Bebe Taian: Creativity in the Face of Adversity

August 10, 2011

Creativity in the Face of Adversity

Let's face it, the past two months have been rough for me. It's a story I'm sure many share some variation of. Both of us unemployed, with our savings having run out long ago, hospitalized twice in a week for near heart failure, the car breaking down, so, so much stuff happening like that, all in a short space of time. It's a little much. But I have hope still. I have to. Thinking of how bad things have gotten for friends, and how bad things have been in Japan in the past six months, and seeing how other people carry on despite their setbacks, I remember that I can't give up yet. As for everything I wish I'd done, or wish I could have done? Shoganai. It cannot be helped.

So, in between looking for work and calling about jobs, I've been trying to keep busy. Cleaning the apartment makes me feel better somewhat, but what I really like doing is going through everything we own and finding out what we can sell. I go through periods of acquiring stuff and destashing stuff; this is a good time to destash. It gives me a sense of purpose, and I don't feel so bad letting go of things if it might keep food in the pantry. Thus, why I sold off two of the kanzashi from my private collection. My hair really isn't long enough to wear either one, and won't be for years, so there's not a whole lot of reason to hang on to them. ^_^ The other things I've been doing? Making stuff!

Currently, I'm crocheting up a ball of cotton to start a blanket as an ongoing project. My joints tend to hurt a lot, so I plan projects that don't require using the same dye lots. This one is made specifically to look patchwork-y because the variegated yarn knits up into approximate "squares" of colour, like a patchwork quilt. If I don't have cottons that come from the same dye lots, no big deal! The blanket will be in a myriad of blues and white.

Another project that I'm going back and forth to is a quilted growth chart. Most people don't want to mark up the walls of their apartment, and people with houses sometimes move, so it makes more sense to make a growth chart for your kids that you can take with you. This one is for my cousin, who is having a girl in September. The sides are patched together from some spare cottons I've had for years, and the centre is mint green, also from a fabric I bought... seven years ago, I think. The part that's taking forever is the hand-beaded patterns running along the sides. I ran out of beads halfway through, and now I'm having trouble acquiring new ones. It seems that every place I'd bought them before has clearanced them! Eek! So I have to come up with a new plan, but even so, thirty or so squares of hand-beading is quite a bit for me. Then I have to put on the binding and finish the centre quilting.

The third project I have is much easier than the first two! I have so much fabric from the mint green piece that I'd cut, I have plenty to make a stack of koshi himo. All of the work is in measuring and cutting, and THAT I can handle!

The fourth is a series of cat toys and stuffed birds; the series uses a set of general patterns for both, but one set is stuffed with catnip and doesn't have the extra ribbon loops or button eyes, nor are they embroidered or anything like that. The other set is worthy of a Macy's Christmas tree.

The fifth is finally finishing the kinchaku I put off when I went to the hospital the first time two weeks ago, then had the Natsu Matsuri to pack up for the next day, then run and unpack from Natsu, then back to hospital... it all just kind of spiraled out from there on that project. But I have to find the pieces I was working with again, and finish putting them together. It's a pattern I made myself, so I want to make sure it works before cutting fabric for and sewing/weaving cord for ten of them.

The last project is one I've already nearly finished and forgot about: a datejime I made years ago, with a matching obi makura. I need to finish them both up and start on a new set! The datejime are particularly useful. They help keep the kimono from shifting too much when worn, and can flatten out a figure or fill in a curvy figure (like mine x.x) to make kimono sit in a more appropriate shape. Today's kimono silhouette is more of a cylindrical shape, whereas previously, it wasn't so rigid. However, the style of hikizuri as a daily wear died out in the Taisho era, when ohashori (the tuck at the waist or hip) became standard. Datejime also help the torso keep warm when wearing kimono in cold weather.

The goal here is to keep busy, feel productive, and to sell off or use up things that I already own to create something new and perhaps even put them up for sale. It helps keep the despair factor down because I stay distracted, and the sense of accomplishment from making something keeps me satisfied for that day. I posted about all of this for that reason: because it helped me, maybe it will help someone else keep going.

I'll update with pictures of these projects later! It's a little dark to take photos in here right now.

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