Mother’s Day

A little while after I started actually writing here again, after the crazy year of craziness (yes, I totally just called it that), one of the blogs I read posted a sort of “how to blog better” list of tips for new bloggers. One of those tips was to make a list of 100 (I think, don’t remember exact number) post topics to write about on your blog so that you’re never trying to come up with something when you want to post. Thinking this sounded like a great idea, but not expecting to come up with quite that many ideas, I started making a list of things I could post about when I didn’t have a current project to post, and promptly wrote down about 5 things. That was rather disappointing, but I did manage to expand the list to 15 or 20 items, and still add to it occasionally as ideas occur to me. I mention this because one of the topics I came up with was my mother. I talk about my mom a lot when I talk about my crafting, which makes sense to me for reasons I’ll go into in a moment, and it occurred to me that I could easily write a whole post on why she is so awesome, and of course including a bit about the crafting she does. So I’ve been thinking about that post in the back of my mind and when I realized Mother’s Day was coming up (and that I didn’t have a present for her, although I hope I’ve gotten her a card by the time I post this) and that would be just the perfect time to tell you all about my mom and the wonderful effect she has on my life.

In terms of crafting, I think of my mom primarily as a quilter as, I think, do most people who know her. Not surprisingly then, she got me started sewing at a young age, in fact I don’t even remember when she taught me to sew. But I do know that in kindergarten we had a place where we could sew little pieces of fabric together and I was already ahead of everybody else in that department, so it was probably before that. Her workroom is on the third floor of my parents’ house (yes it has a third floor, it’s a pretty big house) and I’ve loved going up there as long as I can remember. She’s got shelves of fabric on the walls in lots of different colors, and boxes of all kinds of crafting stuff, and when I was a kid I loved to look at it all and always wanted to play with it, which I think I did sometimes. Of course, half the fun of her workroom is seeing what project she’s currently working on, cause she does some awesome stuff. (She’s gonna kill me for some of these pictures…but they’re some of the stuff I love about her workroom and growing up in a house surrounded by her art)

I think I must have spent a lot of time bugging her in her workroom cause that’s how my first quilt got made, she wanted me to leave her alone enough for her to work, and I remember her teaching me to embroider because I was hanging out there with her and I needed something to do. But her teaching me new techniques, and encouraging me to learn them on my own, definitely didn’t stop when I got older and didn’t spend as much time in her workroom anymore. When I first learned to knit I was only taught the knit stitch, so I was doing lots of garter stitch scarves (garter stitch is what you get when you just knit) and was convinced I couldn’t do anything else unless I had somebody to teach my how to purl (which is the only other stitch in knitting). At that point I didn’t have anybody to teach me because I didn’t know any other knitters, and my mom just kept telling me to try it cause I could figure out how to purl by myself. And what do you know, it worked! And she even let me teach her to knit when I was so excited about knitting that I would have even tried to teach the dog to knit if he’d had thumbs, even though she didn’t enjoy knitting at all and didn’t really want to learn. But my favorite story of her encouraging me to try different crafts is when she got me started on needle felting. It was actually a Christmas present, I had a box from her and I opened it up and it was several balls of roving and this tool for a technique I had never even heard of before. She said she had heard a lot about it and thought I would like it, so when she saw the tool and wool at Hobby Lobby she got them for me so I could try it. Now I think plenty of people would look at that gift and be disappointed, but I was so excited, and I know that it never even occurred to my mom that I wouldn’t like it, because she would have loved a present like that too. And I just love how we can be on the same wavelength with crafting stuff like that so well.

