There were damask napkins and linen placemats, monogrammed hankies and cocktail napkins, all beautifully stitched, finished with needle lace, drawn thread embroidery, hem stitching and other techniques I don't know the names of (much less how they were done).
Simultaneously gleeful and mournful, we 'rescued' these gorgeous things from whatever fate might have had in store for them had we left them there.
such lovely cloth (edges already finished), cried out for imagery.
But after one attempt, I found myself paralyzed.
I'd get something out, turn it this way and that,
imagine drawing with needle and yarn,
then put it away.
At first I thought it was because I wasn't all that interested,
stitching a short-lived distraction from tapestry with no staying power.
or at least a plan, and my deliberately messy, spontaneous needlework is more at home on bits and scraps where I am free to change my mind -- about stitches, about yarn, about whatever it is that I have to say.
Pristine yardage is lovely already and cutting it to bits only to sew it together again
makes my scissors shake.
Perhaps it is also why I am a weaver and knitter.
With those techniques I can build fabric the exact size I need for whatever I have in mind.
As, indeed, I can build an phrase out of scraps.
I don't, after all, want them to feel abandoned.
So now and again I heat up my iron and give them a little press with lots of steam,
admire their sheen and think of ways I might put them to work.
Then I roll them neatly (don't want permanent creases in the folds), and put them away.
One of these days perhaps I'll start eating my granola on one of the placemats,
accidentally slop some tea in one corner then wipe blackberry juice from my mouth with my great grandmother's monogram.
Loosen them up. Loosen me up.