A Tatter Tale

My new favorite spot is one of the most unique places in NYC, and one of the most valuable if you have a soul of fabric and fiber. Brooklyn is home to Blue: The Tatter Textile Library, a private collection of books, periodicals, art, and antiques. The serene indigo space is filled with decades of books about the history, ethnography, and crafting of textiles. As well as the library (an academic collection that charges a fee for use), Blue also offers classes in textile arts in the warehouse space beyond. I recently attended a Narrative Mending workshop, and it was a very rich experience…

The blue jeans pictured above belong to the teacher, Karen Stevens, who has been mending her jeans with colorful patches and threads for over a decade. Narrative mending is a way to turn your clothing and other textiles into your own, very personal, journal. We sat around a table with mugs of tea and Karen proceeded to cover it with a smorgasbord of fabrics and embroidery floss and examples of over-dyed and mended garments from her own closet.

A treasure trove of remnants and swatches

Inspiration and ideas from Karen soon had us all diving into the colors and textures on the table. And that includes me, the one who can’t even sew a button back on, the one with no sewing or embroidery experience! For the first few minutes I struggled to thread the needle with beautiful red Danish Flower Thread but soon enough I settled into a truly unique experience. I have to say, narrative mending is one of the simplest yet most satisfying things to do.

But the most wonderful part of the workshop was something that I suppose all of Blue’s classes possess: a sense of camaraderie. There were eight of us – differing ages, walks of life, places of origin – and how quickly we condensed into a happy gathering! Stitching and patching our beloved old jeans and dresses, we just fell into sharing our stories and wisdom. No one wanted to leave after the three hours were up, all of us wishing this gathering could happen on a regular basis. Kudos to Blue’s founder, Jordana Munk Martin, whose combination of warmth, humor, and intelligence made this much more than just a craft workshop; I think we connected to something deep and old that has always been an integral part of the collective experience of women, that of bonding together while doing the essential work of creating and caring for clothing and shelter, as recorded in so many of the books in the Tatter Textile Library.

The Narrative Mending classes continue through March 2019; CLICK HERE to see an array of other classes. Thank you Jordana and Karen 🤗

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