This year, I made a hat. Not just any hat, but a hand-sewn hat made from sealskin and coyote skin. It was made with a ton of help at every step from the Monday night Anglican women’s group, which I attended faithfully this year. One friend basically adopted me, gave me patterns, let me use her tools, gave me supplies when I’d picked the wrong ones. I made slow progress, since my spinning obsession meant I only worked on it Monday nights, but I did make progress. All the ladies followed my progress with encouragement, and not a little amusement. By the time we were out skidooing regularly in April, it was nearly done. It just needed a liner.
I wore it once. And then it disappeared.
We’re not sure it happened. The day I lost it, I’m pretty sure it made it inside the house, but I can’t be certain. We weren’t always the best about locking the door (we’re better now) and things like this do go missing. I put out a plea on Facebook, asked everyone who was at places I had been, checked around, but it’s just gone.
I could not accept this. This was not just a hat. This was my year. This was the time I spent with people who have become very important to me. This is cultural learning that came through actual relationships.
I knew that even though the hat was gone, the relationships and learning were all still there, but still, I couldn’t just accept this. I had two weeks before vacation. I had enough supplies. I decided to make another one.
I have documented it here in a rudimentary way for your interest. This is not a tutorial because it is not my cultural knowledge to share. But I thought you might like a hint of the process, primarily in pictures.
Step 1: cut pieces. (Tracing them incorrectly and then retracing them with help in a different color is an optional sub-step.)
Step 2: sew up the slices of hat top.
Step. 3: sew halves together
Step 4: attach outer ear flaps
Step 5: attach “outer” front flap
Step 6: attach earlap lining
Step 7: attach snaps for front flap (allowing a four year old to attempt to hammer the snaps in while you hold the thingie on your hand with your fingers that you value very much… is again an optional addition of flavour)
Step 8: attach front flap lining (doing this at 2 am is not recommended)
Step 9: make lining (same as step 1-3 but on some kind of fleece lining – at lest I still had the liner from the first hat and didn’t have to make it again)
Step 10: attach lining, praying that your guess on how to turn it inside out and attach it was right, because it’s 2:30 in the morning and you’re leaving town for 7 weeks the next day
Right up until yesterday; I didn’t know if I was going to finish this hat before I left. I had accepted that I might not. Staying up so late last night to finish was certainly not the best advised step I’ve ever taken.
But I’m so glad I did. This year has been hard in a lot of ways, and I’ve been ready for a break for longer than I care to admit. The last few months have included some real struggle. Making this second hat was an act of defiance against all that. It’s me shouting at the universe, at myself: this year has been hard, but it’s also been amazing. It’s been beautiful, and it’s won things for me personally that could not have come any other way. I’m sure God has done things in my ministry over past year that I don’t even get to know about, but which are exactly why I do what I do. It’s me saying, there are parts of this year that have been precious and irreplaceable, and I’m putting them first. It’s me saying, I need a rest, but I AM COMING BACK.
It was something I needed to say. And I guess I needed to say it with a hat.