I have fallen in love with this hand-sewn organic cotton poncho from Alabama Chanin. It is soft and versatile. I keep it rolled up in my everyday tote where it comes in handy as a light cover for just a little added warmth. I like that my arms are unrestricted so I can easily take pictures or work at the computer. It is elegant and stylish.
This simple accessory is a fitting symbol for my journey.
For years I sewed quilts with intricate piecing and geometric designs. Every strip of fabric was measured carefully and cut accurately. Pieces were pinned, sewn with quarter inch seams, and neatly pressed. Mistakes were corrected. The pattern was a bible. The goal was perfection – straight seams, tiny stitches, coordinated binding.
In much the same way, I took mostly still life photographs. I collected and arranged the pieces to create a stylized vignette. I used a tripod and carefully controlled the light and environment. And here again, the goal was perfection, or as near as I could come.
Let me say here that I do not mean in any way to imply that either of these artful crafts require such perfection, merely that they tapped into an already present need in me to work toward excellence in all things. In many ways these pursuits were worthwhile. In both I mastered the underlying skills needed to explore and discover my own style, to find my voice. But ultimately, I found this way of being frustrating. Trying so hard all the time is exhausting.
My poncho is made from a medium-weight cotton jersey material. The edges are unfinished and allowed to curl and roll naturally. The one single seam that connects the spiral is hand-stitched with strong button craft thread. The stitches veer ever so slightly off in one direction or the other. The knots are tied large, not hidden or buried, but left to stand proudly as design elements.
As I run my fingers along the seam line of this perfectly imperfect garment, I understand that this year's worth of photographs has been one long uphill climb to a summit of acceptance.
I have never felt so free.
I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions. –Ann Burroughs