing prices and I love the quality and better fit as well as the more interesting and fun styles. Fun wants to show up more and more in my life and I'm starting to go with it. I ordered some orange shoes for Outfit 3 of The Outfit Project whose starting point is a pair of painted pants made earlier and never worn. I also ordered some painted boots for one of the remaining outfits. It was devastating in October to lose the aunt I knew and loved so much to a debilitating stroke and I want to learn from her horrible reality. If it's at all up to me, I chose not to get to a state where my body exists and my mind and my life as I knew it are gone... which includes looking after my health... and having more fun... like orange shoes and off the wall clothing. Life is truly short.
Another gift is the gift of doing what we love to do simply because we love to do it... not because it's practical... not because it's less expensive... but simply because we love to do it and we want to entertain ourselves in that way. I love to make things and I love to figure out how to make things. I used the pattern pieces from Burda 6850 and a knitted swatch to design a topper for Outfit Two in a dark navy. The fleck stitch provides beautiful texture - and there's that theme again. To make the stitch, knit row one, pearl row two, knit 1 pearl 1 on row three, pearl row four, and then repeat. This photo doesn't do the detail justice. I still need to block the pieces, sew the seams, and finish the neckline but hopefully will have a better image soon. If you both sew and knit, sewing patterns can be a great source of information for designing knitted garments, especially a T & T pattern that fits you well.
Make what you want to make. I've made a lot of purses over the years and at one point someone whose advice I value said they were okay but not nearly as amazing as something else I was making. Even though I know better, I took that to heart and for quite a while stopped making purses and now I'm making them again. The number of purses I've bought to copy and the variety of images in my files tells me purses are a fun and creative outlet for me and one I would benefit from exploring. It's about what I want to make and not what someone else thinks I should make.
Knitted garments that are less than best are no different than sewn garments that are less than best. Why wear what doesn't flatter. I don't need a new garment as much I love the process of figuring out how to make that pattern or yarn or fabric work at its best which includes fitting and flattering. This past week, I started a second sweater using the purple yarn my friend Mary gave me that I'd knit and rolled back into balls. I've transferred some of the learning about a better fitting sleeve cap from fitting the grey cardigan and I'm re-testing the information on this one and then I'll test it on a t-shirt. Being open to what we can learn and where we can use it is another gift we can give ourselves. It's amazing how often learning over here is useful over there in a completely unrelated or only somewhat related area of life.
Another gift is time. So many people - men and women alike - tell me that they have no time for the things that they want to do. They are just too busy. There is no guarantee that we will ever be less busy, that we will ever make it to a space where we feel free to explore what we want to do. If we are too busy for ourselves, for our lives, for exploring who we are and what we know and what we want to know, then things are IMHO very badly out of balance. This is how we nurture ourselves, it's how we fill our gas tank, how we put on our oxygen mask, how we model to our children that it's okay for them to take time for what they enjoy and to embrace life, live with abundance, and fulfill their potential. Time does not mean twenty-four hours a day every day. It means some time each day whether that's even just ten minutes. Ten minutes adds up to a lot when taken day after day. And even if you're a person who believes they can only work in great chunks of time so they are better off not working at all, excuse me but I don't believe you. You can learn new tricks. I certainly did and it was worth the work especially if....
... you also give yourself the gift of space and stash. And again, it's not about how much you have, it's about having a space and having a stash. Even when I had single room in a room and board situation, I had a folding table in the corner with my machine on top and a stash box below. I have always made time and space for creativity and if you also give yourself the gift of a budget, you can take advantage of sales, thrift store finds, and used materials to explore... in your designated space... with those few minutes every day... what interests you. I believe that I have the space and the stash that I have now because I made a priority of nurturing creativity and what you use grows and develops and when you are open to opportunities they come your way.
I could go on... but I won't... you get the idea. Please spend some time at the end of this year and the beginning of the next to think about the gifts you can give yourself and how you can make the most of this one precious life you've been given. What gift will you give yourself this coming year?
LOL - I'm posting without proofing. How's that for risk taking. Hopefully I'll have some time later to come back and see if there's any major mistakes but for now, I'm back to sifting and sorting.
HAPPY NEW YEAR - talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - a year of taking risks