Trousers repair-1st March 2022

Japanese needles

What was it John Lennon said? “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” Hum. Yeah.

I had planned a different picture for today and had already written different thoughts to go with that other photo. But, things happen.

Yesterday, I managed to tear a little three-cornered hole in my very favourite pair of trousers. Baby wale corduroy, old as the hills, years of washing has polished them butter soft. I had crossed my legs awkwardly at my desk and the zipper on my boot caught the fabric. We all know that feeling. The exasperation at careless clumsiness followed by sorrow over a favourite, now broken, thing.

For so many years, I had good intentions about repairs but little time for actual execution. As seen over the past month of these posts, I have the luxury of time now in my life and I intend to enjoy it.

Repairing? That’s enjoying your time?

Have a look at all the items in the picture. At first glance, we see the component parts of a repairing kit laid out for business, but it is the Japanese needles that I want to draw your attention to today. Those pesky algorithms that we know dissect our every view online occasionally throw up a gem. They had followed my interest in all things sewn and handmade to turn up this shop:

The very last thing on the planet I needed in my life was more hand-sewing needles. I have many, many half-used packets. Some inherited, some bought for different projects, and one which dates from my Home Economics Sewing class in the 8th Grade. We are not talking need here- we are talking seduction.

I would always encourage you to leave room in your life to be seduced. No, no, not like that, although…

No, what I mean is, when I saw these needles and read the story behind them, when I learned how they are made and how beautifully and sustainably they are presented, when I saw that I would be supporting a centuries old tradition- now endangered as is the way with so much Craft in the world- how could I not fail to be seduced and allow myself a £10 gift that I would appreciate every time I needed to use a needle?

That Japanese way of thinking again. When I visited Japan, I remember the first time I bought something in a shop. It was something ordinary, mundane, Quotidian even. The shop assistant got out paper and ribbon and scissors and started to wrap it up. I stopped her- “Oh, don’t trouble yourself. It’s only for me, it’s not a gift.” She smiled and tilted her head on one side in the way that the Japanese often do and carried on. She had it wrapped beautifully in seconds, deft fingers folding the paper just so and tying the ribbon around it artistically- no plastic wrapping tape anywhere to be seen. I handed over the money and she presented me with the wrapped package while bowing in the Japanese way. In English she said, “Is Gift. For You.”

I was in an absolute blue funk yesterday. The World Madness had caught up with me and I could scarcely deal with it all. I was grieving for our world. I do know that the flip side of grief is anger. We grieve for what we have lost or are in danger of losing. I also know that we can use that grieving anger as fuel. HOW DARE they lay siege to my peace of mind in this way?

Our peace of mind often requires we do things to right wrongs, to give what we can as needed, to REFUSE to allow the things we cherish to be diminished. I was going to lay this photo/writing project aside as I was not sure I could, or should, carry on. Today dawned, I repaired my trousers, I gathered my anger to myself, even more determined to find soul-feeding beauty in the things around me, in the people I love, in the world that I still believe has infinite potential.

As a dear friend and colleague said to me many times through the darker days of our working life together, “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” He’s right, ya know. Thanks, Richard.

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1 comment

  1. I used that comment on b…… all my life!

    I loved your Japanese needles post. Pleased to hear your trousers are repaired.


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