Our towels have definitely seen better days. I am a bit ashamed to admit it, but some of them have extensive holes in them. I should go out and replace them with new ones and let the old ones become cleaning rags. It’s the natural life-cycle of towels in our house, as -I am sure- in many of your houses as well.
I just can’t let them go in the landfill, if they still have the tiniest breath of life and use in them.
I love the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi. Life as such certainly is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. I adore the look of Kintsugi and the beautiful sashiko stitching (embroidery/reinforcement stitches done in running stitch). So why not put them to use? Reusing and mending is certainly not a modern idea and invention. Japanese boro has been around a while. Not only in Japan have textiles been re-used and mended and made to last just one more season, one more month, one more day.
So I look at my towels and think, why not give them another shot as towels? I could repair them!
A little bit of research and looking at photos and reading later and I was off to try my hand at some boro. I certainly have mended my family’s clothing this way for years, just never thought to actually call it any specific name, other than mending.
Boro does not mean art. It did not get invented as a form of self expression. It was the simple reaction to a very basic need of people living in extreme poverty. I can imagine the women sitting in their homes, or maybe in front of it, to make the best use of the natural light, and mending shirts, or pants, or bags, or anything one would need in daily life. To make it go another day. So their children would not have to run and play with holes in their clothes, or their husbands would not have to be cold, going to work every day. In the field? In a Mine? As a day laborer, not really knowing what he will do this day? Not really knowing IF he will get work and money to feed his family.
Our little family has been through our share of adversity. Brought on by the greed of big corporations, by someone just not thinking what their actions would do. Not just to my family, but countless others. People lose their jobs, their homes, their whole way of life. This happens every day. All over the world. My heart goes out to every one of you!
I am sitting here, mending our towels and thinking about the lives of people that went before me, and the people walking along side of me. I am not the only one, sitting here, mending things. There are a lot of us. Today, tonight, right now. Men and women. We are sitting here, taking one stitch at a time. Out of need most likely, out of love for sure. Every stitch I take, connects me with the other families, makes me understand the care and attention that goes into these fabrics. We are stitching so much more than just a shirt, a few towels, a bag.
We are stitching hope and dreams and love.