Tag Archives: crafts

The Environmental Crafter – May 15, 2018

As a kid, I was bright enough to make better than average grades most of the time, but was not a very good student, homework often neglected, but major assignments always done on time as even then I was a planner.  It was a time when kids spent most of their time outdoors playing, pick up ball games, bicycles, cars in the dirt, jacks, marbles, playing in the sprinkler that was used for little else, roller skates in the two car garage as our home was in a rural county that was eventually annexed into the city of Virginia Beach and became a suburb of the city.  The houses where we lived were on 4 or more acres with woods and farm fields around 7, later 10 houses that were at the end of our rural route.  There was little time for TV, only three stations and they weren’t on 24/7 like today. Even as a kid, I wanted a garden and my Dad accommodated that, a total failure the first year, but in future years, more of a success as he got involved as well.  Each home in which I have lived as an adult has had some level of garden and recycling of everything that the center we had to go to would take.

As a young teen, crafting took over, learning to crochet, trying knitting and hand monogramming, still working with the garden and going with Mom to the farm stand in the summer for produce.  When we started having children, crocheting was still my craft, following patterns to the letter.  While pregnant with our second child, I took a Calligraphy class, having always had a very precise handwriting, that wasn’t too difficult, but my creativity with it was limited, trying some simple art work to embellish quotes or poems, but again, not original art, copying ideas and sketches.  I committed to learn to smock if we had a daughter and child 2 was, so classes in smocking and French hand sewing were taken and a number of dresses, bonnets, her Christening gown, nightgowns for all the adult women in my life were made.  I tried cross stitch and made a few gifts and household items.  I made placemats and napkins for my Mom and Dad for Christmas one year and Mom passed away in early December.  I still gave them to my Dad anyway and they were packed away.  He remarried and they stayed packed away and when daughter was married, he and my stepmom gave them still carefully packed in tissue to her.

Gardening continued and child 3 came along.  I had always liked baskets and pottery and just couldn’t get the hang of pottery, but started making baskets and started the craft show circuit, often being frustrated with the, “Why is it so expensive, I can buy one at XYZ for (insert pittance)?” and quit making them except for personal use and gifts.

After this, gardening continued, but crafting basically ended for years, three kids, their activities, a full time job, and a home to run, there just wasn’t enough time.  As the children grew and began starting their own lives and first grandchild was announced, knitting was taken up again, still following patterns to the letter, but shirts, soakers, sweaters, booties, and hats made.  As the knitting improved and I found myself in the mountains in a new job, supervising the construction of our retirement house in Appalachia while Jim was across the state winding down his career and preparing for retirement, I took up spinning, then some fiber processing, and some dyeing.

Gardening continues, a large organic garden and small orchard on our farm, chickens added for fresh eggs, recycling everything possible.  Reduce, reuse, recycle, buy local when possible.  The crafting expanded to making soap and herbal salves to eliminate the endocrine disrupting chemicals, and being more adventurous in knitting, altering patterns, even designing some of my own.   Life lessons learned and carried on through my 7 decades.  Maybe I am in the wrong era, maybe just wanting to carry on some ancient crafts.

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What to do when it is too wet to play outdoors?

During the night, the temperature at the surface rose above freezing, the upper atmosphere was already there and the freezing rain and sleet turned to rain.  The 11″ of crusty snow from yesterday was reduced to about half a foot of slush with a river running down our driveway.  Because it was nearly 40ºf when I went out to feed and water the chickens, the water in their coop was not frozen, the straw in the bed of the coop was not frozen, the run several inches deep in the slush.  A few quick scoops with the snow shovel opened enough ground in front of the coop to put their food, water, and the kitchen scraps, so I ran them outside.  While they were eating and trying to avoid the remaining snow, I cleaned out the coop from 2 weeks of them being, well cooped up.  The garden got a good pile of damp, prefertilized straw and they got a new foot of clean dry straw inside.

After morning chores and breakfast, I wandered up the slippery driveway to see what the roads looked like.  Our unpaved road had been plowed to bare dirt and gravel with a few slushy patches, the paved road about half a mile up from the house was wet, but clear.  A few of our neighboring counties, especially east of us got freezing rain with lots of iced trees, broken limbs and power outages, we were lucky this time.  Until lunch time, we had sunshine.  It is now overcast, but still near 40ºf, so very mild and lots of melting is going on.  Schools were closed again today, so Mountaingdad, daughter, the 2 grands and I ventured into town and had a burger, then came back to clear a place for son in law to park when he gets off work today.  He went in during the early hours of the storm on Sunday night, 12 hours before he needed to, but knowing that his car wouldn’t make it Monday, nor would any of the cars on Monday.  He spent the night in his office at the hospital, being bothered and awakened by staff all night.  Last night he left the hospital, but stayed at a hotel in the city and returned to work on icy streets this morning.  The roads are clear out here and if he can get to the interstate, he will not have any trouble getting home and I have shoveled the top of the driveway to the bare spot where one of the cars was parked during the storm.

It is wet, slushy, not fun to be in this afternoon, so I pulled out the sewing machine, the iron and board and set about to make our 4 year old granddaughter a little drawstring backpack for her dance clothes.  On Friday after preschool, she and several of her friends are getting dance lessons at one of the girl’s homes.  For the first couple of weeks, she was wearing clothes provided by the instructor, but she wanted her own and her parents bought her a tiny leotard, dance shorts, and a little dance skirt for Valentine’s Day.  Before the storm, I sought some fabric that had ballet slippers or ballerinas on it to no avail.  She adores “Frozen” and the fabric store had plenty of Elsa and Anya fabric.

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A quick search on the internet had provided instructions on how to make the draw string backpack for a toddler.

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On dance days, she has to also pack a lunch to eat at her friend’s house as she gets picked up by her friend’s mother on Friday, so that I don’t have to drive in at nine a.m., noon, and again at 2:30 to pick her up.  Her big brother on a couple of occasions has left his lunchbox at school and he ends up using the spare, leaving her without one, so using the extra fabric and cord, I whipped up a little draw string bag that matches for her to carry her lunch.

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She is excited.  After her nap, we packed her dance clothes in her backpack and she showed it off.  I’m sure that it will have to be modeled for her Dad when he gets home.

I did succeed in picking up the sleeve stitches on my handspun sweater for one sleeve yesterday evening.  I have only knit about an inch so far and will have to figure out the decrease ratio soon.  I don’t want the sleeves to be too large at the bottom edge, I am notorious for not tapering my sleeves enough.

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My friend and I are hoping that this was the last storm for the month and that we will have no difficulty making the trek west to our spinning retreat in a little more than a week.  If it is only flurries, I won’t worry with my CRV, but I won’t drive in half a foot of snow.