Transitions: Common threads

My great-grandmother’s quilt is the centerpiece of my sewing studio. Intricate embroidery patterns weave together a tapestry of remembrance, vibrant hues proclaiming a story of artistry and inspiration, community and connection. Collectors refer to these quilting artifacts as antiques, but I prefer another description. Timeless.

For me, quilts are the silent storytellers. If we listen carefully, if we see with our hearts and minds, we experience the story unfolding around us. The patchwork of assorted fabrics, lovingly stitched together to create a mosaic of memories. The story of my grandmother’s mother—the story of our shared human experience—is the heart and soul of my sewing room. A kaleidoscope of color, pattern and texture, my studio is a sacred space where I imagine, dream, create and explore.

And now, this is where I work.

Quite recently, my sacred space—my art studio—experienced a reverse metamorphosis. The exquisite butterfly hugged herself tightly. And then, nestled in the blanket of her beautiful wings, the butterfly crammed her body into the confines of a dark cocoon. (Some less visionary people refer to this cocoon as a “home office.”)

Keyboard and cables, monitor and mouse, the black plastic and harsh edges contrasted sharply with the warm palette of colors and textures on my wall. When I first transitioned to working from home, I resented this intrusion of technology. I didn’t like the industrial, angular shapes taking up creative space on my craft table. I mourned for my 1950s Singer sewing machine, cast aside in favor of a newer, sleeker model with Wi-Fi, word processing and telecommuting capabilities.

But then I had my first online writing session with a student.

“Wendi?” Her voice was hesitant at first, uncertain. She appeared on the screen, gazing curiously close to the webcam as if she hoped to find me there, a miniaturized writing tutor hiding inside the camera. Her blurry face disappeared for a moment. Then she realized she could see me. She could also see a glimpse of my studio.

“Wendi, where are you? Is that a sewing machine? What are all those things on the wall?”

As my student gained confidence, her voice grew louder. She forgot she was nervous, and curiosity took over.

“Welcome to my studio,” I laughed. “Yes, that’s a sewing machine. And, those are spools of thread on the wall behind me.”

I paused. My shoulders relaxed. I smiled at the familiar face on my screen.

“I’m really happy to see you.”

Although my student and I were separated by miles of distance, we were together here in my studio. We were connected. Through underground cables, electrical wires, and yes—even the black, plastic cords on my crafting table—we were connected through a network of communication and caring.

The threads have USB ports, and the scraps of fabric are pixels on a screen, but we are creating a patchwork quilt. We are sharing our stories. These are the common threads of our TCC community. These are the threads that bind us together.

Wendi Crandell works at TCC Northwest as an instructional associate in the Academic Learning Center. Her passions include teaching, writing, gardening and sewing. Her newfound joy is tutoring students online.