Covering for an old friend.

This week was full of little celebrations of friendships, and while that isn’t so unlike any other week, maybe this week had just a tiny bit more.

The shorter and cooler days are rich with intimate and domestic tasks, much of which comprises mending, knitting, rearranging, tidying, organizing, planning, thinking and conversing. But a dear friend done went and had a birthday, so I even danced!

Because I had a busy weekend scheduled, I thought I would make a “quick task” of recovering an old potholder that Justin bought a little while before we met. It was just a regular potholder from some box store, but over the years it had been stained and worn to near-shreds, and I had been meaning to recover it for a while now.

All things together, it really should have only taken me about an hour to do, but it took me closer to five hours over the course of two days, partly because I can’t often find what I need when I need it, and partly because I seem to always make mistakes that require ripping back and re-doing and/or having to re-adjust my method or approach. Always.

I used some reclaimed fabric from a sun-beaten kitchen window curtain my neighbor gave me. I think she gave it to me because it was an “authorized reproduction of old Sturbridge Village” print, noted on the selvedge. She and I were both awestruck over a 19th century tippet adorned with  milkweed floss featured at Sturbridge Village so when she saw the watermark, I think she though I could get a little use out of it.

There wasn’t much of the fabric that I could salvage, but I was able to squeak out enough usable fabric to cover the potholder. It is very fragile, so I used some fusible interfacing to give it a little more support, and then I also added a little extra heat-resistant interfacing. I have no documentation of this, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

The potholder got so thick that I couldn’t feed it through my sewing machine, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t try. I am persistent, after all, and I tried so many times that I actually ripped the new cover.  I had to sew the rest of the project by hand. I started by mending the rip.

I see a lot of mending in the future with it, and I think that’s rather exciting. Mending provides a living record of the textiles and people within our lives.

Probably fifteen years ago, a friend (back then our landlord) gave me my “main squeeze” sewing machine along with some boxes of seam binding and bias tapes which I believe were from her grandmother.  The boxes are essentially a time capsule of  bias tapes, most for which I have little use, but hold onto anyway. This particular tape was so precious, I had actually tried to use it in other projects, but there wasn’t of it: a small project was required. And then it matched so nicely with the reclaimed fabric, so here we are.

It seems sort of silly to me to write about a potholder, but when I think about all the hands that went into it – not even counting the factory hands, the shipping hands, the capitalist chain of hands, et. al.  Even considering our hands it has covered so safely all these years, then add in the hands that brought me the materials and tools to give it new life; well, then, it doesn’t seem so silly anymore.




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