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

wipbanner_red

If you’re looking for the Sweet Freedom contest winners, please go here! Congratulations once again to the lucky ladies.

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.

wipwed_blyel240

W.I.P. Wednesday : Rush, rush, rush!

wipbanner_red

If you’re looking for the Sweet Freedom giveaway, go here! Three more days to enter!

I hate feeling like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, however, that’s pretty much what I’m looking and sounding like right now. I’ve got so many plates spinning I’m feeling a wee bit dizzy, but I know it’s pour la bonne cause.

W.I.P. Elephant

Working on appreciation gifts for Guppy’s two teachers is becoming a real priority since her last day of school is next week. I’ve just started stitching this adorable elephant that I modified from this free pattern (thank you!). Guppy’s class spent the year studying around the theme of circus animals, so I thought this cutie could look sweet on a little zipper bag…perhaps with some dark chocolate inside?

Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip & Raisin Cookies

Who doesn’t love cookies? I’m only making “special” gifts for Guppy’s teacher and her aid, but not wanting to leave anyone out, I made a double-batch of the Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (with chocolate chips, because I can!) from one of my very favourite cookbooks, The Joy of Vegan Baking for everyone else – everyone else meaning the team of aids and auxiliary personnel who do so much for the kids and who often don’t get the thanks they deserve. It’s so fun making cookies and cupcakes for her school, because they are viewed as wonderfully exotic by the teaching team – and they always ask me for the recipes. I brought these to the school last week after Guppy’s school programme. She was a lion, and she roared the very best, and I’m not just saying that because I’m her Mamafish!

Cut out pieces

And lastly, here are some pattern pieces I cut out to make two aprons – and if I can get them done in a jiffy I’ll be sending them off to this month’s Tie One On. The theme this time around is “Pie Making Aprons”, which I think just sounds so fun and summery…the flower print fabric is so cute, and I think it works really well with the gingham. We’ll see in a few days…

I can’t wait to see what everyone has been up to W.I.P.-wise! 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.

wipwed_pinkred240

W.I.P. Wednesday : Meet May’s featured Wipster, Carmen!

wipbanner_red

I’m very excited to present May’s featured Wipster, Carmen, who blogs at About a girl… Carmen was one of many unexpected blessings that grew from my accident. A fellow runner, she left me some very encouraging words when I really needed them – thanks again! After a visit to her blog I found we had more in common than just our love of running, and I’ve been a regular reader ever since.

carmensdoll

A super-cute doll by Carmen

carmensock

Super-Knitting Skillz!

Carmen is a Canadian crafting Mamma, and she is one of my knitting heros – she can knit socks! That is so rock and roll in the crafting world! I hope I someday get to hang out with Carmen so she can teach me how to get crazy with the knitting needles, but for now, I give you Carmen in her own words…

I think my crafty bone comes from two sources. My Mom, who was an artist (an oil painter) and studied art, and therefore raised me doing all sorts of craft adventures – we sold fleece mitts and origami bird earrings at community hall craft sales to name a couple. But, I was surrounded by her personal craftiness – quilting, sewing, knitting (she even owned a knitting machine!). The second source would be my Art class I took in Grade 12. I had a spot open for an extra option and thought, what the heck, I’ll try art. That decision moved me from following the sciences to heading to an Art College. I studied photography, drawing, screen printing, and acrylic painting for five years. I let all of it slide until my daughter was born, in 2007. Being at home with her I wanted to take the opportunity to learn new things and get back to my artsy roots (I work in the Oil & Gas Industry). I took two cake decorating classes, re-took up knitting, took a crochet class, and have recently started quilting. I love it. I hope I can inspire my kids the same way my Mom inspired me.

Five Random Facts About Carmen:

1. I live in the same city I was born, and in practically the same neighborhood. I have lived two other places (one being East Africa) but I always knew the prairies were my home.
2. I have played music since the age of 3 and have my Grade 12 in piano in Royal Conservatory. I grew up playing duets in the church with my Mom, and hated doing music festivals or competitions.
3. I am addicted to Starbucks. I have at least one latte a day. Usually a Chai or a Caramel Macchiato.
4. I am turning 30 this year and I’m not scared about it. I’m very happy with where I’m at in life. I did have a hard time turning 25 though, not sure why.
5. One of the most interesting places I have travelled is Japan. I would still love to go to Thailand, New Zealand and Australia. Oh and Ireland too. Mind you, I could probably add alot of other places to that list. There you go, I love to travel!

Thanks so much to Carmen for opening up and sharing some of her craftiness! Is there a creative blogger out there you’d like to learn more about? Let me know! Just email me or leave me a comment and we’ll try and get them on the featured Wipster list!

Little update : In last week’s W.I.P. Wednesday post I told you about the Tie One On Aprons – well Amy’s got the gallery up. Go check it out if you’re looking to be inspired!

I have some major blog reading & post writing to catch up on this week – including updates on the 60-Day Project, Guppy’s birthday and more!

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.

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

wipbanner_red

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 :

coffee1

Can you see that big coffee stain?

more-coffee

I think this is a tomato-y sauce one.

tattered-fabric

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!

lovely-apron

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.