I can remember as a kid, asking my mother if I could iron the clothes that I brought in from the line. Her response was “No, I’m too tired.” It took me years to understand what she meant which made no sense to me at the time. I think I loved to iron until I was old enough to do it without having to ask if I was allowed to do it. My favorite thing to iron was my father’s hankies. I remember them as being thin soft cotton with wrinkles that would flatten out with one pass of the iron. Then I’d fold it in half and iron it then fold it in half again and iron it one last time. I can still remember the feel the thickness of the four layers of cotton fabric and the slight bump of the edge of the hankie. This is what I was thinking of as I began the task of ironing the hankies I washed last week.
But what better way for me to get to know what I have to work with than to flatten each hankie and sort them into piles by size. Like laying out the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle or sorting rocks when building a stone wall. When building a stone wall, the rules are: sort rocks by size and shape (keeping the big flat ones for the top and the square ones for the corners) and have more than you will need to finish the wall. That’s just what I did with my hankies before starting to make my scarves. I made sure I had enough to work with (thank you all who sent me hankies in the mail and so quickly!) and put them into piles according to size. This is a slow and meditative process. I put Krishna Das on my ipod and stayed with each hankie as I ironed it, taking in it’s colors and pattern to get familiar with it. This kind of work puts me in a deliberate and contemplative mood, a good warm up for designing the scarves.
My neat piles quickly became a mess on the floor as I worked on the scarves. I laid out the two layers to be sewn together. Each scarf 60″ long, then pinned them together paying attention to which edge goes one top and which on bottom. A decision I make with each hankie depending it’s edge. (some hankies have a scalloped edge) On one layer I put the first and last scarf on a diagonal, making a diamond shape. Then I mark the top on each with a pin, fold them up and send them off to Kim for her to stitch together. I designed 10 scarves today and still have enough hankies left to fill most of my orders. I’ll be back at it tomorrow, after that I’ll be searching for more hankies.