In December I did a lot of crocheting to help retrain my eyes, learn some new stitches and work out some creative frustrations. My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was five, so I can pretty much do it in my sleep, plus to crochet you just need a hook, yarn, and scissors. My sewing and quilting, on the other hand, I had to let languish while I recovered because even after the surgery I still couldn't focus well enough to do even simple tasks like threading a needle.
Over the holidays I slowly adjusted to my new vision. I crocheted four scarves, two pillows and a hat, but I still avoided all of my needlework. I had this terrible yearning for it -- nothing calms me or makes me feel as peaceful as sewing -- but I was afraid the changes to my eyes would make it difficult or even impossible for me to do anymore. Contemplating the thought of giving up sewing was really tough.
Finally I decided to find out just what I could do by doing a practice piece with things I didn't care about, so if I totally screwed it up I could throw it away without a qualm. So I crazy-patched a little tote with every unsightly fabric in my scrap bag and went to work embellishing it. Sort of like putting lipstick on a pig, but I didn't care how it turned out.
For the embellishment I began with this yellow flower lace applique, which came with a bunch of other appliques I ordered for another project last year. Yellow is my least favorite color, so it had been sitting in my lace box for months. On some level I almost wanted to screw it up, so I used it to practice beading:
After I spent a week of tediously beading that applique and the swatch of ugly fabric around it I moved on to another applique; one with an oddball gold color that went with nothing. I decided to pearl that one until it begged for mercy:
Working on all these ugly bits and pieces helped me channel a lot of anger and frustration that had been building since before the surgery. I even found a use for this really hideous plastic bead that I'd had in my bead bag since the Jurassic era:
After a lot more beading and embellishing I finally finished the ugly damn thing last night, and sewed it up, and turned it out to discover this:
My stitching was less than perfect, and I think I need more practice with spacing my seed beading, but . . . it's not really all that bad. I did some rather neat things with this, actually. It reminds me of Fall and October fires and how the leaves on my Japanese maple look when they begin to turn red. Somehow in trying to make something ugly on purpose I accidentally made something kind of beautiful. Something I couldn't have made if I'd given up on sewing.
As for yellow, I'll never love it, but I don't hate it anymore. This time it kind of saved my ass.