The Maker’s Year

One of my favorite podcasts is A Playful Day.  It was on a brief hiatus and recently relaunched a new format.  Kate (the lovely host)  has organized various online events in the past that I’ve taken part in, including Love Your Blog week last year.  This year she is focusing on the Maker’s Year.  You can read more about it on her blog and she talks about it on the podcast.  You can also check out the hashtag #themakersyear on Instagram where people have been tagging pictures of their making.  Through this focus, Kate is exploring all the different ways we make and celebrating both the making and the differences in the way we all make.

The question she posed on her podcast is “What does making mean to you?”  She has invited her listeners and readers to blog and post their answers.  It’s such a hard question because I can’t imagine not making.

I’ve been crafting for as long as I can remember.  My grandma crocheted and loved to craft.  When I was little I spent a lot of time at her house.  She tried to teach me crochet but it never stuck.  We would bake, dye Easter eggs, make felt Christmas ornaments and work on other little projects.  I’m sure this sparked my interest in crafting and baking.  My mom was always working on a craft.  She did needlepoint and latch hook rugs and made a lot of wreaths.

I was a Girl Scout until I was in 9th grade.  One of my favorite things was the Winter Jamboree, which was essentially craft camp.  We could sign up for all different craft sessions.  That’s where I learned counted cross stitch and tried a bunch of other crafts, including etching and something called tole painting (not my best craft).  I cross stitched for a long time.  I picked up scrapbooking and card making.  Nothing has ever stuck the way knitting has but all were fun.  I still enjoy making scrapbooks with my travel photos.

Perhaps because we always did crafts when my grandma watched me, I shared crafts with the kids I babysat.  There were 4 of them and 1 of me so it was best to keep them busy, otherwise trouble was not far behind.  Their mom did not craft and so it became our thing.  It got to the point where I would not even get into the house before they were asking what “cwaft” (one had a bit of a lisp when she was little) I had brought with me.  I know I created lasting memories for them.  Even the boys crafted long past the age where they would normally be interested in such things.

I do not have kids of my own but sitting down and doing a craft with them allows you to connect with them in a way that no other activity does.  I have other friends who do not have kids and they often ask how they can form bonds with the kids in their life.  I tell them to craft!  It does not matter if you can or not, you are the adult and they love the attention that crafting provides.  My only craft rule is to have fun!  I try to direct as little as possible and to encourage them to show their own creativity and make a mess!  Everything can be cleaned up.  I find when kids are allowed unstructured time to create they flourish (and, their parents really appreciate it too 🙂 ).

Case in point – I spend New Year’s Eve with a friend and her family.  They have a 4 year old and an 8 year old and they struggle to stay awake until midnight.  This year I thought “let’s do a craft”.  We made wish wands for the new year and they involved a lot of glitter!!  Fast forward to last week.  I was going to watch the girls for a couple of hours and when my friend told them who was coming over the four year old immediately asked what craft I was bringing.  For the record, we made loom potholders which were put to good use 🙂

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Making is a way to create memories.  Making is a language that allows me to connect with others.  My knitting friends (both in person and on line), my friend’s kids, and my family. Being an introvert (INFJ, which is less than 1% of the population, thank you!) having this secret language is really helpful.

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My goddaughters hard at work on rainbow loom bracelets!

And, the thing I really love about what Kate is doing – she is celebrating the differences.  I do not consider myself overly creative or artistic.  Most of my crafting skills are so-so (except for knitting, I guess I’m good at that) but that’s not why I craft.  I’m never going to have those perfectly set Instagram shots on my feed.  My feed is messy, in the moment and what I’m actually doing because that’s how I roll.  In that end, that’s what making is – it’s being messy, trying new things and just letting things go.  And, for us Type A people that’s probably more valuable than therapy!

So, as you are knitting away this weekend, think about what making means to you and then share it with Kate and your fellow knitters!

Nature or Nurture?

