Sunday, September 16

a long story, long

when i was a little girl my maternal grandmother tried to teach me to knit by giving me her scraps to knit squares from. knitting squares is not so fun for a 7 year old, and i decided that knitting was tedious and added it to the list of reasons for hating visits to grandma's. that said, the thing that i learned from visits with my grandparents is how to make things. this grandma married a wonderful man who came from kenya, by way of kashmir. he grew up fairly poor and any toys he and his siblings played with, they'd learned to make themselves. he once bought me an old, red and chrome, non-functioning tape recorder at a garage sale for 10 cents, and fixed it in under a minute. so i believed him when he told me he knew how to make a helicopter from a tin can that would actually fly. now that he's not around any longer i wish that i'd asked him to teach me how to make one of those helicopters! i also wish that i'd let my grandma teach me how to knit more than squares, because to this day my knitting repertoire begins and ends with the scarf.

on my dad's side of the family i have around 33 cousins. i think... you get to lose track after 20! you'd think that with all these grandchildren running around my grandparents would have had some toys kicking about to keep us busy, but they didn't. nevertheless, the house was always full of noisy, but happy kids and that's where i learned to pluck out songs on the piano, play ping pong and darts, and how to make crepe paper flowers, but most importantly how to sew. my grandma had a closet full of scrap fabric and jars of buttons and other things that she'd collected from decades of mending the jackets and darning the socks of her 9 children. this is where i learned how to make sock puppets, and how to sew rag dolls from the old burp cloths left behind by my many, many baby cousins. this is also the house where my uncles would cleverly get me to wrap all their christmas and birthday gifts. gift wrapping appealed to the obsessive compulsiveness that was starting to take shape in my 8 year old soul.

my dad died when i was 8, but before he did he taught me how to draw. all the rainy weekends when he'd stay at home with me and my brothers while my mum worked, he taught me how to use shapes to make people and animals. drawing, gardening, and a love of this old house, star trek, aquariums, and the smell of lumberyards are all things i have my father to thank for. it's amazing how much he was able to influence me in the few short years we had together!

so, fast forward 2 decades later... when i finally decided i could no longer watch bad television without feeling the guilt that i'd also learned from that gigantic catholic paternal side of the family, i decided that rather than cancel my cable subscription i would do something while watching TV. i tried doing jumping jacks, but you can't do those through an entire hour of america's next top model without developing serious charlie horses in both calves. you just can't do it! so inspired by the intense guilt i felt as a result of watching ANTM, i decided to teach myself to crochet so i could start making things like my grandmothers taught me, but in a new way.

and that dear reader, is the long story behind my new etsy shop.


leslie said...

gorgeous story! i love the history and the mere mention of your grandma's scraps and buttons has me almost itchy with the need to paw through them and claim them as my own.

squirrel of snooze said...

thank you so much! and i know what you mean. reminiscing about both of my grandma's made me feel the same way. in fact, the one who tried in vain to teach me how to knit had a knitting machine too, and i wish she still did so that i could steal it from her!

kirsten said...

great story and obviously lots of your creative heritage has been passed on! love the rabbits. super sweet.