let’s talk about sewing, baby

Recently, a friend introduced to me the concept of friction in projects. Or, more specifically, the idea that a well-designed workshop or workflow helps you to reduce friction. Perhaps the friction of sewing would be setting up a table, or pulling out a sewing machine from the closet, or finding all of your bits and bobs and threading the machine. Honestly, now that this concept is in my head, I find myself noticing friction everywhere!

In my sewing room, I’ve figured out ways to reduce most friction. I have a table dedicated to projects, a machine that is always sitting out, a few boxes nearby that hold all of the notions. During sewing seasons, my ironing board is standing in the middle of the room, and the extension cord for the iron is just barely kicked under a dresser (out of sight enough to spare me from tripping over it or stepping on it, but obvious and accessible). My hand-quilting projects are ALWAYS sitting right next to an armchair, so I will pull them out and stitch a little while watching shows on my computer.

So, I know that friction can be reduced. I’m quite adept at noticing and dealing with it in the physical realm. The friction that I can’t seem to address is right here, in the internet realm, where I have a blog and want to share stories, but always seem to find a million miles of sandpaper between me and the end goal.

Does anyone else feel this? Perhaps not those people who are posting entertaining, inspiring, awesome things on a weekly basis. Or, to be fair, perhaps they DO feel it and have figured out how to reduce their friction. They probably have blog posts about blogging, which I’ve probably read. So then I have to be honest that one of my biggest personal frictions is that I don’t want this blog to be work. I want this blog to sit here, waiting for me to drop things when the mood strikes, asking nothing of me and costing nothing. But then I also want it to be a place filled with deep thoughts about all the things I spend too much time obsessing over. I want to have a coherent summary of how I’ve spent my time. I want to be able to point to one page that explains why I’m a chaos muppet when I sew but an order muppet in every other area of life, because you guys, that’s something I’ve been thinking about this week, and I wonder if other people experience this dichotomy!

So, I don’t know where to start. Or, to be more honest, I don’t know where to finish this conversation. I don’t know where it’s going. I feel like it’s going to shoot off in a million directions, which could lead to a million blog posts, all which I’d like to have linked to each other in an orderly way with interesting images in every post (my own expectations of blogging perfection: FRICTION).

For now, I’m going to do two things:

-I’m going to pay attention to the friction. I’m going to write it down and maybe, at some point, decide if there are ways I can reduce some of it. But more importantly…

-I’m going to ignore the friction. I’m just going to write. It’s going to be incoherent. I’m probably going to ramble, a lot, or reference fully formed thoughts that I haven’t yet shared with you (and possibly never will). I’m going to just let this be the messy jumble of things that fall out of my head, which is what the old header of this blog used to say, because I needed to confront that specter* of blog perfection every time I came to this page.

*FYI if you google that word to make sure you’re spelling/using it correctly, you’ll discover that there is a new Bond movie coming out this year. I’m not sure why you’d do such a thing, or whether or not you’d be excited about such news, but that’s a thing that happened. #blogrealness

23 books finished in 2015: Agnes Grey

23 books finished in 2015

You guys, I am really enjoying this spring/summer of Brontë! To recap, I re-read Jane Eyre, then tackled The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and The Professor, and now this! There is only one book remaining on this list for me to read, and then I can make a ranking of my own. (Though, to be fair, I should probably re-read Wuthering Heights to see if I hate it any less – I generally can’t handle the incessant meanness of all of the characters, and spend most of the book pleading with them to just be reasonable and forgive each other and move on with their lives!)

It’s good to think of this in relation to the other Brontë books, because it’s very familiar. I’m sure someone has charted how many characters in these books are governesses or start their own schools or marry pastors. Agnes totally did it all, with the added bonus of a mother who is cut of from family wealth for the sin of marrying beneath her and building a supportive, emotionally healthy home.

Now that I’m listing these things, I understand why these authors and their books are so wonderful – they show the often-unnoticed strength of women. Their character, tenacity, courage, forgiveness, support, and love is on display in these books, often in contexts that are entirely unexciting. These books are mostly (when they’re not about, like, ghosts and impossible loves) about living a good, small life. Though they’re not about settling in any way – every character that I can think of is hard-working and persistently seeking to better themselves and their situations. Oh man, this makes me want to read some biographies of the authors, so I can understand how radical this work was at the time!

No haiku this time. I’ll wait until I re-read this book. (Though I could probably come up with something about a small dog being an integral/adorable plot point, but we’ll save that for another day.)

21 books finished in 2015: The War of the Worlds

21 books finished in 2015

This is one of many books read exclusively in airports earlier this month – I had a planned long layover on the way out (and one of those VIP lounge passes to boot), then multiple weather delays on the return.

It was both more mundane and more interesting than I expected it to be. I remembered hearing about the Orson Welles radio show based on this book that caused mass panic, and expected it to be more frightening based on that. I thought I’d seen the 2005 movie version of this, but nothing in the plot was familiar – perhaps I had wanted to wait until I read the book.

The terror of the book was in the isolation, both of individual characters trying to travel from one town to another to check on loved ones, but also of an entire city being attacked/occupied and not knowing whether the same is happening anywhere else in the world. The looming question about whether you could escape, and whether it would be any better if you did, added a lot of weight to the drama. And it was interesting to imagine, in this hyper-connected world, what that isolation would feel like.

in this day and age
sharks attack the internet*
aliens seem worse

*I just couldn’t resist – that’s probably my favorite modern day concern. And once I started thinking about connectivity and isolation…it was an easy jump.

20 books finished in 2015: Shop Class as Soulcraft

20 books finished in 2015

This is a dangerous book to read when one is already contemplating leaving their boring desk job to do something more active/creative/tactile. Talk about cultivating discontent! (Also, I realize that my desire to do this puts me yet again in a trendy-weird named cultural demographic – YUCCIES!) In the end, I am staying put, but now have the ability to reference deeper philosophical reasons for my desire to change careers.

The book was great, but I wasn’t necessarily the audience. I did find myself wanting to ride/repair motorcycles (ahhhhhhh empathy) and I also had a desire to write a version of this book that talks about the value of textile craft (I’ll probably not do that). At one point, Crawford started poking fun at corporate management/teamwork theories, and since I find those both intriguing and useful, I felt like his criticisms weren’t based on much more than “these people look silly doing this in a business suit.” So, again, maybe I just wasn’t the right audience.

working with your hands

touch, building, moving pieces
nobility here