Monday, August 17, 2009

Remembering With Our Hands

When I embroider on velvet, it's the silk ribbons, the thread and beads and where the needle pierces the fabric that I pay attention to. Yet, while I am embroidering, it is that which I cannot see which comes to my mind and I begin to remember.

I remember my grandmother carefully teaching me how to thread the needle and draw the colored threads through the fabric so it will not pucker - all the while telling me stories such as how her mother divorced her father, moved to San Francisco and set up a tailoring shop in Union Square "when women did not do those things".  And I remember other stories of women too, for sewing is more apt to invoke images of women than of men.

It's tricky, this kind of remembering. All these closely stitched threads intertwined into tapestries which are not unlike the unending ripples caused by stones dropped in ponds. The surface patterns and the ripples distract. It's the backside of the fabric and the stone itself I am interested in - the stories themselves, the stories we hold in our hands when we do something like incline our heads, take up a needle and a strand of thread, lay it down and fasten it to the fabric as women, mostly women, have done for aeons in all kinds of worlds for all kinds of reasons.


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