Do you knit? Are you crafty? There was a brief hipster resurgence in the venerable pastime of knitting, and that is cool, but me, I am a sewer. Knitters and sewers are like mods and rockers. Opposing but similar. Together but divided. I think I would like to knit, but there’s something so noble about sewing, about being able to alter your own garments, tailor your life to fit you. Knitting is for those who want sweaters and socks and scarves and hats. I am cold, but I am cold inside. Wool isn’t going to help. And I want things that aren’t necessarily going to warm me. I’m not a homey individual. I don’t want to knit by the fire. I am more the sweatshop type.
The roar of my old Singer sounds dangerous and I get high from putting my lead foot down on the pedal and finishing seams as fast as I fucking can. When I am sewing, endorphins course through me and if I run my needle over my hand I can’t even feel it. I only know that I did it from the blood on my fabric, which is painful enough. In general, I steered clear of white and stayed with reds and blacks which didn’t show the stains as clearly.
There’s sewing forums online, where people, almost all women, would talk about being unable to sleep and eat because they wanted to sew so badly. I know this feeling. I know that insanity of sitting down at the machine just for a minute and then looking up and suddenly its 12 hours later. I would sew all day and then finally collapse in exhaustion and then dream about sewing all night and wake up tired like I had never stopped.
There was something about it that I couldn’t explain and I couldn’t understand. I wanted to do it beyond reason and logic and physical limitation, and my passion for it was stronger than any desire I have ever had for a man. The crisp, almost imperceptible bite of my rotary cutter as it would slice through a pristine yard of raw silk felt like sweet resistance and relief, like popping a needle into my vein. It hurt but it was good. It hurt but I needed it. I love sewing. I love everything about it.
I love fabric and I love thread. I love patterns and I love buttons. I don’t love buttonholes, but that’s because I am not great at them. I’d be better if I had a serger and an embroidery machine, but that’s the hard stuff. I don’t want more than I can handle right now, and I want somewhere to go, something to grow into. I like knowing that there is more to know, and the eventuality of what I will be, what I can be – that is what I look forward to.
Sewing is so enjoyable that I have to give it up. I want it too badly. It takes up too much time. There’s nothing I would rather be doing and that is dangerous because there is a lot I need to be doing. The only thing that comes close to sewing is writing, and that, even though I love it, is just a shadow of what I feel for the fiber arts. Also, I am way too allergic to even consider being around all the dust that sewing creates. When I was in the throes of my obsession, I could barely breathe. All my bolts of midnight black silk charmeuse and eyes wide bright crimson paisley suffocated me. My cabinets were filled with batting and I was batty from the lack of oxygen and space.
My back ached and my eyes were bloodshot and I gave away my two suped up sewing machines with all their specialty feet and countless stitch options and I shook visibly as these treasures were boxed and removed from my home. my lavish and glittery embellishments, collected from places as far off as Tibet and new delhi and even the Pasadena flea market went with the machines. My heart broke as the fragile stretch fishnet, heavily studded with Swarovski crystals, three extremely expensive yards of which I had procured on a very special pilgrimage to Britex Fabrics in San Francisco, the legendary mecca of textiles, where my mother would take me as a little girl to gasp and swoon at the brocades and trims we could never afford – and which now I can, so I am buying them for my mom and for me – was torn from my hands.
I gave sewing up. I had to. I want to do it too much. Way too much. It scares me how much I want to do it. So I am not sewing. It’s hard but I have to stop. It’s just for now. I will do it again. I can feel it in my hands.