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Craft Rage

...Making a mess of things since 1973

 

Glass Houses (A Rant)

In conversation with an acquaintance, I spoke about my recent penchant for vintage sewing patterns. She asked a few questions, and I found myself explaining the concept of "the stash". I mentioned that I was thinking of reorganizing it, because it was hard to figure out what fabric I had on hand while it resided in bins. I get a little excited when I talk about organizing things - let's face it - I'm a giant geek, and I would rather organize things than do pretty much anything else in the world. That doesn't mean my house is clean, but it does mean that I can find pretty much anything I need, at any given point in time. Except my car keys, but that's more of a cat/gremlin/cosmos problem.

Anyway, I told her about some of the stashes I've seen on other blogs, and about one blogger's nearly 1000 m stash (O! I am green with envy!), and she was...well, she was horrified. She wondered why one would accumulate so much fabric, and moved quickly into judgement about my rampant consumerism, and this dreadfully expensive habit I call sewing/butchering fabric. I must admit, I was both moderately amused by her huffy tone, and a wee bit offended, in the way that I think everyone gets when they talk about something they're excited about, but the person they're talking to dismisses the subject as lame/dull/unworthy of further discussion.

After a bit, she went outside to have a smoke and silently judge me, (it was -38 degrees celsius, with a windchill that brought it to -49. That's -36.4 degrees Farenheight for you US folk, with a windchill of -56.2 - and she thinks I'm the nut job!!)

While she was outside, diminishing her lung capacity, freezing her ass off, and mulling my spending habits, I did some mulling of my own, whipped out the calculator I always carry in my purse, and crunched a few numbers - I am, after all, an accountant.

When she got back, I was actually ready to drop the subject - it was obviously a topic that wasn't going to go anywhere good, but she had the urge to wade back into the fray. She talked about how the world was going to hell in a handbasket because of people like me - people who buy things for the sake of buying things. I stared at the Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses perched on top of her head, thought about how she has three other pairs, each virtually indistinguishable from the others, but said only that I didn't really agree, and attempted to change the subject.

She talked about how it was probably negatively impacting my financial situation, because it sounded very expensive. I looked out the window of the coffee shop at her ridiculous truck, and I thanked her for her concern, and asked how her eldest daughter was doing in university.

She talked about how my fiance and I must fight about money all the time, since I had such expensive habits. I thought silently of her bitter divorce, surveyed her coldly, and told her that I'd had pretty much enough.

I reminded her that she has a pack a day smoking habit, which here in our town, costs her just under a hundred dollars a week, just under $5000.00 per year, and that I don't smoke. I reminded her that she just leased a new pickup truck, on which she's making lease payments of over five hundred dollars per month, or just over $6200.00 per year, but I drive a 1992 Chevy Cavalier because I know how to fix it myself. She doesn't actually use the pickup truck to haul anything - she bought it because the thinks she looks cute in it, and she complained that she's spending nearly a hundred dollars per week to put gas in it. I reminded her that that's another $5000.00 per year in fuel expenses, while I spend about thirty five dollars a week, myself.

I wouldn't know about any of this, except that she's the kind of person who likes to talk about what she pays for everything she buys, but only when she pays a lot. Where I am likely to say "I got this cute buttonholer at Value Village!" she's likely to say "I bought a new breakfront for the dining room, and paid $2200.00!"

Then, I reminded her that she is a "foodie" and...whatever the correct term is for people who pretend to know all there is to know about wine. Jackass? Oops, sorry. Anyway, I reminded her that she'd just finished telling me that she spends an average of $150.00 a week on dining out and wine, and I informed her that this adds up to another $7800.00 per year. I assured her that I wasn't even going to bring up her expensive tastes in sunglasses and brand-name clothes that never really look quite right on her, or her weekly mani-pedi, or her monthly cut/color/style at the most chichi salon our little city has.

I told her that my current weekly expenses for fabric/patterns/notions/beads, etc, average out to about $25.00 per week, or around $1300.00 a year. That's less than three payments on her absurdly oversized vehicle.

I told her that my fiance and I don't ever fight about what little I spent on craft materials, and that, in fact, he's very supportive.

We ended our conversation very awkwardly, and both left the coffee shop in a bit of a huff. I don't think I'll be seeing her again, and frankly, the idea of not laying eyes on this woman pleases me greatly.

As I walked to my car, I thought about how I could have handled that better. I could have just kept my trap shut, and said nothing at all, or tried harder to change the subject. But after a few minutes, I ended up thinking about all the things I actually didn't say. What I did NOT say was that if she quit smoking, started cooking, got a vehicle more in keeping with her lifestyle, and got off the sauce, she could probably afford to live quite comfortably off her salary once the child-support cheques from her ex-husband stop rolling in. Hooray for restraint. Oh yeah, and all that tanning is making your skin look leathery, honey!

