Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Essential Reading

All my life I have felt called to particular books. A library is like a literary Ouija board for me...I walk the aisles aimlessly and inevitably the books I randomly choose seem to be exactly the book I was needing to read.

Although Anna Torborg's book The Crafter's Companion came into my life via recommendation rather than a karmic attraction, it is evidence none the less of books appearing in my life right when I'm ready.

I'm not going to go on about the lovely projects and photos (they speak for themselves), but I was so touched by the stories of the crafters featured in the book. What struck me about so many of them is that although they had always "had their hand in it", they weren't professional crafters out the was a place they arrived, instead of barreling forward to that career with blinders on. I can very much relate to that. I also felt inspired that so many of them had children at home. I've never felt more artistically prolific than I do now, but I do feel that having a small child around had really changed the way I work: no large blocks of time, my supplies get spread from one end of our home to the other, and I've had to become accustomed to interrupting a project mid-stitch. These crafters show that mothering and creating are beautifully linked and even just possible.

More than anything else, though, I was so moved by how candidly the artists spoke of their relationship with being a crafter. I struggle with my feelings of pursuing an outlet of expression so different than what I've been educated to do. When I was doing midwifery, I always felt very comfortable discussing it with anyone, but I find myself reluctant to tell people about Petite Toile and my other crafts. I was at the pool the other night and saw an acquaintance from the neighborhood. She has a son Andrew's age and went right back to work full-time after her son was about 3 months old. She's a really lovely woman, very sweet and smart. We chatted for a while and she asked me if I was working at all, and I said that I was still doing some shifts at the birth center, but I didn't tell her about my baby cloths. For some reason I suddenly felt timid and vulnerable about it. I'm working on letting myself share this part of my life with others...everyone I've ever told has been so incredibly supportive. I think that when one woman shares her dreams and passions, it shines light on those parts of the souls of other women.

I love, love the part of the book where Amy Karol talks about how crafting to her is just as essential as eating or sleeping. She says that it's awkward when people ask her how she does so much stuff - it's just part of her being alive. I had a friend over they other day and when I showed her my embroidered pillowcases she said with a smile and exasperation, "How do you do all this? It must take up all your free time!". What I couldn't seem to articulate then was how it isn't work to me, it is my free time. I find this hard to explain to non-crafters.

Which brings me to my final comment on this book (for now - it's really a treasure trove), which is the importance of having a crafting community. I find most of my community online, in the form of my lovely readers and other blogs, but I also have a craft bosom-buddy of my very own. What I love about her (well, one of many things) is that she manages to balance a very active professional life (as a tax attorney) with a downright impressive domestic prowess. She's a fantastic baker and quilter and decorator and we talk for hours on end about chocolate tortes and fat-quarters. The irony is that we were college roommates and rarely ever did anything even remotely crafty together. We don't even live in the same town, but I am so amazed and pleased that we share this love of crafting and we continue to deepen our friendship in this way, all these years later.

So thank you to all my crafting inspirations and to Anna for compiling a delightful, essential book for my library.

ps: this is my first project out of the book, a sweet little pillow designed by Lisa Congdon. I'm just tickled pink with it.


Amy said...

Crafting to me is not a way of life, it is just my life. I can't imagine not doing it! (And your pillowcase is great, love it:)

hannah said...

your pillow is really sweet. I have been trying to think what to make for the teachers for the end of term giifts, I have this book---there must be some great teacher gifts in there!! Im gonna go look now!