Hey all. Summer has arrived in the year that is already a decade long. It’s the season of waking up with bird song through open windows. I thought I would come here and write a bit about what’s going on my end of the screen and my thoughts about what is going on everywhere. I hope you are keeping well wherever you are. I also hope you have been thinking, giving attention and energy to the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-police-violence protests worldwide and near you. I hope you have been thinking about how racism and specifically anti-Blackness are embedded in our society, and how it manifest within ourselves and our world view.
I have felt super detached from anyone – businesses, designers and influencers in particular, but everyone really – who have just gone about business during all this. Or who’ve posted an extremely generic post devoid from any personal voice. Or those who never said anything and just posted a black square without any substance beyond that. Or companies who act like they only now realise that racism exists as if our entire world is not steeped in it and as if BIPOC have not been speaking about it forever. Particularly in the make and craft scene these conversations are not new, as we just spend over 1.5 years talking about it, so it feels rather insincere to finally see the light now. The online experience on social media, in part, felt very cynical for the past two weeks.
That is not the whole story though. I have seen people and companies genuinely reflecting, caring about this and making plans to do better. I have seen more anti-racist sources and books that de-center whiteness being shared than I’ve ever seen before. I’ve seen part of the online world coming to a stand still and making place for grief and anger. And more importantly, I have seen more people at anti racist protests than I have ever seen and I’ve seen people near me making their first protest signs and going to their first protest. I’ve seen protesters persevere despite police brutality from one part of the status quo and patronising performative concessions from the other part of the status quo. More people than ever seem to look at ideas they previously deemed too radical in a new light. And we see the small victories trickling in. It is a worldwide revolution and I’m wondering if I dare to be hopeful that it’s different this time and will last. Like many, I think if Angela Davis says what an exciting time this is shaping up to be, that this is an unforgettable moment.
But it has to last. Breonna’s murderers are still free and it remains to be seen how many of the officers charged during this time will actually be convicted. It remains to be seen how and what changes to the system will actually be made and we are not, or should not be, just talking police here. It remains to be seen to what extend people around the world will make the translation from what happens in the US to anti-Blackness in their own countries. Personally I hope it will translate in a lasting incorporation in our personal lives away from social media as well as online. The personal is always political, the way we conduct ourself online is always political and making will always be political and be a reflection of our ethics. Who and what I give attention to is always political.
Me Made May
In what seems another world, I participated in my first Me Made May this year. I have talked before about my complicated and conflicting feelings around this phenomenon in the make world before. I’ve liked the excitement and celebration of making and the community sharing inspiration during the month. The inspirational aspect can be a bit of a double edged sword. It inevitably plays into feeling less than others, to those participants that don’t dress head to toe in me made, and thus add to pressuring them into feeling like they have to. This relates to the consumerist elements in making culture that are put extra on blast during a month like this. I play my part in that too of course, and I know that I’m also not immune to the the capitalist elements in a month long waterfall of seeing tons of beautiful makes, patterns and fabrics everyday.
Last year after me made may, I wrote about how I think some of what we do online in the sewing and knitting community tends to tip the focus to making as a consumptive process. It bears some reflection I think for all of us as many makers state that subverting the capitalist cycle, or at least moving away from the unethical and unsustainable disaster that is fast fashion, is part of the reason to learn to make things. Another thing worth reflecting on, regularly but particularly during MMMay, is how the making community nurtures and feeds into the cycle of sameness and uniformity. Which sewist reach influencer status, which designers, companies and patterns are allowed to thrive. What are the patterns and styles that almost everyone has made, which voices are heard, which artist are lifted up. This is of course directly related to the white centred, white catering and white supremacist world that is currently being protested world wide.
I’m not sure what I think of my actual experience of the month. There was a lot going on with Covid and lockdown and my mental presence wasn’t great. I wasn’t much on the hashtag either because of that. But I did enjoy seeing the handmade wears and thoughts of my online friends who participated. I didn’t post outfits everyday online and didn’t even post all my handmade outfits. I did keep a log of all my outfits both handmade and RTW in my make journal. It was interesting to see and I might do the latter again for different periods of the year. I think overall though, I’m perhaps not the best suited crafter to participate in MMMay for the learning aspect as I’m not necessarily aiming for a complete me made wardrobe.
