Saturday, June 19, 2010

Eat well. Write often. Dream daily. Stitch happy. It starts here.

Welcome to Eat. Write. Dream. Stitch. There are many things that I love to do—so, why not write about cooking, sewing, knitting, playwriting, embroidery, and the mixed media art project I’m dreaming up next. Gardening too! Think I’m all Becky Homecky? Well I’m not. I’ll take you back to the horrors of 8th grade home economics and show you why I love what I do, make up my own patterns, create colorful characters in my writings, who love to stitch, and, of course, always seek inspiration. I need buckets of inspiration.

Sewing Machines Attack, Old Homec Books, Being Marcia Brady, 
and Pillow Stitching

Once upon a time, there was an eighth grade girl who took her first Home Economics class—back in 1974 when they still called it Homec. She had never wanted anything to do with cooking or sewing or etiquette (too busy laying out in the sun, dancing to disco, and thinking about boys), but there she was, stuck and struggling in a class full of perfect little Marcia Brady types. (The 13-year-old misfit among the future Stepford Wives.) She tried desperately to sew a pair of floral overalls with big fat orange and pink flowers for the big fat sewing project. And that resulted in a big fat F. She didn’t understand sewing, using a pattern, and the teacher—where was the teacher during the sewing unit? So, one day, in class, one of the Stepford Marcia’s sewed her own thumb. I think she was using a zig zag stitch on a Singer when her thumb got in the way. Once the blood and commotion and screams subsided, the class moved onto the cooking unit (thumb-stitch girl mysteriously disappeared). Again, F-in-sewing girl didn’t understand anything, until the day they were to make the scrambled eggs. As the teacher stirred up the yolks and poured them into the pan, the girl (me and my 8th grade pic on the right) watched the demonstration and wondered what her latest cute boy was doing in his shop class. Then, the magic started happening. As the pan heated up, and the teacher stirred, the eggs began their transformation into their fluffy, delightful, scrambled selves. Those eggs went from a bowl of stirred goop, to a beautiful, wonderful, amazing breakfast.

This was eggciting.

I finally got it! Something clicked and I understood that the magic of home economics transcended chores and Stepford Wives and helping mom. It was suddenly a science and an art. However, for some reason, by the end of the next class, I tucked all that fascination away and wouldn’t find it again for another 17 years. At the end of that class, I won the giant Butterick Pattern catalog in a drawing, and I bought my text book for 25 cents, because the next class would get new ones. It wasn’t until I found that text book in Mom’s attic, many many years later, that I realized how out of date it was, even for my 1970’s homec class. I also didn’t realize that my precious Butterick Pattern catalog book, which I had studied time and again, featured Betsy Johnson fashions! OMG! I wish I still had it.

Being reunited with my old enemy, the “Experiences In Homemaking” text book, got me started on my slight obsession with old homec text books. Those things are collectible now! I have found a few gems at flea markets, and I’m always on the lookout. I love old homec text books. It’s all kind of ironic now—especially since I adore cooking and stitching. And that’s how my new blog came to be. I’m writing up a stewpot of all the things I love to do, what really happens, and how to stay inspired. Like a few days ago, stitching up Adirondack chair pillows quickly (and I mean quickly) from some bright, happy topiary fabric I found last year in North Carolina!

Stitching Pillows Makes Me Happy

This sewing project definitely deserves an A+ (36 years later). And I didn’t use a pattern. I just cut out two tall rectangles, stitched around them, right sides together, leaving a little gap for turning out and stuffing, and then whip-stitching to close the gap. So take that Marcia Marcia Marcia. (tip: transparent thread is great for whip-stitches that show) Thanks to my lovely feline model, Minnie. Enjoy your food, writing, dreaming and stitching!