We were poor and happy. And my mother was jobless but prolific. She woke every day between four and five in the morning, made coffee and began to work. That is: to sew. She did this for several hours a day, hunched over the machine’s dim yellow glow or splayed on the floor slicing swaths of fabric on a ragged cardboard cutting surface, her reading glasses perched at the end of her nose. She rolled her eyes at the type of women who frequented JoAnn’s, bored housewives who might fill their downtime embroidering pillows or – the hobby whose value it has taken her years to recognise – quilting. She often described those women as ‘beige,’ in other words, stripped of colour and couture.