And In the Darkness Bind Them

January 25, 2010 at 10:01 am Leave a comment

Fabric storage and pressing surface in my studio

The tone-on-tone storage is bursting at the seams

Another acronym I like is SABLE:  Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy.  That’s a problem I believe I already have unless I cut back radically on my fabric buying.  There’s a quote I’ve loved for years, attributed to bibliophile A. E. Newton (italics mine):

“Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity… we cherish books even if unread, their mere presence exudes comfort, their ready access, reassurance.”

Substitute “fabric” for “books” and you get the philosophy that has led me to my current stash situation.  I — like the title of the blog says — love fabric.  I love the feel of it.  I love the potential it represents.  I love the surprises inherent in it:  how the same fabric can be a light or a dark depending on its neighbors and how small it’s cut.  I love it even when it disappoints me, when something that looked good in theory looks dreadful in reality, because that result is a manifestation of that same ability to surprise.  I love the different effects that directional designs can create depending on the decisions I make with them.  I’ve said in the past that I have no interest in computer design programs like EQ because if I knew exactly what it would look like before I made it, I’d never actually sew it up.  However, I think I was even a little premature in saying that, because fabric is ALWAYS surprising.  Even with the programs that allow you to scan in your actual fabric and design with the digital sample, it can’t create the true effect of the fabric.

Studio Closet

...while the collections threaten to creep out of the closet

So every time I go to a quilt shop or a quilt show, I am inundated with The Dream:  that every piece of fabric represents a fabulous project, just waiting for me to see its potential and bring it to fruition.  Every fabric that catches my eye is a What If? — and that’s the most exciting question in my world.  Novelty prints constantly call out to me with the potential to make gifts for the people in my life they remind me of.  The most recent piece of fabric I’ve purchased (and this is me on a fabric diet) is covered with dachshunds wearing little shirts, to make something (what? and when?) for my mother-in-law.

The problem is, though, that I already own an embarrassing quantity of beautiful fabric.  I’m not ashamed of that; it’s great to be able to make a project entirely out of what I already have, and it’s a wonderful feeling to find the perfect use for a favorite fabric I’ve held on to for years.  What I’m ashamed of is the fact that it’s coming in to the stash so much faster than it’s being used.  It’s a perfect metaphor for weight gain:  because the acquisition is so much more easily pleasurable than the disposition, it just keeps piling on.  And the key is the easy pleasure — I find quiltmaking very pleasurable, or I wouldn’t do it; it’s just that fabric shopping is a lot easier than cutting, piecing, appliqueing, or machine quilting, and gives instant gratification.  However, the thrill of finding a beautiful piece of fabric and fantasizing about what I could potentially make from it resembles a little too closely the emotions I saw cross the face of one of the subjects of the A&E show “Hoarders” when he pulled a picture frame out of a dumpster.

Basement fabric

...and shameful overflow piles occupy the basement.

I’ve become obsessed with the show “Hoarders” because I recognize a lot of my own tendencies in it.  I am not a hoarder, as those of you who have been to my house know — but I recognize the impulses.  It’s like the scene from “The Two Towers” where Frodo is rapturously stroking the One Ring while Gollum mimes the same action, remembering when he used to do the same thing.  (It’s not on YouTube, I looked.)  I, too, have felt the power of the Ring — I mean, the emotional pull that objects can have on a person.  I want to make certain that I’m collecting fabric for good, constructive reasons, not for its own sake, or next thing I know, I’ll be Dumpster Guy.

So SABLE I’m OK with — within reason.  I just need to watch out for FANGAWHODS:  Fabric Acquisition that Negates a Girl’s Ability to Work in Her Own Damn Studio.


Entry filed under: Fabric Shopping, Organization. Tags: , , .

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