Friday, October 17, 2008

Origami cards

Last week I needed two cards to include in some swap packages for a stitching group I’m in. Even though I am busy with work, slogging my way through the Manuscript That Never Ends at a lightning-quick rate of three pages an hour, I couldn’t bring myself to use store-bought cards. It’s the peer pressure, you know. The stitchers in this group are so talented—and not just at needlework. Some of the cards I’ve received have been amazing. I couldn’t send a mass-market card, now, could I? The shame!

I braved the mess in the craft room to look through some books and decided to make these origami cards from Klutz’s Handmade Cards (yes, I realize that Klutz kits are meant for kids, but this klutzy adult has been known to buy them for herself). While I was at it, I made one for the senior I write to through Senior Angels, since over the years he’s seen every note card I have in my extremely large stationery collection.

Although these cards are simple and not nearly as impressive as the ones I’ve received, they were quick, easy, used stuff I had on hand, and turned out well enough that I wasn’t ashamed to send them. And when I’m old and gray and finally finished with the Manuscript That Never Ends (I know it doesn’t make sense to be finished with something that never ends, but after several intense hours of sloooow editing of someone else’s writing today, I’m not too picky about my own), maybe I’ll finally find the time to get some stitching done.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Licit soap deal

After taking a soapmaking class last week, I put in an order with the teacher for what I need to make two more batches of soap as well as some shampoo (I’m getting so self-sufficient that soon I will be hewing my own wood and drawing my own water from the forest in our backyard. Somebody please stop me when I start making cookies out of tree bark). The teacher lives in another part of the Lower Mainland but comes to this area fairly often, so we agreed that the next time she was going to be over my way, she would bring me my order.

Tonight I got a call. She was just leaving her place and heading to my town. Could I meet her in half an hour at a certain gas station? Twenty minutes later, I ran out the door, yelling to my husband that I had to go meet my supplier in a gas station parking lot.

I really crack myself up sometimes. My kids, though, who are used to me doing strange things (like taking pictures of jam in the rain), didn’t bat an eye about the fact that I was (a) very excited about going to pick up soapmaking supplies and (b) pretending it was an illicit drug deal.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Two Ladies on a Bench

Yesterday afternoon a friend and I were sitting on a bench on the school playground, waiting for our kids to finish cross-country practice. I was crocheting a cap that is part of Child Two’s Halloween costume and telling my friend about an absolutely-from-scratch soapmaking class I’d been to the night before and how I could hardly wait until tonight to take the soap out of its mould. She was telling me about the sweater she’s knitting—she hasn’t knit much since the leg-warmer days of the 1980s—and how she stayed up until 1:00 the night before because she just couldn’t stop.

As Child Two and I walked home, another mom—one I don’t very well—stopped me to admire the felted bag I was carrying my project in. She asked me if I’ve ever felted (I haven’t. I bought the bag at a fundraiser for Grandmothers to Grandmothers. When I’m a grandmother, I’m definitely joining a group like this) and told me I just had to try it because it’s so cool.

When you’re a crafty person, life is full of joy, isn’t it?

The soapmaking class was a lot of fun, especially because I got to wear goggles and rubber gloves and use a thermometer and all sorts of scientific stuff. Remember that group of girls who set fire to the table in 8th-grade science class? I was one of them. The only part of chemistry I ever liked was balancing chemical equations, and that was only because it’s like math and I was way better at math than at science. Who knew chemistry could be so enjoyable—and result in something more useful than a charred table, an exasperated teacher, and three very embarrassed girls?

I haven’t made a Halloween costume since Child Two was young enough to dress up as Winnie-the-Pooh. In many years, we’ve been lucky enough to get hand-me-downs. As for the other years? Well, you know that mom you’ve seen rifling through the slim selection of costumes less than a week before Halloween because somehow—even though the stuff has been in the stores for months and even though the year before she vowed that she would not be doing this again—she’s completely forgotten to buy costumes? That’s me.

This year Child Two wants to be a 1970s girl. She’s inspired by her love of the Julie series of American Girl books (if you’ve got a daughter, try these books. Each series is about a girl in a different era in U.S. history). Child Two loves all of the series that she’s read so far, but she’s drawn especially to Julie. Julie, who has long, straight blond hair, lives in San Francisco. In 1974, she’s 9-turning-10 and her parents are divorcing. Her best friend is a different race from her. All of this is appealing to Child Two because in 1974 I had long, straight blond hair (which I still grieve for); I lived just outside San Francisco; I was 9-turning-10; my parents were divorcing; and my best friend was a different race from me.

I don’t know how many years of Halloween costumes we’ve got left—or at least, how many years before I’m screeching “You’re wearing that? Put some decent clothes on!” and she’s rolling her eyes and slamming her door. Child One has stopped trick-or-treating and Two may not be far behind. So I’m happy to help her with a costume this year.

I’m crocheting her a little Juliet cap. I haven’t found a pattern with flower motifs like Julie’s (if you know of a pattern, I'd love to hear about it), so Two’s cap will be plainer, but I’ll put a shell edging on it. We’re going to buy some flare jeans this weekend and she’ll design something for me to embroider on them. She’s already got a shirt that will do if I don’t have time to make one, as well as a denim purse and lots of peace buttons. I have my mom’s “War is not healthy for children and other living things” pendant, which Child Two will wear on a leather string just like her grandmother did decades ago.

The two best things about this costume? First, she’ll be able to add all the new stuff to her regular wardrobe. And second, I won’t be one of those moms desperately searching for a costume at the last minute.

So over the next few weeks, as Two runs along the forest trails, I’ll be sitting on the playground bench with my crochet hook or my embroidery needle, talking to my friend about the things that make up our lives right now—knitting and gardening and soapmaking, husbands and kids, and work (with a little gossip thrown in, I’m sure).