February 8 marks the Hari Kuyo Buddhist and Shinto Festival in Japan that began 400 years ago. Hari Kuyo refers to the festival that celebrates broken needles and sewing. Typically women dress in kimono and take their broken pins and needles to their local temple where they place them in a block of tofu. Many believe that while sewing life’s sorrows can creep into the needles. Burying the old needles in tofu softens them and allows the sorrows to be transported to the gods and away from the sewist. Hari Kuyo is also an opportunity to pray for better sewing skills.
I love the idea of showing gratitude for our tools and for acknowledging that our tools develop an emotional patina through extended use. For those of us who aren’t able to attend the Hari Kuyo Festival, how about taking a moment to give thanks for the tools that help us create and make beautiful things? And while you’re at it, this is probably a good time to change your rotary cutter blade and get rid of those bent pins and broken needles that have served you well.
Like you, I have watched Sewing with Nancy over the years and admired Nancy Zieman’s skills and down-to-earth personality. We met Nancy several years ago and have found her to be a warm and generous person as well. I drove Bill crazy while reading Seams Unlikely, Nancy’s autobiography. I kept saying, “You’re never going to believe this!” followed by reading aloud the part of the book that surprised me. It is an extraordinarily inspiring read. Your heart will break for her at times and you’ll find yourself gasping, “Oh my goodness…” a lot. Mostly you will get a glimpse of how a woman in small-town Wisconsin started an iconic TV show and overcame hurdle after hurdle after hurdle all while giving birth, adopting a child and managing a growing business.
So when Nancy emailed last spring asking if we would be guests on Sewing with Nancy, we were thrilled and decided to publish Magic Inch Quilts in conjunction with our appearance on the show. Sewing with Nancy is a well-oiled machine staffed with highly competent people who have worked with Nancy for decades. We talked through the content of the episodes and planned out with Nancy the step-outs and sequence of the projects. She’s quick, decisive and very thorough because she knows exactly what the viewer needs to see to understand the concept without wasting a minute.
Sewing with Nancy airs at different times across North America. While some watched our episodes in December, others told me they just saw one just last weekend. If you missed them, head over to NancyZieman.com where you’ll be able to see both episodes and find a treasure trove of All Things Nancy. If you’d like to win a copy of the DVD of both episodes, leave a comment below telling us what you’ve learned from Nancy over the years. We’ll randomly draw a winner on Tuesday, February 7. [Note: given that the DVD is formatted for US DVD players, we will only ship the DVD to a US address. Thanks for your understanding.]
In the summer of 2006, Penny Gold arrived at our week-long Design Camp workshop. Penny had emailed earlier to say that she would be working on a grieving quilt about the death of her only child who was killed in a car accident a year earlier. She explained that she was a private person and didn’t want to share what she was working on with other students. We said fine and told her to let us know how we could support her.
Penny developed deep friendships in the class and has spent the past 10 years working on a series of quilts about the loss of Jeremy. Bill has met with her annually since 2006 to give her constructive criticism about her work and ideas for the quilts in the series. So it was especially meaningful when Penny wrote us to share the happy news that she’d be having a show of her series on loss this week. Bill went to the opening last weekend while I was on mom duty. If you are driving through southern Illinois this week, be sure to drop by, read the stories behind the exhibit Loss and see how Penny has tackled this heartbreaking topic.