The Old Lady Club
I had a little flood of remembrance the other day when Alison queried her readers about a "new" craft she'd discovered. Then new mom Stephanie (hey, go wish her a Happy Birthday!) wrote about the challenge of just finding time, with a new baby in the house, to work some string with a couple of sticks. And I was transported back about 14 years...
When Maddy was born, knowing she'd be my last and with Katie in first grade and Ali in preschool, I decided to be a full time mom. I figured it was a now-or-never. I had put in a full day working and/or going to school since I was 14, so coming to a full stop and making such a big change at age 33 meant there was a period of adjustment.
Y'all know that I love my children to pieces and I wish they hadn't grown up so fast, and yet there were times when they were little that I wondered what kind of nightmare prison sentence I'd signed up for! Would I ever have a minute to myself again? Would I ever get enough sleep? An uninterrupted conversation with another adult?
One of the things I did for my sanity during this adjustment to my new life (one that I did eventually get used to and enjoy for five years) was join the "Hobby & Craft Club" -- a group of women that met every Thursday morning for two hours in the community room at City Hall. Secretly, and among friends, I called it "The Old Lady Club" because that's what they all were! I could easily have been the granddaughter of any one of them, and perhaps even the great-granddaughter of a few. Those ladies did a lot of crafting for charity -- church and hospital and nursing home craft sales -- and they worked a LOT of plastic canvas! It's easy on the eyes, you know -- big holes, big needles, big yarn! And it was both quick and cheap. Praying hands, American flags, and crosses were all favorite designs, prolifically produced, all with magnets so they could hold up the grocery list on the 'fridge. Another favorite was crochet afghans in scorch-the-eyes color combos and big, BIG hooks.
I listened to the little old ladies talk (and gossip) and laugh while I worked my counted cross-stitch samplers on 32-count linen -- in extremely poor light. I think they looked on me like a little pet -- they weren't quite sure what to do with me, but I behaved and didn't make a mess, so was tolerated and even humored now and then. It was two hours every week that I could put my head down and work, uninterrupted and without any pressure from anyone about anything (and no phone), and it sure did help.
There are some new, or soon-to-be-new moms out there -- Stephanie, Jen, Kate, my little sister. ; ) It's the most wonderful thing in the world, but it's a huge shift in your life and priorities -- no matter how much you read and prepare and think about it or how much advice you get, you can just never plan for all the ways it will affect you. So, in the realm of advice that may or may not help: I never felt too guilty about sitting down to stitch while the kids napped, either. (Or taking a nap while they did and staying up after their bedtime to stitch.) Sanity or a clean house? It wasn't a tough decision (I knew I'd have regular cleaning jags to take care of the dust bunnies). The Number 1 thing is: take care of you so you can take care of your family. It might take some time and experimentation to find what works best for you, but that's okay, too.
Here's a wide view of my chart for Shirley Shrugs. I forgot to flip the pic -- Row 1 is at the right, the middle is indicated by an orange-ish line, and the shaded triangles are where the short-row shaping will occur to make "shoulders" and hopefully keep the shrug more snug around the neck. I am fully prepared to be making lots of fudge when I get to those areas... I really only need a small fraction of that chart, but I don't see my love for copy & paste ever diminishing (and you get a nice overview this way, too).
Have a great weekend everyone! I think we're going to my brother's for lunch tomorrow.