Driving to work the other day, singing along to Norah Jones on the radio I was reminded of the idea that I had always wanted to sing. As a schoolchild I took some voice lessons but I was inhibited by my own sense of perfection and so never got very good at it. While we all have some inherent talent of some sort- some can tie a cherry stem into a knot with their tongue, some are good at math, some make a killer margarita- rarely does anyone excel without practice. In order to know where/how to make that thing you do happen as you wish it to, you have to do it over and over so it is almost instinctual, or habitual. You want to ingrain those actions, whether they are equations, or steps, or flavors, to the point where they feel like an extension of your self. Then you can take your natural talent and call it a profession, or an occupation, or a really good skill. Or a killer party trick…..
I consider my one true inherent talent to be dancing. As a child I studied ballet, modern and jazz until at the age of 20 (21?) I performed with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company on the Brooklyn Academy of Music opera house stage in the production of Secret Pastures. All those childhood years of practicing my craft, made me a good dancer who could control my 'instrument'. I knew how to use my skills to propel my creative intention. Without sounding too high falutin' or using too much Artspeak, all my practicing paid off with a couple years of professional life as a dancer. Then for reasons that I am not entirely sure of (and if anyone wants to talk them through, let's get a glass of wine) I left dancing. Over the years I have had many different 'careers', all of which have somehow led me to open A Gathering of Stitches. I had this tiny epiphany, when I was singing in the car the other day (luckily alone), that through all my searching, I have been knitting and sewing. I have been practicing for over thirty years. So today, while I think there are others who have way more inherent talent than I do, I am pretty good at this stitching stuff. Singing? Well, I haven't practiced, so I'm pretty poor. But stitching? When I teach others I tell them, sewing is not rocket science, it just takes practice. That really hit home for me when I was thinking about my non-existent singing life. All these years while I have been doing other stuff, I have been practicing my stitching, sometimes painfully, sometimes with joy, but still practicing. And now I can do this.
The reason for this screed is to encourage any and all out there reading this. You can sew, knit, embroider, dye, quilt etc. You can become good at it, with a little practice. Really, practice is all it takes! If you like doing it, if it gives you pleasure, then the practicing part is fun. Even when it can get frustrating, working through the sticky parts makes you better at it. Even if each make is not perfect, the act of making is satisfying. I was teaching a group how to put a sleeve in an armscye and trying my damnedest to make it understandable, and I realized that I used to dread putting in sleeves, until that one day when I didn't. And that was just because I kept doing it, kept practicing, until one day it was just putting in a sleeve. No different from turning up a hem, or sewing a straight seam, or binding off. Come practice with us. If you need to learn what you need to practice, take one of our workshops. If any part of this stitching or playing with fiber appeals to you, you can learn to do it. Don't be nervous, join the making!