It’s been over a year since I decided to buy a whole bunch of craft projects for the kids. Most of the craft projects were used up within six months of purchasing them. My kids love craft projects, so little mosaic projects, painting, all of that goes quickly. They just can’t wait to bust them out and get started. I’d kind of expected that all of the projects would go that way, but two seemed to get lost in the mix. Silly me, I’d bought them but I didn’t really put too much thought into whether or not my daughter would be interested. I just kind of assumed she would think it was something she wanted to work on.
For just over a year these two projects went forgotten. I’d decided I would do one of them myself as soon as I finished the baby blanket I was making for Sander. It would be the next project on my list. I figured the other one, a much more child-oriented project of a Kitten with a Yarn Ball, would either sit around until someone decided to pick it up, or it would eventually go to someone who would make it up.
Out of the blue, just after moving into our trailer, Corde stumbled upon it in my bedroom. She literally stumbled upon it. Somehow the package was sticking out on the floor and tripped her. All I heard, in my half-awake mid-afternoon daze from laying down to nurse the baby was Corde’s voice saying “What the…? Oh! Cool! Mom, can we work on this?”
I have to admit, at the time I did exactly the wrong thing that a parent working towards unschooling and gentle parenting probably should do. I got annoyed, snatched it from her, and tossed it telling her we’d do it later. Thankfully, my kids know when I’m tired I get super cranky and those very early days of Luca’s life I was exhausted and really needed naps that I was unable to find time for with four kids in a new house and trying to unpack while Oz worked a full-time job. I was extremely burnt out. I was just afraid that I’d put Corde off from it and she’d never want to do it again.
About a week or two later the little project resurfaced while I was picking up the baby blanket again. I decided it was a little sad that my middle son was already two and a half and his blanket still wasn’t done, so I wanted to get cracking on it. It would be nice to have it finished before he turned three! That’s when my daughter materialized with the project again and said in her sulky way that implies she thinks I’m not going to have the time for her, “I really wish I could work on this project…”
With a deep sigh I tried to figure out how I was going to disentangle myself from the threads I was separating for my own project and started to try and figure out how we would make this whole thing work. I had this whole mental image of how I would have to teach her to count the squares, figure out where she needed to start because the chart made it seem so much more complicated than it was, and how I was going to show her the tips and tricks I learned from my mom. Needless to say, I was definitely over-complicating things. All she wanted was to do the embroidery and she didn’t really care about all the tips, tricks, counting aides, and all of that. Then there was figuring how much time we’d have given the amount of light we had left in the day because there’s no good place to sit and get enough light in the house after the sun goes down. There was a storm coming in, so that would probably make a difference too.
My daughter, feeling my sigh was a sign of exasperation, not me trying to think it all out, said, “I know you’re busy mom. It’s just such a cute little project. I really hope we can try it soon.”
I have to admit, I was a little snappy in telling her just to hold on a minute, but my thread had decided to get tangled in a knot in the process of separating the strands of embroidery floss. It was making me crazy and it sucked up all my concentration for that moment. I have to wonder if my daughter was starting to second-guess her decision to do the project because apparently the embroidery floss was a frustrating creature, but she just tried to wait patiently, petting the small picture of the kitten on the front with her finger while longingly admiring the beautiful work.
When I finished getting the knot out I turned to her and said, “Pull out your instructions. Get me the needle. Let’s get this thing going before it’s too dark to work on. I promise, this is much easier than I make it look. My mom taught me all kinds of tricks to help with everything too. I’ll show you all about it.”
Corde looked like she would burst with joy as she pulled out all the materials and started to stare at the directions, very confused. She can read well enough now that she probably could have read them if she wanted to, but with the French translation below she was a little lost on these strange words. Then there were the graphs and all the diagrams showing what you were supposed to do. She’d never been faced with instructions like these before.
As she looked it all over I patiently stitched in guide stitches the way my mom showed me to help with the counting and off we went. Of course, the guide lines barely lasted through the first complete row as she thought they were more of a hassle than it was worth. Besides, she wasn’t even using them for their intended purpose. She was making up her own tips and tricks as she went and she was doing fairly well with it. She needed a lot of guidance, and her tricks probably wouldn’t work well for a very large project, but for what she was starting on it was perfectly fine.
In the first day she’d worked through nearly half the ball of yarn in the little kitty’s paws. She worked on it the next day and the day after that. Then the project went down and she seemed to completely forget about it. I kind of figured that would happen. I used to do the same thing. I’d sadly never finished a project until adulthood and the only project I had managed to finish was one out of the two bibs I made to go with my son’s blanket. I kind of figured it would end here and the project would go on unfinished for months until she remembered it again, did another small section, and then forgot it again.
Much to my surprise she picked it up again a little less than a week later, determined to finish that ball of yarn. The first few days she wanted to work on it the light was already too dim. She’d been too stuck on Assassin’s Creed or playing Borderlands with me to remember it. Then, just a couple of days ago, she seemed to realize that we’d have the best light if she started early, while Oz was at work, and I’d be the least distracted and most able to help if she ambushed me the moment both boys went down for a nap. We were off again and the little ball of yarn was worked to completion in no time.
Next she was cruising through the yellow for the little calico. It wasn’t long before the shape of the kitten really started to become clear. The black was added in nearly no time, then both ears went on like they were nothing. All she’s got left is the outline and that’s going to take her near no time to do. She’s cruising her way through it. Thankfully, I had some money leftover between my Amazon Associates account and a gift card Oz got at work to buy her a new project for when this one is finished. I was able to order her another project about the same size and got myself a project to do along side her. She’s really excited about having some mother-daughter craft time. I just wish I could figure out how to get the boys involved. I know they’d all enjoy sitting and doing something together. It’s just too bad the slats in our porch are so spread out that needles, thread, and other needed things could fall through and would mean ripping up our sadly dilapidated porch to get it, something we’re not really willing to do. It would be great to be able to sit outside in the sunshine as it gets cooler while the boys run wild and play like my mom used to do with us when I was young. I know Corde would love it too!
Best of all, she’s really proud of herself. She’s learning how to use the chart to tell where each stitch must be made. She’s really getting creative with figuring out how to do things she doesn’t know how to do. Already she’s asking about when she can start on a bigger, more complicated project. I told her she should probably stick with the little ones for a while. Of course, she was disappointed at this, thinking I was going to make her stick with the small ones until she did them “so perfectly”. She’s still kind of stuck on more traditional learning, thinking she’s got to master the task before she can move on to the next. Thankfully, a little bit of explanation helped her accept that maybe I was actually right in this case. It’s more than just about learning skills. They’re cheap, which means we can get them for her more frequently. If she practices her skills she won’t need my help at all before long and she can teach her friends like she wants to. On top of that, the smaller projects mostly come with something to frame them, so as soon as she’s done she just frames them, trims the edges, and puts them up on the wall. It’s so much more satisfying than having to wait to save up for a new project and for a frame for the last project. She’s decided she’ll have the whole house decorated in no time!