Mending Matters: Update

Mending Matters Update

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a book review about Mending Matters. I finally hit the mending pile with fervor.

Two pairs of boys’ jeans with multiple holes in the pairs, three dresses (requiring invisible mending because they were knits), and a few other garments are now repaired. I have three more pairs of boys’ jeans, one pair of boys’ dress pants, and a letting out of a hem on a girl’s dress left. (And a girl’s pair of pajamas since I first drafted this post…)

Tools Matter

I bought myself some actual Sashiko needles on Amazon for around 3 Euros. Best 3 Euros I’ve spent in a while. The needles slipped through about five times as fast and easily as my old gold-tip needle. It was phenomenal.

The tools we use matter. And in this case, they weren’t outrageously expensive.

sashiko visible mending
My boy likes the look of this sashiko-inspired visible mending, while I’m not convinced. He calls them his rain superpower pants. Apparently, he can control the rain when he wears them.

Slow Fashion Near Miss

On the note of slow fashion, a confession is in order. In France, there is a yearly sale, a month-long period of post-Christmas clothing sales going on. I decided to look online at H&M for t-shirts for myself since I anticipate needing some new shirts after this pregnancy, and their sales were averaging 60% off. Fortunately, the site sold out of all of the shirts I liked. My slow fashion ideals currently remain intact.

How easily I was swayed toward conventional factory-produced fashion, and how naturally I turn toward it is frustrating to me. Really, I have the skills to take in some of the t-shirts I’ve got or rework some old dress shirts that are far too big on me now. We’ll see what kind of projects I end up with this year in terms of slow fashion. My daughter will likely end up with a homemade sweater dress, because she loves sweater dresses so much.

My husband, on the other hand, I haven’t decided what to do about. He is a bigger-framed man, and he will eventually need some really sturdy pants. We have two brands from America that we generally can trust in terms of sturdiness. They would be much higher quality than anything that I could conjure up, but I’m not certain how they’re sourced or produced.

Mending Matters (A Grannies and Rows Book Review)

Mending Matters

This week, I sat down and read Mending Matters, a book that I’ve had on my list for a very long time. I missed the boat when this book hit the crafting and intentional fashion world by storm in 2018. I’m glad I had a chance to read it now. (Plug for local libraries who offer e-book and audiobook reserving features. We love you!)

Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh offers much more than instructions on how to mend. She also presents a treatise on WHY we should mend. (And bonus points: it doesn’t come across as sanctimonious or holier than thou.) Mending provides a method of frugality and also allows for ethical considerations of those around the world burdened with the weight of commercial fashion production. Mending also is a therapeutic and quieting activity, allowing for contemplation.

I have soon-to-be-five children. I strive to mend all of their clothes, but to be honest, my mending pile is more intimidating than the fires of Mount Doom right now. (Probably too much Christmas crocheting and not enough Actual Work.) One of my boys alone has about five pairs of ripped jeans. I’ve been procrastinating on mending his jeans, because he’s *just about* into another size, and then I’ll have time before the next boy grows into them.

A few years ago, back when the holes and jeans for the boys were so much smaller.

But after reading this short book about slow fashion and tips and projects about how I could mend better and more efficiently (even fashionably), I fully intend to conquer my own Mount Doom. Wish me luck!

The girl has plenty of mending to be done as well. She recently wore a brand-new dress, and a seam ripped within three hours.

With Great Love: Work That Honors

One of Mother Teresa’s favorite mottos was “Do small things with great love.” There are about three or four iterations of this particular motto, but all with that refrain of doing small things with great love.

Isn’t that what making the world more beautiful is about? We can’t just swipe a huge oil pastel brush over the ugliness in the world to paint a sunrise or a sunset in its place, or a “happy little cloud” like Bob Ross. That’s not how it works. Because the world is cursed with sin and sadness, it will always remain present. But in our own small acts of redemptive defiance, we can resist the darkness. We can’t erase it, but we can plant a garden. Or we can make a pie. Or we can fold laundry. And in doing those little things with great love, we redeem and cultivate.

A few nights ago, I was up in the middle of the night. I’m a bit of an insomniac, to begin with, but pregnancy emphasizes that. And I was worried about a few different things. So I began reading poetry. At 3 a.m. (Please tell me that someone else, somewhere in the world, does this?)

I turned to Wendell Berry because his poetry has been so soothing to me in the last few years and in particular, his book This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems.

Teach me work that honors thy work,
the true economies of goods and words,
to make my arts compatible
with the songs of the local birds.

Teach me patience beyond work –
and, beyond patience, the blest
Sabbath of thy unresting love
which lights all things and gives rest.

Wendell Berry

And this became a prayer for me. Work that honors God’s work. Small things done with great love. They’re both so interwoven that it’s difficult to see where one leaves off and the other picks up.

This past month has been one huge march, placing one foot in front of another. November is always our family’s most busy and haphazard month, with birthdays and Thanksgiving and trying to intentionally get things done so that December can be a restful season of Advent. But each of the kids has demanded attention in different ways.

I often notice that when some of my children want attention, they’ll pick up a handicraft and ask me to help work with them on it. It’s usually not well-timed or convenient. But it is a ministry. It is heart work. And it is teaching my kids that love is available and that love becomes available when needed. I’m teaching my kids about prayer and how the Father always is ready to listen to them. It’s nothing earth-shattering. It’s saying yes in a moment when my flesh and to-do list long to say no.

It’s also teaching the kids to fight for beauty in their own way. It’s teaching them that they have the agency to choose colors and designs in their own projects. They have creative license. But at the same time, their handicrafts are bound by the rules/laws of that particular craft, material, and gravity. It’s teaching them to take pride in their work and the joy of making for others. It’s giving them a way to do little things with great love.

One step at a time. One stitch at a time. One moment at a time.

Little things.