please support your local stitcher, there aren’t many of us doing our thing

Buttonholes / Tailor's Tacks

I’ve been sewing lots. Here are a few pieces:

First, Peter’s Retro Shirt (listed at Homesewn).

Peter's Retro Shirt


Just these last couple days I’ve worked up Winter Wool Pants #001 and #002 (#003 are on the way!):

Happy Pants

Belt Loops

They are beautiful pants – wool, and lined in silk – designed in every way for comfort, ease of movement, and durability. If your kids are as active as mine, I guarantee these will be a quick favorite.

So. Tomorrow through Sunday I am going to have a booth at the Schafer Meadows Fiber Festival, hosted at the Elma Fairgrowds. It would mean a lot to me if any locals reading this would stop by and talk to me and see my stuff. I’ve worked my tail off to create a booth and put together some literature on what I’m about and what my portfolio entails. The Fiber Festival is amazing in its own right, with all sorts of local talented artisans (mostly knitting, wool, spinning, carding, crotcheting-based) coming out of the woodwork!

The hours of the event are Friday, Noon – 5pm; Saturday, 10am – 5pm; and Sunday, 11am – 4pm.

I thought a lot about buying a space at my first-ever trade fair, or whatever you want to call it, as I am not able to make the time commitment of a full-time business but I definitely would enjoy more exposure. My current goals as a seamstress include pursuing my craft with all my heart, being able to purchase and explore higher-end fabrics and materials, making parents/carers and their children deliriously happy over their most favorite garment of all time (Phoenix put on the brown pair of wool pants – lined with silk and built with knee gussets and a low-bulk super-soft waistband! – and said, “These are MARVELOUS pants. You should make every kid a pair!”), stretching myself creatively, finding a community of garment-makers (quilters and crotcheters and knitters abound), and sharing my skills with those who appreciate them (including teaching!).

Anything you can do to support me is appreciated. It’s hard out here for a stitcher, competing with massive corporations, sweatshop labor and the abuse of environment and peoples for the bottom line. True also that many would like to experience the joy of learning how to create – but so few make the time.

Deserve’s got nothing to do with it

Today my daughter hands two bills through the car window, to the man we often see impassively holding a cardboard sign. He’s youngish and handsome and has a sun-worn face. Today he has a nod going, maybe heroin or methadone, maybe just sleepy. It takes him just a beat to notice us. We give him the money and when he thanks us I say, “You’re welcome” and I feel not the slightest bit of angst or anxiety or grandiosity or depression about any of the business and I drive on and feel a tremendous sense of gratitude.

I have a book important to me I read everyday, and on the first blank page is a handwritten note, “What’s my motivation today?” Every day that I ask myself that question, I remember I’m put upon this planet to help others. The plans in store for me, well I have no idea (this is actually often quite calmly terrifying, more in a minute). I have come to know my purpose is to help and I’ve come to know I don’t know ahead of time where and when and maybe I’ll never know if I did or how much. The guy with the cardboard sign is just one example of someone I’ve helped (maybe), and not the only person I’ve helped (maybe) today. As for who I’ve harmed, I don’t know that either, although I hope if this is revealed I can make restitution.

This man with the cardboard sign, maybe that money went straight to benzos or a bottle of Boone’s Strawberry Hill. Maybe it went to food or socks. Most certainly his life isn’t any less worthy than mine, which means maybe it’s as simple as someone asking for something and I get to say Yes or No, and when I give I get to know I haven’t earned those two bills any more than he has, as far as I know. If I hadn’t been given the opportunity to give the money, then seen the opportunity and taken it, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to know I don’t deserve the money, it’s just something in my pocket. What a relief it is to know this last.

What a relief it is to no longer teach my children greed, athough they have every opportunity to invest in that quality in their lives, should they wish.

I have a rule about help for others, a suggestion given to me by someone who’s helped me quite a bit, maybe my first spiritual teacher in the flesh who I’ve recognized as such. She told me I could give and help as long as I did not rob my own family, and she told me to pray I do the Next Right Thing. That’s easy enough at least for starters. In the moment it isn’t always clear if I’m robbing my family or not, and I’ve come to rely upon a fledgling bit of intuition and I’ve had many such incidents I won’t bore you with now, although I assure you they were not at all boring for me.

It would be easier to live the way I used to because then I had Plans and I knew how things would turn out. Then I could obsess about things I wanted to do or acquire or feel smug about eventualities I was sure I was avoiding through my virtue (I’ve since discovered, I have no virtue). I could pretend I’d earned or deserved or worked hard for the comforts I have and the wonderful people I get to see every day. Then I had it all tidied up: I’d raise my kids like this, I’d do such-and-such on this day, I wouldn’t throw away my time on people unless I knew the return I’d get (although I never would have put it in such direct terms, most especially not to myself). I’d give gifts for friends to keep me in their good graces. I’d avoid enemies. I genuinely thought if I didn’t do things for others or say the polite thing or the thing I thought they wanted to hear, they wouldn’t like me.

Now: I have no enemy I avoid, not on this earth. Now: I don’t do things to be liked. Now: I like myself more than I have previously (I’m not claiming cause & effect, there, with those two separates). I don’t much worry who likes me. I know I’m loved. And I love so many, and I feel it so often.

One of the things I’ve realized in a most striking fashion is I could never, ever pay back the gifts I’ve been given. It is not possible. I have to live with knowing this.

