By Mary Ellen Shaw
Many of us learned some type of hobby from our parents. Perhaps we didn’t appreciate what we were taught at the time. But with age comes wisdom!
My mother loved to crochet and do embroidery, along with a little knitting. All of these hobbies take patience and practice. I never caught on to crocheting but I did better with knitting. The funny part is that I could only knit using a long needle with the end of it tucked under my arm. When I was in high school I decided to knit a sweater for my boyfriend. I got the front, back and one arm done and we broke up. It never got finished and I don’t recall ever knitting again!
Fortunately, when my husband and I moved into my family home I had the good sense to keep the crocheted items that were here. There is a beautiful afghan that we use in the winter while watching TV. A small crocheted doily is under a basket of silk flowers on the dining room table. They are both daily reminders of my mother as well as her talent.
I remember my mother taking an embroidery class to learn the various stitches. She would show them to me as she worked on her projects. I had much more interest in embroidery than the other “crafty” things my mother did. At some point in my adult life I decided to get back into this hobby. For years now I work on a project while watching TV in the evening. My hobby moved to the next level by participating annually in a holiday craft show. Apparently people like this “lost art” because over the years my items have been found under many Christmas trees. A teacher stopped by my table last year and told me that embroidery is being taught as an after school activity and the kids love it. What is thought of as “old” is now “new.”
My husband, Peter, has always liked woodworking. As we began our married life he bought the basic tools to make things. As I look around the house I realize how many things he has made over the past 40 years. The projects were simple in the beginning but as his skills grew he moved on to more complicated items. My favorites are a quilt rack and a bureau. They definitely have a professional look and are an asset to the rooms they are in. In fact, my mother’s afghan is draped over the quilt rack along with two lap quilts I embroidered.
As I look back on both our hobbies I realize that you have to start small. If you don’t frustration will overtake pleasure and your hobby will be cast aside.
There is a much better incentive to make something if there is a need for it. Many of the wooden items in our house were made because we needed a specific size that we couldn’t find in a store.
I remember when our console TV died many years ago. The new TVs were all portable and we wanted to keep our TV as a piece of furniture. We bought a portable TV and my husband redesigned the old cabinet and “voila”…our portable became a console TV when it was placed inside! When the portable died a few years ago we went with the times and switched to a flat screen. That created the need for a small entertainment center to hold the TV and cable box. I also needed a shelf for my VCR (yes, I still have one of those!). Peter put his talents to use and we have a perfect entertainment center to fit the space. Once again, a need became the reason for an item to be made.
For both Peter and me, the quality of our hobbies has improved with time. When it’s your turn to look back on your labors of love, whatever they may be, you will see how your skills have improved over the years.
Start simple and have fun looking back at your progress!
By Mary Ellen Shaw