This little essay was prompted by a blog I read about having a space of one’s own to create, however messy it may be. Thanks to Angel at I recommend her blog and its downloadable patterns to anyone who seeks inspiration for sewing projects and more. She’s a good writer and clever crafter.

My Beautiful Messes

By Beth Kalet

The little plastic Barbie shoe I kept beside my computer — as anchor, reminder, curious icon of a wrongheaded worldview — both comforted me and confounded me. That tiny high heel landed on my desk like so many other irrelevant items, tossed there by my kids or scooped up from the floor and deposited on the nearest surface by me in a half-hearted attempt at cleaning.

But even as I had then yet to master wearing heels, it was that single doll shoe that told me simply: life has its own path. Sometimes a shoe is just a shoe and not a symbol of conformity. And also: Cleaning up is perhaps overrated. It’s creativity that counts!

One day I would learn to wear and even enjoy wearing heels. One day things might be neater. But for now, for my two daughters, flexing our minds was what counted. We’d play, draw, build, sew and create together endlessly and joyfully.

So often work space and play space overlapped. It was not always a happy thing, especially when that creative play got in the way of my ability to concentrate on work. But I am glad now — so very grateful to my younger self, who allowed it — that play and work, that disorganization and reorganization factored together into my life.

Now my children are grown, leading independent lives. I have my own space aplenty. One room for my office, one for sewing and crafts and yet another for lounging (and also overflow.) Am I neater than before? I like to think so but honestly, I’m not sure it’s 100 percent possible for me. Not when there’s baby quilts to be pieced, fuzzy hats to be stitched, books to be written and ideas to be sketched out.

Surely a certain amount of order puts me in a state conducive to creative dreaming. But order alone is not stimulating. I need those mementos of days past. The Barbie shoe, the Gumby and the Troll dolls, the little slips of paper with childish drawings, the notes to Mommy and all that wonderful detritus. My mess is beautiful to me.


Here's my current sewing and crafts room... with projects aplenty all in progress.

Here’s my current sewing and crafts room… with projects aplenty all in progress.

Gotta have my Trolls and photos nearby.

Gotta have my Trolls and photos nearby.