On actual crafting (as opposed to planning to craft)

You’ve all seen it: “Stop pinning; start making things.”  It’s good advice.  And many of you probably do handmade holidays like we do.  So there’s a persistent sense of always needing to be making things, and therefore always resisting making things, right up until the holiday is over.  Then it’s time for self-recrimination about the lame little thing you ended up making instead of the bastion of glory you INTENDED to make, and then onward and upward to the stout promises for better work next year.  Somewhere after that, a beautiful thing happens: you relax. And with relaxation comes clear vision, for the first time in months.  You love crafting!  You made some beautiful things!  And you have some nice ideas for a few more that you’re looking forward to making in these cold, dark months.  (If you’re like me, you may have even invested recently in decent lighting and perhaps been inspired to move things around and clear out space for easier access and better child-management during the work.)

So in this spirit of clarity and kindness toward myself, I thought I’d share some of the things I made.  Details are available upon request.

Brooke's hatConnor's tractor hat flower appliqued throw IMG_0020 Julia's red velvet scarf Kim's cowl Parker's hat sweater hats tree ornament

The overwhelmingness of creativity

Every year I start thinking about Christmas gifts in June. Every year I SWEAR that I will start making them in June. And this year I did! I did. I made one small scarf. But summer is just so, well, summery, so perfectly designed for other things, like helping a very naked young man make a river habitat for his wild animals on the edge of the driveway. Crocheting fuzzy things just seems so pointless under those circumstances. And thus we arrive here, in early December, at a state suspended halfway between panic and bliss: the crafting imperative.

And so I spent my Sunday afternoon: felting old wool sweaters; upsizing a hat pattern I like; making experimental fleece hats (one of which my sweet partner has been wearing ever since). I am one of those crafters who takes such pleasure in the planning and anticipation that I spend very little time actually MAKING things. But now it’s all about the making, and that brings a whole new kind of satisfaction. Put differently, it actually brings satisfaction rather than its promise. Pam Houston: “In graduate school you learned that men desire the satisfaction of their desire. Women desire the condition of desiring” (from Cowboys Are My Weakness, probably “How to Talk to a Hunter). I hate to be so gender-conformist, but hell, I’m a stay-at-home mom making Christmas presents. I’ll just own that.

Back to the Making of Things and the Overwhelmingness of Creative Energy: I’ve got plans. They are good plans. The trick now is to get enough done fast enough that it still feels like generous gifting rather than crazed production. It’s a bear trying to live this whole mindful approach. But it has been beautiful to look back at the last few years and realize that most or all of our gifting is now either a) donation (Heifer, Kiva, local home energy assistance, or recipient’s favorite charity); b) handmade; and/or c) purchased from local crafters. That feels good on all levels — an appropriate way to honor a holiday I tend to think of as the birth of hope. And boy do we need it. In these dark months we need all the warmth, fellowship, and generosity we can get.

And hey — if you are interested in details of what I’m making, check out my Pinterest boards or just leave a comment here. I want to use the pages for that kind of info, but I’m not quite there yet. Prompt as needed.