I Come By It Honestly

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I’m a compulsive maker and a hoarder of craft supplies and craft scraps. And, as it turns out, I have everyone to blame but myself. More specifically, I have my Grandma, my Aunt and my Mom to thank for my unending need to create and hoard all the things.

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Let me back up. My Grandma C grew up in a small rural town in Wisconsin, her family one of the first to live in said town. She’s a twin, and one of over a dozen kids in her family. They grew their own food and made their own clothes. They were makers long before being a maker was a thing. I’m not exaggerating when I say they made everything, I have a throw rug that my great grandma crocheted from plastic shopping bags. Nothing was wasted, nothing was purchased. Everything could be reused and reimagined into something else. It wasn’t a hobby, it was a way of life.

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When my grandparents married they lived in a small trailer on the property before moving to a little house across the road, where she and my Grandpa still live today. Between the two of them, they can make ANYTHING! My Grandpa is an incredible carpenter. I drove home from their house last weekend with a dozen wren and bluejay houses in my trunk. At the age of 83, he still feels the need to build and create items for those around him.

My Grandma worked in a garment factory for many years. She can sew anything. Her work is beyond meticulous, you wouldn’t believe the quilts she creates are handmade. Last weekend, she told me about the 10 pairs of pants she’d altered the day before for a neighbor. I don’t think a person in their town is without something at their house made by either my Grandma or Grandpa.

When we were kids, my Grandpa converted the small deck off their second floor into a sewing room for my Grandma. It’s a modest space, probably not more than 9 x 9′ in size. But, it’s her happy place for sure. She’s packed every inch of the space with supplies. The items that come out of that room are beyond incredible, crafted with so much love and care. In many of the drawers are small bits of scrap fabric. She might make a quilt today that has a bit of fabric from an outfit she made me when I was a little girl, or that even has scraps of fabric that belonged to my Great Grandma. She never throws anything away, and everything finds a new life in a new creation at some point.

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I don’t specifically remember learning how to sew or crochet. In some ways, it was like learning to talk. It was just happening around me and at some point I knew how to do it. My Grandma, my Aunts, my Mom were always making things. And we were right there, watching them, absorbing it all. They were never just sitting down, there was always a project in hand. The need to make and create is definitely in my bones.

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Until recently I never gave much thought to it. It didn’t occur to me that other people may not have been exposed to such creativity in their families. I didn’t even really think of it as creativity, it was just something that we did. Looking back, I realize that at the age of 10 my favorite place to hang out was Michael’s Craft store. I would make homemade gifts and sell things in local craft shows. I was always crafting something. I’m still, always crafting something.

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And, I’ve definitely followed in my Grandma’s footsteps when it comes to saving my scraps. I saved ever bit of yarn from my first year of weaving, and at the end of the year made a giant wall hanging from all the tiny bits. Kind of a timeline of my first year in weaving. I’ve made baby quilts from old swatches that were going to be thrown away at work. I have bins full of fabric scraps, sorted by color, that I tap into when the need arises.

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I’m so grateful to have spent my life surrounded by these incredible women, and hope to carry on the maker tradition they’ve passed onto me. Lottie’s already well on her way to full maker/hoarder status.

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