I work in the textile industry. I purchase fabrics and yarns that then get turned into everything from cloth diapers to quilts to clothing. I've used fabrics of all types. Terry fabrics, velour fabrics, fleece fabrics, woven fabrics, knit fabrics, and the list goes on. I’ve used fabrics made out of all kinds of material; cotton, polyester, rayon, bamboo, and more. I was sitting down with my assistant the other day to try and help her see the difference in each of my bamboo fabrics. One has loops, one is brushed and has a fuzzy appearance, and one is shaved giving it a sleek and smooth feel. Each fabric has its own properties, its own texture, its own DNA if you will. It has that thing that makes it unique and usable. Some fabrics are smooth, some are bumpy, some are stretchy and some don't stretch at all. But really when you get down to it, they are all fabric, and because they are all fabric they all share one common trait. They all start as yarn.
It's in the yarn that the fabric is determined. If you have a friable yarn your fabric will shred when touched. If you have a strong yarn the fabric will hold up to years of abuse and beatings. If you use a cotton yarn you get a cotton fabric. Even with today's advances we can't change that, it is what it is.
As I laid in bed tonight I thought about that. Yarn. How the fibers twist and strengthen each other. How each one makes the next stronger. How it's the yarn and the weaver that completely determine the fabric, the textile. The fabric gets no say in what it will be; it's in the hands of the weaver. The weaver has control over the colors, the textures, and the pattern. They control the twists and turns on the fibers, the placement, the size, everything, but first the weaver must get the yarn from the spinner. The spinner must take the raw fibers and make them into something usable by the weaver. The spinner takes much time with the fibers, being careful not to pull too much fiber at once, being gentle and careful. The spinner cares for the material like a parent for a child, until eventually they have spun enough fiber to make a spook of yarn, which in turn is handed over to the weaver who makes a beautiful garment.
It's much like life. We are created in the womb from nothing, really just 2 little specks that it takes a microscope to see. Our parents take that raw fiber and they begin to spin it, to nurture it and make it into a find yarn. With each day and each step they spin in a little more fiber, more raw material, more experience. Until one day they have a grown adult that they can hand over to God and let him weave their life into a beautiful tapestry. Our experiences become our future, a stepping stone into what we will become. Much like spinning, once it's done it can't be taken back. Have you ever tried to pull yarn into its original form? It's not so easy. The fibers intertwine and become like they are 1. Just like the yarns of our lives. Every day, whether you remember it or not is part of you, and it makes you who you are.
The older I get the more I realize I really don't remember my childhood. I have these small snippets of time that when pulled together make me say when I was a kid. Really all they are though is little snap shots of time. Like looking through an old scrapbook. And the more I stop and think about it the more I realize many of the snippets I think I stole from TV shows and movies. I don't remember ever running through a field of wild flowers or running to my Dad in the airport in slow motion.
What I do remember that's mine are the nights my Dad would carry me to bed late at night when he thought I was sleeping. Well, truth is I probably was, but I still woke up, if only for a moment. I remember my Dad singing to me, You are so Beautiful to Me, I can't even tell you who sings it or what all the words are. I remember the many summers I spent up at work with my Dad, filing paperwork, filling out forms in the service department of his dealership, and strutting around like I owned the place. I remember the people that bought me sodas and candy while I waited for my Dad to get finished with work so we could go home. I remember my Mom taking us to have lunch with Daddy, which was always a special treat. We never ate extravagant for lunch, usually just some small diner or pizza joint or sandwich shop that he'd found, but somehow it always felt special.
I remember my mom rocking my brothers to sleep in Dad's recliner, singing to them. I remember her sitting on the couch reading 1 chapter a night of Nancy Drew for me and 1 of the Hardy Boys for my brothers. I remember the day she came into my 4th grade class, during our party and told me she had good news and bad. The good news God had answered my prayers and she was having baby number 5. The bad news God hadn't answered the way I'd wanted and it was a boy. I remember my Mom praying, we prayed on the way to school, we prayed on the way out of town, we prayed on the way back into town, we prayed when an ambulance or fire truck went by. No matter what we prayed.
I remember my older brother teaching me to pick the GI Joes and set them up. I remember playing hide and seek for hours outside through the woods at night. I remember long, hot summers filled with entertainment we made ourselves. Having to come in the bathroom door so we could go straight into the showers. (We had a door leading outside on our bathroom :)
I remember the year it snowed.... There was snow on the ground, enough that we were actually able to scrape it up with a garden spade and make a snowball. We kept that snow ball for years to come. I remember making the snow angels in the ice. Bundling up like we had never bundled before. And while I don't remember I'm sure when we came in we got hot chocolate.
I remember pancake breakfasts with chocolate chips and bacon. Homemade Italian subs. Grandma’s chicken cutlets, homemade spaghetti sauce, meatballs, and chicken. While I can't remember the recipe or what was even in it, I remember Grandma making chicken soup from scratch and straining it through that super cool strainer she had with the wooden thingy that fit in it just right. It looks a lot like a funnel, that strainer did, and it had this cool wooden thingy that you spun around on the inside and it squashed everything out the strainer holes. I remember Grandma's (the other grandma) homemade fudge. Man, if I could find it again, no one made it like she did. I remember her pumpkin pies, which I never ate the crust of, just the filling. Her chocolate pudding.
The truth is when I look back on my life I remember lots of little snap shots. It's not like watching a video, where I can remember it all. They are just tidbits of time, but when woven together I can see how they all fit. I realize there is a reason that one of the most special things in the world to me is when I get to take my kids and go have lunch with their Dad. Why I love to hear my husband sing. What makes me cry when I hear Amazing Grace. Why I'm good at making spaghetti sauce.
When I look back I can see what it is that made me, well me. It wasn't anything profound, it wasn't money or fame, and it was just the everyday. I can't look back and ever say that I had a rough childhood. I remember we always had food, clothes and shelter. I was always taught no matter what we had, that was really all we needed. I remember we always had enough to give to others, even when we probably didn't. That's probably why today I would give everything I have away.
The fact is the yarns of my childhood, even those I can't see anymore, they make me who I am. All my success and all my failure comes from the yarn I was built from. I can choose to let the bad experiences turn me friable and fragile. To let them break me down and turn me thread bare, or I can choose to look at them with a smile and realize I need to twist a little harder and weave a little stronger tomorrow. I need to let let those experiences make me stronger. I can stand on my great past and look back and say look at me, look what I was, look how good I did, how good I had it. But the sad truth is even the strongest of threads will break over time with washing and drying, with use it breaks down. If I don't continue to weave my yarns, good and bad, and to thread them into a beautiful garment what will tomorrow hold for me?
See my past is who I was, but it helps to make me who I am, and it foreshadows who I will become. My past can only do that though if I learn from it. If I take those fond snap shots and pass them onto my kids. If I learn from those moments when I look back and wish it could have been different. I want my kids to look back and see that the yarns they were woven from are good yarns. That they are strong and stable and that no matter what, the most important thing is if their yarn is weak they have a Friend they can lean on. I hope the lessons my parents weaved into my life will continue on in my children. What a shame it would be if the fabric stopped with me.