Friday, September 22, 2006

Crafty Mama

I’m a busy mama. Once upon a time, before I got married and had babies I was also an avid crafter. One of the things I’ve missed most since becoming a mom is having time to craft.

For a long time I didn’t make anything. Then I decided that I’d simply have to adjust my expectations. I don’t expect to be as prolific as I used to be, nor do I expect to have the large blocks of craft time I used to have. I also enjoy the process rather than feeling discontent until I have the finished product in hand. But the most effective way I’ve found for a creative outlet on little time is just to choose very simple crafts. If I begin a knitting project that takes a lot of counting and concentration, I might as well forget it. Detailed sewing will probably never get started. Scrapbooking—well, I gave most of my scrapbook supplies away still in the package.

Here are a few ideas for simple, easy crafts for busy people like me.

One-hour skirts. Any simple a-line skirt can be cut and sewn in just a few small blocks of time. Embellish with a few buttons or embroidery to make it look like you went to a lot of effort!

Knitted rectangular shawl.
I started my “hurricane shawl” during Katrina, which coincided with our personal storm, Billy’s emergency surgery and consequent week-long hospital stay. It’s still not quite done, although a serious knitter could probably have finished it in a week or two. But it’s been therapeutic to make something beautiful with my hands during difficult days. I just got three big balls of chenille yarn, cast on 70 stitches with size 10’s (I think) and knitted in stockinette stitch strips of varying width. When it’s long enough and I bind off, it will be done. This has been a super easy and fulfilling project, and I’m looking forward to wrapping up in the shawl on chilly mornings.

Knitted scarves. Same idea as the shawl above. Just straight knitting till it’s as long as you like it. Fleece scarves are also easy and make great gifts.

Little girls’ purses. I knitted mine, but they could be sewn as well. Basically you just need a rectangular shape, fold in half, and sew up the sides. Tack on a length of ribbon for a handle, and add some kind of embellishment like bows or buttons. Voila! So easy. These are really cute made with fuzzy yarn.

Doll quilts. A few small squares, a bit of backing, and some scrap yarn to tie it off. This project takes no time, and little girls love it. I made doll pillows to match.

Simple cards. The possibilities are endless. I’ve made Christmas cards for the past two years. Year one was big angel stickers with hand lettering. It sounds cheesy but turned out really cute. I got a lot of compliments. I think neatness and color choices were the key.

Year two, I stamped a green paint triangle with an unused kitchen sponge cut to shape, and added a star on top with glitter glue. This was really fast since I set it up assembly line style.

This year I’m using black cardstock with silver stars cut from thin dollar store wrapping paper. A few geometric shapes in red, green, or blue, and a silver gel pen, and there you have it. I don’t worry about fancy edges or lots of layers and embellishments. Another easy note card idea is a plain card with a smaller bit of cardstock on the front in a contrasting or complimentary color. Rubber stamp a small image on the cardstock, or print a single word in lower-case letters, such as “love” “fun” or “happy”.

These cards are all a bit austere and understated, but classy, easy, cheap, and quick. Plus, everyone loves to receive a homemade card.

So let me encourage you that even if you are busy, you can take a few moments every now and then to be creative. It just takes a bit of thinking outside the box and using what you have in your hand. Crafty mamas of the world unite!

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