It was easier to live the way I lived before. Back then I didn’t tremble like an ant before God, prone to devastation or heartbreaking good fortune alike.

and hours later i’m still thinking about her

Today in the grocery store I had my eldest child only, which meant I wasn’t having to deal with two children fighting or (and this is worse, I swear) climbing up the side of the aisles or running full-tilt through the store or pestering me every second for brownie mix and cream-top yogurt and coloring books.  In fact I was having a great conversation with my oldest; doing the math to shop for groceries.  An excellent exercise; I think I was in my twenties before I started noticing how much food cost.

In the produce section I ran into a friend and she looked beautiful but rather stressed; we talked about what was stressing her for a bit, then talked about some upcoming gatherings we’re planning, and caught up as best we could.  And toward the end of the conversation we heard the kind of heart-wrenching crying that usually comes from an infant in distress, an all-out sobbing that if drawn out for any length of time is hard for most parents to hear.  “I’m going to go nurse that baby right now,” I joked to my friend, and she admitted to having the same impulse.  We parted ways and my child and I headed to the canned vegetable aisle to get olives for tonight’s dinner, homemade French bread and Salad Nicoise.

The crying was not in fact coming from an infant but from a child old enough to walk, sobbing and screaming and trailing behind his mother who gripped the handles of one of those huge, pain-in-the-ass carts that’s supposed to be extra fun for small children but is really cumbersome to drive, at least in my opinion.  The screaming child looked to be between three and four and he was distraught and so was she, although of course full-grown women aren’t allowed, socially, to holler or collapse in the aisles of supermarkets.  As I passed I smiled at her and she smiled back, but her eyes weren’t really seeing me.  She looked almost calm – and of course, many parents can be calm while their child has a big, loud upset in a public place (the family I grew up in denigrated children’s emotional displays by calling them “throwing a fit”) – but I knew the look of tension and anger in this woman and I knew she was very upset.  I moved down the aisle and as my child and I spied the olives and noted their price I heard this mother at the end of my aisle lean down and near-yell at the child, telling him to shut up and I can’t remember what she called him.  Then she’d straightened again and continued shopping.  The child remained inconsolable.

Here’s the shitty thing, there were lots of people in the store and they were all either ignoring her or sending off hostile looks and vibrations.  This broke my heart into tiny pieces.  When I passed her again I said “Ma’am, excuse me, can I help you in any way?  Would you like me to hang out with him for a little while and you can finish shopping?”

“No, he’s just a brat,” the woman says.  She is a blonde and tiny, her face tight with strain.  Her voice is harsh, she looks up at me and then away, and her chin shakes.  I say, “I understand.  I have two of my own,” and I put my hand on her arm. I have tears in my eyes.  She passes on and I put my hand on the little guy’s head too, and I let them go. I think to myself I hope it means something to her, that I saw her and saw what she was going through, and I felt only love and compassion, and I didn’t cast her out or condemn her like everyone else I saw in the store.  And even as my words offering help came out of my mouth I thought it was so unlikely she’d avail herself of my assistance – although I was totally willing, and if she’d have had a few moments to herself to shop I’ll bet she could have pulled it together and come back to her child refreshed a bit, and I only wish she would have let me do this for her.  But I’ve myself been that mom who needs help, and had help offered, and sometimes I take it and often I don’t, and I hope every damn person who’s done it realizes how much it meant to me.

The thing is some people look at this woman and think she’s a bad person, or a bad mother (totally different, so much more pointed and awful and loaded), and feel sorry for the child in this case in that sort of nosey, pathetic what-about-the-children?! type of feeling sorry.  And I felt sorry for the child, sure.

But I also know the chances are most every other minute of every day this woman is loving up on this boy and sticking up for him, and just then she needed someone to stick up for her.

the best thing was that last night Ralph was laying next to me and just put his hand on my head

I’d just fallen asleep last night when I woke with a start. I was gasping, I was dying, dreaming that my father couldn’t have air. I still can see him in those last horrible minutes. I was so calm and loving to him and my mother but the memory haunts me. It really torments me that I may have nursed him incorrectly, may have made mistakes. I will never know. I will always worry about that.

It’s true that I feel terrible. Every day feels a tiny bit worse. I know that this is impermanent, and soon I won’t feel as bad. Right now, I want time to myself. I want to also be able to experience my kids and have a small break from my workload. I want to cook in my kitchen and sit down for a while then go lay down on my bed and listen to my children’s voices. I don’t want to wake up to a messy house (which was unfortunately my reality today). I want to move a little more slowly.

A dear friend suggested I make a list of things that would make my life easier during this time. The term “profiteering” came to mind. But the truth is, this is a hard time for me, and I do want help. I made a list up of what would nurture me now. If anyone reading has felt they’d like to do more, they can do so.

The gift of housekeeping / housekeep hired help. This is the thing I need most.
Childcare (fun dates for my kids, hopefully that involve some exercise)
Red lipstick from Besame
Fabric (for me or my mom). If I sew something from it I will remember who gave it every time I wear it and be glad.
Cut flowers (not flower arrangements) or houseplants
A pair of Doc Martens (brown would be nice, but I don’t care too much) for my bike-riding, rainy season coming up. I am a UK size 6.

I worry about bike riding in the rain a lot. This is my fixation, that does not seem related to my father’s passing but is nevertheless with me.

Cooking, and being with my kids in a non-stressed environment, is comforting to me. Tonight I look forward to making dinner, something I planned yesterday.

My mom’s address is 603 M Street, Hoquiam WA 98550.

Mine is 330 Eklund Avenue Hoquiam WA 98550.