I call it "cutting counter anxiety." It’s that slightly panicky feeling I get as the Joann’s Fabric employees at the cutting counter call out numbers that are inching closer to mine. It never fails. I could be at Joann’s for hours poring over the math around my newest project, always without a pattern. But every time my number is called I wind up at the counter, staring at the Joann’s lady slightly paralyzed, wondering which of the forty-two bolts of fabric in my cart I should start with since I don’t really know how much fabric I want or need from any of them.
The problem starts with the premise of the trip itself. I’ve got some project in mind, but not completely thought out, and I’m usually trying to do it as inexpensively as possible. I always go during some sale weekend, with my crumpled coupon in hand, ready to find a deal on some fabulous fabric. And then there aren’t enough choices…or there are too many choices…or the fabrics I’m considering are expensive, as was the case last weekend. But I can make it work if I make sure I just don’t buy too much of it. Enter the second problem. Since I almost never use a pattern (I like the project to be completely inspired and come together on its own), I never quite know how much to get. Now starts the frenzied sketching and calculating at the pattern table. This time some poor lady with a broken leg had no choice but to sit there and watch me mumble and sketch and fret about my fabric choices. "Those are beautiful fabrics you’ve picked." Poor lady didn’t know she was in for a forty minute conversation with me with that one comment alone.
But I finally did it. I grabbed a number, took my seat, and waited, a little nervous about the math I’d finally settled on and wondering if I should change the quantities. And sure enough, when the fabric lady called my number, I pulled up to the counter and sighed, completely afraid to commit to a yardage – or a fabric, for that matter. "I’ll be completely honest. I’ve been waiting all this time and I still can’t decide what or how much I need." She didn’t flinch. Neither my confession nor the the thirteen bolts of fabric jutting out of my tiny cart had done anything to scare her. The people in line behind me? Probably a little more irritated. But I was a little relieved just the same. "Do you run into this a lot?" I ventured. Only her mouth moved. "You have no idea."
So, now I’ve got my fabrics home. Waiting to become curtains and pillows and bedskirts for E.’s and Next Baby’s room (we decided they should share after all). I’m pretty sure I bought too much. If I ever start an Etsy shop, you may see some pretty green and orange and raspberry ditties floating around.