Monday, December 19, 2011

Crafty Mama

When I realized I was going to be interviewing someone about crafting, I was excited about the idea of talking to one of the little old ladies from my tiny country church Unfortunately I keep strange hours this semester, and never could catch one of them long enough to keep my answers. So I turned to the craftiest person in my family… my mother of course.

Me: “What is the first craft you remember making yourself?”

Mama: “At Vacation Bible School we had to make these little baskets to hold fake flowers. They were made from soap and beads. They even had handles and legs.”

Me: “What crafts are you currently involved with?”

Mama: “ I’m not expert at anything but I enjoy some sewing and machine embroidery from time to time. I mostly do scrapbooking lately though. And next week I’ll be starting a quilting class.”

Me: “When did you learn to craft?”

Mama: “ I learned to sew in Mrs. Newkurk’s home economic class in 9th grade, which would have been 1977. Some girls at work got me started scrapbooking after our first trip to Hawaii, so Fall 2001. And my coworker, Nurse Smith, has me wrapped into this quilting class, but we’ll have to see how that goes.”

Me: “Is there any craft you wish you could learn?”

Mama: “ I said I could sew, but I honestly would love to learn to sew better.”

Me: “ Was there any craft you have tried but failed at or never developed, and if so did you ever try it again?”

Mama: “I’m bad at most everything I’ve tried, or I at least started that way. I did try to learn to crochet at bible school, I couldn’t even chain. My teacher got frustrated and took it away from me to do it herself. I tried again later, but it never worked for me.”

Me: “ Do you usually craft for yourself or others? “

Mama: “I have usually sewn, crossstiched, and embroidered for gifts for friends and family, but I guess I scrapbook for myself.”

Me: “Do you work better/faster alone or when you work in a group or circle with others?”

Mama: “ I’ve never really worked in groups, so I guess will know next week… I think having a group will motivate me to finish more of what I start though.”

Me: “What project are you most proud of?”

Mama: “ Oh, well let me think about it for a second… I’m most proud of two things, my wedding sampler cross stitch & the 40’s Army costume I made for your senior pageant

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I grew up listening to my parents’ collection of music which varied from the classic genre to Alan Jackson to Debussy’s Clair de Lune. But one of the songs that became imprinted on my brain the most was the first movement of Vivaldi’s Spring violin concerto from The Four Seasons; the song was so catchy I would catch myself singing it internally many a time. When I was little, Marie, my sister, and I would put on tutus dancing to Spring while we were pretending we were ballerinas. However, I never dreamed that I would get the chance to play this wonderful piece.

Learning to play the violin was a second choice because originally I wanted to take voice lessons. Since they said my voice was not mature enough to begin vocal training, I stated that I then wanted to learn the violin instead. So I began my sojourn into the musical world. Learning to play the violin is one of the most difficult things that I have ever learned to do because it requires the coordination of the smallest muscles and the control of two different hands. Upon beginning to play, I knew that I wanted to learn Spring, but it seemed such a monumental task as seeing I was a mere beginner and I would not have the skills needed to play Spring for a long time. On my 14th birthday, my mom bought me the sheet music to Spring complete with the piano accompaniment. Excitedly I took it into my violin lesson, but my teacher Drew said that it was too difficult for me. The music sat on my shelf for three years, until my senior year of high school. The same teacher Drew told me that he wanted me to learn a violin concerto so I went home and pulled out Spring. He gave me the ok to start working on it.

I became very well acquainted with Spring, and I gained a deeper understanding of the music. Listening to the music as a kid, I thought it was just a pretty melody with an exciting tempo, but I was not fully aware of all the emotions and imagery tied into Spring. The first few lines, the main melody, tell the story of a few nymphs frolicking about in celebration of Spring; then Vivaldi takes a few lines to catch the sounds of happy birds singing in the trees. He accomplishes the birds by having a trio of three violins answering back and forth to each other. The scene with the birds is followed by a slower, more subdued section which represents flowing fountains. All of sudden, the gorgeous celebration of Spring is interrupted by a thunderstorm where the musical key switches from major to minor chords. Then the storm abates, and the original melody returns with a bunch of happy nymphs picking up their celebration. Vivaldi captures the imagery so well through his music.

I never thought I would be able to learn this piece because the thunderstorm section was especially difficult. The rain exists as a bunch of difficultly fingered arpeggios that required me to shift my whole hand up and down the finger board. But I loved the challenge of learning to play. Once I mastered the thunderstorm section, I was so thrilled that I would play it over and over again. Spring was one of the last pieces I learned to play on the violin before taking a break from the instrument for awhile. But I am proud that I overcame the challenge of learning the piece, and I also appreciate the ability to understand the intention of the music. It is a musical ode to the wonders of Spring.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Let me preface this by saying that novice doesn’t even begin to cover my inexperience in the knitting and crocheting realms, but I really do love them! There had never been so much as a single pair of knitting needles in my home prior to me joining this class, I had never held a crochet needle or bought any length of yarn. I have now 3 FFO’s (FINALLY finished projects). I am very proud of each of them, but I think my smallest and latest exposé is the most impressive to me.

My two scarves helped me with overcoming the initial learning curve, allowing me to work out the kinks and gain experience, but I felt more relief in finishing them than pride. With that said I never really want to see either of them again… which is a good thing since they are both destined for charity. My headband however, is a different story. I learned how to knit ribbing, to intentionally increase and decrease stitches, and how to crochet (chain, single, double, and V-stitch) in order to complete it. Not to mention that it took the least amount of time to create! I spent weeks and weeks maybe months on each scarf, but the headband only took a week and a half.

I enjoyed making an item I that was trendy and fun while functional. Everyone who saw me with it in class or in my friends circles complimented it—despite their initially mockery of my new hobby. Since I did give it away in the CASA buy one, give one sale, I have already started on a new one. I am about ½ way there now, and it looks even better than the first (probably because I worked out the kinks last time and bought better yarn the second time around). I loved seeing how people’s perspectives changed when they saw the versatility of handcrafting.

I also prize this new pattern because it is something I never imagined I would be able to make on my own. I made the band with no outside help, and the embellishment only took a little coaching. The autonomy I found through its creation has given me some confidence after a shaky start in my crafting experience. I am a perfectionist, and can still see some flaws in the work—despite ripping out row after row to restart—but seeing others admiration of my work at this rather primitive stage really encourages me to continue trying to improve and expand my work.

Another element that I enjoyed about my knitting is knowing that it will help us raise money for our cause. As a future educator, my passion is for children, especially those who have had to work to overcome many problems in their lives that were not consequences of their own decisions. I really want the monetary donation that would potentially come from this piece to make a child smile and feel important and loved. I enjoyed making an item to show the boys and girls that we put time and effort into a specific piece for them, but my continual fear with my scarf project was that the 12 year old girl I made it for would be disappointed in my lackluster attempt, since I am so new at this; however, since the children will receive benefits from the money from my headband, I feel like they will gain something they truly need or want.