Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ties That Bind

A dear friend that I've known since high school lost her husband last summer.

Jim was a full-living, vibrant, dapper, outgoing, friendly, funny, story-telling man who loved to laugh and made friends with everyone he met.  They were together for over 40 years.  The love of her life, he finally proposed 6 months before he died.  He was afraid she would say 'no'.

Jim had a vast collection of ties (among other things). One day before the funeral Anna Marie brought a stack of them into the living room, draped them over the couch and asked me to make something for her using them.  I collected a grouping of what appealed to me and shipped them off to my Oregon studio.  

And there they sat.  
And sat.  
And sat.  
Inspiration was not quickly forthcoming.  I found myself moving them around; setting them on various surfaces while waiting for the tie muse to appear.  Eventually she did.

I had a vision of a scarf made with strips of bias silk that would be cut from the ties. Soft, colorful, fluid, simple.  Something to wrap around Anna Marie's neck just like the ties were worn by Jim.  

The reality of stitching a project like this is always more complicated that it appears (in my visions anyway).  

The ties were shipped back to Minnesota so I could create the scarf during my Christmastime visit. Spread all over my daughter's dining room table, I cut the strips on a small mat with a rotary cutter, piled the strips randomly next to the machine and stitched away.

I decided on no backing or lining as I wanted the fluidity - which I got - but that created new problems to solve. The silks and other fabrics all reacted to stitching differently. Some stretched more on the bias than others; they were different weights and textures. I wanted the strips to be varying widths and ended up adding seams to some of the widest. I'd planned to leave the long side edges unfinished but folding the edge over once and stitching it down added just the right bit of weight. Lucky I'd cut the strips wider than I'd thought I needed. The seams were randomly exposed to both sides so it is always right side out. Lack of perfection becomes perfect.

Soft, fluid and colorful - just what I imagined.
Anna Marie and I met for lunch right before Christmas. A great time to give her my gift. If I entertained thoughts of  whether she'd 'like it' or whether it was 'good enough' (always comes up) I didn't have to. I received what was for me a perfect response - she burst into tears. 

I don't think she's taken it off since.