Thursday, October 10, 2013

My Hippy Mom

I've been in Columbus, Ohio these days, helping my mom detach from some of the excess "material" in her house. It seems to be quite a theme in my family these days!

Yesterday, I was pleased to find a home for several linear feet (!) of old Natural History, Smithsonian, and National Geographic magazines with a local teacher of SoulCollage, a spiritual / creative practice that involves collaging images onto cards (cf. Tarot cards) that have an immediate, visceral potency for you. I enjoyed spending a couple of hours with the scissors myself, salvaging images to take back to the SoulCollage facilitators in Ames.

Today, we dug into the stored fabrics and clothes. The final upshot was a major haul to the nearest Mennonite thrift store. When it comes to things material, there's no one I trust more than the Mennonites. They throw very little away. Holes get patched; scraps get made it into beautiful, functional "somethings" like rag rugs or quilts.

We dug up all kinds of things between the mothballs. My mother has always been a stylish dresser, but in my youth, she was a fabulously sophisticated hippy (think Mad Men): tiny-waisted, skinny legged, and an artist who made most of her outfits herself. I quite distinctly remember her wearing this skirt, made of Marimekko fabric:

Today she offered the skirt to me, to make into a lap quilt. How thrilling! It will be a cherished touchstone for me.

We also found this paper mache jewelry of hers. I remember her wearing this set as if it were yesterday, possibly with a white dress of large polka dots? You'll notice the bangle bracelet is a bit yellowed from wear. Another keeper for me!

Now we get to the hard stuff. It was hard to see some of the fabric go. For instance, this large shopping bag of natural-fiber whites:

I could just visualize these unblemished fibers soaking up fiber-reactive dyes--those vivid dyes I don't use because I have trouble following directions and don't want to take responsibility for their toxicity--not that I don't hunger for the experience! Still, I figured, some other crafter will happen upon these whites, spend a little for Mennonite 3rd world missions, and turn them into multi-hued treasures.

The vintage calicoes in the closet were few and fabulous; it was easy to absorb them into my stash:

Then, there were the wools. I grew up hearing about Viyella, a cotton/wool blend that is washable. We easily parted with several yardages of Viyella; besides them, there was a large bag of half-made garments and wool-blend scraps, including all the pant leg bottoms that my dad had ever had tailored to fit his short, stocky frame, a black-watch plaid skirt I had worn as a school uniform, and a red skirt that never really fit me. I debated long and hard over whether to give this bag of scraps to the Mennonites to sew or to haul it back on the plane to Iowa to make a quilt myself.

I bet you think I'm going to say that I finally decided to "let go." Hah! Are you kidding? I've always wanted to make a wool quilt. Plus, that Viyella has such a lovely hand, and I'm going to love going through every last pants fabric my dad wore. When the quilt is made, then (and only then) will I let those fabrics go into the world to lead happy, fulfilling lives of their own.

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