Anyway, here's the thing - my fabric and pattern stash is my one guilty pleasure. I don't smoke, I rarely drink, and I don't do drugs (I hear a meth habit can really take a bite out of the personal finances!). I color my own hair, do my own nails, and occasionally indulge in a nice pedicure, because I'm not a very girly person, but having hot red toenails makes me feel just a little pink and fluffy. I don't judge those who have any of those habits, because I'm not them, and I'm not capable of bending my little pea-brain around the things in their life that make them need to smoke, drink, do drugs, whatever.

I DO feel a bit guilty that I'm a novice sewist, and I have a massive stash of patterns and fabric that I'm scared to cut up. I DO feel a little wasteful, but I also feel...like there are possibilities all around me. When I go in my craft room, I feel like I have options, an outlet. I probably enjoy just poking through everything, and reorganizing it, as much as I'm going to enjoy actually making things.

Anyway, the bottom line is this; I'll eventually use up everything in my stash, and I'll constantly buy more to replace it. I take comfort in the fact that I have a creative outlet, and don't feel the need to waste a bunch of my time making people feel bad about their own lives. To each, their own. Also, don't tell an accountant that she's spending money injudiciously, unless you want your own spending habits fed back to you in hard numbers.

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Blogger Moxie Tonic Says:

Oh dear, what a horrible experience! People of small mind and little imagination can hardly understand the thrill of buying fabric just on the concept of what it could be.
I'm with you though, I have a box of amazing vintage patterns (in my size even) that my Grandmother gave me, and I am terrified to touch them. She gave me some vintage fabric too - who knows if I will ever be confident enough to use that!
I've started copying my patterns on to tracing paper (art stores usually carry it in large rolls for drafting) then when I mutilate those, the original pattern is still pristine.

 
 
Blogger Karen Says:

Good girl! I was hoping you were going to give her what for about two sentences in . . . she deserved every word, and probably all the words you held back.

And on your own front, you're only going to be a novice for so long. Your stash (both fabric and patterns) are far from massive, but if they were, so what? Who would it hurt? We all cut down on our bad habits before we end up going hungry, and we cut into our stash before we go naked.

Enjoy your stash as it is, and for what it will become. It does your head good after a long day to walk into your workroom and just breathe in all the possibilities. It's better than therapy.

 
 
Blogger Karen Says:

Good girl! I was hoping you were going to give her what for about two sentences in . . . she deserved every word, and probably all the words you held back.

And on your own front, you're only going to be a novice for so long. Your stash (both fabric and patterns) are far from massive, but if they were, so what? Who would it hurt? We all cut down on our bad habits before we end up going hungry, and we cut into our stash before we go naked.

Enjoy your stash as it is, and for what it will become. It does your head good after a long day to walk into your workroom and just breathe in all the possibilities. It's better than therapy.

 
 
Blogger Rachelle Says:

Thanks so much for your kind words, both of you!

I was SO! mad at her for about 10 seconds, but it's gone now. Mostly because I'm too lazy to carry a grudge, but also because she's allowed to have her own opinions, even if they do make her sound like a moron.

Moxie, that tracing idea is a great one! I'll have to go down to the art place and see what I can find!

And Karen, you're right - I'm not hurting anyone, and in fact, I'm probably increasing my own sanity, which is good for everyone around me!

Thanks again, ladies!

 
 
Blogger shar Says:

Great comeback. As for your stash, I look upon my stash as my "toys". I have more than I could possibly use in two lifetimes, but just looking at my stuff, touching it and yes, organizing it, makes me happy. What in the world could possibly be wrong with that? Good luck with your sewing adventures!

 
 
Blogger Kristin Says:

YOU GO GIRL!!! I quilt and when people ask, what are you going to do with ALL that fabric? Or, what do you do with the quilts you make? I sometimes want to scream. So then I started saying, I collect fabric like others collect dishes or ceramic figurines. Everyone understands collecting. You don't need a reason.

 
 
Blogger Kelly Says:

Hello Rachelle,

I just found your blog. I love it. Thanks!!! Also if you have a hard time finding tracing paper, if you have a medical supply store near you, table paper is wonderful stuff. You know that paper they use on examination tables. It comes on a roll of up to 500 feet i believe. I found that I had to tape the tracing paper from the art store together to get a piece long enough for a pair of pants. With the table paper there is no taping involved. :) just unroll more.

k

 
 
Blogger Rachelle Says:

Thanks for the kind words, Kelly! Also, thanks for the excellent tip! I hadn't even thought of that, but yeah, table paper would be totally perfect! I'll see if I can search some out!

 

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