Today, Sharon offers inspiration and local recommendations for DIY crafting:
“I have always loathed the holidays for their sheer commercialism, and this year I spent a lot of time reflecting on giving, and how to infuse meaning into the gifts for the little ones in my life. Through the journey, I discovered a new side of myself and some really excellent local craft stores.
In the past I’ve found myself adept at paper crafts, but haven’t experimented with fabric or yarn. But for some reason, I was inspired to make dollies (with no set pattern; click thumbnail above to enlarge image) and scarves and headed out to two local Arlington craft supply stores (Fabric Corner and Play Time) for the doll supplies, and Wild and Woolly in Lexington for the yarn.
These forays truly were like walking into another world. An appropriate food analogy would be walking into a farm stand or fish purveyor rather than going to a restaurant. Having to pick each color and textile was like picking up a piece of fruit, smelling fish for freshness, or testing the quality of olive oil to make sure that it was exactly right for what I was cooking. It was amazing and overwhelming, yet made me think of each gift recipient even more mindfully. And at each of these places, I was impressed by the warmth and general good natured-ness of employees and owners alike.
At Fabric Corner, I was totally overwhelmed when I walked in but immediately was put at ease by the owner, who definitely could tell I was a newbie and told me to take my time and not worry about asking questions. He also engaged me in a conversation about each of the fabrics I had chosen and why he picked them. Impressive. At Play Time, it was heartening to see older women and tweens working side by side, sorting and stacking and helping busy shoppers. And Wild and Woolly was amazing because I got this sense that fads can come and go but there was something stable and necessary and alluring about working with yarn. It was inspiring to hear shoppers talking about the sweaters they had knit (and were wearing).
As I said, I moved forward without patterns and that creative freedom was great in the sense that I didn't have to worry about whether I was following steps correctly. And as I finished crafting each scarf and doll, I felt more creative and moved by the idea that a part of me was captured by each uneven stitch or knit.
I have to admit that amidst what typically is a very toy-centric holiday, as the kids opened their presents on Christmas Day, I grew a little nervous that my handmade presents would not be well received. But they were; scarves were draped immediately and the dollies either were named right away and/or cuddled into the crook of an arm for the rest of the day. This for me was the beginning of a new way to love during the holidays and through the year. I can't wait to decide on my next project.”