A Beautifully Flawed State of Imperfection
the free and peaceful feeling of letting go
I carefully wrap thread around the needle and push it back through the fabric, gently holding the thread to guide it into a perfect French knot. What results is a tangled blob with random loops shooting out every which way. Definitely not French.
Normally this would send me into a frenzy of snipping, cursing, and unraveling. But not tonight. Tonight I am not a maker. I am an organically flowing master of imperfection. My next knot is, if anything, more tangled than the last. I’m really good at this.
Nothing has come harder to me than this state of letting go. Nothing. Not childhood trauma, not an abusive marriage, not being a single mother living in poverty. Those things demanded minute by minute attempts at perfection just for survival. Failures are magnified and mistakes costly, and hard to come back from.
I finish the section of knots and love the way my mistakes look as if I’d planned them. I want to say I’ve invented a new kind of knot, but I couldn’t begin to figure out how to tell anyone else how to make one. And that’s okay.
I spend my days telling people all sorts of things via the written word, including how to make things. I am a writer and a crafter. The kids are grown up, but the living is still precarious. I can’t afford to make many mistakes when crafting a piece of writing, and I can’t afford any mistakes when selling a piece of craftwork. This takes a toll.
I think we all need space in our lives to not only be less than perfect, but to embrace imperfection. To make a friend of mistakes, and glory in the flawed creatures that we all are. Modern life is rife with pressures, both external and internal. There are demands on our time and on our persons. We are busy. We are exhausted. We need a little time to let go.
I crochet, and work with felt and leather. I paint, sew, stamp, burn wood, fold paper, bend wire, shape clay, and string beads. And then I sell everything I make, or rather I attempt to sell everything I make. It’s a passion, but it’s also a business. Nothing sucks the joy out of a thing like trying to monetize a hobby, people said. They were wrong, but it does twist the meaning of “fun” a little.
So I took up embroidery just for myself. Well, really, I relearned the embroidery I learned as a child and in high school fiber arts classes. I made the conscious decision to not try and sell anything I made. You will never find an embroidery hoop or piece of needlework in my Etsy shop because these are my sacred pieces.
They are flawed and messy. They have holes and missed stitches and tangled knots and I am definitely coloring outside the lines. It becomes a moving form of meditation, the needle pushing and pulling, threads and yarn flowing through my fingers, blocks of color forming in my hands. I don’t concentrate on what I’m doing. I make mistakes and keep on going. And I forgive myself for those mistakes.
I am trying to transfer that forgiveness into other areas of my life. I am making progress with every push of the needle.
I know that I’m capable of churning out beautifully perfect pieces of embroidery. I choose not to because I need this time and this work. I am working on art and working on myself. I need this quietness in the wee hours to let go of the day and connect to the flawed human that I am, who is free in this time and space to make things that are imperfectly beautiful. Things that will never be judged or criticized, or bought or sold. Just appreciated for what they are.
Don’t we all need that?