Sunday, September 07, 2008

Taming the Green Eyed Monster

I received a wonderful mailing bag of selvages for my project yesterday from a thoughtful and very kind woman in Washington state. She included a letter relating a garage sale-ing experience when she and a friend, also a quilter, were able to purchase something like 300 yar of good quality quilt fabric from an older woman who was giving up sewing. The woman was a big difficult to work with and may have been in early stages of dementia but, the two friends shared their purchase and now have magnificent stashes. Reading the story made me so envious I could felt myself getting irrational as I imagined myself like a greedy miser in some fairy tale stacking up gold coins and chucking, "he-he-he"... sorting fabric instead and "he-he-he-"ing with glee, as demented as the wicked witch thinking of eating Hansel and Gretl.

Sanity is returning. I'm trying to get some distance from that initial, immediate reaction and saying to myself, "Hey shape up." I've got a great stash of fabrics, mostly chosen by myself because they are in colors and patterns that I like and think I am apt to use. I don't have room for a greater stash and I can't live long enough to use what I have. Because, let's not kid anyone, I won't stop purchasing fabric when I find things I really, really like.

Where does this greediness come from? The three year old who wants all the toys and doesn't want to share. I think I'm a wee bit too old for that sort of thing. Oh, I can say it's a mature appreciation for the design skill and the wonderful colors which, in and of themselves, are beautiful in the way that music is beautiful in and of itself. True, but still ... I don't sit around staring at it. Yes, every so often I think of a reason to go though some or most of the stash, sorting or rearranging and that does give me sensual pleasure. So, finally, I am happy for the woman in Washington as I am happy for lottery or raffle winners. And I am -- yes, really, truly -- would I tell a lie? -- content with my own stash. Of course windfalls are always welcome.

2 comments :

magikquilter said...

Interesting you say that June as I have long been concerned that we quilters who crave simplicity and beauty in our lives have been seduced by the availability of so much wonderful fabric.

I abhor the new crafting extravaganza bandwagon that so many have jumped upon....my visits to quilting shows have been severely impacted by the dread of the crowds through the supplies area.

I agree about the not being enough time to use what you have..I am only 52 and will never get through it all. I have decided to parcel up some into scrap bags with some of my wonderful European laces as so many of the women I meet on flickr have trouble getting these things in South America. I have also decided to use up a lot of my upholstery supplies by again making bags as it requires so much fabric variety to make throws....and that fabric is bulky and trying to store it impacts my enjoyment of the whole experience.

Great post...is there anything I may gift your way as I am clearing out? The laces are divine...looks like bridal lace and would make great scrap booking style wall quilts... shall do a post and photograph some so you get an idea of what I have.

Evelyn said...

Oh, June, I'm sorry I caused you angst of any sort. I was so excited to send you a story (about fabric! which we both love!), and I didn't stop to think. I mostly wanted the story to be about me and my friends, but of course I couldn't help gloating about the loot, and that was just plain boastful. I certainly could have told the story without going into details there... I'm really sorry.

I had to chuckle about your "greedy miser" description, because as much as I hate to admit it, I totally had those feelings too! I actually had moments of regret for calling my friend to share the fabric - "I could have kept it all for myself, she would have never known... Why did I let her look through it before I'd had a chance to take out those really cute FQ's?". It was ugly, and makes me ashamed.

I actually read your post last night, and spent a lot of time thinking about it today. About what having a "stash" means, why I love to collect fabric, why I especially love to acquire it cheaply, and the pros and cons of that. I'm sure the compulsion to collect says something about my psyche (needing to fill up some void, or stockpile for the future, or to simply "have more", etc.). As much as I love the thrill of the hunt, and as much pleasure as it gives me to find little bits of treasure (or, very rarely, a big load of treasure!), there are also some real downsides to it.

For one, I have a very hard time buying anything new, and when I do, it causes me a great deal of anxiety - did I look at enough options? Will I hate it tomorrow? What if they have a sale next month? Could I have waited another month and found it cheaper? It's really often exhausting. [As an aside, if you haven't read "The Paradox of Choice" by Barry Schwartz, I highly recommend it!].

For two, I STILL have a hard time actually using the stuff I get! I used to be afraid to cut out a pattern, because the fabric was so beautiful and so expensive, and I didn't want to make a mistake. Now I worry not because it's expensive, but because I might not ever be able to find it again, or find such a great deal again! It's the craziest logic ever! I have to make a conscious effort to overcome it.

And of course, there's the plain old "too much crap" problem. It's hard to pass up a good bargain on supplies, even when it's something I don't really need. I guess that's one thing I really love about Swap-bot. It's awesome to be able to pass on things I've found to folks who really want them. Especially when it's something you can't really buy in a store (like selvages! or scraps of fabric, etc.).

Anyway, I've really blabbed on. I apologize again. Thanks for being so open and honest to write about it. You can be sure I'll be less boastful from now on.