Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Control Crafts

I still find myself in a strange state of Must Make Stuff. I don't know why. I think the state of having three kids is making me feel really desperate for control. Making stuff means control. The key, really, is finding stuff to make that I can segment into really small bits: sew a hem, kiss an ow-ie, sew another hem; cut a feather, change a diaper, cut another feather; stir some milk, retrieve a fallen toy, stir the milk again.

Yesterday morning, Mattias had a fever. Trixie is teething. I thought to myself that if each kid is sick one day, once every three weeks – which doesn't sounds like a lot – that STILL means I have a sick kid to take care of once every week. Gah. Multiplication by 3! See? That's how I end up desperate for control. If I can't control the kids' sicknesses, then at least I can control other things...

I made a lot of kombucha. I tried to make it look lovely. It was a 20 minute activity, once a week. Always a new flavor experiment. Fritz never liked any of the flavors I made. Maybe because I cared more about how it looked in the bottle than how it tasted. I couldn't (alone) drink the kombucha fast enough. So I moved on.

I made a stack of napkins.

"Napkins?" asked my brother. His voice indicated I sounded crazy.

"Yes. Napkins. With spare pieces of fabric. And the tiniest little hems I can, Depression Era inspired, like Grandma would have made. You know, it's not as easy as you would think: because you want them to be square and neat. The fabric should feel nice and soft, like you want to use it to wipe your mouth. And you have to fold and iron the edges before you sew. The hems need to be consistently sized all around. You think it's simple, but it's minimalist art, really. I'm still refining my technique."

"How many have you made?"

"Like, fifty."

"Uh. Okay." His voice said: Confirmed. Crazy. "What are you going to do with them?"

"Maybe give them as Christmas gifts."

"Oh," he said unenthusiastically. I mentally removed him from my napkin gift list.

Then the weather got cold and I decided that Trixie needed a cape for quick trips between the car and any indoor destination. Even my big baby is so small. Coats and jackets are so bulky to wear in the carseat. And they are too clumsy to easily put on and take off quickly. I determined Trixie needed a cape: a practical, warm cape to take on and off quickly, but couldn't find one with adequate coverage to buy.

"Then make one," said my mom. So I did: micro fleece on one side and some woven dot fabric on the other side. Long. Simpler than a blanket. Faster than a coat or bunting. Reversible.

Some evenings, I folded origami Moravian stars. My brother-in-law was visiting from China with his girlfriend. Every night that week, after the kids were asleep, we would gather around the table. The smart phones would emerge. I don't have a smart phone. But, you know, smart phones are helpful in conversation when you are discussing, say, the setting of The Shining, and need to immediately confirm that the exterior of the hotel was the lodge at Mount Hood Meadows in Oregon and the interior of the hotel was the Stanley in Estes Park in Colorado.

I folded a star while everyone else worked on that confirmation.

"Why are you doing that?" my brother-in-law asked me.

"I guess because it gives me something to do."

"Well, if you ever get tired of it, let me know, and we can outsource it to China."

Noah asked me to make his Halloween costume. Some years in the past, I've made Halloween costumes. Some years I've purchased them. This year I felt REALLY busy refining my Art of the Napkin. There has also been tension between Noah and I over the last few weeks. I wasn't feeling particularly generous in my Making Stuff Spirit towards him. But I made him a costume anyway. Mattias wanted to be the same thing (an owl).

Okay, fine. Sigh. Two Owls. I chopped up my maternity clothes to make the feathers. It was cathartic.

Noah is wearing his costume all the time this week. I think he appreciates this costume much more than any of my other home-made costumes. Maybe he's finally old enough to appreciate it? Maybe he's just happy to see some talents thrown in his direction.

Finally, we seem to have become complete yogurt snobs around here. The price of our fancy pants store-bought yogurt was eating our grocery budget. Somewhat inspired by all that kombucha making, I've started to make our own yogurt. I haven't perfected it yet, but it's headed in a good direction: yummy!


Pregnantly Plump said...

I think they all look great! The costumes look wonderful, and I'm glad he appreciated your efforts. That's very sweet! And the cape is very cool. I bet you get lots of compliments. I'm sure it will be very handy this fall and winter! Maybe since you do your crafts around your kids, they'll be interested. That could be fun.

idena said...

I am beyond impressed! You could sell those napkins on etsy or ebay (or sell some to me!!!!).
And those stars are gorgeous and would look lovely on dining table at Christmas.
The cape for Trixie is genius. If/When I have a granddaughter one day, I'll be contacting you to make a cape for her!
And the owls: Adorable!
You're very talented, and I am very lazy. I can't even imagine being as productive as you have been!

Anonymous said...

From another lazy one -
I would love your napkins as a Christmas gift, and I am sure your brother will appreciate them at some point, too. Or wait, I can send you the fabric and order some from you? You should really put them on DaWanda!
It looks like the paper stripes got into the right hands....beautiful stars, Ann!

Katie said...

Ack, I LOVE this: "Okay, fine. Sigh. Two Owls. I chopped up my maternity clothes to make the feathers. It was cathartic." And you made that cape?! Love that, too. :)