Making and sharing handmade items for gifts is part of my life and has been for as long as I can remember.
I have been largely influenced by two grandmothers. One encouraged me to sew and I would make doll clothes using pieces of fabric from her scrap piles. I learned how to remove stitches if they weren’t doing the job and appreciate quality handwork.
That led me to sewing larger projects–among those were a dress for my first prom, several outfits for formal wear and eventually a design for my wedding dress. It was a simple idea really: chiffon poncho over a crepe flowing, below the knee-length gown with a diagonal hem that pointed down instead of horizontally. (By then it was the late seventies and my hair was flowing longer, too.)
The other grandmother taught me how to crochet, but I never learned how to read a pattern for my needlework. She would encourage me to look at something or visualize how I wanted something to be, and use a series of stitches to make it be that way. And when I taught myself to knit I unravelled almost as much as I created until I felt it was the best it could be. “If you leave it in there and don’t fix it, you will always know it is still in there,” she would say. She was right.
I hope to pass along the love of making and giving handmade gifts
and when I need those ideas and memories to develop characters in my writing– well, it’s come full circle and I know I’m honoring a heritage of my own.
My favorite places to look for those most unusual gifts are in flea markets, estate sales, or by-the-side-of-the-road artist or craftsperson’s studios.
But I didn’t need to be shopping for MYSELF this holiday season! The whole point of shopping is to buy something unique to give or share with someone else.
So I took photos instead:
This first image is of a coloring book with illustrations in it from illustrator Kate Greenaway. I enjoyed looking through the book and have appreciated further research into more of her illustrations.
This four harness weaving loom looks like a lot of fun, but I had to be practical here–I just don’t have any room in the fiber part of my studio, nor do I need any other “distractions” as I work on my current writing project.
Ahhh….but THIS, this is like seeing a long ago friend! Of course, it came home with me. This is a Little Red Spinning Wheel, from Remco and copyrighted 1961. The red wheel turns by hand and creates tubes of knitted yarn which can be joined together to fashion bedroom slippers, purses, or rugs–depending on how long the crafter’s patience holds out. The direction book is still with it, however, it might look too complicated for the four-year-old that I have in mind.
I will play with, er…practice…using this before I pass it along as a gift to my favorite younger artist/craftsperson/best-little-friend. I think she’ll love it as much as I did. Still do. We can work on it together and take turns.