Adventures in Crafting

by Alisa Welch

Think back. Way back. Wait, not that far back, before television is good enough. There was a time when the hours after dinner and before bedtime were filled with leisure activities like needlepoint, whittling and maybe a little banjo playing. Crafts occupied the evening hours with something to show for it in the end. An informal poll among my friends and family revealed that they fill these potentially productive hours with distractions like television, clothes folding, and eBay trolling. Not one for turning off the television myself but embarassed by my own laziness, I wondered what kinds of projects I could work on whilst never leaving the warm glow of the tube.

I enlisted my less crafty sister, Elizabeth, to accompany me on a journey to the craft mothership, Michael's. Our mission: to find craft projects for the dark Oregon evenings that we could complete in a short amount of time and with minimal brain power.

Upon entrance into Michael's, one is overwhelmed with the possibilities of crafts. Rows and rows of beads, fuzzy posters of unicorns, doll get the idea. If you don't have a project already in mind, Michael's endless possibilities can feel overwhelming, so be warned. First we strolled through the jewelry aisle since Elizabeth was keen on making a necklace. Though the selection of clasps and other crucial jewelry construction items are plentiful, the stuff of showstopping lapidary is nowhere to be found at Michael's. The beads are standard issue seed variety and not very cool.

I took a shine to the glass etching area and thought Elizabeth would be interested in an oval shaped mirror that could be hung by a ribbon. How about etching a leaf pattern around the mirror? Très Martha, I thought. My sister was nonplused.

"The problem with doing crafts," Elizabeth frowned, "is that you end up with a house full of crafty crap." Truer words, my friend, truer words.

Walking through Michael's clean and bright aisles, we found paint-able wood coat pegs for 99 cents and Elizabeth picked up a package of wallpaper fairies for her daughter's bedroom. So far, Michael's offered nothing to inspire late night whale-oil burning sessions. Easier projects not seen since grade school—shrinky dinks, pompoms you can glue together to make little critters—occupy half of the store and give the impression that crafting remains in the realm of the underage set.

Elizabeth spied unfinished wood frames that did inspire her. "Frames are usable and I like the idea of framing cool wallpaper," she piped. "That's always been an idea I've had, but I've never really done it." I nodded approvingly, but secretly I was thrilled that my baby sister—whom I tortured with afternoons of forced crafting when we were children—was now dreaming up her own creative crafting projects.

After thirty minutes of searching, we ventured to the rear of the store where only real crafters dare to tread. The intimidating knitting and needlepoint aisles offered a challenge and the promise of un-crappy end products, though Michael's has plenty of, well, middle-Americian options when it comes to designs. A bit of digging past needlepoint flags, teddy bears and wolves in the night revealed some pretty groovy designs to start sewing. We settled on packaged—needles and thread included—cross-stitch projects: mine an Asian-inspired bird and flower, while Elizabeth couldn't resist a cross-stitch coin purse featuring a birdhouse emblazoned with the very Michael's sentiment: "God Bless America."

We made it out of the store with multiple projects while spending less than $40 each.

Two weeks after our adventure, Elizabeth had pasted the wallpaper fairies and begun her cross-stitch. "My stitches are all crazy. Don't laugh at it," she sighed. Then again, my needlepoint project is harder than I thought it would be, my own stitches less than beautiful, but at least watching mindless re-runs of Las Vegas are now more productive.


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Parlor Games :: The No T.V.Test :: Adventures in Crafting ::
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