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Arts and Crafts Kits Brought My Family Closer Together

Arts and Crafts Kits
Arts and Crafts Kits

Updated March 10th, 2020

I was in my twenties and newly married when I first understood that arts and crafts kits are deeply in my blood. My then husband and I were expecting our first child. Just out of college, we had very little money. Both of our parents were giving us so many warnings that we practically had one foot in the grave, choosing to be married and pregnant so soon after getting college degrees. We smiled at them whenever they let rampant comments escape with the hot air in their mouths because we decided that it was our journey. We would not be influenced by anyone.

I had talked many times to my husband about my slight addiction to colorful fabrics, dot matrix printer and other kinds of paper craft, woodcraft projects with popsicle sticks and repurposing old jeans for bookbags and purses. Both of my grandmothers had taught me all the special stitches required for respectable crocheting and quilting. I performed my summer and after-school rituals with them both as a form of bonding, genuine curiosity, and willingness to accept my specific heritage.

Inheriting Arts and Crafts Kits

My maternal grandmother could make any article of clothing without needing any pattern. An accomplished salesperson for two local dress shops and regional seller for a nationally recognized women's beauty and skin product conglomerate, she was known in our family and community as the best seamstress to take anyone's measurements.
 My paternal grandmother offered a similar inheritance in arts and crafts kits. She recycled any old clothing, no matter how tattered and torn, into the heavy quilts that kept us warm in the winters. I learned every type of stitch by sitting at her feet and watching her sew for hours after dinner. I was almost out of breath the day that she passed the needle to me and asked me to sew while she attended to other chores. Part of me was proud that she had this level of confidence in me. The other part of me was nervous that I would not live up to her level of craft. I wanted my stitches to be as perfect as hers, and I knew she was only around the corner in the next room listening. It was a test, and I was determined to pass.

After that day, she never sat down again to make quilt blocks without giving me one of my own to sew alongside her. Every quilt I now make carries a piece of her. Although I do not make too many utilitarian quilts designed expressly for the bed, I re-create the traditional patterns, like flying geese and monkey wrench, in the borders of my art quilts.

This arts and crafts kits inheritance, which at times in Girl Scout meetings or community kids camps, included ceramics and jewelry-making, was a handy skill during my first marriage. Our small apartment, with little more furniture than several bookcases to hold our sizeable combined book collection, needed my help. 

Arts and Crafts Kits at Local Thrift Stores

After a run to the local thrift store and some thread that I would need for upcycling, I first made curtains. Although my husband was okay with this, my southern upbringing made me feel naked in the evenings when we needed to flip on the lights. I could not shake the feeling that people somewhere could see all through our space.

The curtains were made from old bedsheets. These were pastel-colored with a few large flower prints. By hand, I sewed pockets to place curtain rods and made a matching colorful tie, so that we could be sure to get some sunlight during the day. I used my quilting skills to create a multi-layered rectangle that could serve as a run near the entranceway. We wanted to keep the apartment as clean as possible in the few months we had until our daughter's arrival.

After sitting the flea market ceramics I had purchased throughout the living room area and sewing a couple of covers for the two wooden crates that I was determined to use as end tables, I waited for my husband to come home. He was completely impressed after he made sure I did not spend too much money, of course. When he saw that the receipts totaled less than $12, he was ecstatic.

If there is one thing that I regret about having a deep heritage in arts and crafts kits, it is that this affinity to woodcraft, paper craft, pottery did not pass down to my daughter or her cousins. There have not been any small glimmers of interest in arts and crafts from anyone that my siblings or I brought into the world. They tend to see these hand and needle arts as archaic, especially in the world of digital information.

My daughter has come across articles about arts and crafts kits and shared them with me as a ritual that mimics a sense of pride in her history. She knows she will not ever have a real spark for pursuing this, but she remembers how often I have and wants me to know she respects my love for crafts. I want to put a crochet needle in her hand and tell her that the winter hat she is wearing is one she could have made herself.

I have saved my favorite patterns in a trunk for her, just in case, she changes her mind. My current husband tells me that I am being too unrealistic about competing with technology. Perhaps he is right. The fact that these rituals are in my blood, however, keeps me hopeful.


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