Categories
art creativity death design memory wisdom

day 65: Clotho is awesome

Do you ever wonder why sewing is such a passion? Why it is so satisfying to create fine stitched work? Or to handle the smooth fabric and admire the tightly-woven, straight seams? If you suspect it’s connected to our desire for order, control, and symmetry, I agree. And I’d wager such longings explain the story of our mythic ancestress, Clotho, the Fate, who spins the thread of human life.

Clotho is one of our earliest fore-mothers, in a long line of women stitching. My history is probably like yours in some ways. I bet if you thought about your own family, you might find similar traditions of sewing, embroidery, quilting, or at least mending clothes (remember darning socks on a lightbulb?!)–arts and skills which are making a comeback at present, it seems… in this new Depression era.

My love of sewing is closely connected to my mother’s teachings, who learned it from her mother in Portland, OR, who likely learned it from her German-born mother. (That’s grandma as a tot, second from bottom right, and her mom sitting behind her with a baby on her lap.)

Grandma as a baby and her family White Salmon WA ca, 1915

Some of my fondest teenage memories have to do with sewing. (OK, I know! We were sewing store geeks!) Since I lived in the Bryant neighborhood and my friend lived in Laurelhurst, it was easy. We’d ride our bikes down to Stitch in Time, down by the U Village (before the U Village was chic), and spend hours designing our own special looks (Betsey Johnson was our idol), buying the fabrics, and then riding uphill—steeply—to our houses at the top of hills, to admire our stashes and make stuff. Both of us had learned it from our mothers with the help of Home Ed class at school. (Home Ed actually has a fascinating history and provides many key skills. I wish they’d put such “vocational” topics back into circulation in HS.)

Great-grandma's sewing machine

I am so attached to this heritage that I kept using grandma’s wrought-iron sewing machine (a 1928 White Rotary, above) until, after multiple attempts to repair it and after getting machine oil all over my hands one too many times, I sadly gave it up. (It’s still in the garage, of course.) My new machine, an industrial model Juki, was recommended by my sister-in-law, a fellow aficionado of textiles, who actually runs a flourishing interior design business in Seattle.

This is clearly a matriarchy of knowledge and skill, a source of power. Just look at our ancestor, Clotho, and her sisters!

Fates_tapestry_-460755563

Clotho is a mythological figure. In ancient Greek mythology, she is the one of the Three Fates or Moirai. Her role is a spinner; as she spins thread, she brings people to life. In this tapestry, called The Triumph of Death, or The 3 Fates, you can see how the three Fates work together. Her sister Fates, Lachesis and Atropos, draw out the thread of life (Lachesis) and cut it (Atropos). Thread represented human life and the decisions of Clotho and her sisters–how and when to begin, prolong, and end life–thus represented the fate of all people in society.*

WOW! That is one powerful sisterhood

I love how my quilts are now speaking to the face masks: Here is yesterday’s mask production, followed by two quilts from pre-COVID-19 days:

face masks made on May 22 2020

See how the ginkgo tree green, and the blue cranes, from “Kimono Silk Quilt no. 2” (above, left) have now shown up in face masks?  Also visible are face masks made of the black and white chessboard fabric, and black polka dots, from “Alice in Wonderland” small quilt no.1 (above, right). My stash is literally walking out the door! (not to worry, there’s plenty more)

 

Who cares if it’s geeky? Stitch on, sisters and nieces, near and far!

 

With love to Andrea, Shellie, and Jessie

 

info and imagery from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clotho and tapestry: Flemish, 1510-1520, Victorian and Albert Museum, London.

By This mediaUser:PriorymanOriginal workUnknown artist – Image by w:User:Prioryman, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53491807

Advertisement
Categories
art meditation music

day 21: stamina, stamina, stamina then hope

Hello again!  Here are a couple of good thoughts for your Thursday, from rock legend and wise woman, Patti Smith*:

– Stamina is required in the maintaining of hope.

– The important thing is to keep living because only by living can you see what happens next.

Hang in there!

And fyi: here are some more of the premium cotton fabrics available for the face masks I’m sewing for people, upon request ($5 each or $0.00 for medical personnel).  Pick-up at my house in West Seattle. Mail orders upon request, with prepayment and a self-addressed stamped envelope.

 

*Patti Smith, review of Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of PilgrimageNew York Times, 8/10/14.  Image above by New York artist Yuko Shimizu, printed with the original review. This picture–and the concept of a person who is colorless–seem prescient in this time when losing your sense of smell might mean you are very sick… but not feeling ill.

And here is a pic of the great musician and poet today, such an amazing woman. Thanks for keeping your beautiful natural look, Patti Smith!

Patti Smith today The Guardian

Stamina (Etymology: Latin pl. of STAMEN. The senses arise partly from sense ‘warp (of cloth)’, partly from application of pl. to the threads spun by the Fates.)

  1. pl. The original or essential elements or form of something, esp. an organism; rudiments.
  2.  pl. The innate strength or vitality of a person’s constitution, formerly supposed to govern or affect length of life.
  3. sing. or (orig.) pl. The ability to endure esp. physical strain or fatigue; capacity for resistance or endurance; staying power; perseverance.

from  The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), vol. 2, p. 2997.