Thursday, July 8, 2010

Neither a Lender nor a Borrower Be?

As in many other things in my life, I'm a bit of a disorganized quilter. I see the big picture when I start a project, which is another way of saying that I don't carefully read the directions. As a result, I often end up running out of something in the 11th hour -- when the stores are all closed. I'm also accident prone, so I'm likely to cut something wrong, and as Murphy's Law for Quilters states,"The value of any piece of fabric is directly proportional to the speed and ease with which you will ruin it." (I didn't make this up; you can read the entire "Law" on I always make mistakes in the fabric I have the least amount of, and that which is now discontinued.

When I had a Tall Mouse Crafts in walking distance, my last-minute supply needs didn't matter so much. But the store closed, and then I had children, so I'm often in the middle of a giant mess, kids at my feet, when I run out of thread. Or turquoise wool felt. Or autumn leaf cotton. Fortunately for me, I have a dear quilting friend within walking distance. So...she gets my late night, Sunday evening, and early morning SOSes. She sincerely doesn't seem to mind, but here's something I've noticed: She never has to borrow anything from me.

Now, quilters are givers as a general rule. They give away over half of what they make, and they're almost always willing to open up their fabric cupboards and give out scraps. Sometimes they're even grateful to see their fabrics getting used. But still, lately I've been feeling embarrassed and guilty. (Not enough to stop doing it...) I would feel much more comfortable if these supply bail-outs were mutual.

Tonight, as I was writing this, I had to pause to make dinner, and halfway through my casserole prep, I realized I was out of chili powder. What was worse, the chili powder I last had in the pantry was some I borrowed from another neighbor, who buys all her spices at Costco. I swallowed my pride and called her anyway; when she wasn't home, I borrowed some from yet another neighbor, a lovely woman from Mexico. All she had was the truly Mexican variety. The result: casserole too spicy for my family to eat.

As I scraped the leftovers down the garbage disposal, it began to dawn on me that there is a consistent issue going on here. Both in cooking and sewing, (1) I'm likely to glance over the instructions rather than read them thoroughly. (2) I usually make a list at home of what I need before I go shopping for fabric or food, but then just as often I leave the list on the counter at home. (3) I'm so budget conscious that I almost always buy only what I need, leaving little room for error and making it necessary to replenish supplies more often. (4)The people I'm close to buy way more than they need, enabling me to be a serial borrower.

I'd love to say that this revelation will be followed by action steps toward improvement and change. But I can't say that they will. I've run it by the Chili Pepper Neighbor, and her suggestion is to just accept my Serial Borrower status, and chose not to feel guilty about it.

While I ponder that possibility, I will console myself with the knowledge that I am willing to be a lender, as well as a borrower, against the advice of Shakespeare. So fellow crafters, come on over. If I have it in my supply closet and you need it, it's yours. You're doing me a favor; you're making space for something new I'd like to buy. Same goes for my pantry and my refrigerator. But I'm sorry to say that I'm fresh out of chili powder.

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