I remember as a child lingering over the open lid of my mother’s cedar chest; the sharp, aged smell of precious wood filling the room. It was an infrequent luxury– opening the chest– as such ceremony was limited to special occasions that warranted old pictures or costumes or keepsakes. But the memory is crisp and fond; the childlike wonder of participating in memories that were not my own, and wondering what treasures I might accumulate over my lifetime.
I wrote these words last spring, when the idea of Cedar Chest Knits was just a twinkle in my eye and a word on a breeze. I still don’t know what all my dreams are for this space, or even for my own future in the fiber world, but I do know that I have carved out my little dwelling here with a purpose. And that end, largely, has to do with two things: the incarnation of memories through craft, and the building of a life worth treasuring, remembering, and made to stand the test of time.
The difference between this life I long for and my experience with my mother’s cedar chest is that I want my treasured keepsakes to be used, worn, loved… brought threadbare so they can be mended, used, worn, and loved again by generations. Not inaccessible, off-limits, or as a catch-all for the old crap we just don’t know what to do with. If the talk at Slow Fashion October has got me thinking about anything, it’s how these things we create ought to be purposed for function, beauty, and longevity. Plus, I am a sucker for sentimentality, and the thought of a great grandmother’s cardigan warming shoulders 60 years later gets me all kinds of weepy.
I am no psychologist, but I do think my obsession with nostalgia has to do with the very real lack of roots in my own life. As a wife and mother, the deepest dream I have for raising my kids looks something like an old trusty farmhouse, where they are born and where I die (many decades later, of course). Where the garden is so established that apple trees they planted as kindergarteners provide pies and cider for their children. It is a hometown and roots so deep you write a country song about them.
My past may not be a tall oak tree with roots deep and branches soaring, but perhaps it is a wild strawberry patch… tiny plants moving outward as rhizomes sprout up and bloom for a little while, and then move outward. It is my aim this year to begin rooting around my memory bank, and memorializing some of “what has been” for the sake of carrying it into “what will be.” To be okay with the fact that the things, places, and people I love are scattered across the US and beyond, and to let go of the fact that I don’t have a deep history– maybe even celebrate it.
And then, of course, to knit about it.
Coming up: the debut piece in #mycedarchestknits, an autobiography of sorts, with wool as my words and needles my pen. First stop, Blacksburg VA…