Monday, October 15, 2007

Make-do, make, and do to connect

Well it is October 15th in my part of the world already and although I didn't formally register for Blog Action Day, where one should blog on something environmental, I will have a bit of a go anyway.

My theme is making do, a theme I attempt to subscribe to frequently. I am guilty of stash building but lately i have been trying to do it in a new way i.e. by shopping at op-shops and recycling fabrics, materials, haberdashery etc.

There is so much gorgeous stuff out there being (essentially) discarded and I am very keen on connecting with women of the past who were forced to make do before there was a Spotlight /Jo-Anne's store on every corner - and they created fabulous things that I am delighted to see, and using skills I long to have and would hate to see disappear from use.

So I love to recycle garments for quilts, dolls, costumes and bags especially. Nothing is more satisfying than re-launching a garment or other treasure in a new guise. Every piece has a story and I love to trace my connections and knowledge of the pieces. Fr'instance:



I made a set of bags (above, hers blue, mine burgundy) for my sister (in Melbourne) and I after seeing a pattern for a beautiful old-style gypsy carpet bag in a shop. I did buy new fabric for it at the time, but it evolved to become a set of bags using old and new fabrics, and haberdashery from the collection from a late friend of mine, dear Genevieve.

I wanted a pouch to use at work that was connected to all the women who had supported my dream to become a midwife. So it started with fabric from my 'sisters' bag, with appliqued hearts, and stitched while naming all my friends who had helped me along the way. Buttons for the sides came from Genevieve's stash along with a cord from her things to sling it across my shoulders.

It may not be visible that so much love and thought went into it, but I know. It looks a bit rustic, with deliberately frayed fringey bits on it, but that was to honour the warm fuzzies that went into it too. My sis gave me a midwife keyring that I kept in there too, along with a Buddha and a few amethysts I like, just for the good loving feeling they all give me. My bag, as befits a prototype is pretty shabby with not enough pockets etc, but I can't bring myself to change a stitch in it.


I was always getting comments about my beautiful pouch, so I made a series of them for the other student midwives who trained in our hospital. Bit by bit they came together, with some new fabrics and fabrics from recycled clothes - baby corduroy to jeans, to silk suits, some with fabric from my sister bags. Frequently what they needed to set them off came from the bottom of a box or pile long teetering and near forgotten, but holding the exact thing I was looking for, including another cord from Genevieve's stash in the LAST of her tins, just the right length and colour. I mentally blessed her and know she would be tickled to have contributed to such a collection. On the night of our final exam I gave them all out to my 15 friends, where each was received with gasps or tears as I recounted the stories behind each one.

I LOVED making them (I made 20 in all).







It was really great to see that these new midwives understood the connection between the women who had supported my journey, the women who had created things with their own hands over generations, and the midwives we were from that very day and all we had shared, and the women we attended as midwives...but then I knew that they would understand.

I still get a kick out of seeing them in daily use around the hospital. Some of them have gone with their owners to live in other countries, but I still feel connected to them.

I wish I had photographed the luscious shabby chic baby pink one I made last for one of the midwifery friends who is VERY pink and pretty (it was gingham and roses and baby pink corduroy). It was gorgeous, and so her. I also really like this green silk one, made from a full suit I bought in a little op shop on the island of Waiheke in NZ in 1999. I shipped it home for the stash and voila! Its gone to a really special, fabulous young midwife Kate.

So, is this post really about op-shopping, or recycling, or the greater environment? Or is it just about our own micro-environment, thinking globally and acting locally? And for me the thing to be saved is to preserve / save/ keep the connections within our own communities - whether down the street, in the workplace, between the hearts of like-minded people across the corridor or throughout cyberspace. Blogging connects us, through trivia and trauma, in potentially all aspects of our lives.

Lately I have been having a few blue days, deep blue really, and although I promised a craft post I wasn't quite in the mood. But today I went back to work after 3 months off, feeling quite fragile and unsure about my ability to tap my previously unending supply of compassion and enthusiasm. But the moment I walked in I felt myself responding to a (blessed) wellspring of love for my work,and suddenly i felt all bouncy and tiggerish and re-energised. Phew (just in time!). Nothing like the cuddle of a brand new baby to set you straight (along with the support at home from a concerned husband).

And now I have come home, I have the house to myself briefly and thought I should pretend to do a Blog Action day post....and it turned into this! Hmm, will it pass? Oh well its MY blog, and it is a bit about craft. More on my stash another day.

1 comment:

Lesley (El Zed) said...

Much love to you, Laura XXX
I'm not a clever midwife like you, but the pouch you made me is always close and I love it to bits. Glad you're feeling better. Miss you!