W.I.P. Wednesday : Grammar School Drop-outs & Haste Makes Waste. The story of my pie making apron…

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Pie Making Apron

I had a rather difficult time adjusting to school as a 5 year-old.

In fact, I actually quit school, at the tender age of 5. Twice.

The first time was because a mad brute of a boy who stole my bouquet of pussy willows. And injustice. These were the most beautiful, silvery-silky-soft pussy willows I’d ever seen, and my father lovingly soaked his feet as he trod through the freezing-snow-just-melted swamp to cut them down for me. I was bringing them to show and tell because we’d just learned a song about about pussy willows*, when this obviously uncivilized boy tore them from my hands and stomped them into a puddle of mud. Adding insult to injury was the fact that there were no sanctions, no punishment, nothing. Just a stern mutterance*of disapproval from Mrs. A. The nerve! I stomped off and was home before Mrs. A even knew I was gone. (Luckily, we lived just down the street from the school.)

The second time was because I was in protest of my teacher’s obvious academic ineptitude. I was insulted and incredulous as my teacher, Mrs. A, made us write our first names in all capital letters! All capitals! I was horrified that this sage-looking woman in her 50′s seemed to lack the basic knowledge of common English grammar, knowledge I possessed, somehow missing the subtle yet important nuances between the capital and lower-case differentiations. Moments after I walked in through the front door, eyes rolling and head shaking disapprovingly, Mrs. A called my mother, asking if I’d shown up. Hump!

Thus it should come as no surprise to you, gentle reader, that I had little respect for the often ridiculous activities we were to accomplish for Mrs. A. She had us use terribly fat and difficult to hold pencils, making it a chore to write, and because once we were done with our busy-work, we were allowed to play in the miniature log cabin in the corner of the classroom, well, I rushed through her little mundane activities as quickly as possible. Why bother putting any effort into it, really? I mean, she had no idea first names took a capital letter after all.

As you can imagine, Mrs. A did not appreciate my slapdash work-ethic, and often had me re-doing activities two, three and four times, until it was to her liking.

“Stop rushing, it’s too messy,” was her response when I’d hand her my work.

Things were growing more and more tense for Mrs. A and I, and my mamafish knew something had to be done. Mrs. A knew I was bright, precocious, and that I had no regard for her methods, even at 5 years-old. Poor Mamafish had to do what many parents find themselves forced to do : explain that the teacher is the teacher, that even though I was right about many things, Mrs. A was still the teacher, and that if I didn’t try to do things the way Mrs. A wanted them done, well, it was going to be a very, very long school year.

“Haste makes waste,” Mamafish told me as I was colouring at the kitchen table one afternoon.

I had to ask for a translation, and a quick one to boot, because I didn’t understand what “haste” meant, but I still had pictures to colour, and re-runs of Wonder Woman to watch, and a fort to build outside, and all of that before it got dark, so hurry up Mamafish and tell me what it means…

The following day at school, I sat very concentrated before my busywork, so much so that it took Mrs. A by surprise.

“You’re working rather hard on that,” she offered.

“Well, you know, haste makes waste.” I replied matter of factly, secretly hoping she also had to ask her mother what haste meant.

I’m here to tell you that I am still, quite often, in a hurry to get things done. And sometimes, after rushing through something to get to the next thing (geeze, I wish it was to watch Wonder Woman) I hear the voice of Mamafish saying gently, “Haste makes waste.”

There was indeed a huge amount of wasted time put into this apron. I wanted it done faster than possible, and found myself ripping so many seams for really stupid mistakes. I was too busy to follow a pattern, and this one is loosely based on another one I made using the suggestions from Bend The Rules Sewing. And even though, in the end, I vowed to take my time and if it didn’t get done in time for this month’s Tie One On, well then, it didn’t get done, I still fouled up a step and have an unsightly double stitch line along the waistband – though it can’t be seen from the front, because luckily it’s on the inside.

Haste makes waste, kids. Wise words to live by.

*mutterance: shellyism, the muttering of an utterance.

*Here is, for your musical enjoyment, the pussy willow song I learned oh-so-long ago:

I know a little pussy,

He’s very fuzzy and gray,

He lives down in the meadow,

Not very far away.

He’ll always be a pussy,

He’ll never be a cat,

For he’s a pussy willow,

Now what do you think of that?

Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow…

Scat!

Have you managed to get any lingering W.I.P.s finished up? Whatever your works-in-progress, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too.

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W.I.P. Wednesday : Let’s Tie One On! An apron, that is.

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It’s time to Tie One On! Amy Karol of Angry Chicken fame just loves aprons, so much so that she also has a blog devoted solely to aprons, Tie One On. There you will find all things apron-y like great apron links, apron books, apron resources…you get the idea. Amy also runs an event where she announces an apron-making theme every couple of months, and the kids at home can play along, making an apron from the pattern of their choice, using the criteria Amy announced.

May’s theme was “the no money apron”, and it required making an apron but not spending anything to make it. I thought this was the perfect theme as we just celebrated Earth Day, and using things we already had or upcycling fabric and giving it a “renaissance”, is about as earth-friendly as we can get.

I’ve been wanting to make an apron for myself, mostly because I’m one of the biggest slobs ever. No, strike that. I’m just very passionate and into what I’m doing and can’t be bothered by things like splatters and drips and finding a towel to wipe my hands on. The thing is, I just couldn’t see squandering my little fabric stash on myself, and each time I thought I had something I could use for an apron for yours truly, I instantly came up with four other giftable projects it could be used on.

