Epictetus wrote: “Know first who you are and what you’re capable of. Just as nothing great is created instantly, the same goes for the perfecting of our talents and aptitudes. We are always learning, always growing. It is right to accept challenges. This is how we progress to the next level of intellectual, physical, or moral development. Still, don’t kid yourself: If you try to be something or someone you are not, you belittle your true self and end up not developing in those areas that you would have excelled at quite naturally. …. we each have our own special calling. Listen to yours and follow it faithfully.”
–The Art of Living: The Classic Manual on Virtue, Happiness and Effectiveness, ed. Sharon Lebell, p. 65.
Over the past 16 days, I have challenged myself to do something with a bunch of tiny rectangles of silk from a catalog of Japanese kimono silks, which I received in an old cookie tin from a thrift shop. As mentioned earlier, I first found them frustrating to handle–they slip so quickly out of grip! But the more I worked with them, the more fascinated and delighted I became. Unlike cheaper fabrics, these tiny scraps are sturdy and cooperative; they feel so soft yet they are strong. They take a fold easily with a cool iron, though one must handle them extremely carefully when sewing or they will stretch out of shape.
The photos here give a glimpse of how it came about, bit by bit. It was a perfect project for an accomplished perfectionist. What I now marvel on, looking at the finished project, is how the scraps seem to have fallen naturally into color categories–blue, purple, orange, yellow, and green. I had no plan in mind upon beginning; I was just following the instructions on making a Log Cabin quilt from Quilts from the Quiltmaker’s Gift. The crucial difference was that instead of imposing a color scheme, I let the color scheme emerge from the materials–and it became a rainbow! Then I framed it in white and grey, to enhance the yin/yang message. And it became Kimono quilt no. 1, “Rainbow”: a perfect emblem for this rainy and flowery place. I’ll have it done right in time for Cherry Blossom celebrations of the early spring!
Today I’m heading back over to Hosekibako, the Japanese resale shop on Weller Street where my husband bought that tin, in the hopes of finding more Kimono silk scraps. I love the way they tell stories, if you’re quiet and look carefully…
and I can’t wait to make Kimono silk quilt no. 2!