When things were stressful I realized the role sewing plays in my life as an escape - thinking about sewing takes me to a place that gives me some mental space when I need it. When I think about it too the times in my life when I was the most sewing productive they are often times in my life where other things were lacking, when my kids were very small and I needed to feel I had goals and achievements, on long nights on my own when my first husband was away at work, in fact any time in my life when I needed to have a personal sense of achievement, particularly when other kinds of achievement were hard to come by. Sometimes I can remember even think then I was spinning straw into gold, turning borrowed bits of time and sometimes scare resources into something productive and even on good days, beautiful.
So when I was going through a bit of waiting and worrying this past while, but didn't really have the time or energy to sew, I became almost obsessive about thinking about sewing.
After everyone was in bed at night, or early in the morning before the day started, I was constructing imaginary wardrobe plans, cruising the pattern sites, putting almost fabric purchases into my virtual shopping basket and then closing the window when I got to the checkout, making notes and plans for myself.
Clothing quite apart, my sewing world is my safe and sane place, a place where I can create all sorts of different realities, a positive, familiar place. My vocation, really, and like all vocations comforting in the security of skills you could execute in the dark, comforting in the way you can only feel when you are doing the stuff you really know how to do, that you are good at.
When I think of all the jobs I have picked up and put down in my life, using my education and experience to learn new things, fit into new positions, acquire new personae, it means a lot to me, underneath it all, underneath all my masks, the mask of professional for example, which some days in some situations takes a lot out of me to not let that mask slip, not in public, I possess a skill.
A permanent skill, a craft that I can take with me, touch bottom with, count on. A skill and a craft with its own vocabulary, techniques, culture and associations. At these moments I understand why guild membership lasted for centuries in the middle ages, why it made sense to start a project that would last for centuries (see my stash), and why wherever a guild member travelled they knew they could find fellow travelers and could sit down with them, and out of common knowledge, start familiar, and useful conversations.
Like those we are having now.