It’s been a long time, I know. I visited Japan with my adult children and grandson in November, 2019 right after Houston Quilt Festival, took a break from traveling in December and January, sold at Stitches West for the first time while hosting our friend Tadashi Harada from Tulip Needle Co. in Hiroshima (he was introducing some cool new knitting accessories), then I went back to Japan again in February 2020.
It was eerie. Japan relies heavily on tourism from China, and by that point the Chinese were on lockdown. I visited temples and shrines, alone and with local friends, and we marveled at how empty these usually crowded places had become. But it was beautiful, and I soaked it all in. I knew it was a rare experience to see these places unencumbered by hoards of tourists, and I reveled in having access to roam such peaceful places.
Then I came home. My flight was bumpy over the Pacific, and I’d had a sense of impending doom for weeks before reality hit all of us here in the US. Within a week of my arrival home we were told the US borders would close, and my son called from Europe to tell me he was coming home immediately. I hadn’t seen him in 2.5 years except for our week together in Japan a few months prior. We prepared the recently-vacated spare room and he settled in. He’s still here, working remotely, and it’s all good.
Then came the rush for mask fabric. SO MUCH MASK FABRIC. Brick and mortar fabric stores were either shutting down or turning to online sales. The ones that closed were a boon to us because we inherited their customers. The ones that stayed open online were good for us, too, because they ordered from our wholesale business, Orimono Imports. Thomas and I worked non-stop from mid-March through June, when things finally settled down a bit.
In all that time I didn’t stitch a thing. I simply couldn’t. And I’ve spoken to so many of my friends who feel the same. While others were suddenly discovering their crafty side, those of us who rely on crafting to maintain our sanity were suddenly bereft.
And it’s ok. We’re all going through a type of grief right now, and part of that process can involve not finding joy in things that used to sustain you. I went through that after my divorce 20 year ago, and with the passing of my parents over a decade ago. In time, we either go back to our passions with fresh eyes, or we let them go.
Recently the urge to sew has been creeping back into my life. Not all at once, but a nibble here or there. I scroll through Instagram and look at pretty embellished masks from Japan, or masks with playful prints here in the US, that sort of thing, and it stirs my creative juices.
Because we sold so much of our available inventory early on, we had to dig into our hoarded stash of out-of-print fabrics, show pre-cuts (all those bins of fat quarters and half yards I hauled across the country every few months), and random bolts hidden away in our warehouse. We list around ten new bolts every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 4pm Pacific time in our Etsy shop KIMONOMOMO, and I’ve recently added Tanomono Monday and Fat Quarter Friday to the schedule. It keeps me on my toes. Taking photographs, editing them, and getting listings ready always takes more time that I anticipate, but I do like having a regular schedule. I’ve avoided work schedules in the past–I had to, my travel schedule was crazy–but now I can see how nicely it fits and makes work a little smoother.
At any rate, we are still hale and healthy here, a trio of introverts living and working in a big, old, lovely house with a garden full of bees and vegetables. It’s really nice. I know one day we’ll welcome you all back to our door and give you a seat at the table (we got new tables from IKEA!!).
I hope you are well and finding joy in your life. It’s out there, I promise. There are things I miss, including travel across the US, travel to Japan, and travel to meet my new baby granddaughter, but I’ll have to wait to enjoy those things again. We’ll get there eventually. For now, wear your mask, and keep a clean spare mask handy.
The world is going to change no matter what we do. The best option is to roll with it and make it better as we go.
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Using fabrics purchased from you in Houston 2019, I am making a collaged vest with a Christine Barnes pattern. It’s so much fun to play with the fabrics. Then I will add sashiko to give it even more detail.
Hi Mary Jo, that sounds great! I’d love to see it sometime.