Kestrels and Clothes

I am not very good at identifying birds, being generally hampered by poor eyesight and their tendency to fly away before I have seen them properly, but kestrel is one that I can usually get. It flaps about like a fat golden pigeon, until it suddenly hovers and dives – at which moment you realise it is something very special.

I was out cycling again this week, enjoying the milder weather and feeling very unfit. (Walking at M’s speed is great for fresh air, but not for exercise!) I had a particular problem to ponder, that of clothing for M and me. I have never been much good at clothes shopping, so thought it would be easier and more fun to make some things we need now that M and I have stopped changing size as fast as we were. Great in theory, but I hadn’t anticipated some of the problems I have experienced trying to put this into practice.

Patterns for women’s casual clothes tend to be those that are easy to sew, rather than being well fitted. (I’m not after dresses or office wear right now!) So shirts are often simple, untailored shapes, trousers have a zip at the back, and fleece or sweatshirt jumpers tend to be few and far between – unless unisex will fit. Not much is good, practical, warm clothing for this time of the year. Children’s patterns have different problems, with most being variations on a theme already available in supermarkets – or sundresses. But there are always some exceptions, so after spending some time searching internet catalogues (no time to stand and look in the shop!) I picked out some I thought might do. Of course I failed to realise that child patterns frequently feature a child older than the pattern is intended for, so one is too small, but it was half price and I can make it a size bigger. I already make my own patterns so this isn’t a problem, but it all takes time and pattern making time adds to the project time.

So finally having got the patterns and considered what fabrics I might use, we went shopping. I then have the problem of a busy market stall, hundreds of fabrics all crammed in, and nothing that quite meets my expectations. (Quilting and home furnishing fabrics make up most of the market.) So I revise my ideas and try to keep an open mind over what might work, and find a couple I like. They come in a different width than the length I had written down, so I have to guess the quantity, trying to ensure I don’t end up spending more on fabric than I could have paid to buy the finished article. Some fabrics I would like to hold up to see if the colours work for me, but of course there is no mirror. I would like a second opinion, but M is more of a hindrance pulling random rolls out to look at or knocking them over. It gets to my turn, so I buy the four I have identified and plan to return next week for the other two or three I need.

I bring the fabric home and wash it in two batches, one of them bleeds red dye everywhere so what was going to be a cream, red and blue nightie for M will now be a pink, red and purple dress. I rethink yet again what fabric I still need to buy.

So I was pondering all this when I saw a kestrel dive down onto the grass verge just next to me and fly of with its prey. Kestrels take an expansive view of the world, they wait for the right moment and then strike. They know when to act, and when not to. They have mental concentration, a good level of intuition, and ultimately accuracy of movement. I will try to bear this in mind next time I manage to get to the shops!

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