crafts, sewing

Book’s done. (now what?)

Well, here it is:

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Amidst the final two-week explosion of activity that left my kitchen a shambles, here it is. Eight month's worth of work on the book (with a not-yet-finalized-but-coming-soon title), packed into two boxes. Feels small.

(Only two boxes, really? Wow. I'm hoping it will all feel–well, bigger–once I crack open the cover come February. We'll see.)

Been a few weeks since I shipped those boxes. The kitchen's all cleaned up. Sewing stuff is back downstairs in my sewing room, where I never sew. (The sun and the fun–and my little ones–tend to stay upstairs.) Everything is back in its place. It's quieted down. I've had a nice sewing sabbatical. I'm ready to fire up my machine again, even though she could use a tune up and a new needle. Heck, she could use a massage and a girls' night out for dinner and a movie after all I've put her through. Thanks, machine.

I want to sew something. Thing is, I don't want to design it, create it, or start it from the roots or the grass. I just want to sew something. Don't get me wrong–shine bright or fail miserably, there's wonderful things to be said for blazing your own trail. For taking what you know and what you love and creating something that's one of a kind, completely you, and forever yours. But when you do it 26 times in a row, like I just did, there's something to be said for taking a break. For keeping your hands busy with a project that comes from another person's trailblazing.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is… I'm off to church.

For over a year now I've been participating in a church activity, although I don't attend church. Once a month at this church, women get together with one purpose. To make stuff. The projects that need working on are simple, rhythmic, and easy to chat by–tying pieced quilts, hand quilting wall quilts for children's classrooms, creating matching games for kids with markers, file folders, and sticky velcro. Stuff like that. How many adults do you know who can, once a month on a Monday morning, go and talk with their neighbors while they quilt and tie and color with markers? I mean, who doesn't want to do that? I want to do that.

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Kit-style baby bibs, ready for sewing at home.

In between individual projects that people can take home to make and monthly projects that people can work on together, this church gets a lot of stuff made. As I understand it, each brick-and-mortar church has a group. Someone at the top of the hierarchy decides what needs making each month and tells the groups. And then each group gets going. From one street in my town, as you are walking along one stretch of sidewalk, you can see six of this church's steeples. SIX. You have to turn a full 360 degrees to see them all, but still. Six churches from a single vantage point. That's a lot of getting going.

Almost exclusively, the materials for projects are found, donated, or rescued. The church makes use of what's been tossed aside, buried in closets, hidden under stairs, packed away in the garage. They make use of what's no longer wanted. And they turn as much as they can into handmade somethings to send away, wherever it's needed.

Follow2Who knew JCPenney ever sold yarn, for cripes sake? Old yarn, new scarf.

It's a cool feeling. Just making something and then letting it go. Letting your imagination wonder where your scarf, your wall quilt, your
newborn nightgown, will go. And then it's gone. You make individual projects during the month and then drop them in a
basket at the monthly meeting. There are no thank
you's. No oohs and aahs. No show-and-tell. There's mostly just, "can you
make more?"

Yes, I can.

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Newborn nightgowns taught me how to use my overlock
machine (along with my kind and patient neighbor).

The monthly gatherings, at their heart, are what I imagine good old-fashioned quilting bees to have been like. You know, from Laura Ingalls days. I thought I had romanticized quilting bees in my mind after reading about their rich history. But geez, it really IS like
that. Creating friendships, helping
others, helping each other, rooting yourself and your family in the community, sharing stories, laughing,
learning about your neighbors. Not every time, not every minute. But yes, it's a whole lot of that. Even children playing under the quilting frame (I
KID YOU NOT!). I feel lucky to be a part of it. It's become a precious monthly event for me.

I am an equal-opportunity do-gooder. I don't belong to this particular church, for a whole lifetime's worth of reasons. But I believe they do good. And now, thanks to them letting me come back month after month, I believe I am doing good too. Could be a kind of trailblazing in its own right. Trailblazing without all the blazing. Sometimes, I kinda like that.

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