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Archive for August 10th, 2017

Push the hook

Push the hook through the hole; wrap the yarn around the hook; pull the hook back through the hole; make the latch, and release the hook…repeat, repeat, repeat…24,000 times, using different colors of yarn, following a pattern that will have you cross eyed if you stay with it for any single length of time, and you wind up with a beautiful latch hooked rug. Then you bind it with iron-on tape made for the purpose and give it as a present to someone who doesn’t know or doesn’t care just how long it took to make the bloody thing of which you’re so very proud.

I don’t know whether to call it “crafting,” “craftsy,” or just being a darned fool, but when one sees the finished product, it makes one feel pretty good. I figure if Rosie Greer (Los Angeles Rams for you non-football aficionados} can do needlepoint, I – not of football playing age or ability – can do latch hooking or candle-making or some other craft to keep my hands busy. Some say that it has a calming influence on the crafter. I don’t know that to be necessarily true, but it’s satisfying to the extent that when you give a rug to a friend or family member, you feel good about doing so.

Years ago, candles were my big thing. That was when we were living in Newton and the kids were young. It was not a craft that amused my wife. Melting wax in a double boiler, adding just the right amount of hardening, and then pouring said hot wax into rubber or tin molds without spilling it (while ensuring that the wick stayed in the center of the mold), wasn’t easy…as our kitchen floor could attest. In hindsight and with the wisdom that comes from looking back, I’d have to say that my candles sucked. How about that for an unbiased opinion. Really, the molds were good but I’d usually find a way to screw up the wick or some other thing. While you can mess up latch hooking, it’s not that easy to do so.

Some people have asked how I ever got interested in crafts in the first place. Well, it began a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far…forget that. Actually, it happened after our Army Reserve unit was recalled to Washington for what was then known as the Berlin Crisis. Since our area of expertise was the then Soviet Union, we were assigned to the Pentagon to do some Soviet Studies. The evenings were filled with…nothing. One could either lay around the barracks, go to some of the bars in DC or go eat ice cream with friends at the greatest ice cream place I’ve ever found. It was called Gifford’s and if you could eat their jumbo sundae, it was free…no, I didn’t try. The alternative to this was a building on post where one could just hang out, get involved with weaving – they had a couple of big looms – lapidary or stone polishing to make jewelry, carpentry, ceramics, candle-making, and a few other crafty-type-thingies. I’m not really a “hang out” kinda guy so I got involved in making some jewelry for my wife, turned to ceramics, making coffee mugs, beer steins, and assorted other pieces, and finally tried my hand at candle-making. The whole place was run by one immensely talented woman who was a skilled teacher. Heck, if she could teach me, she must have known her stuff. This interest in crafts carried over after we were released from active duty, and I’ve been amusing myself with one craft or another ever since.

If I knew how to post pictures on the blog, you could rest assured that pictures of the rugs I’ve made would accompany this article, but since we’re not dealing with the brightest bulb on Broadway, I admit to not having the knowledge to post photos. If I get to that point, the article will be edited and amended. If you’re like me, and you enjoy staying busy, I heartily recommend crafting. Juli doesn’t care much for me talking about what she does in crafts, but let me sneak a couple of things in: She’s already knitted nearly 100 hats for her mother to take to a school in Nevada this year. She makes handbags, tote bags, clutch purses, wristlets, and backpacks, using fabric, vinyl and cork. Many of these will go to a silent auction to support a 4-H Club in California. She also has a small lapidary area downstairs and has been known to drill sea glass and stones to make some exquisite jewelry. She also crochets and does counted cross stitch. But, she doesn’t want me to talk about that…so I won’t. (Dick, shut up! Juli)
Yep, she actually edited that…what can I tell ya?

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