Crafty Manolo » What We Learn At Mom’s Knee

What We Learn At Mom’s Knee

By Twistie

Crafting has always been a part of my life. Some of my earliest memories are of my mother sewing, embroidering, knitting, and generally creating beautiful things out of nearly nothing. A ball of yarn, a bit of thread, an unassuming yard or two of cloth, these homely things became magical in her hands. They turned into art for the walls, fanciful dresses I wore to school, and warm, snuggly scarves to ward against the winter chill… such as it was in California.

She taught me, one by one, to do the same things. Most of them didn’t stick particularly well, but I learned from each and every one. I learned from observation and from getting my hands stuck into the middle of things, too.

I learned to value things that don’t seem like much on the surface. Sure, a ball of yarn may not look like much in that form, but I see the potential in it. Depending on its weight and color, it may be perfect as a warm pair of socks, an elegant shawl, a bright toy to delight and comfort a small child. Knowing the possibilities in such humble materials makes me see more of the potential in people, too.

I learned patience. Good craftsmanship takes time and attention to detail. Rush, and your seams come apart with a breath. Fail to measure properly and your infernal machine becomes a pathetic mockery of evil. Details matter, and details require attention, and attention requires patience.

I learned that being different takes effort… but that effort is well worth the trouble. Every fall when I headed off to a new school year, the other kids stared in horror at my clothes. I got teased for them, too. But you know what? Every summer my mother took me to the fabric store and we designed my coming years’ wardrobe together. Sure, the other kids may not have appreciated my clothes, but I wore precisely  what I wanted and developed my own sense of style early on. While other teenage girls were making fashion choices they now regret and try to hide from the world… I was merrily doing my own thing, just the way I always had. Only at that point some of them started figuring out I’d already done the hard part of finding style by the time I was eight. I could look at an ad and see whether the jeans in it were for me or not. Suddenly some of the other girls were asking me for advice on clothes, because I was ahead of the curve. I already knew who I was.

I learned that while mass-produced things are worth having, handcrafted things come with an extra added bonus: the heart of the creator. I wear clothes that come from factories, have plates made by Dansk, sit on a sofa I certainly didn’t design, and watch a television we bought rather than created. I love all these things and more. But the things that matter most? Ah, those are very different. The handcrafted hat I bought at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the hand made serving pieces I bought direct from the crafter, the quilt that graces the bed I share with Mr. Twistie that our friend designed and made just for us, the lopsided toy dog my brother made for me when we were both wee small children… these are the things that bring my heart true joy. They surround me with the love that went into their creation.

I learned that I am capable of more. No, I didn’t stick with most of the crafts my mother taught me. But the most important thing they taught me is that I can try anything. I can succeed at many of the things I try. And if I don’t succeed at one, well, there’s another thing around the corner that may be a better fit for me. But whatever else I know, I know that things are made and they start off being made by people rather than machines. I know that if I need to, I can figure out a way to make most things happen. And at that point, it’s my choice what I try and when.

Imagination, patience, individuality, gratitude, and fortitude. These are the things I learned from my mother’s crafts.

Thanks, Mom.

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