Thomas is on summer vacation from teaching 4th grade, which means he’s taking a very active role in the studio. Last month we had the following conversation:
“How many of these fabrics are listed online right now?” he asked, looking at the wall of vintage kimono and yukata bolts.
I looked up from the floor where I was sorting paperwork for filing my taxes. This was June, mind you. “Um… all the ones to the far left of each shelf.”
“That’s not very many. Can you get the rest listed this month?”
Oh, sure! Why not? “I can work on it. Takes a while to edit all the photos and I need the right light to shoot them, so it’s a bit dicey sometimes.”
“Why don’t you get Leah to do it?”
“She’s out of town for most of the summer, and I like to do the photos myself. I’m picky about color correction.”
He rolled his eyes. “They’re not doing you any good just sitting here. List five a day and you’ll have them all done by the end of the month.”
Like that was ever going to happen. It’s been three weeks and I’ve listed a few more, but there are dozens to go through and I’ve got a pile of items in boxes that haven’t even seen the light of day since they arrived from Japan. Earlier this week I was clearing out piles of Japanese newspapers, bubble wrap, and random recycled packaging in a corner of the studio and found a stash of gorgeous items I’d forgotten about: a hand-painted obi, three more kimono bolts (one is a cotton shijira ori!), and an antique shibori yukata.
I brought the shibori yukata out to the living room to show him, modeled it a bit, and asked “Keep it or cut it?”
“Cut it,” he said without hesitation.
I sniffed one of the sleeves. “Cut it and wash it. This one doesn’t smell so good.”
That evening we sat down to listen to a baseball game and carefully took the yukata apart. I know this disturbs some people, but understand that I only disassemble garments that don’t have much of a future as they are, but will be much loved in the format we quilters most appreciate. That is to say, as clean and pressed flat fabric. If I chose to sell the yukata as-is it would be worn by one person, maybe displayed on a wall or–sadly–folded up and stored in a closet for years on end. I prefer the idea of sharing the visual wealth and spreading it around for many of us to enjoy. I hope you do, too.
At any rate, we put in a good two hours picking out threads and setting the fabric aside for washing. Our team won the game and we got to spend some quality time on the couch together doing something other than watching TV.
The next night I brought out another shibori yukata. “This one’s mine,” he said, taking it from me. When I tried to help by picking apart a seam he glared at me over his glasses. “MINE. Back off.” I do love that man. After the yukata had been disassembled I washed them in the machine with mild soap and hung them to dry a bit before ironing them and rolling them into bolts.
Another perk of having Thomas home for the summer (aside from having an extra pair of hands to get things done) is walking to the grocery store instead of driving.
And then there’s the garden.
He builds raised beds and trellises for our feral tomatoes and squash to grow in, on, and around. Nearly everything in the vegetable garden is a volunteer from last year’s leftovers.
We never know what type of squash we’ll have until they fruit. Looks like a butternut! Lucky me, I love making butternut soup in the fall.
Daisy is mostly blind now, but she loves keeping me company in the garden, sniffing everything, barking at the neighbors, and sitting on the warm, dusty dirt.
So goes our “summer vacation”. For me it’s just another season of Etsy listings, quilt shows, and sashiko guild meetups. Thomas keeps me working hard and I train him up on how to cover the shop while I’m away at shows (AQS Quilt Week in Grand Rapids, MI is coming up next month!).