a path forward
I've been wrestling with this platform for months now. This is not one of those " oh hello, I'm feeling self-inflicted guilt about not writing more on my blog so I'll share that frustration with my readers" kind of posts. It is more grappling with what A Gathering of Stitches does in the off season, as it were. This Summer was chock full of two absolutely delicious retreats which I fully intend to write about, and share images from, in the near future. All that photo editing requires a goodly chunk of time, and there there is the actual writing of the post. Because as any of you who have read this blog in previous years know, I don't know how to write short posts. But in the meantime, I have thoughts swirling that I feel like sharing. So here I am.
I recently read Grace Bonney's post about the State of the Blog Union for Design*Sponge, and it brought up some issues I've been turning over and over in my head. See, now that I no longer have a physical space where I interact with the public, with the Maker Space closed down, my interactions with you lovely folks are limited to the retreats. Oh, how sweet those times are, and how much they feed my soul. But then we all go home, and while I am getting MUCH better at holding on to that sweetness, I feel a bit at loose ends for the rest of the year. Yes, my introverted self needs more alone time to create and process and explore, but that doesn't mean I don't want to see and hear what you all are up to. I love the conversations that happen during the retreats, and while many of them are site specific, and tangibly in-the-moment, there should also be room for more interaction of the virtual kind throughout the year. It seems a natural fit that I can use this format, blogging, to talk with you delicious people throughout the year. I mean, duh....!
Blogs have evolved, as any communication form will, in the last decade. I have clear memories of following along with the fiber pursuits of a number of knit-bloggers in the early 2000's. I felt so connected to these people I never met in real life. They were lighthouses in a stormy sea of RealLife that had me blown off course in my 40's. Even now, when I think of them, I have trouble remembering whether those memories are from real experiences in my life, or from following along with someone through their blog. Sad, but true. I felt like I was in the middle of a wave, a current, pulling me down stream where the waters were calmer, where there was a mythical community of Makers, set up stream side, living fully engaged lives of fiber and fabric. Funny how far away that feels, and yet it's less than 20 years ago. Since then blogs have waxed and waned, much the way actual in-print books have. Sometimes replaced by newer mediums (hello Social Media!), swept up in the commercial world of advertising, and then dropped back down to a line on a website. Bonney talks about this much more eloquently than I do, take the time to read that piece when you can. But it is interesting to me that the form persists. I love my Instagram account and all the people I have met through it, but it is a pale approximation of a good blog post. I know we all have busy lives and shorter attention spans, but as I dig deeper into these ideas around Slow Fashion and Slow living, I realize that I have been moving too fast in the past decade. I am slowing down my pace, stopping in moments to breath there and recognize what is good, or not so, in life. And with that comes a definite impulse to connect, to share these ideas, with others of a like mind. I can't be the only one who seeks a more mindful, purposeful existence. How are we all going to do this on our own? We need support, reinforcement, validation on this path. Because we all know how fast society is moving, and how it expects us to keep up....
Here, on the blog, on the internet, connected virtually, sitting in our own quiet private space, perhaps with a hot beverage, accompanied by a cosy animal, surrounded by our things, we can 'speak' with one another in a thoughtful measured way. We can continue the slow theme from the retreats, or begin it for those who have not been at one of my retreats. (because I know it is not possible for everyone to come to a retreat, for all sorts of reasons, and I don't want anyone to feel bad for those reasons) Why can't we share thoughts and ideas around slow practice, whatever form that make take in your life, right here in this space? Well, I suppose there are a couple of possible surmountable road blocks. I mean real life does get in the way of the virtual life, and rightly so, mostly, I'd say. Showing up regularly in this place has been a challenge for me, for sure. And this is where I hint at that annoying trope- "I'm so sorry/such a lazy/bad/distracted blogger for not posting regularly"- but life does take precedence. I mean I closed down the Maker Space in Portland to give myself more time, and breathing space, to do the things that I have come to find most important. Like making, slowing down, and really being within the life I am leading, as I live it, in the moment. A very real part of that slowing down is to try and connect more profoundly with people and issues that I hold dear. This blog seems a good place to try and do that. I am not going to make any pronouncements about my blogging schedule, other than to say that I will be turning to this place more to share ideas, thoughts, other Makers, creativity and beauty, techniques and tools, that I come across in my 'travels'. To that end I am converting this website into a blog. All the relevant info from the previous incarnation is still available here, either in the top left menu, or clicking links at the bottom of the home page. It's all here, just on the virtual shelves, instead of on the showroom floor. The showroom will be dedicated to issues and ideas around considered Making, thoughtful consumption, and how to leave a small, but relevant, footprint on our communities. I will be continuing the newsletter as well, monthly, to keep any who are curious in the know about my comings and goings, and any relevant business announcements about AGOS, as well as some content specific to that forum. So I hope you join me on this new venture. Some fascinating conversations have happened in the comments sections of some of my favorite blogs. It can happen, if we're all engaged, respectful, open-minded, and accepting of each other. What do you think? Are you game?
I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival in October (also known as Rhinebeck). And then hopefully more at QuiltCon in February in Pasadena, when I will be quite happy to escape the cold Maine Winter. Will you be at either? Please do say hi if our paths cross at either event! Both of those events are busy and crowded and a flurry of activity, mostly good, but parts can be highly overwhelming, for all of us! Having such a discrete moment to connect with so many people is energizing and completely exhausting. Add on to that any natural inclination towards introversion and the best of us can short circuit pretty easily. Remember that may of us are in the same boat, and that connecting, however briefly, in person, is just a part of the continuum of getting to know each other. And knowing each other is just confirming that we are all a tribe, us Makers.
One last thing, I have this idea for a fabric swap that I am figuring out the logistics of. We've all got fabric in our stashes that is no longer serving us. Either it isn't our thing stylistically any more, or it's a color we'll never wear, or it's too fraught to cut up, or our taste has just plain changed since we bought it, or it ended up in our stash for some odd reason. Or maybe this piece of fabric is just weighing us down psychologically, even thought it may be pleasing to us. Wouldn't it be nice to have a way to resolve that problem? What if we did a collective swap and passed a piece of fabric from our stash on to another? We'd be releasing ourselves from the weight of that fabric, passing it along to another Maker to inspire them, moving fabric around in the world, and slowing down the commercial pace of accumulation that Fast Fashion has introduced to our collective psyche. We'd all be getting something new without spending money, without contributing to the unsustainable pace of modern textile industry. Because if you join in you will pass along a cut of fabric, and receive one as well! We'd be satisfying that itch for something new without pulling out the credit card. We'd be re-purposing, slowing down the fabric food chain, considering a textile new to us. And hopefully sparking some new conversation about consumption and need and commerce and value and meaning and..... And well, I think there is a long path there too! I'm hoping some of you might want to join me for that one. I was inspired by this blog post by Felicia Semple of The Craft Sessions. Give it a read. If you have thoughts, leave them in the comments here, and we can get started. Once I have worked out the details of this idea I will flesh it out here, with you....!