When I was a little girl, my mother and grandmother did their best to set me on the path of crafting excellence. They gave me wool and crochet hooks, embroidery hoops and thread, and endless hours of mostly patient mentoring. They sat me down at their sewing machines with scraps of practise cloth. But I dropped stitches, tangled thread, and kept their tension more constant than the wool on my knitting needles. I discovered it was much more exciting to put the hammer down on the Singer’s foot pedal and watch the needle maniacally dart up and down than to maintain the steady, measured pace they recommended.
My junior high home economics teacher was the last to try converting me. In two years of classes with her, I ended up with a half-finished pot holder and an oversized, fuschia and lime green scooter skirt which I abandoned at the bottom of my locker, together with its equally dismal mark sheet. I brought the skirt home in a wrinkled mass on the last day of grade 9, and modelled it with high drama and mock sophistication for my parents after dinner that night. My dad laughed so hard he sprayed a mouthful of tea across the dining room table. I dropped the skirt in the kitchen garbage can on the way back to my bedroom.
You would think that these early lessons in failed craftiness would have prevented me from ever again picking up a skein of yarn or a bolt of cloth. But inexplicably, in my late teens and early twenties, I was drawn to the idea of making gifts for my nearest and dearest. Once in a while, I even finished something. My first boyfriend wore a scarf I crocheted for him, in spite of its 7 foot length and wildly wandering widths. Ah, the blindness of young love. But, more often, I bought patterns and materials with the noblest of intentions, then lost interest and stuffed the half-finished bundle into a bag and forgot about it. I think I may still owe my sister a quilt I started to make for her master’s graduation in 1985.
It’s been years since I’ve even thought about handcrafting a gift for anyone. Ok – maybe that’s not totally true. Every year at Christmas, I eye the glossy craft magazine covers at the grocery checkout. They assure me that I too can make “50 easy projects for under $50.” However, unlike my younger self, I now put the magazine back on the rack. I’m quite content to be a wordsmith and a designer of engaging educational experiences. Besides, I’m blessed by a bevy family members and friends who are as crafty as they are shrewd. Maybe, just maybe, if I drop enough hints, they’ll take pity on me and gift me with the fruits of their labors and their love.