Saturday, January 31, 2015

THAT Craft Show Kid...

To say that I grew up in a Renaissance Family might be an understatement. My father is an artist with many interests: 

Wood carving

Landscape Painting in oils

Instrument Building

My mother has equally diverse and amazing gifts in the crafting department:

Sewing and quilting (more on quilting in a later post)

Straw Art. 

Yes, those ornaments are made out of STRAW that was soaked, split, and ironed flat before being divided into strips, woven together and then clipped with scissors at the ends. She also made greeting cards with differently shaped flat pieces that were glued onto paper, and decorated colored eggs with straw. Amazingly tedious, yet beautiful.

We often hit the road with our parents to help them display their wares at various craft, wood carving, and art shows. A hands down favorite destination was the Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival. As you may guess, it was quite the German affair, replete with the afore mentioned bratwurst, beer, and plenty of people wearing Drindlkleider and Lederhosen. If you were part of the craft show, German dress was required. In spite of the fact that I had a great dirndl that I wore for several years, no pictures of me in it have been unearthed. Too bad; I looked pretty cute in it with my long braids that won the pigtail contest one year!

The amazing thing about this particular craft show was that each crafter had a hand-picked unique talent, and no two tables had the same items for sale. In addition, it was required that the crafters actually practice and demonstrate their craft for the visitors. There were lots of people who asked questions and were invited to try alongside the experts. This was a smart practice, because many visitors were then inspired to purchase something afterwards. My brothers and I were all over this, and we learned a lot of cool crafts from the others over the course of the years that we attended. I have fond memories of weaving baskets (basket still around somewhere, but lost in a box), rug hooking, doll house furniture making, rug weaving, intarsia wood pictures (one of my brothers excelled at this), wood carving, lace making, etc. But my absolute favorite was Mrs. Straw and her spinning wheel, drop spindle, and hand cards. Our families probably made a quick connection thanks to the fact that my mother demonstrated the Straw Art.
1986! What were you doing when I bought these goodies?
Nor will you find hand cards at this price point today!
I was so obsessed with wool work that I insisted that some of my birthday money from one of my aunts go toward hand cards and roving. I think the spindle was a gift the previous Christmas. Most of the roving was spun up pretty quickly. 

I started knitting a sweater, of Mrs. Straw's description. She knit four pieces for the front and then one piece for the back, sewing everything together with blanket stitch. I experimented with knit and purl stitches, but soon realized that my spinning was pretty poor (look how thin the yarn is in spots) and that the gauge was way off. 

Thus it languished many years, except when I would knit a few rows on the back piece with the remaining yarn.

A few years ago it occurred to me that all these pieces could simply be sewn together and used as a narrow lap blanket. Sometimes it takes me a while to follow through. This November it was so bitter cold that I made a move and started sewing. Even before it was completed last weekend, the blanket was in use on my lap while driving in my car. What a comfort!

Covering up with this blanket is like the whole sheep is taking a nap in your lap: delightfully toasty!
Oh yea, my mother also knit those amazing socks sticking out at the end of the blanket. My parents have many more hobbies that were not mentioned in this post... No wonder I have no free time! I'm exactly like them!
So, get out those 28-and-a-half year old projects and finish up. Even a tenuous youthful attempt is sometimes worth a grand finale!

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