Friday, July 24, 2009

Guest Blogger, Rhena - Craft Balance

In a few weeks, my family, replete with parents, husband, multiple siblings, SOs and children will head off for the beach on the Jersey Shore. It will be a lazy week. And we will spend it lounging seaside, eating sweet Chesapeake Bay blue crab, and, when we’ve had too much family together time, walking alone or in pairs in the sand and on the splintery grey boards at the bird sanctuary.

The stresses of jobs and creating and writing and day-to-day family life will seem a million miles away and so I will inevitably ask my two nephews (8 and 5) and my niece (2) what they want to be for Halloween. October will seem far enough away that I can convince myself that it might just never come at all and so promises for elaborate, handmade costumes will slip easily from my lips and into their ears. We will discuss colors, materials, and details and it will only be months later, when I am sitting under the harsh glare of fluorescent lights in Joanne’s Fabric’s pattern section that I will wonder why I made such promises.


“Because you love making these costumes every year,” my husband will remind me.


And it’s true, I love making them and I love making baby blankets and purses and embellished onesies and scarves and sweaters for my loved ones. It was making these things after all, that brought me from hobbyist to small business owner.


But, as I’m sure many other crafters have experienced, my “crafting for business” time has taken over my “crafting for family” time. A sweater I promised for my husband TWO (yes TWO) Christmases ago sits zipperless and unhemmed in a plastic box. In another, a baby play mat that was originally intended for a friend’s child who is now much past needing “tummy time” waits, unquilted. My dad’s Christmas present from last year is a mass of yarn and needles. A plastic sheet covers our new (by which I mean, a year old) bathroom because I haven’t made the time to sew the fabric into curtains. It’s not that I don’t WANT to complete these projects or that I love these people any less, it’s just that crafting for sales has stolen my focus. Besides, there are summertime bonfires and trips to the bakery and walks around the lake to be had. And the tips of my fingers are already raw and bleeding from creations for the shop.


Is this one of those situations of what happens when a “passion” becomes a “job?” Will I ever be able to make the time?


I have debated knitting a time vortex of some sort so that I can have more hours in the day, but if science fiction has taught me nothing else it is that playing with time always leads to trouble. And so I must inject into my life a little reminder of the joy that comes from crafting an item for a friend rather than for a sale. I will hunker down and sew the curtains because I know that every morning, when I go to take a shower, I will be grateful that they are what they are and not a plastic sheet. I will finish my husband’s sweater because when he zips it up and smooths it over his chest and belly, I will know that it was my hands that are keeping him warm this winter. This October when my sister and her husband are embarrassingly thankful for the costumes, I will rely on my husband to remind us that I love to do this. And the kids will smile or, as 8 year old Desi did last Halloween, will look in the mirror, puff out his chest, hold his wooden sword, and exclaim, “I look like a real knight!” I will remember that no sale could ever match that.

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