It’s up to us now. It usually is, you know. Sewist know all about tears, frayed edges and unstable seams -- and we know how to fix them. We know how to overlook a few minor flaws to see the beauty and the purpose of the whole thing. We may even appreciate those flaws in our own way and call them charms. This is what we do. I have been quiet online about the election, even though this stuff is right there in my education and day-job wheelhouse. I have degrees in political science, journalism and German (the German degree with emphasis in political culture). My day job has a lot to do with recognizing and accounting for things like confirmation bias. So this election is my jam and my peanut butter. And I can handle talking to anybody about this election, over cocktails in the backyard on a warm evening, but not like this.
This here are screenshots of an algorithm on huffingtonpost.com, which links words found in a Twitter profile and whether that person is pro-Clinton or pro-Trump. “Sewing” falls about halfway between the two.
I will share with you an anecdote from over a decade ago, when I was making sewing patterns. I would lurk about a couple of popular sewing forums to see what the resonance for my designs was. But I would also get sidetracked by other things, as one does, on these forums. I recall encountering one forum, with an active participant, who was a man sewing for his son. It really is less of a novelty than it sounds like, as I now come across many men, who enjoy sewing. But at the time, I hadn’t really come across it and I was curious. That man happened to be in a same-sex relationship and his child had two fathers.
Many other participants, one could discern, from their avatars, signature taglines and involvement in church activities and so on, that they were from conservative backgrounds.
These forum members from conservative backgrounds, who would otherwise eagerly answer a question on different hand stitches or cleaning a serger, kept a polite distance from this man. Nothing uncivil, nothing disrespectful, nothing disgracious and nothing indelicate. Just distance. Just didn’t reply to his posts. Didn’t comment on his sewing accomplishments.
He was over here, they were over there. Ne’er the twain would meet or some such.
As it goes with sewing forums, especially ones about sewing for children, members come to know one another and get a glimpse into the lives of others. Members often share things more than discount codes for Fabric.com. Members watch their children grow and share in their joys and milestones. And they share other times, as well. Such as when this particular man shared that he was diagnosed with cancer.
And just like that, those ladies, the ones who held a very different belief system and very likely held deep and damning (in the truest sense of the word) convictions about this man’s sexual orientation, set into action. They organized prayer circles. They asked for the son’s measurements and went to their sewing machines. They took out jars of homemade jam from their pantries and put together care packages. They gave recipe tips learned from their own bouts of nausea that comes with chemotherapy.
The twain met.
The twain met.
The whole while, as this one set of members were keeping that polite distance, they were also curious, were also taking a look into this man’s life. And they must have at that point just seen the man as a person, that he was diagnosed with cancer and that he had a young son. My eyes are tearing up as I write those words.
That memory has stayed with me throughout this election cycle. This ugly, bullying, mean election cycle. I know that we really have more in common than our differences. We all love our children. That’s a start. We all know within our families and circle of friends the pain and destruction of cancer. Another start. We know love. We know pain. That’s a good start. Separate circles on a Venn diagram that actually touch and very often overlap.
"There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." -Bill Clinton, 1992