Friday, April 4, 2014

The Genetic Crafter: A Warning

This was a actual fortune I plucked from a fortune cookie.  It made me ponder one of my deepest, darkest fears;  that one day, I will find myself crafting like my grandma.

My grandma was a great lady, don't get me wrong!  She was capable of doing many types of crafty sort of things for the home.  As a child, my sister and I would find scrap paper and bits of fabric and make things at her house.  She always had that kind of stuff laying around.  Kid heaven!

If I was drawing or doodling, she would sit with me and start to draw something, too.  It was always a pencil drawing of a lady who looked like Rosalind Russell.  But, it was a good sketch!  She just didn't have much in her kitchen table portfolio.  Sort of like Harper Lee - she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, and then zip!  Grandma apparently admired Rosalind Russell's style.   

Of course, since she was grandma, everyone got a craft when she was on a roll and she could churn out ridiculous numbers of the "item of the month."  In retrospect, I guess if you only have one sketch you like to draw, we all should be glad she never framed thirty Rosalinds for gifts.   

When I first moved out on my own, she called and asked me what my apartment looked like.  She wanted details and specific colors. Truthfully, my first apartment looked like an L-shaped closet.  It was an efficiency apartment, and in the bend of the L was a real closet and small bathroom. My furniture was your basic hand-me-down stuff, with the exception of a bentwood rocker I had received as a gift.  Because the couch was green, that was the predominant color;  you just couldn't get away from it.  Purple was added in the form of accent pieces and I hung a cheap reproduction of a picture by Japanese artist Ito Jakuchu.  The only thing that picture had in common with the style of the apartment was that I had silverware that had a bamboo design on the handle and I loved Japanese and Chinese food.  Far-fetched is the design of choice for low income students, FYI.

Later that week, I received a big package that had a beautiful crocheted afghan (does anyone still call it an afghan?  It's like a small blanket or throw).  She had included a note with the instruction that I should drape it over my rocker.  I loved it!  Calling to thank her, I'm sure she heard the genuine appreciation and enthusiasm I had for her crocheting skills.  The colors were perfect, but I would have never put those specific colors together.  There was a deep, eggplant purple and a lighter purple. The ugly green of my couch looked beautiful when she added it to the mix, and the last two colors were a light beige and off white.  She had made long stripes of color on the afghan, and I remember thinking, "Oh, she really does love me...she didn't make granny squares."

Then her creativity sparked what I like to call The Dark Ages of Crocheting.

My great-grandmother, Goldie, was called Nanny to distinguish which grandma we were talking about, since her crocheting daughter, Mary, was my other living grandma.  Visiting Nanny, I noted some new crafts in her bathroom.   Extra rolls of toilet paper were stored under the ample full hoop skirts of half of a Barbie-like doll.   Of course, you didn't notice the storage feature at first; that was what my grandma thought was so gosh darn clever, I'll wager.  You just wondered why a big skirted doll was sitting on the back of a 91 year old woman's toilet.  It had grandma-style written all over it.

OH LORD.  SHE'S GOING TO MAKE ONE OF THESE FOR ME.  Goosebumps began to form.  I knew her style;  grandma's mother got the first ones...then her youngest daughter, Diana...then my mother and my sisters.  You don't understand the grandma craft dynamic fully until you get one.   She expects all these wonderful gifts to be displayed.  Her own mother could not say no.  She knew the colors of my apartment and I had seen purple yarn in her bag.  Oh, the humanity. 

I had already survived the great tulle-covered-soap-that-looked-like-a-swan craft gifting by feigning ignorance and telling her I loved Sweetheart soap so much that I used it.  I'm sure that was a discussion around the lunch table at Navy Mothers:  "My granddaughter took that swan apart - can you believe it?"   Believe it.  There was no way I was putting that craft abomination in my cool but tiny apartment.

Sure enough, on my way to the car she made the big reveal:   Half Barbie with the color-coordinated skirt, Cherdo apartment style.  Knowing it was sitting on the backseat as I drove was more dangerous than an elevated blood alcohol.  I remember thinking that if I put the back windows down, and I purposefully rolled the car over the embankment, I could genuinely say that Half Barbie was flung out the window.  Grandma would have mercy and not hold it against me that I didn't have that epic craft abomination in my bathroom when she visited.   Nope;  she would make another one, I'm sure.  I was stuck.

My friends and I called her The Lady Charmin and mocked her for years.  New visitors were judged by their response to Lady Charmin when they went to the bathroom.  If I didn't hear a laugh from the bathroom the first time they saw it, then I was pretty sure that person didn't get the fact that it was ridiculous.  Maybe, they actually thought that was my style.  Friendship killer;  no more visits to the L for you.  

Now, I'm the grandma.  I love to craft, and I've done craft shows with my pal, Kelley.  As I cycle through all these craft paths to creativity, I remind myself that I may be making a craft version that someone else would see as the modern day version of The Lady Charmin.  I proceed with caution. There are many roads to creativity.   Some are soooo wrong.

I never give crafts.


  1. That was great. I will be smiling for some time now for having read it!

    1. Just the kind of comment I live for - thanks so much!


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