Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Listening to fabric

For creative writing I did a poem on the rhythm of embroidery (full text below - warning, very rough draft) and got back the comment that I was very good at "listening to the fabric."

No kidding.

Listening to fabric ain't the problem for me.

Walking into a fabric store is like walking into a frickin' bazaar with each piece calling out, promising great things, telling me all of its hopes and dreams and just about pulling out patterns it wants to be. Look at me! I'm the skirt you've always wanted, I'm that perfect shirt, I'm a red-carpet dress just waiting for your magic touch! Don't leave without me!

And my stash? Forget a bazaar, these fabrics, now home, turn into a chorus of third-world orphans with big pleading eyes and hands outstretched. Each one crying for me to give them some love and attention. I shift them around and even throw the occasional pattern their way to give them hope and shut them up but the next day they're at it again. And then, when I give in and start cutting the cry turns into complaints. Why THIS pattern? Won't you regret not saving me for a better one? Are you sure about the placement? Is everything on grain? You know, if you spent more time you could waste less fabric, maybe get another skirt out of me. Or a pillow. I'm really a pillow. No, what are you doing, don't cut, you haven't tested out that pattern yet! Yes, I know you're using me as a wearable muslin but why me? Why not THAT fabric? What if I'm not wearable? Guilt! Guilt!


I don't have any trouble listening to fabric. It's NOT listening that's so darn hard.

Poem, based on (I kid you not) a wrought iron elevator door at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Rhythms on Fabric

In, out
Cross a stitch
Skip a beat
Pull tight, loop
Cross again
Running stitch
Thread a bead


Black thread slipping
Silver needle weaving
raised shadows creeping on the
flat cotton moss

In, out
cross a stitch

Pattern growing spreading
Counted web catching
Shining beads, blackbirds eyes

Skip a beat,
Pull tight, loop

Bass notes blending
Sax squares brightening
Thin trumpet threads and
thick drum beads

Cross again
Running stitch

Winter branches reaching
Spring's first morning
Skeletal leaves catching
Last crystal snowflakes
Melt, blend

Thread a bead

Weave the thread
Pull tight
Lift and


Pattern formed
Full, finished
Spread like sketch work
On its canvas
Fingers trace
The silent beat
And set aside
For tomorrow's dance.

No comments: