This is a long post, to keep you going over the hollerdays. I’m posting it in 2 parts to make you feel like you got 2 posts! Part one:
I just love DIY and crafting- well, I love the idea of it. I’ve dabbled in knitting, failed miserably at sewing, have produced a box of greeting cards or two, and am a relatively competent gift-wrapper (relative to my 2-year old). I made our compost bin out of wooden pallets and it’s still standing, 3 years later. I’ve gone through about 3/4 of a bottle of Podge, that weird glue/glaze product. However, despite the encouragement of a mom-friendly site that
sends sent me weekly updates on my childrens’ development, along with creative activity ideas to do with the littl’uns, I have not yet found it within me to “whip up a pinecone turkey” for thanksgiving, and my “memories” are not saved in pumpkin-seed frames.
Still, I really do enjoy making my own (useful) stuff. During my studies in experiential education, we spent a lot of time discussing the merits of crafting, how it brings a sense of accomplishment, an understanding of where things come from, an appreciation for material objects in today’s disposable world, a way to connect to our history and our traditions. To further explore the idea I made my own canoe paddle out of a plank of ash. This counted for university credit. It also brought me enormous pride and satisfaction, and still does, every time I paddle with it.
During my foray into the world of wool (which I am reluctant to admit has ended, despite the balls of yarn strewn hopefully about the house), I knit mostly tuques and mitts (very close to instant gratification). I didn’t really get into sweaters cause they use a lot of yarn, take forever to knit and after all that, they don’t really turn out well. Much easier to find a sweater that fits at Gap. But I did give it 2 tries. The second sweater I knit was fuchsia and spring green mohair. It had bell sleeves and a very open, airy weave. I knitted it while I lived and worked at an outdoor education centre (lots of knitters there), and one evening I was working on it in the kitchen of the staff house when I lamented to my friend Craig, “AArrrrgghhhh – I think it’s going to be too big!” He looked at it and said, “Too big? For DAVE? no way!” Dave was a 6-foot, close-to-200 pound guy I was involved with in a very unofficial way. I don’t know what I found more hilarious – that Craig thought I would spend that much time knitting a sweater for a guy I was marginally involved with, or that he thought I was so clueless as to choose to knit a pink and green bell-sleeved mohair sweater for a dude.
The sweater did turn out to be too big (for me), but I wore it a few times before getting annoyed with those airy sleeves getting caught on everything. I decided it would be a great idea to wash the sweater in order to intentionally shrink it. This is an actual technique in knitting known as “felting”; I did not make it up. Anyway, after about 30 seconds in the wash, I checked on it, and it was so small I couldn’t even foist it on my friend’s 3-year-old.
Not one to blithely throw away this creation I had toiled over for so long, I decided to chop it up and make the sleeves into arm-warmers. After I put down the scissors I realized that I didn’t want arm-warmers. They were uneven. And they left these little mohair bits all over everything. And my arms weren’t cold anyway.
Finally I took the body part and cut out mitt shapes and sewed them together. At this point I was very proud of my craftiness. I was sure I had finally produced something useful from all those balls of mohair I had knitted up so long before. Here is the finished product:
I painstakingly sewed them up, imagining myself strolling around, filled with satisfaction, wearing these great, homemade mitts. I pulled them on triumphantly and discovered that the “airiness” of the original weave had resulted in holes in the mitts. In the fingers. And the mohair bits were still going all over everything. My pride forced me to wear them once – to the store to buy myself some mitts.
Owning a 60-year old house (I suspect the builders were into “crafting”, too), we have lots of opportunities for fun, family-time DIY. Like tiling around the woodstove (that’s now falling off, 3 years later, one tile at a time). Or the window frame in the kitchen that is ever so slowly inching toward completion, at a rate of approximately one expertly-measured board per 3 months (we’re up to 6 out of 8 now). I experienced a small measure of success recently “tiling” the backsplash in our kitchen (with stick-on tiles. Yes, stickers). More and more, we’re deciding to hire experts who know what they’re doing to complete “DIY” tasks around the house, such as stacking our firewood. When I start to get down on myself about our inability to perform simple home-maintenance tasks such as these, I recall that P doesn’t even own pliers:
Washer/dryer delivery guys: Do you have pliers?
DGs: Well, you’ll need pliers to tighten this, and we’re not really supposed to install it for you.
P: It’s really not possible to do it by hand?
DGs: No, water will go everywhere. Don’t worry though, your boyfriend will come install it for you. He has pliers.
P: (withered look)
The “withered look” has been utterly perfected by my sister: the W/D delivery guys magically produced a pair of pliers and somehow managed to skirt the rules and installed the washer for her. Now THAT’S crafty!
Now, before we delve into the crafty stuff that I actually CAN do (that’s a pun, you’ll get it later), I feel the need to share something that made my day. An article in the Globe & Mail talked about craft culture and how some crafty folks are finally seeing the humour in the homemade. I had never heard of the site they referred to: to my delight, etsy.com is a website where you can sell your homemade goods. I have not explored all the nooks and crannies of this doubtless fascinating site, because I was distracted by a sort of spoof site called Regretsy which finds all the gems on Etsy and parodies them. I am SO happy that there is a hurricane outside cause I don’t feel in the least bit guilty about staying inside and reading Regretsy. I keep going back to the Age Inappropriate category….
I’m tempted to put those mitts on Etsy and see if I can find me a buyer.