A question as old as time but something I was pondering the other night.  For about 15 years I have babysat a former co-worker’s 4 children, well, there were only 2 when I started.  When the 4th child arrived, there were 4 under 4 and that’s a lot of kids to watch!  As they got older I quickly learned that the best way to have a good night was to keep everyone busy and so I started bringing crafts for everyone to do.  Fast forward to this past Wednesday, the kids are now 15 (twin boys), 13 and 11 so I’m basically their personal driver when their parents are busy.  The younger two are girls and are still very much all about the crafts.  I picked up the 13 year old from school and she started telling me about how awesome Michael’s is and she wanted to know if that’s where I got all our craft supplies.  She had just taken her first trip to the store and now all she wants for her birthday are gift cards to Michael’s.  Later, both girls were crafting – the 13 year old with her recently acquired scrapbooking suppplies and the 11 year old was using her perler beads to make something for a classmate.

I have told this story to both my mom and my knitting group and both said they were sure it was because I did all those crafts with them over the years.  This got me thinking – were they born with an innate tendency towards crafting or had I really nurtured them into having a love for crafts?  I thought back on my own craft history.  My mom does a number of crafts.  I don’t recall doing crafts with her but I do recall her doing crafts while I was growing up.  One of my grandmother’s did crafts with me as a child.  Her and her sister tried to teach me to crochet when I was little.  So, I could very well have the craft gene.  From there I joined Girl Scouts and recall how they would have winter craft weekend at one of the camps.  We would stay in the cabins and we could chose which craft classes we wanted to take.  I remember learning cross stitch, toling (I’m not even sure I remember what that is), maybe some etching.  I loved those weekends!  I did cross stitch for a number of years.  I was pretty heavy into scrapbooking for awhile, and still enjoy a good scrapbook night every so often.

With the kids, we did everything – perler beads, Make It-Bake It, foamies, God’s eyes, pot holder looming, painting, and whatever fun kits I would find at craft stores.  For awhile the 13 year old went through an origami phase, definitely not my craft but we found books and papers and gave it a stab.  The crafts also worked as good bribes – nothing got the kids to eat and bathe more than the promise of a craft when that stuff was all done.  I would never tell them what I brought – it was always a surprise and I think that made it fun too.  Turned out the 13 year old is quite creative and gifted in the craft area.  Their mom is not a craft person and freely admits her kids never would have exposed to half of this stuff without me.  I’m not sure if there any crafters in their family where they picked up the craft gene but they were definitely nurtured with crafts.  The girls still complain that we have not done a craft in a long time.  They are both so busy with other activities that we are never home to do one.  I would love to teach them to knit (we have done finger knitting and spool knitting) so maybe one night we all have some time to play with the yarn and needles.

I don’t have an answer for this one (does anyone ever get an answer to the nature/nurture question???) but it’s something to think about!  Oh, and I looked for pictures of our crafts and only found this one of some potholders we loomed.  I think many of our crafts were pre cell phone camera days so I could not capture all of our creations 😦

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Patience

Patience is a virtue, a virtue I do not possess.  The idea of patience came up in a discussion I was having over the long holiday weekend with some other arty, crafty, creative people.  I was talking to a painter and a jewelry maker.  We were discussing our crafts and the business of crafting.  We were also talking about other crafts we have tried.  Most “crafty” people don’t limit themselves to one craft, although, they definitely have their favorite.  I cannot even recall what particular craft we were talking about and I said I had never tried it because I didn’t have the patience for it.  When I say this to non-knitters they often tell me they don’t have the patience to knit.  If you really start to think about it every craft requires it own type of patience.  Finding your perfect craft is about finding the craft for which you have the requisite amount of patience.  This may be why I knit a lot of small items, I can’t wait to finish the larger sweaters, shawls, etc.  I never do bead work in my knitting, again, requires too much patience.  I feel that color work would also fall under this category for me.  The few color work items I’ve worked on have been a little painful just keeping all the yarn straight wears me down.  Likewise, knitting two socks at a time involves too much needle maneuvering and not enough knitting for me.  Both the artist and the jewelry maker found the whole concept interesting as well.  You never know what you might learn by talking to other artists and crafters, it sure makes for a fun way to pass a Saturday morning. 

I hope you enjoy the holiday touches on the site and are having a fun holiday season!