In preparation of the move, I have spent the last year or more purging my sewing room. I have had the luxury of a large, mostly all mine room to sew and craft in for almost 23 years. I am down-sizing to a nook. Granted, I am not in high-production mode like I was when I had a growing gaggle of girls to keep clothed, but a nook is going to be a challenge. Over the years, I have dabbled in lots of different crafts. There were the paper crafting years with scrapbook supplies and card making supplies spilling out from every corner not taken up with fabric and yarn. Decorative painting added its smish-smash of mess. Candle making, soap making, just making in general. But through it all, the sewing and knitting have been the two constants. Bins of yarn crown the top of the shelves that house the fabric. Knitting books crowd the shelf for their place amongst the sewing books and patterns.
I think I am on my third purge in the last 18 months or so. Each one is a little more ruthless. It really hasn't been as difficult as I thought it would be, this purging. I am a pragmatic person to begin with. I am really being hard-nosed on this third and probably, final clean out. Very little stays. Except the memories. And what a memory catcher this room is proving to be. I've sewn my way through little girls in flowing smocked dresses, Halloween costumes, adolescents and their scathing criticism of hemlines, proms, recitals, graduations, college dorm room decor, weddings. Grandchildren have ushered in a second sewing flurry of their own, just not so prolific as the first time around. The occasional special request from a grandchild or their mother, doll clothes, baby quilts-it's all by choice now and not economy.
As I go through boxes, the memories fall into my lap along with the bits and bobs of lace and fabric. I give these things a hard look and decide if it goes into the " keep" or "find a new home for" or the "toss" pile. The keep pile is getting smaller. I tell myself that the stuff may be gone, but the memory is a keeper. I don't need that odd scrap of velvet to remember what my youngest looked like all dressed up for her voice recital. A bit of plaid fabric goes in the toss pile, but not the memory of the night I happily sewed a little coat for a black Scotty dog.I knew putting the coat on the dog was probably a lost cause, but the sound of the laughter springing from the simple joy my middle girl got from struggling to try it on her unwilling canine was worth the few hours spent pinning, cutting and sewing. She looked like a four-legged, hairy Sherlock Holmes.The dog that is. And she wasn't happy about it. Memories of the oldest and how pretty she looked in her senior picture take their place in my head when I pull out a strand of silk ribbon used to embroider the bodice of her formal. I would be less than honest if I didn't say that sometimes things didn't turn out as planned. Or liked as well as someone thought they would be.Feet have been stomped and tearful refusals to wear such and such have been heard. Sometimes my best efforts just didn't deliver.
Odd bits of yarn demand their due as I pilfer through the bins. It spills out in a happy, tangled jumble. My mind's eye does the same thing.The faint smell of wool mingles with the memories of soft pinks and blues that were knitted and purled into newborn caps that would warm little heads. As I pull out the unused strands, I recall how I would sit and knit, needles clicking as I imagined what the face of my soon to be born grandchild would look like.Luscious fibers that I and my needles turned into sweaters and scarves and mittens. Skinny little yarns that are now thick fluffy socks. Ahem, yes, there have been duds here too. A too small mitten, a lop-sided sweater (yes, that does happen. To me, anyway), unfinished stuff. Just like life.
Most of the memories coming out of this purging are the good stuff. But the ones that aren't? There's a "keep" pile, "find a new home for" pile, and a "toss" pile.