Crafts You can do!!

Denise FinucaneHanging out during March Break!

Hi! I'm Denise Finucane, and I love to craft.

Everyone can make something useful and beautiful (with a little patience). Crafts are how we make the everyday extraordinary with the personal touches only something handmade has.

Think of your favourite things - they remind you of a special vacation, event, person or feeling - right? For me, it's not the thing as much as when and where it was received that makes it special.

Do you have any momentos from childhood? I do! A collection of children's books - Little House on the Prairie and the Black Stallion series - a falling apart glue bound scrapbook (remember those huge 12x18 newsprint books?) filled with all the awards I got from school and Girl Guides...

But the one thing I'd cry over losing is the afghan that Great Grandma crocheted. She made lots of these rose blocks - in my memory she made them daily for years - I'm pretty sure all my aunts and uncles have at least 1 pillow somewhere in their house! Anyway when I got my new bed - I was probably 4.5 years old - this huge event was topped with a brand new blanket. My sister's afghan is all pink flowers (OK, but not my taste), but mine is awesome! The colours: yellow, mint green, peach, mauve, favourite is the pink/blue/white one - and though the white yarn has aged to an ivory now, it still lays on the single bed in my craft room. Grandma made this blanket for me. Even though there is a proliferation of these rose blocks in my family, I'm certain she made these blocks with me in mind. She was a very focused person and left very few projects half-done - that she spent the time to make this just for me is awesome! What a way to make me feel special!!

Sentiment is the heart of crafting

Be the project small (finished in minutes) or lifelong (the cross-stitched 4 ft by 6ft reproduction tapestry I keep collecting supplies for and intend to eventually start and finish), a part of you is in everything you create. I think that's why people like crafts - it's personal in a way store bought isn't.

Handmade can take a long time - but it's worth it! Think of it as an investment in you, your relationship with it's destined owner, and the connection to your past. Corny right? But let's think on this a bit deeper....

When I sit on the couch, TV on, stitching away the commercial breaks of whatever prime time show is on - this is Me Time. I need this connection to myself, to unwind and forget all the family and social issues, to forget obligations to everything but what's in my hands right now.

And when I'm not actively working on the project, I'm thinking "Wonder if {enter name here} will like that colour I chose for the background...I'm pretty sure they have a shirt like this....and didn't they have {work deadline/sports game/special event} the other day" So then I make a mental note to send an email or facebook post to say hello. I'm horrible at phone calls - the older I get, the more intrusive that ringing becomes!

When I think about how much time I spend on crafts, I wonder how my Mom did her crafts with 3 kids and a job, how Grandma made quilts with 8 kids and a farm to run, how great grandparents got anything extra done when they didn't have running water or machines to speed up the process. Maybe I'm more disorganized/easily distracted? No, I think it's that I've gotten used to freedom - I don't have to till a field, put up gallons of preserves or milk twice a day - my days are at my pace without any looming deadlines (except during school days!). I like to think I'm bringing a piece of each ancestor closer to me today by practicing each of their hobbies.

See? Crafting is about connecting, deepening relationships, and giving yourself something you deserve - a break from a hectic life! win, Win, WIN!!

What are my Favourite crafts?

All of them! (That's not quite a joke!)

I learned to crochet at 4 years old - shortly after Great Grandma had knee surgery and I was her dedicated Personal Trainer.

I think she needed to channel my energy and "spunk" into anything other than the required daily reps of deep knee bends and stretches!

I can't think of a single crocheted item I kept. I made LOTS of things - sweaters, doll clothes, doilies, wall hangings, table clothes, Christmas ornaments, socks...but I've given every one away as a gift. That kinda makes me sad - it would be nice to have something from the early days - but I still dabble a bit so it's not like I can't make whatever I'd like.

In high school I tried embroider - minor fail - but I found cross-stitch and fell in Love. I spent summer days sitting in a lawn chair on the front porch (listening to the radio by day, the baseball game by night), following black and white charts to make colourful pictures. I don't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure there are 5 stitched projects somewhere, all at least 10x14 inches that need to be framed or otherwise finished for display. I made countless Christmas ornaments, and during university days started making Christmas stockings - and again I don't know how many I made - but it numbers at least 20...

I learned how to use a sewing machine in elementary school - Grade 6 home ec class to be exact. I could make it go, and my only concern was how fast I could be finished. It was foot to the floor, I'm finishing this seam!! Needless to say, none of these projects were very good! I don't think the duffle bag even lasted a month before the zipper was mangled out of its seam...

After dating my husband (then boyfriend) for about a year, we took a 6 week trip to the Canadian Rockies. I know! Trip of a lifetime! This gave us over 600 pictures - gotta love digital cameras - so I decided I needed to learn how to scrapbook. This has been a great addition to my crafty skill library! I've finished lots of albums (and have lots more to make!) and each one details a theme - a trip, our wedding, dating years, first year married, our son...

Scrapbooking lead to card making, and even a brief exploration of papermaking. Our wedding stationary was all handmade. Everything. I spent hours shredding scrap paper, dying the pulp and working with frames stapled with window screen to make the cardstock. Our wedding was an intimate affair at a small lodge in northern Ontario, so to maintain a theme, I added rose petals to the pulp of the invitations, and I added cedar to the Thank-you pulp. I decided to try a new (to me) technique called iris folding for the thank-you cards. If you've never iris folded, please be advised NOT to use this method to make 200 cards. You're welcome. Please try the technique - I've got a tutorial - but wait until you've got a few under your belt before committing yourself to a large quantity.

Somewhere in my late 20's I became interested in quilting. I tried a simple project - a denim and fleece quilt and became hooked! I had made a quilt the summer between high school and university, but it didn't work out that well. I used a pattern I found in a newspaper - an 8-pointed star block made from diamonds, squares and triangles. I used cereal box templates and traced them onto scraps of denim, corduroy and this horrible peacock blue kind of stretch velvety stuff that Mom had. It took all summer. I didn't know anything about quilting: y-seam techniques were almost 20 years in my future...but I finished it and the quilt kept me happy for years until we Really needed a liner for the dog cage. Let's just say this was a well-used first quilt!! Anyway,I made the denim quilt to replace my original first quilt. This project went much easier - rotary cutter, 4x14 inch ruler and some thought to maintaining a consistent seam allowance - so I tried another pattern, and another, then got a few quilt magazines for Christmas...I became a Quilter.

Now I spend my days bouncing between projects - quilting, scrapbooking, card making, party planning, kid-friendly crafts and cross-stitching. It makes for an interesting organizational dynamic, but keeps me happy and sane :)

My dream is to pass on some of my passion for crafts. A dream can only get better when it's shared - right?

To encourage everyone to make something, I know you can do it!

To create a crafTradition

Won't you join me?

You can contact me through this website, on Facebook, Twitter...or the old-fashioned way:

Denise Finucane 84 Turcot RR#1 St.Charles ON, P0M 2W0

Visit crafTraditions's profile on Pinterest.

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