We have entered a new year. For more years than I can remember, the first day of the new year creates the need to clean out my house. Perhaps straighten up my surroundings while on hiatus from our busy summers and throw things away.
So, here I go. My studio contains a workspace for writing and designing documents. There’s a printer, computer, file cabinet, bookcase, and several trays for holding papers. From across the half wall separating the fiber design area from the office space, I can see bins of yarn, stacks of fabric, my sewing machines, cutting table and loom, among other things.
As I grew wiser in years, my mantra has become “simplify.” And, I try. When the ball drops, I become annually determined to clean out my studio and closets to reduce my possessions. I also would like to get rid of all the things I have been saving for projects I will never get to in my lifetime. Hello Pinterest. Just what the creative thinkers and makers of the world like me needed. It wasn’t enough to have ideas of my own trying to escape my brain; now, I also have everyone else’s up there.
Throughout my career as a “maker,” I collected ideas that stimulated other ideas, so I collected the things I needed to create those things at will—time being the biggest roadblock. I had to have a job to buy all those supplies, kits and yarn. I have been doing this for years, looking forward to retirement, which I recently put off for another three months.
When I was a young stay-at-home mom, I read a book about how we should always have a store of threads, fabrics, elastic zippers, etc. etc. on hand so, at a whim, we could walk into our sewing room and 1.5 hours later leave with a new shirt, skirt or stuffed animal in hand.
Thus began my shelf-stocking for all the projects I will never have time to complete. Therefore, every year, I say to myself, “let it go. You will never have enough time in your life to make all the dolls, stuffed animals, crocheted mittens, woven dishtowels, skirts and shirts you would like.”
Not surprisingly, I have loads of things an average person would consider junk, such as old tins, corks, blocks of bee’s wax, unique buttons, broken jewelry – you know, the components of some fabulous piece of artwork.
(Insert laughter here).
So, I begin each year with a notebook (a bullet journal deconstructed) and a nice pen (I collect those kinds of art supplies also) to clean out my house. To expedite finding something for a particular project, I inventory my collection of yarn and fabric and throw those things out, which I cannot even fathom getting to soon.
Well, that’s a problem. As I kneel on the floor sorting the brown kraft paper I save from all the boxes of stuff delivered by our great UPS, FedEx and mailmen and women, I’m muttering to myself, “well, I will need this for pattern drafting, winding warp or wrapping packages.” I smooth it out, sometimes iron it, and put it back on a different shelf.
That opens up a new shelf, and I rearrange my stacks of linen and cotton fabrics and take note of all the beautiful things I have yet to make from it. Currently, I have three looms with projects, one scarf to finish, a batch of soap to wrap, and an art doll to make out of old quilt squares from my grandmother. Like dominos, this continues, for I cannot find the strength to let go of any of my treasures.
The moral of this story – there is no cleaning out or throwing away; it’s just a re-newed year with a desire to create. Happy New Year.
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Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.