Enter this month’s Tie One On. I decided I would use fabric that I couldn’t possibly use for someone else – you know, “rag bag”-worthy stuff, that way, I was giving some un-loved fabric a second chance, and I wouldn’t be “wasting” otherwise beautiful fabric on a project for me. Win-win, really.

I give you a few examples of the stained, the torn and the ugly :

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Can you see that big coffee stain?

more-coffee

I think this is a tomato-y sauce one.

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Snags & Tatters – nope, not a rock band. My fabric.

This 80′s big-flowers fabric was used to cover my sister-in-law’s Mother’s couch. When I got my sewing machine last year, she gave me a few pieces of nasty fabric she had lying around her house for me to practice on and play with. I gladly accepted them, but never got past their obvious imperfections, and in the fabric pile they sat. A well-loved apron is going to become stained and get lots of tough love, and I reasoned that these big flowers could help hide new stains. The sweet and talented Amanda made a gorgeous apron for my mother using Amy Butler’s “Easy Apron” pattern. When I saw how beautiful Amanda’s apron looked I was inspired by the pleats and thought they would be an excellent way to dissimulate stains!

Here’s a picture of the apron in Amy Butler’s In Stitches :

amy-butler-patternNice pin cushion, hey? Thanks again, Sophie!

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Ta da! This picture just doesn’t do it justice, which is really too bad because my new apron is just gorgeous! I absolutely love it! The fabric I used for the trim is also from my SIL, and it’s got these horrible sun-bleached spots on it, but they are folded into the inside, so you can’t see them. I also couldn’t believe that I hadn’t noticed the two fabrics worked so well together before.

I’m still a bit of a novice in the apron department, but I must admit, I just love making them! My first one was back in June. Next, I made this apron, a 30th birthday gift for a friend and my first Tie One On participation. Then I made another nearly just like it (since I had enough fabric) for my sister’s birthday in October.

I can’t wait to see what everyone else has been up to! Whatever your endeavours, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too.

Apron Love

This is an apron made by my great-grandmother Mary, my mum’s grandmother. She was undoubtedly one of the most important women in my mum’s life, and while I never was able to physically meet her (she died before my parents were married), I always felt her in our lives- not in some bizarre “Sixth Sense” meets X-Files way, rest assured. More in the way that many African societies divide people (here’s my Reader’s Digest version of a beautiful and complex theory) – the living, the sasha, and the zamani. The first category is obvious. The second, the sasha, are those who are indeed dead, but whose existence dovetailed with those still living, thus they are “alive” in the living memory of people. The zamani are our ancestors who are revered and remembered by the group, but there is no one left who was alive at the same time as the deceased.

My great-grandmother Mary was very much “alive” in the memories of my mother, my grandmother, and my great aunts and uncle. She is most definitely a member of the sasha. While my Grams often had rather humorous stories to tell, oft reflecting my great-grandmother’s sense of humor, duty and love, my mother often spoke of her in the present, and in flashes of detail rather than linear stories. The smell of parsley. Taboo. Pink flannel. Ice Box Cookies. Aprons. You see, my mother has but one memory of her grandmother sans apron, and this was when she was hospitalized. Great-Grandmother Mary wore an apron every day, as did many women at the time. Washing clothes being a royal chore, an apron served an obvious functional purpose, however, she made herself many aprons reflecting the seasons (lighter or darker colors), and special aprons for more momentous occasions such as holidays, family reunions, communions and baptisms.

Great-Grandmother Mary was a hard-working woman. She lived in a rural area, and at a time when all that needed to be done in the home – laundry, cooking, cleaning, clothes, canning, etc., was done at home. Her family made their own bread, their own maple syrup, wine (even when it wasn’t legal- rebel!) and my great-grandfather, a carpenter, carved their toys (one of our family’s prized possession is the chess board he made), even my gram’s crutches after injuring her foot when she was a little girl.

One of my prized possessions is my great-grandmother’s hand-written recipe book. Her bilingualism was often a handicap in the pre-depression era, leading to the family speaking English-only, but how I love to read her recipes which are often written in franglais. Until recently, the recipe book was all I had in the line of family heirlooms, but during her recent visit, my mother gave me this apron. It’s just beautiful, which I never thought I’d say about an apron, but it is. It must have been made for special occasions, the delicate rosebud fabric and the gold-threaded trim are rather fancy. It was perhaps only worn once or twice as it seems brand new, despite it’s being at least 50+ years old.

The acquisition of my great-grandmother’s apron inspired me to try my hand at my own. The above is my updated rendition, which I love. The pattern is from De Filles en Aiguilles by Céline Dupuy which I got in my Easter basket. It is also available in English as Simple Sewing With A French Twist. This was a super-easy project for the neophyte seamstress that I am. While I didn’t make the apron while my mum was here, she did come with me to purchase the materials, so in her own way was part of the process (not the mention that she gave me my sewing machine!).

There was a time during my youth when I felt rather envious of my friends whose mothers, grandmothers, even great-grandmothers were career women, often college educated. This was not the case of the women in my family, and I found myself sometimes feeling almost apologetic when talking about them. I’ve since seen the absolute ridiculousness in not recognizing all that they did. Silly Shellyfish. Any woman who dried her herbs, grew her own food in her garden, cooked and canned it, and on and on, without the things I take for granted from running water to kitchen gadgets, well, she kicked some serious buttercream.