This first blog is dedicated to all the lovely, knowledgeable and helpful ladies at Hancock Fabrics in Hurst, Texas, USA:
A few weeks ago I was shocked to learn that Hancock Fabrics, perhaps the most popular source of fabrics and notions nationwide here in the US, was going out of business. Over the years, Hancock Fabrics has always been my #1 place to go to for all varieties of fabrics and such so these last few days have been bittersweet. I visited the store on Pipeline Road frequently and witnessed this iconic store shrinking down in inventory and merchandise, furniture and fixtures, bit by bit.
I have never been one to enjoy feasting on someone else misfortune but I must admit I consider myself lucky to have been able to purchase some extraordinary fixtures for my YKC studio that otherwise would not have been available nor affordable to me.
I find it comforting that these items found a good new home where they are greatly appreciated.
During these last few days I have been shocked to observe customers acting like vultures, bickering over items that were already marked down 85 % and more. What was particularly disheartening was to watch how hardly anybody gave consideration to the ladies working there who were about to lose their jobs after the store was liquidated.
Hancock Fabrics was a mad house for weeks and nobody knew how long this frenzy would last. Eventually a sign was placed on the front door: " Closing in 16 days” and the reality really sunk in that these wonderful sales ladies were unemployed after this countdown. It was on that day when the sign was placed that I found myself in the store again and it was depressing to see the stress of impending doom in the staff’s eyes and on their faces.
I remembered all these years I fought for my own business, Y-Knot-Creations to stay afloat when times were slim. Once I had to walk away from what seemed to be a promising future out West due to the changing of my personal circumstances and had to start over again here in Texas.
Sometimes I wonder who saved whom: did I save YKC or did YKC save me? Today I cannot even imagine losing my business and studio, yet the future seems so fragile with the whole world and the economy on the brink. My craft is deemed a luxury. I learned how to knit and crochet in elementary school; it was mandatory then back in Germany. We were the last gasping breaths of an era to have learned these skills before technology really started taking over.
Today I lack the comprehension of technology, but thanks to APPLE and my steady commitment to workshops I seem to have gained a deeper understanding of this elusive and fickle aspect of our daily lives. So, what happened to Hancock Fabrics?
The luxury of a lost art. Is it not so that most women don’t sew, knit, crochet or quilt? It seems only a select few are left knowing these skills and us few were, alas, not sufficient to keep this noble institution viable...
As a 51 year old, I was astonished to see the great amount of customers who bought these close-out materials because they were cheap, clearly not knowing what to do with them. I noticed questions being asked at the always busy cash register on how to knit or crochet. At one point watching all this madness I turned to Lynette, one of my favorite sales ladies and said: "Heavens forbid if we put a darning egg out, they would have no idea what to do with that!" Am I the only one left who knows how to darn a sock? In the old days it was the only way to fix socks and women were tasked to sew and stitch. Not so much anymore. “ Made in China” kind of discouraged that skill. Why fix something if we can buy it for cheap?
Creativity is a luxury that is a dose of reality, especially when the economy is weakened. And speaking of being “weakened,” it is when one is weak that the vultures will come and pick on you mercilessly. I have encountered that personally in my past. Then, there is creativity out of Necessity, [please look for this subject in my next blog] such as the African natives carving and creating the most beautiful wood sculptures just to survive and feed themselves. Every so often having to give their hard work away to the vultures for the equivalent of just a few dollars, simply to be able to buy food at night.
Right now in the USA, the Amish provide another example of struggling with how to keep their culture and way of life and encourage their offspring to maintain that lifestyle and tradition. There are so many facets to this subject but the closest to my heart are the Native American Indian and Inuit. We took away their culture little by little over a 200 years period. I have been greatly inspired by their artwork and it breaks my heart to observe how hard it is for the elders to encourage their young to create, carve and weave. May native art be one that will also perish one day? I would dread that day and I can only hope not.
In the end, examples of lost art-forms are all around us in this ever-present turning of the wheel of time. As an artist it is very hard to sustain. Creating is an enjoyment and a struggle; indeed, a contradiction in and of itself. The world is harsh. We notice how people interact with each other. Forming a polite sentence seems to be a challenge and we are all consumed by technology; especially our youth. They certainly are not interested in knitting or crocheting or “darning a sock.”
Kindness is a weakness now. It was with a heavy heart that I stood in front of the Hancock Fabric store yesterday while they put up the sign “STORE CLOSED.” Where am I going to buy my fabric now, with limited shops available? These days spent watching this process compelled me to try with all my heart to make a difference, no matter how small. I brought the entire staff an ample selection of hand-crafted cup cakes in appreciation of all the years they had provided me with fabulous service. When I bid Lynette farewell she said; "Eva, after meeting you I will no longer look at kindness as a weakness but now as a great strength.” What a lovely and profound remark!
In closing I would say that inspiration can come from all sources, as with creativity, but for me, it is special when coming from the heart!