I have always loved to make things. When I was a little kid, I got one of those potholder-making sets for my birthday. Mom got a lot of new potholders that year. When I was in second grade, the stage when every little girl wants a horse of her own, I settled for learning how to draw horses. I would finish my spelling quizzes before everyone else and practice drawing horses on the back.

When I was 8, my mother wisely enrolled me in 4-H sewing and knitting rather than teaching me at home. (Actually, she taught the knitting classes, but since there were other kids there, we didn't butt heads like we would have, had it been one-on-one learning.) The projects for the first couple years were horrendous. Everyone had to do the same thing, and the only creative flexibility allowed was in the choosing of fabric/color of yarn. The first sewing project was a skirt with elastic waist in a length and fullness flattering to no-one, not even an 8-year-old. I never wore it. The second sewing project was a jumper with a drop-waist, slightly less horrible than the skirt, but I didn't ever wear it, either. After that, things got better. By the third year, you could choose your pattern, so there was a small chance you'd make something stylish. Of course, most of us in 4-H sewing were too geeky to really choose a non-geeky pattern, but I somehow managed to slide by with a striped t-shirt and cropped pants that didn't look too bad.

The required knitting patterns were even worse. We had to use Red Heart yarn, which is 100% yucky, squeaky acrylic. (It's also very cheap and available at places like Wal-Mart, making the projects affordable for anyone; I guess there IS something to be said for that.) The first knitting project was garter-stitch slippers. Mine were yellow and they didn't stay on my feet very well. The second-year project was striped mittens and a beret that was at least 10 years out of date, even in the 80s. I don't think I finished mine. Again, with knitting, by the third year we could choose our own patterns (with guidelines) and yarn. I made a red vest, and it took forever.

In middle school I made dresses and skirts for my Samantha doll (from the American Girls by Pleasant Company; incidentally, Pleasant Roland lives in Madison and is a big supporter of the arts here), but I admitted it to almost no-one. Other kids my age were finding their first boyfriends but I was a shrimp with a bad perm who didn't even wear a bra yet, so it's no wonder I didn't get much male attention. Not the kind I wanted, anyway.

Now that I'm grown up, I still make stuff. My sewing abilities are, heh heh, so-so (pun abso-diddle-utely intended!!), but I've made a few quilts that have turned out very nice. Baby quilts are the best because I can actually finish those. And since my friend Autumn taught me how to make socks a few years ago, I am a knitting fiend. Of course, I was a knitter BEFORE it was cool, but I love that it's such a popular hobby now. New patterns and yarn shops are popping up everywhere, and the plethora of colors and fibers and creative possibilities makes me giddy.

I don't make much for myself, because I've discovered that I am a process knitter. The act of making an item is much more enjoyable to me than actually owning that item once it's finished. Before Stuart was my husband, I made him a sweater that he never wears, and it doesn't even bother me. I've made baby sweaters for people I barely know, just as an excuse to knit something to give away. (Plus, I feel less guilty about buying yarn if it's going to be made into a gift.)

I also have the problem many creative-types have: starting-more-projects-than-you-can-ever-finish-itis. It just comes with the territory, people.

I come from creative stock, mind you. My mom is a master of the fiber arts, especially quilting, and has made some gorgeous things, many of her own design. My dad has designed and made beautiful furniture, and even helped me (or rather, I helped him) make some pine bookshelves the summer after I graduated from college. My brother is an engineer and invented his own theramin. I have uncles and cousins who do original woodworking, and other cousins who write so elegantly it puts me to shame.

I've been reading the most inspiring book about knitting, called Mason-Dixon Knitting. This book will definitely be on my Christmas list. They also have a blog.
It's full of rather unusual knitted household items. I want to make linen handtowels, a lace bathroom curtain, and a garter-stitch log cabin baby blanket. There are also several wonderful stories about kids' interests and projects in knitting--a rug out of potholder loops, for example. It got me to thinking about my kid (to be plural in the future, probably), and how much I'll enjoy being creative with him (them) in a few years. Fingerpaints, cut-out cookies, play-dough sculptures, music-making, maybe even knitting...(or, my kids could be jocks only interested in kicking around a soccer ball. I'll just go with the flow...)

I could wax poetic about the creative process and the value and personal satisfaction of making things yourself, but many people have done that more eloquently than I. Besides, I think all you creative folks out there know it already in your hearts.


Steph said…
Once when I was a kid I made a potholder out of rubber bands. Hehe. It was about one square inch when completed, and the entire process was fraught with risk and peril, as at any moment a rubber band could slip off the little loom thing and snap my poor skin. It was about the dumbest project you could imagine undertaking, and yet I felt such accomplishment when it was finished and I had that cute litte mini rubber potholder.

I was a loser.
Suze said…
was it a potholder for your skipper doll? remember how we loved our skipper dolls rather than barbie dolls because skipper dolls were flat-chested like us?
Jenn Hacker said…
The only thing I seem to be able to create anymore is a mess. I used to write quite a bit of poetry and fiction (my professors seemed to like it, anyway) but since I got pregnant with Jamethan my creative juices have run dry. So, until my writer's block explodes and all the anecdotes I've been subconsiously saving up for the past nine years flow onto the page to become a veritable work of genius (which will, of course, net me millions when I sell the movie rights), I shall have to content myself with reading and performing for Jamethan's class at school. Seems like all those funny voices and accents I learned under Ms. Moore are finally coming in handy!
annalu alulu said…
do you have pictures of any of the stuff you, your mom, or your dad have made? your mom and faith turner (now Hammond) were my dream moms when I was a kid!
annalu alulu said…
oh, and i'd love to see a picture of your husband! of course i've already seen your precious fat baby
Jenn Hacker said…
I'd like to see some pictures, too, please! What took you to MadTown, anyway? I never heard that story. Just seemed like I came back to town and you weren't there anymore. Guess I better quit blogging/posting and get back to work!
Suze said…
p.s. i do have pictures of most of the stuff i've made. i'll try and figure out how to post those. it shouldn't be too hard.

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