A decade (or so) ago I had the misfortune of seeing Denyse Schmidt’s quilts featured in an issue of Martha Stewart Living.
One look at her quilts with the plain background and wonky colorful squares, and I was determined to make my own. Apparently a crucial part of my brain is missing. The part that, upon seeing something beautiful, sends warnings to the rest of the brain: ‘this project is much more complicated than it appears. It requires skills you do not possess. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.’
I mean, I’m an idiot sew-er. I can’t sew a straight line. I don’t know the first thing about techniques like ‘applique’ and ‘quilting’. And, a decade ago, I didn’t even own a sewing machine. But I did not have the patience for such realism, and I cheerfully gathered scraps of blue fabric. Which I cut out with my (non-sewing scissors) and pieced together with my third grade sewing skills.
The words pathetic and pitiful come to mind. Along with the phrase ‘what was I smoking?’
Eventually I finished some squares and my mom took the mess to some of her quilter friends who basically said I should get a part-time job and save up money to buy my own Denyse Schmidt quilt. Actually I think they said something along the lines that it wouldn’t be possible to quilt my hand-sewn scraps in the manner I’d envisioned.
But now that I think of it, if I’d gotten a very part-time job ten years ago, making only $400 a year, I could have a wonky square quilt on my bed right now. (I hope my mother-in-law reads this and thinks about how she might make me such a quilt in all of her spare time. Or maybe forty of my friends decide to contribute $100 each so that I could have this stupid quilt and stop talking about it. Except I don’t have forty friends and there is that whole ‘Haiti’ crisis that’s probably slightly more important.)
So a year ago, I found myself in the Cath Kidston store in Marylebone High Street. Where I saw an adorable stripey crocheted blanket. It looked as though it could be easily replicated. (By someone who could actually crochet.) So, having learned a thing or two in the last decade, I tore the picture from their catalogue. And passed it on to my mom – a person who can ‘actually crochet’.
And, last week, she mailed her version to me.
Judging from B3’s dog-like pose, it’s really fun to roll around on it.
It’s worth noting that I’m not entirely useless, craft-wise. I did make my oldest a snake from an old necktie last week. I saw the idea and thought ‘I can do that!’
Except, there were no instructions. And I couldn’t figure out how to stuff the narrowest part of the tail. Which means the professor had to come to my rescue. As he always does. He loves nothing more than trying to solve my ‘I didn’t think this through’ craft dilemmas.
It goes like this: I start a craft without knowing how to do it. Get really irritated by some aspect of said craft. Hand him the unfinished/messed up craft….with smoke coming out of my ears and colorful words coming from my mouth. And then I move on to something else, with the ‘hope’ that he’ll take pity on me and finish the project, or at least get it to the point where I just have to run the mouth through the sewing machine and can say ‘ta-da’ two minutes later.
I still don’t know how he did it, but somehow he was able to get the stuffing all the way to the bottom of the tail.
It was classic Nicola, the way I executed this little project. Less than an hour before I had to leave the house, I unearthed a stash of neckties that I’d gotten at an estate sale. (Causing the Gort to ask: ‘what’s a tie?’) I sat down at the dining table, with the boys milling about, and the baby on my lap, as I quickly tried to figure out how in the world to make a stuffed snake. An hour and ten minutes later, it was done. I’m guessing it would take a skilled person about twenty minutes.
Yes, yes, I know the eyes aren’t the same size – my oldest doesn’t appear to share my love for symmetry. But he was really excited about his snake, and named him ‘Sam’. His excitement lasted about twenty four hours.
Sam hasn’t been seen since.
If I’d invested any more time into the project, I might be upset.