Lots has been happening in the balcony garden; plants are growing, flowers blooming and fruits are growing. It’s super exciting to see. As as result of all that growth we have had to do a ‘re-pot and rearrange’ session to allow the plants enough space to grow. I smashed an already broken plate and gave it a new life purpose on the bottom of some of our pots to ensure the drainage hole won’t slip shut (cathartic exercise!)
Our small pepper plant has started blossoming so I’ve got my fingers crossed for homemade sambal later in the year. The strawberries are also doing really well, plants are still growing and the numerous green strawberries in various stages of development are spread over the different pots.
Spring is of course high on bird activity and it’s a rewarding time to be on the look out for birds. Among this season’s highlights was experiencing the breeding season with our balcony visiting birds. One of the Eurasian Blue Tits that has regularly visited our balcony since the Autumn had a nest close by and they made frequent visits to get food to the nest. In the past week the baby birds have fledged and are discovering the neighbourhood and life in general with their parents. Delightfully our balcony was included in the sightseeing and the new generation have visited a couple of times now.
They fly with the grace that can be expected from those who just left their safe nest and barely learned how to use their wings. They project a general aura of much confusion and bewilderment at everything, can’t say I blame them, especially in this timeline. They are still fine-tuning their general wing-movement coordination and definitely still fully dependant on their parents. I can often see them aiming for a landing on the tree (where their parent is), but ending up as a fluffed up feather ball in a pot with flowers all the way on the other end of the balcony, shooting bewildered looks at mum/dad. It is super cool to get such an up close view at the development from one of the birds we have been seeing for months now, and see some glimpses of them raising their kids. The babies will soon lose their chick plumage and be on their own though and I have my fingers crossed for them.
My knitting has been patchy over the lockdown period. There where times I was knitting and times that I couldn’t really focus and didn’t really touch the needles, especially at the beginning of lockdown. I think for the most part knitting is such an automatic second nature to me that it wasn’t enough of a distraction, and everything was so shit that it also wasn’t soothing me. As such my two most active projects are the same as when spring started, the yellow-green colourwork allover I was working on and an Icelandic yoke sweater. They have significantly progressed though and I hope I can wrap them up soon now that my focus and concentration skills are somewhat back and perhaps start something that is more summer season appropriate.
Conversely, my sewing really picked up over the last few months. Almost like a feverish sewing extravaganza! Contrarily to knitting, with sewing I was able to focus and take direct action and check off goals. It was of a huge help to get through the past few months and work my way through anxiety and pressing worries.
In late May my serger broke mid project. Now, I had been planning on taking my sewing slower anyway but I was not banking on the sewing powers that be to make it that on the nose. I spent a few days intermittent taking the machine apart and putting it back together again and tinkering on it. I watched a couple of repair videos and while my problem was ultimately not subject of any of them it did give me the confidence to work on it and made me be able to identify what the problem was and fix it. However, while the culprit was identified and fixed I also found that another part wasn’t functioning well any more and likely caused the other part – the one that I fixed- to malfunction to begin with. So I have ordered replacements for that, yet they won’t arrive until somewhere in July (hey ho my machine is old and so are it’s parts). So until they arrive I’m giving my machine a bit of a rest.
That doesn’t mean that I won’t be sewing or anything, but I will likely be slower and I will be sewing different things than I planned to do. I foresee lots of lapped seams, French seams and scrap projects in the nearby future, possibly also experimenting with quilting techniques. I even dug out some years old scrap quilting squares that I cut but never seriously started sewing, and at least one of my furry housemates is on board with the plan! Because of my lockdown sewing whirlwind I have quite a few things to show you still so I’m sure the blog will be fine for the summer and won’t have to suffer for the machine breakage.
That’s it for me here. My quick pop ins always tend to become short novellas, even (or specifically?) when I don’t mean them to. But I suppose most of you will be used to that by now. Stay safe and stay involved friends,