Here is a quote from one of my favourite books ever:
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
This is why I sew. Learning and getting better at something is the best feeling in the world (especially when you get new clothes out of it).
The only problem is that the better you get, the less happy you are with your work. Because your knowledge of what you don’t know keeps expanding.
It’s like being at the bottom of a huge mountain shrouded in fog. You start off blithely because you can’t see the top, but the more you climb, the more the fog recedes, and you start to realise that it’s actually a really, really long way up, and your feet hurt, and you left your museli bars at the bottom (might be pushing this simile a bit too far now).
So the biggest high is when you first knit a holey swatch, or sew an elastic-waist skirt from quilting cotton. You don’t realise how crap it is, you’re just happy you made something.
But pretty soon you need a better hit. Tote bags and aprons aren’t enough – you move on to the hard stuff. Welt pockets and hand-picked zippers and Burda patterns with cryptic instructions. And it’s not enough just to make something, it has to be perfect.
Addiction symptoms include diagnosing innocent clothing wrinkles as bad fit, an obsessive need to finish seams prettily, and the making of totally impractical ‘couture’ garments.
That’s why I think Debbie’s Sew Grateful week is a lovely idea. It reminds me to be grateful of everything I’ve learnt, everything I’ve made, and the fact that I have the time, money, and privilege to be able to sew my own clothes for fun. And to enjoy the process rather than focusing on mistakes in the outcome.
Personally I am very grateful for:
- People who take the time and effort to photograph sewing tutorials and tips, and then share them online for free. They have saved my bacon many a time.
- The lovely people I’ve met, all from combining two solitary activities – sewing and blogging.
- All the amusing, inspiring, informative, and interesting blogs out there, and everyone who writes them.
- The fact that some people actually read my blog and even leave nice comments. You are all awesome.
Here’s another quote from the poet Sharon Olds (in Oprah magazine, of all unlikely places), which sums up why we need to keep making things:
Writing or making anything—a poem, a bird feeder, a chocolate cake—has self-respect in it. You’re working. You’re trying. You’re not lying down on the ground, having given up.
Here’s to everyone who hasn’t given up.