The redemptive powers of felt

Variations on a theme: partner project

Variations on a theme: partner project

It’s been a rough couple of months.  The kind of rough that people either valiantly overcome in the movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or don’t… like “Leaving Las Vegas”. However, I am healthy.  I have a great family. We are all pretty kind to one another (except when an unnamed somebody doesn’t get to watch more than one Angelina Ballerina). Because of that I feel compelled to keep moving forward and not muck about in the gutter dwelling on the endless “learning opportunities” I have been presented with in the fine year of 2013.

Enter felt. The kind they make from plastic bottles that will melt if you iron it on high. The kind that you are a fool to buy for 99 cents a sheet because you can bet your sweet bottom if you go back within 3 days there will be a sale and you can get 5 sheets for 99 cents.  That stuff. It turns out that stuff is the stuff of which dreams are made.

This project is an advent calendar.  The background fabric was what I call shame fabric.  That means it has been sitting in the box for at least a year, a reminder of another Christmas project with lots of good intentions that got shoved to the bottom of the list. Ideally, it was to be a Christmas pillow made by my child for her teacher. But by about December 15th I ran out of patience and teaching abilities and that seven year-old needed some guidance for her art.

We started the project yesterday. Another group venture. So touchy to work with others. I told my daughter who is always begging me to “sew something” that I would love it if she would embroider the dates on each square of felt. She was jazzed.  I was jazzed.

Then she picked dark blue thread for a dark green square. Really impossible to see. In my best supportive, non-judgemental voice I said, “Hey honey, that looks so great, but maybe you could try it again with a brighter color. I want everyone to be able to see what you did.”

“I can see it.”

Yes, she can see it, but I swear that’s because she’s part cat.

“Well, you could use that as a practice one.”

And that’s why collaborating with your kid is a trap. Yes, I want to be encouraging, but, no, in 15 years I don’t want to stare at this thing hanging in the living room and still feel like we did a great job, but where do we start. Number 1? Sure, where is it? So maybe I should let her do it all herself.  But, my double-binded friend, you know what? She doesn’t have what it takes to craft the thing from scratch because she is a KID!  It is beyond both her capabilities and her attention span. After our conversation, I went to the bathroom. When I came out 30 seconds later she was lying on the dining room floor. When I asked her to clean up her needle and thread she said she was tired and couldn’t. Did I crush the creativity right out of her? I don’t think so. She was in her room drawing three minutes later.

So today, I unfolded the project and started embroidering myself on the red squares. I use the term embroider very  loosely. By embroider I mean ham-fisted stitches that an eight year-old Laura Ingalls Wilder would scoff at, but since this isn’t the wilderness and it won’t be entered in some County Fair, I am proud of my handiwork all the same. Again, the running theme seems to be a great sense of accomplishment for showing up at the craft table of life. My child didn’t seem crushed that I was helping with the advent calendar workload.  She even gave me some pointers about how to make the number two. So, who is scarred by this? If you answered “no one”, you are correct and far more intuitive than I.

To be continued…

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