Monday, February 15, 2016

Hijacked by crafting

On Friday, I made a run to the craft store. I had become a little bit obsessed with stump work. (It's essentially 3D embroidery. Do an image search to see the possibilities.) While my stash of crafting supplies was vast, I was still missing a few key bits and pieces to do it. Can you imagine, P., TM, and D. didn't want to accompany me to the craft/fabric store? But, in the throws of a new obsession, I was desperate. This is why I voluntarily took six children, ages 6 - 13 (the oldest being H.) with me to get my supplies.

While I'm sure we were a pretty hilarious sight navigating the store, they were all very good. This was due in no small part to the stern pre-store lecture which was delivered in the car before we entered. You want to know what it consisted of? 1. Stay with Mommy 2. Do NOT touch anything 3. Do NOT ask me to buy you anything.  Repeat, have children repeat, repeat, then get out of the van. H. has definitely graduated from "one of the children who needs a helper" to "helper" category. I'm sure I don't need to elaborate on how happy this makes me, or how huge this is.

So there we were, walking up and down the aisles as I looked for the things on my list. The trouble was, I guess I emphasized the 'stay with Mommy' rule a bit too much. I would dash down an aisle quickly, and instead of waiting at the end of the aisle, I would turn around to dash back, only to look down and see a line of six children immediately behind me. It is hard to get that particular train turned around, but we managed, the next aisle would come, and the whole parade would happen again. At the fabric cutting counter, the woman looked at the line of children, then looked at K., and asked, "Are you the only boy?" K. nods despondently and agrees. She replies something along the lines of aren't you nice to come along. I add in that he is the only boy who didn't have a choice about coming. I'm pretty sure that was just background noise because being faced with six children there wasn't a lot of room to imagine even more. K. survived, so don't feel too sorry for him.

This weekend, I spent some time beginning to teach myself how to do stump work. Want to see the results? This is a little leaf. The way I made this is to embroider a piece of wire onto cloth and then embroider inside of it. Once it was all done, I carefully trimmed away the extra fabric.

The leaf worked, so I started a butterfly. This is the beginnings of a wing.

What am I going to do with the little wonders? I have no idea. I just became consumed with the idea of making them. As I was buying the wire, I did have the phrase, "Jack of all trades, and master of none," which has haunted me for most of my life. I do like to dabble. But then, M. who is also a dabbler, but pretty much manages to master each of her new activities as well, found the rest of the saying. The whole thing is, "Jack of all trades, master of none, better still than master of one." So there.

I guess I just raise dabblers. There are worse things in the world. M. and I decided that dabblers find it very difficult to be bored. I know I have said it before, but if you want your children to be interested in things and to do things, you have to be interested in things and do things yourself. If you are trying to do something, suddenly it will be the thing that everyone wants to do. Kind of like when a parent is talking on the phone.

Before I took the hoards to the craft store, I spent some time sorting through my stash to be sure of what I had. Well, just looking at all that craft stuff flipped a switch or something. Suddenly hand work erupted everywhere. TM and D. suddenly decided to start knitting again. It's a form of competitive knitting, but they have been knitting steadily all weekend. It a bit as though we suddenly have les Messieurs Defarge taking up residence in front of the Netflix fireplace. They have both made one full scarf and have started on another. Here is D.'s.

Of course, the knitting bug is contagious and other people had to learn. I've taught Y. and K. so far. Y. has picked it up fairly quickly, but I think it requires too much sitting still and concentrating for K. to really get the knack yet. G. and L. really want to learn as well, but I need to invest in some more shorter needles before I tackle teaching them. I can really only handle two beginning knitters at a time.


H. has not been knitting. In fact today, after a weekend of listening to endless sibling requests to knit was the first time she has even mentioned it. But that doesn't mean she has been idle. While at the craft store, I picked up some jewelry findings for her. She has been on a jewelry making kick recently and has been doing a great job, but her supplies were somewhat below her current jewelry making level. I showed her how to use crimp beads to secure fasteners and she loved stringing the beads on wire and making "real" jewelry. 

The Hello Kitty necklace is one she made with her old supplies and the smaller bead necklace is the one she made this weekend. It was a pretty complex repeating pattern that she set out for herself.

H. also loves embroidery and got out her embroidery kit when she saw what I was doing. I finally found an appropriate sized needle that she could thread herself, which saved my sanity. Here is her latest work. 

It's lightening bolts, in case you have trouble seeing, and she actually has a pretty good, consistent stitch.

Now, I know this all sounds lovely and calm and civilized, doesn't it? I'm afraid the reality is a bit more chaotic. Here is a brief window into yesterday afternoon. I get out my embroidery project and I start. One of the boys gets into trouble with his knitting, so I look at it, fix the problem, and hand it back. I pick-up my needle. H. tells me she needs her needle rethreaded. I rethread the needle, and hand it back. I do a little stitching. Y. has finished a row of her knitting and needs help. I knit the next row to smooth everything out and get her going again. I make a few more stitches. H.'s needle comes unthreaded again. I dig out a needle threader, show her how to use it, and get her going again. I stitch some more. Fix more knitting. Stitch. Get out L.'s embroidery because she wants to sew something, too. (And trust me when I say it is difficult to put her off.) Stitch. Fix L.'s problem. Stitch. Fix L.'s problem. Fix a knitting problem. Stitch. Put L.'s stitching away. Stitch. H.'s needle threader breaks. I find her another needle she can thread. Stitch. Change H.'s thread. Stitch. Fix another knitting problem. Etc. Etc. 

I have been sitting down and fixing various people's knitting problems for the past three days. Even the writing of this blog post has been interrupted by needle threading and knitting help. Heck, even that last sentence took fifteen minutes to write because I paused to do some extensive yarn untangling. When the crafting bug strikes, it kind of takes over all of life. It means that much doesn't get done, but since there is so much else that is of benefit, it's a worthwhile trade off. Of course, I need to constantly remind myself of this...

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