I've been feeling, actually, like I wanted to make a new dress. I spent some time at the end of last week looking at patterns online, and thinking about fabrics -- the ones I've got in my stash, and some I had seen at a favorite shop while shopping for sandals. My enthusiasm (when in the throes of such a desire I often feel like a horse in a starting gate) was dampened a little because, in the enduring tradition of knitters and sewers, I already had a partly-finished dress that I started last summer. So, over the weekend, I actually sat down and finished all the little fussy hand-sewing details. And felt extremely virtuous. It's made from a Liberty of London silk crepe print: fabric I bought at least twenty years ago, and it too matches the cat.
But for new, potential projects, I chose four new patterns online from SewingPatterns.com and decided to buy them as printable e-patterns. This morning I printed one of them -- all 41 tiled pages -- and have been taping the pages together prior to cutting. The jury is still out on whether I'm going to like this method or not. It's great to have a huge selection of patterns available, instantly, from many different manufacturer, some not available locally; it is a bit of work to print and put them together, but then, I've always liked kits, especially things made out of paper. Today as I worked on this, it felt simultaneously like a throw-back to the late 50s and 60s, when my mom and I used to order paper kits through magazines like McCall's Needlework and Crafts or spread dress pattern tissues out on the dining room floor together, and absolutely current, since this is only the second such downloadable pattern I've ever used. Printing patterns on tissue and supplying them to stores, where many languish in those heavy metal file drawers and never sell, must be very costly, and the pattern companies -- as J. pointed out, over lunch -- have to bear not only the printing, advertising, and catalog costs, but also probably have to accept returns. It's yet another aspect of the publishing industry that is changing, for very good reasons, and probably forever.
It seemed like these crafts were dying away, but for a while now I've been following the growing resurgence of interest in sewing, knitting, and other textile crafts among young women. There are some terrific blogs and websites now, both for makers and for supplies. I love looking, and always get ideas, but my life hasn't included a lot of such crafts for a long while. Needlework used to be a big part of my life, though, and I'd like to try to make at least a little room for it. Last week, encouraged by a visiting cousin who is an avid sock knitter, I also took up and nearly finished a pair of knitted socks that were begun even longer ago; another evening should do it on those. It feels so good to finish things! (Don't ask me about that half-done quilt.)
The real point, I realize, isn't the choice of whether to sew or paint or practice the piano or cook a nice meal -- it's that making time every day for creativity, for making things, is a major thread connecting me to my very core, and I ignore, deflect, or stray from it at my own peril. I was reminded of this when I listened recently to a commencement address about creativity by Makoto Fujumura, linked on Marly Youman's website. In it, he repeats a question asked every day by a progressive school in New York City: "What do you want to make today?" I know that my life has been more centered on this question than many people's, but also, for certain, that if I asked myself that question every single day of my life, and acted on the answer, I'd be even closer to living the way I really want to, and being the person I'm meant to be. And it's not a selfish question, because making things for other people, or with other people, is just as wonderful. We can know all of this and still get sidetracked by demands and responsibilities, and therefore we don't write that one line of a poem, sketch our feet, or turn routine dinner-making into something beautiful and creative, even when we know those acts return us to ourselves.
Why? How does it work -- or not work -- for you?