You know I have this impossible fantasy: sitting in a cafe with a bunch of like-minded people, doing something by hand and talking and sharing ideas and inspiration and information. Some of us would be stitching. Some could be drawing or whittling or beading or knitting or whatever. At least a couple people would be making clothes by hand, because that's what I'm doing and in my fantasy I have other people off of whom to bounce ideas and from whom to get information (like, right now, I want to know: how come I can't find the other colors of button and craft thread? I can find most of them but not the light blue or maroon or pink. I can't find them in the three stores here that carry the thread or anywhere online, either. I can see those colors on the Coats and Clark website, but I can't find anywhere to order them, and it's making me nuts. So, in my fantasy, there'd be someone who had the answer to that. Or, you know (since it's my fantasy) someone who would take a bag out of their sewing bag and go, "Oh, here. I have a bunch of those I'm not using right now, and I can get more, so take these.") I've tried over the years to make this happen In Real Life, locally: trying to get people to come hang out with me at Starbucks and stitch or whatever. There've been a few times it happened, but nothing regular, and no one doing anything like what I do. And, really, it's never going to. While there may be a couple people in Midland, Texas, who like to do hand stitching, I'm guessing the word "funky" probably isn't in their vocabulary. I'm thinking the hand stitching they do is something like counted cross-stitch or bargello or needlepoint. I'm guessing there's nobody obsessed with making their clothes entirely by hand and then embellishing them with a ton--literally, as this bolero I'm working on is getting so heavy I may have to buy one of those little wheeled granny carts (the ones your grandma uses to wheel to the grocery store) to haul it around in--of beads and thread. Maybe there is, but I've given up looking and hoping and holding my breath.
Ever since Seth Apter told me about his Twitter party for the launch of his book, The Pulse of Mixed Media, I've been totally intrigued by the idea of a virtual stitch salon: a way for people like me, who love hand-stitching and who crave a community where they can go and sit and stitch and share ideas and get information about stuff like "Where do you order your beads?" and "How can you sew a seam by hand?" and "What's the best thread to use for that?" and "WHERE CAN I FIND THE (*&^%$#@ PINK THREAD???"--where we can have a place to do all that with other people who love what we love. I've been thinking about how this could happen, and finally I decided to Just Do It. I invited Melly Mels Testa to help me spread the word and come bring her ideas and expertise (she Knows Real Sewing and stuff), and she said, "Sure!" even though it's going to be kind of past her bedtime. That's the problem with time zones: you want to do things when they're convenient for the most people, people on various continents, and to do that, it's going to be weird hours for others. But we're going to do it, and it's going to be great fun, and here's the information you need to join in.
First, you have to have a Twitter account. I know, I know: that's kind of the opposite of sitting around sipping wine and stitching. For a lot of people, Twitter is the devil, and I understand that. But here's the deal: I don't know of any other way for people everywhere to be able to do something at the same time and communicate with each other instantly. It's the only way to do this, alas. So you sign in to Twitter, and next Wednesday evening, from 9-10 pm Central time (10-11 pm eastern, 8-9 pm mountain, 7-8 pm pacific), you'll tweet using the hashtag #StitchLounge. I'm hoping that lots of people will upload photos--I like to use my PhotoBooth on the iMac, but there are all kinds of ways to do this, and I'm sure you'll have your own way of sharing what you're doing. I'm thinking that I'll hold up what I'm stitching and take a photo and show it, and then maybe someone will have a comment or a question or something, and then they'll show what they're doing. You know, just like if we were sitting around a table. That's the idea.
Seth used Tweet Chat for his party, and I'm going to give it a try. The benefit is that you sign in and specify a hashtag--in this case #StitchLounge--and it will do two things for you: 1) it will automatically add that hashtag to all your tweets during the party/salon so that you don't have to waste time typing it, and 2) it will filter tweets so you see only those that have the same hashtag. So you won't see the tweets from the people you follow or the stream or anything that doesn't have that hashtag. It makes Twitter your own private event. Of course, you can still be following everyone else on whatever other Twitter app you usually use, but that's neither here nor there for us. For our purposes, you'd feel like you were just having a conversation with other #StitchLounge people.
It's going to be a regular thang: the first Wednesday night of every month. You're welcome to come early and stay late, drop in when you can, or pop in and out as necessary. That's the beauty of a virtual salon: you don't have to put on a clean shirt and bake cupcakes. You don't have to Google directions to someone's house out in the 'burbs, and you don't have to worry about getting the kids in bed before you leave.
So we hope to see you there--it will be fabulous fun, and the more people who participate, the better. Do I have an ulterior motive? Well, I don't know if it's ulterior or not, but what I'm dreaming of is a surge of interest in SoulWear, in creating clothing that means something. I know Alabama Chanin's latest book is changing people's lives and the way they think about their wardrobe, and I hope to push them even further in their thinking about what clothes are and what they can be and how they can create a wardrobe they love, whether they like the Alabama Chanin style or something completely different. I'd love to see more books by other people with more ideas. I'd love a magazine that showed the kinds of clothes I love, with regular hits of inspiration. I'd love for there to be a blog or website where I could go and see eye candy of what other people are creating. Would I want to do another artwear book? I don't know. I did New Techniques for Wearable Art (and omigod: I just totally spaced on the title of that book (which I've always hated; it was so not the title I wanted) and had to google myself to find it. Is that pathetic or what? Oh, yes. Yes, it is. And it's also kind of pathetic that you can now buy a copy of that book for a penny. Well, not really: I never got royalties from it, so it's no skin off my nose, and a penny for a book is a pretty good deal, no?) in 2004, the first book of its kind, and it was cool but not what I had dreamed it could be. I'm learning that if I can't do exactly what I want to do with a book, there's really no point in doing it. You don't get rich, and it's a ton of hard work, so if you don't wake up in the morning thinking of how totally cool that book is going to be, certain to the very marrow of your bones that it's going to be completely and totally amazing, there's no point in doing all the hard work. And until there's enough interest in SoulWear that there's a guaranteed audience for books like this, there's no point in trying to convince a publisher that it's a fabulous idea. Even if you could, it would end up being a pale watered-down shadow of the fabulous thing it could have been because nobody is going to believe in how amazing your dream book would be. I'm hoping Chanin's newest book will be so successful that publishers will sit up and go, "Huh?" kind of the way your dog does when she's sound asleep in the living room and someone in the next block opens a can of Alpo. And it's not about me; I'd be thrilled if other people did books about hand-stitching and clothing and altering garments--the more that's out there, the more there is for me to look at and get ideas. So that's my ulterior motive, if there is one: I want this to be so popular that people like me can find inspiration everywhere: books, websites, magazines, boards on Pinterest. Wherever you go to find that hit of an idea that sends your brain spinning into a whole new orbit, that's what I want to help encourage.
Join me, won't you? It's free, it's easy, and it's going to be fabulous~~XO