I remember one year on our dad’s-birthday-eve, I stumbled upon my sister in the garage hammering nails into a long board on which she had painted tye-dye colors and written some generic message like “Dad, you’re a pal!” with big sloppy letters. It was a coat rack, she said.

I must have been about 7 years old or so, and at the time it was a favoriteĀ pastimeĀ of mine to hammer nails into boards. Unable to let my sister one-up me at my own specialty, I spent quite some time thinking how I could turn one of my nail-and-hammer projects into a birthday gift for my dad. Finally, I had it! My grand idea was to hammer different size nails into a block, tie on an extra nail as a mallet, and there you had the perfect musical instrument birthday gift.

When my dad opened his gift after kindly admiring Krisha’s coat rack, he sort of smirked in my directions and said knowingly, “Kayla, you just wanted to hammer nails into a board, didn’t you?” Having been raised to be proud of my creative efforts, I was pretty hurt by my dad’s failure to appreciate his new musical instrument. But I also remember acknowledging in my upset 7-year-old mind that he was right. I did just want to hammer nails into a board.

Last night I sat in my room hammering nails into a board, and I remembered my unappreciated birthday gift that was now turning into something more innovative than even I had expected. After years of disentangling spools of thread regardless of how many times I try to gently organize them in a box or nicely stack them in a window sill, I stumbled upon the realization that they would hang wonderfully from nails hammered in a board.

After a trip to the wonderful Construction Junction to acquire an old piece of crown molding, a cut and paint job, and an evening spent hammering nails into a board, I have discovered the way to keep my spools untangled and looking nice:

I’ve discovered that sewing together pieces of scrap paper has an unavoidable attraction. Here is the culmination of my evening spent therapeutically attempting to recreate my jumbled life of paper clippings by sewing it into a somewhat cohesive refurbished whole:

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I made it with the intention of writing a letter on it. But I’m still trying to figure out how to place the words.

nothing so small

January 22, 2009

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I’ve fallen in love with scraps.

I recently decided to make a quilt, and the hefty task has left me scouring the earth to compile the scraps of other people’s lifestyles. With my recently acquired best friend freecycle, I’ve found myself traveling to various porches and doors of strangers where fabricked surprises like portions of a grandma’s old clothes and patterned remnants of childhood fetishes have been bagged and discarded into my hands.

I must admit that I acquired a lot of junk in my fabric scrap collection endeavors. It’s inevitable to encounter actual garbage inside of piles that other people consider garbage enough to get rid of. But I’ve also collected millions of mismatched pieces that I suspect, if combined in exactly the right way, might actually create something almost good.

I recently accompanied a friend on a trip to the fabric store to acquire large sheets of fabric for the quilt she’s planning. It was great to have endless options before our eyes, but it was also terrifying. New things generally make me a little nervous. Those dumb dollar signs have a way of amplifying mistakes. And there’s such great potential for mistakes in quilting and in life.wasted1

I’ll stick with scraps.

So now I have piles of various shapes and styles of fabric scattered about my floor waiting to be endlessly ironed, monotonously sorted, tediously combined, and slowly transformed into something beautiful with endless histories residing inside.