Today was a huge day because I finally managed to get the cutting table assembled. My little son is ill, wheezing and feverish, so everything was on hold yesterday except some sorting and reorganising of the cupboards.
Cupboards – well, in addition to the three sewing machines and two knitting machines which are actually out in the room, I have an additional sewing machine and two knitting machines which I want to keep there and easily accessible. (Not including, you know, the BACKUP sewing machine which will be stored elsewhere…) And experience teaches me that heavy items like machines should be stored close to or on the floor. I have a nice big cupboard at floor level, which I had earlier filled with yarn. The second shelf of this cupboard also held a zillion random art supplies and old boxes of god-knows-what, and then there were the two upper shelves filled with machine parts and miscellaneous old projects and interfacing and just, you know, stuff. I have well and truly reached the “miscellaneous” section of the sorting-out. It’s good to save this section to last. It sucks your soul because each individual thing in each random box belongs to a different category and has to be placed differently, and if you haven’t sorted anything else out before it’s impossible to know where it goes. So, where was I?
I took everything out, anyway. Amongst the things I discovered were many types of interfacing I didn’t know I possessed, a bunch of doll clothes I’d been looking for everywhere, yet more needles (I have SO MANY needles), a whole assortment of tools for cutting linoleum blocks, several drafting and stenciling sets, technical pens, a lot of paint, approximately 100,000 sketchbooks, all unused (why, why?), and you know what? Where does all that stuff come from? Why do I keep it? It’s a psychological puzzle going through a cupboard like that.
I removed the yarn from the plastic bins at floor level and stacked it on the narrower shelves at eye level. This is much better in every respect except one: skeins of yarn don’t stack very well, so currently I can imagine the whole shelf emptying out if I pull out the wrong skein. Fortunately my ball winder makes nice flat stackable cakes, so there will be some winding in my future. Both children have offered to help. The ball winder has its own special allure. I have also felt its pull…
Now the machines and all kinds of associated machine parts are on the deep lower shelves (and some remaining paint, embroidery frames, loom bits, etc) where they protected and out of view but much less likely to kill me if I need to take them out.
Once my husband came back from his trip to Stockholm today, he helped me with the wonderful, beautiful cutting table that is already just about my favourite piece of furniture ever. It is a joyful day indeed, the Day of the Cutting Table. But currently the cutting table is completely covered with detritus from the Very Last Box of the stuff I packed in Philadelphia in 1994 and have moved with me to London and Sweden. That box is like the cupboard all over again, but in miniature. It contained so many metal eyelets, and a specialist eyelet setting tool too. And enough metallic gold gimp to start my own rococo reupholstery studio. Again, I ask why? Many of these will be headed for the donation box. Amongst the good things were some beautiful linen decorative cloths and a giant tin of African beads, which I inherited from my stepmother whose assistant had collected them in Africa and then abandoned them with her. This is the type of thing you find when you are doing the “miscellaneous” category. I have no good knee-jerk place for a giant tin of African beads, yet no urge to donate them.
What remains? Well, there’s always going through all those books to locate the sellable ones. But outside of that, I realise the knitting machines are in the wrong place so I need to move them around; I need to build the glass cabinet for the dolls (which are currently in a plastic tub), and there’s another storage chest to build. Oh yeah, and The Cupboard of Miscellany contained a bunch of brackets for shelves. The shelves themselves are currently in the basement. So, um, shelves are on the list too.
I leave you with a quote from Borges, who captures exactly the mood of both the Cupboard and the Very Last Box, when he writes of a supposed Chinese encylopaedia: “In its remote pages it is written that the animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies.” (see Borges Analytical Language of John Wilkins).