My daughter is completely obsessed with Taylor Swift. And I love it. Not because I love Taylor Swift, but because I love how watching her love something fun is teaching me about joy.
When I first started to really get interested in quilting, I thought there might be something wrong with me. I had never been overcome by anything (except maybe a few high school crushes!), like I was with the quilting bug. I went to sleep thinking about it, I arranged my days around it, I started to feel lucky that I had to stay home with the kids in the evenings rather than need to say yes to social invitations with Tim. My hyper-extroverted husband would go out with friends and I would bask in the silence of the house, the babies asleep, my sewing machine whirring.
Before quilting, I'd really wanted to do something important and impactful with my life. I used to roll my eyes at people who wasted their life having fun or making money. I had dreams of working in international diplomacy or refugee camps. I studied Modern History because I wanted to understand how we got here, so I didn't just contribute to making the same mistakes again. I practised my writing because I wanted to help people share their stories, so I could share my story, and because I really wanted it to be amazing.
But then I had two little kids and felt like I'd tripped over a stone on this path to great impact, and didn't know how to get back up again.
Borrow Someone's Permission Until You Find Your Own
In some ways I grieve for that younger me. I didn't know a single other woman personally who didn't have kids and become a stay at home mum. I didn't know that I still could have pursued those dreams with kids at home. But in other ways, that fall, my face in the dirt, was a gift. It got me thinking about what impact and meaning actually is. It helped me shrink down my focus to my small family, something I'd always scoffed at.
So when I took up patchwork, I spent a lot of time wondering if I was wasting my time. Wondering if I was being selfish, if there was something more important I should be doing. Wondering where, if anywhere, this was all going to lead, anyway. But a very tiny part of me wondered if this had always been the point all along. Joy, beauty, making with my hands, making friends with people like me, muddling my way through raising kids while also learning to serve and listen to myself, rather than assuming I was just here to be offered up.
There were other things that helped me find my feet again. Partly, I just kept sewing and let the niggling doubts fade as I become more used to this new me. I met other people who created just for the joy of it, and I learned to borrow their sense of permission until it became my own. And, let's be honest, turning my hobby into a business is a really effective way to silence (or honour) society's expectations that I should always use my time and attention on things that have purpose or make money. But even without that, I like myself as a quilter now. It suits me.
Anyway, back to Evie, my daughter. I asked her to help me get some photos and videos on our deck the other night while she was getting ready to go see Taylor's Eras Tour at the local cinema. She was all dressed up in red for her favourite album, and she's co-ordinated with friends to dress up along the same theme. And, in that experience of her telling me the photos I needed to take, and how I needed to tell everyone it was for Taylor, I felt so happy for her. I felt her contagious joy, and also the special joy that you get from watching your kids love something. And, I felt even more at peace with myself.
She is so unashamed in her enjoyment of this music and the stories surrounding the songs. And, rather than seeing it as this huge, expensive time-sink, I only see how amazing she is. She's teaching herself to sing and write music, and learn the dances on the music videos. She can retain SO MUCH information about the albums and the stories, and Taylor's life. She's not a bit concerned with where it all leads or why she feels this way or what other people think about it, she's just in it, enjoying it, inspired by it. What an incredible gift! I hope she always feels she can be like this with anything that captures her attention.
A Hexie Handbook Quilt
I should probably talk a little about the quilt! This is Winter Jasmine, from my Hexie Handbook, a collection of hexagon block patterns that can be made into a quilt of all the same block, like this one, or into a sampler quilt, like my Hexie Harvest quilt.
I made these stars from scraps and stash, and found the simplicity of just matching 2 colours per block utterly enjoyable. In this business, it can be easy to get stuck on the idea that I should be coming up with things that are new and undiscovered and ground-breaking. But, perhaps just like Evie's obsession with the most popular female artist ever is a little predictable, my attention keeps getting drawn back to the familiar and traditional. I find these patterns beautiful and comforting.
Star patterns like this one have been made since the Romans made mosaics, and I wonder if that's why I'm drawn to them. I love that finding them beautiful connects me to a long and diverse human history of creative people. Maybe it reminds me that I'm not actually a total weirdo for wanting to make beautiful things - people have been doing that for millenia. It doesn't make me selfish, it makes me human.
Want to make your own Winter Jasmine quilt?
Grab the Hexie Handbook for the pattern, if you don't have it already, then treat yourself to the paper pieces kit and acrylic templates just for the joy of it.