I’ve been pretty distracted from the studio blog with finishing setting up the new studio space on Coventry and establishing the new yarn and fabric shop component there. It's been super fun, but also all-consuming.
And, the shop was closed for four days last weekend so I could travel to Missouri for my grandmother’s 100th birthday celebration. Since it’s not every day that a human turns 100, and she has been an influential person in developing me into the person and maker I am today, I thought I’d share a little of the more interesting things/reflections from the celebration weekend.
First, to answer a few quick questions of curiosity about a 100 year old women. My grandmother still lives on her own, cooks, cleans, bakes, entertains, knits sometimes, recites extremely long poems, remembers details from 98 years ago, wears jeans, rides her stationary bike daily, and sits on the floor to play with her great grandchildren. She was the first member of her family to go to college (followed by her children and everyone after that). She made well over 100 quilts during her lifetime, all with hand-stitched pieces, and she helped me learn to sew quilts and clothes.
The celebration itself was a simple gathering of family and friends from her town. The crowning excitement of the day was that she took a motorcycle ride around the block with the boyfriend of one of her great nieces. She had never been on a motorcycle in her life and certainly never let on that it was on her list. However, when someone jokingly suggested it, she said why not. When she finished the ride, she was smiling big and giggling. I think her quote was, “Did you all think that was as fun as I did?” Yes, there was an impromptu crowd gathered to watch this epic ride.
After the excitement and back at her house, we went through some of her old fabric looking for some scraps to teach the great grandsons some sewing. We found a second stack of blocks from her first quilt (which she never finished, and which I thought I had all the blocks from a previous drawer emptying session 10 years prior) and a fun quilt block with the tiniest and tidiest stitches both in the piecing and in the embroidery work in the center. Puts my work to shame. It was fun to see how skilled she was when her eyesight was stronger. Apparently what we consider skilled now was just normal when she was younger because she always says how awful her stitches were. Fun to think how time and opinions change.
We also sat around and knitted, crocheted and sewed while we visited (that word itself feels old fashioned sometimes now). Not to mention lots of baking, cooking, cleaning, and decorating.
There was much talk of how things have changed over the decades, trends came and went, hobbies, socializing methods, and more have changed. Talking with my grandmother, my parents, aunt, and cousins about so many years and experiences really reinforced the why of Studio How-To for me. It used to be normal to make things both for necessity as well as fun, adding beauty to life, and an activity to do while socializing. I want to help bring that back and help people learn, relearn, and connect with that world of self-sufficiency, beauty, fun, and human connection. Luckily, there's an overall trend toward this to help me on this mission.
I understand that we have so many options for amazing entertainment today, and I certainly enjoy them, as well as the convenience of not always needing to make things to survive. However, I appreciate that the various people in my family have passed down their skills so that I have a choice and can make pretty things and/or functional things that add meaning to the objects I use and have in my home.
For me, the grand takeaway is to embrace life, take opportunities for fun and learning when they come your way, and keep your mind active with some kind of creative outlet.
Put another way - if you want to live to a healthy 100 years old, take up a relaxing, portable handcraft (you know I'm partial to knitting, sewing, embroidery, and now crochet), spend lots of time chatting face to face with friends and family, wear jeans, and eat what makes you happy.