I say my mom is a quilter, and she definitely is, but that’s not all she does, and she doesn’t really do your traditional bed quilts. She makes art quilts, and art not-quilts (I have no idea what else to call them), that are some of the coolest pieces I have ever seen. She just sits down to play with a piece of fabric, often that she has hand-dyed herself, and maybe some beads or some embroidery thread and ends up with this amazing piece of art, and I just don’t know how she does it. She will still do more traditional quilts if she has a reason to, she made me a quilt in college, cause I asked her to, that I just love, but mostly she does the art quilts, I think she gets bored with the traditional patterns. And she does so much other fiber crafting. A few years ago she got interested in natural dying and spent the next couple years experimenting with all kinds of things. She ordered indigo powder and thought about trying to grow indigo of her own, but decided it wouldn’t work, she tried growing woad to dye with, she collected hundreds (maybe thousands) of marigolds from her friends with gardens to use for dying, she used the rhubarb from the backyard, and I think she even tried dying with the vines that grow on my parents’ house. It was so fun to see the results, even though lots of them ended up being different shades of browns and yellows, and it was even better to see her get so excited about it! Her excitement for crafting is just contagious. Although my dad wasn’t real crazy about all the natural dying, boiling all the plants and stuff tends to smell pretty terrible and stunk up their whole house, but he’s gotten used to not really having any say when my mom gets started on fiber stuff.

She learned to crochet when she was younger, and recently she started crocheting again. I’m  not sure what sparked her interest again, but I do know one of the things she started doing with crochet pretty quickly is yarn bombing. She has made lots of different crocheted sleeves for the lamp post outside their house, usually changing them with the season or holidays, and has made a couple for friends as well. She’s made sleeves for all the lamp posts on their block that she’s going to put up for the local marathon this year, because it goes right past their house. Every sleeve is different, and many are quite fancy looking, including some crocheted flowers she’s sewn onto them. For a while she was making a lot of crochet flowers and leaves from a book she had gotten, one of which I wore in my hair at my college graduation, and which she’s added on to random other things she’s made.

She does, and has tried, so many other fiber things I could go on and on about it all, and that’s just the stuff I’ve seen her do, but I think the best part of it all is that she shares, and wants to share, all her crafting with other people. She’s part of a group of quilters who get together once and month to share what they’re doing and create challenges for themselves to try new things. She gets together with her friends all the time to try new things or share the new techniques she’s been playing with. She is always happy to show me how to do stuff, and is the first place I think to go when I want to try some new technique or do something weird with a technique I know, and she has always been happy to teach my friends too. She teases me sometimes about how I wanted to teach everyone to knit when I first learned, but I think I got that urge to share from her. But I think the biggest way she shared her love of fiber is by starting the Fiber Arts Festival in our home town 4 or 5 years ago (I honestly don’t remember how long it’s been now!). The website has a much better description than I can give you here, but it’s basically a place for fiber artists to get together and play with fiber, while sharing the techniques they love and learning new ones. And of course there’s a little shopping too. Sometimes I look at it and can’t believe that my mom started something that’s gotten so big, it just feels surreal, but I love it.

So happy Mother’s Day mom, I love you, and if I haven’t made you tear-up a bit with the post, I’ll try harder next year ;-). And since I should have tried looking at my mom’s facebook pictures before I was most of the way through this post, here are some more pictures of her stuff that I found on her facebook, quite a few of which I had never even seen before. She is just full of surprises even after I’ve know her for 23 years (or maybe 20 that I really remember).

Since I couldn’t post a link in the picture caption, here‘s a link to the Periodic Table project from the picture.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Virginia M. Dambach on May 14, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Wow Anna…what a great tribute to your Mom…who inspires me almost as much as she inspires you…and boy, do I have fun when she decides to get us going…ice dying all winter, driving to Lincoln to visit the International Quilt Study Center, inspiring us to enter pieces for Singing in the Choir, a mid-west fiber art exhibit she curated at the Plains Art Museum, spearheading the Elements project and getting us so excited that instead of each doing 2 or 3 elements we did the whole table – even elements we’d never heard of before! And even though neither one of us was around at the time, she also is one of the founding members of the Quilters’ Guild of North Dakota…Just imagine what she’ll come up with NEXT! I’m ready….Virginia


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