Here Comes The Bride!

Wedding 1 Wedding 2 Wedding 3 Wedding 4 Wedding 5 Wedding 6 Wedding 8 Wedding 9 Wedding 10 Weddings 6No, no silly! Not me! However, that doesn’t mean I do not know someone who is getting married at some point. Actually, this has taken place during the vast majority of my life. There has been media coverage about African Americans not getting married. There is even a book out there called Is Marriage For White People? By Ralph Richard Banks. However, I usually think, “Whoever these people are, they have not been to my house and they have not gone wedding fabric shopping with me.”

If they did, they would find me usually making things for other people to get married. My mother and I have done this for years: veils, purses, etc. People know they can go to David’s Bridal and House of Brides for their special day, but for some reason, people love having something hand made for their special day. We have sewn for a couple who celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary. They renewed their vows. The husband was 87. The wife was 84. I felt their union was a blessing. We have also sewn for young, up and coming couples.

Sewing for a wedding usually means a pilgrimage to Vogue Fabrics in Evanston. We have to get the good stuff for a sewing endeavor like this. Most people who work with textiles know this. There are people here from all over. This fabric store has a long history with my family. I still own the quilts my great grandmother pieced together using their remnants. The remnants department is also a good place to find fabric for those wedding quilts, like charm quilts and double wedding ring quilts to give as presents.

Much like any endeavor in life, especially marriage, the process of sewing for a wedding is an exploration into the unknown. What will we find on sale? What will it look like once it is done? Will they like it? Ever since I was a little girl, I always felt the prettiest part of Vogue’s Fabric Store was in the wedding section: rhinestone notions, tiaras, veils, satin, lace, pearl embellishments.

Romances are some of my favorite novels, but books about manifestation have taken over my precious bookshelf space. Although I have used these books to manifest other things in my life, two of my favorite books on manifestation are actually for manifesting a mate: Calling in the One by Kathryn Woodward Thomas and From Your Vision Board to Your Bedroom: Using The Law of Attraction to Find True Love by Sue Vittner.

For me, manifestation and sewing for a wedding are creative processes like any other. And I love creativity. It helped that love songs like “Vision of Love” by Mariah Carey and “Let’s Stay Together” by Tina Turner played in the background as we shopped.  Playing love songs during the process of sewing can inspire as well. Beverages like Zhena’s Gypsy Love Tea, eating chocolate, incense, candles and watching romantic comedies are other wonderful ways of getting into the spirit of things. Needless to say, one of my favorite romantic comedies is The Wedding Planner with Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Lopez.

Yes, I am a feminist for obvious reasons and a humanist overall. I am divorced. I volunteer at my local domestic violence shelter. I have not dated in nearly 10 years. Still, there is an erroneous assumption that because of this, I might be against the institution of marriage, men and hate life in general. Not so. I believe in love and marriage. I am happy for people who find love and feel that love strongly enough to marry and share in life’s rewards and challenges. I believe that everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and/or religion deserves happily ever after. I also believe that there are decent men out there. But moreover, I also know that divine timing for this type of milestone is everything. In the meantime, though, making my life as whole as it can be is the best gift I can give myself and others. After that, I completely get into sewing for weddings. I love the idea of a big party, a white dress, and flowers.


Strippy Scarf Delight!

“Howl or you won’t find your pack.” –Women Who Run With the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Quiet as it is kept, I am not high maintenance as far as textiles are concerned. Knitting a strippy scarf is just fine for me. A picture that a vendor took of me at Yarn Con 2015 of a strippy scarf she created and put on display reminded me of this fact. A strippy scarf was the first knitted pattern I ever made when I lived in New Mexico in 2006. My first knitting teacher had just come out of a 35 year abusive marriage, moved out of state and discovered the joys of textile arts (and a wonderful new husband)! As a direct result, she was eager to teach me everything she knew.

There is an excerpt in the book, Zen and the Art of Knitting by Bernadette Murphy, about someone who taught knitting at a domestic violence shelter. Unconsciously, this same scenario was being reconstructed each time I sat for my strippy scarf knitting class. “This will quiet your mind and build your confidence,” she knitting teacher said. I appreciated her taking me under her wing to give me professional textile arts instruction. She learned everything: knitting, crochet, weaving and quilting. She was so active that the local yarn shop hired her to work for them.

She also taught me about the various textile arts conferences I didn’t know about, such as Stitches, the International Quilt Festival, the Taos Wool Festival and the Midwest Weavers Conference. Just as Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes had advised, I had found my pack and I loved it. The old world of textiles was becoming a brand new and expanded world for me.

I learned Fair Isle and intarsia knitting, the harder stuff, but I never evolved past the beginners mind and enthusiasm of my strippy scarf pattern. For those people who have advanced more than I have in their skills, I aspire to their greatness, but no worries. I was told that there are people who knit in garter stitch (knit one, purl one) for years and it is okay if that is the way I rolled.

Besides, I had other concerns. I was born and raised in Chicago. I found that a strippy scarf went with most of my winter clothes and looked decidedly bohemian and stylish. And given the weather conditions, I needed to have that scarf quick, fast and in a hurry!

Some people get into textiles for meditative purposes, not necessarily to win best in show awards. I found that working in textiles was a new way of relating to the world. Life became more sensual. I wasn’t just sitting back, watching things happen. I became more involved, even if I was moving my fingers with my attention focused on one spot. Life became about living in the present moment, which is great for post traumatic stress disorder. There is no past and no future. Life was taking place right now right in front of me and it was actually enjoyable. And for some strange reason that I cannot describe, anything that was troubling worked itself out better than I could have ever planned.

“Don’t worry,” knitting teacher told me about my nonexistent love life. “I got involved in textiles and found a new wonderful husband in the process. He is very supportive of me and my crafts. Just focus on doing what makes you happy. Then the people, places and situations that match you will come to you.” She also said the same thing Tina Knowles said about her recent marriage to Richard Lawson at the age of 61: “You are never too old to do anything, including find love.” She inspired me!

My New Mexico knitting teacher and her husband didn’t live happily ever after at first, though. “Four days after we got married, my husband was diagnosed with cancer,” she said. “I knitted him socks and prayer shawls during his chemotherapy and radiation. He pulled through and we were just fine.” Leave it to textiles to save the day! Then they lived happily ever after!Strippy Scarf Love!