How We Have Failed Since September 11, Redux

First posted here on September 10, 2014

How We Have Failed since September 11

Tonight President Obama will address the nation about ISIS and any actions that we may take in response to the horrific murders of Americans and innocent civilians at the hands of terrorists.

Tomorrow there will be an observance in my community, and many others, to honor the thousands of lives lost to hate and terrorism, and to support the families and friends who knew someone they loved would never return home again.

Since September 11, 2001 we as a country have talked a lot about being kinder to one another and being a better country. Yet 13 years later this is what consumes us as a country:

  • fighting about allowing two consenting adults of the same-sex to legally marry each
  • failing to take care of the thousands of veterans who have defended our country, many of whom returned with horrible wounds from the Middle East since September 2001
  • allowing private corporations to decided which forms of legal birth control they will cover for employees through company based health insurance because some corporations should have the same privileges as churches
  • granting corporations the same rights as citizens so businesses can pour money into elections and our representatives’ pockets
  • making it harder for citizens to exercise their right to vote
  • subsidizing corporations with huge tax breaks while their employees working full-time never earn enough to break the poverty barrier
  • denying the hard facts of science because profits should come before cleaning up the mess we’ve made of the entire planet
  • deporting children
  • complaining about failing schools while slashing teacher pay and testing our children to death
  • sitting by silently while racism and sexism are displayed proudly
  • being sure we can take our assault rifles into the grocery store
  • we pay for and support violence on playing fields, in the movies we watch, video games we buy, music we listen to, and television shows we watch, but we react with horror when students are sprayed with bullets in their classrooms, women are drug from elevators by their hair, students are bullied, children and women are raped as well as being forced into prostitution
  • too many among us are convinced that their brand of faith should be followed above all others, and if necessary the rights of other citizens should be denied because they choose to worship differently, or not at all

We absolutely should remember and honor the victims of September 11th’s violence. I’m just not convinced we are a country that is a better reflection of the democratic values and freedoms which terrorists intended to destroy 13 years ago.

 

Not For Sale

For almost three years I let a gorgeous cashmere sweater intimidate me. It stayed folded up neatly among thrift store sweaters I had collected early in my repurpose/upcycle life with textiles.

cable scarfSome cabled cashmere sweaters don’t “snug up” where they are cut, which means that they require more fabric, more time, and more effort to repurpose. But the sweater that intimidated me was worse than that. It didn’t feel felted at all. Had it not looked a little bit smaller, I would have sworn it hadn’t been washed in hot water and dried on the cotton setting.

Every so often I would unfold it, gently squeezing the soft cables between my fingers, asking, “What can I do with you?”

During the fall I tried something using just the sleeves, but it wasn’t right. I folded the failed project up, tucked it inside the body of the sweater, and said I’d be back.

cabled cashmere scarfIn the quiet on the Sunday afternoon between Christmas and New Year”s Day (we are empty nesters, so yes, there was quiet at our house), I unfolded the caramel colored cables and decided I had waited long enough. The very worst I could do was have to cut up the end product and figure a way to use it piecemeal, disappointing for sure.

Because my mother taught me how to match plaids and patterns when I learned how to sew, I couldn’t just cut the sweater up and start sewing. I had to make the cable pattern match as best as possible. FYI- cashmere can be slippery. I must have used 200 pins to keep the pieces in place. Plus I basted things together before making it permanent (which means I sewed the whole thing twice).

It turned out just as I had hoped- super thick and soft, really far more extravagant than the rather simple things I make. There aren’t many things I decide to make for myself that I just won’t sell. I’ve learned that the hard way by posting a photo on Facebook and saying, “Look what I made in Guilford colors for Homecoming.” or “I’ve never repurposed silk before but now I know that I can!”

black cashmere shawlTwo weeks ago I came home from work pondering how I might make a bright colored shawl or wrap, but I couldn’t work out the design. Facebook friends had suggestions but I didn’t have enough cashmere to repurpose for a final product.

This past Sunday night I screwed up my courage and decided the worst that could happen, if I used what I have in a fairly large quantities, would be repurposing a shawl into several smaller items. I sorted and moved things around until almost 12:30 Monday morning, but I had it figured out when I called it a night.

 

gray cashmere wrapFirst thing Monday morning I got my shears out and started cutting. I had no pattern, so it was a slow-go to make sure the pieces would all fit together. Just before 1:00 I took a few pictures and then put the shawl, consisting of parts of five sweaters, into the wash to felt some of the newly cut edges.

It takes an hour for my washing machine to go through a full cycle. That’s a lifetime when sweaters it took forever to collect, and hours to put together, are being waited on to emerge.

This project was more than some thrift store sweaters though. One of the sweaters I repurposed, the lightest shade among the pieces I used, was sent to me by a friend who shares my love of clean water and air and healthy families. There’s a story and sentiment in this shawl. I’m firm on sharing this as a Not For Sale item.