This interview series has been such a treat for me. And now I've got a treat for you; two interviews in one week! We missed one last week, so we're getting double the inspiration, wise words and pretty pictures this week! Today's guest is Erin from House on Hill Road. She's a full time mama and a serious crafter. She makes these beautiful camera straps; you better believe I've got one on my Christmas list! Here are her thoughts on crafting, inspiration and traditions:
What role (and/or purpose) does creating play in your life?
I cannot imagine my life without crafting. I really think I am hardwired to create. Most items that I make are purpose driven: patchwork camera straps, knit sweaters, applique t-shirts, bags of different sorts. I like putting my own touch on things I will see everyday. It's my way of adding a little beauty to the things that surround me. It's very rare that I make something without knowing what I am going to use it for or who I am going to give it to. Crafting, and especially sewing, is also my relaxation and my therapy. While I am stitching, I can let my mind rest in a meditative way or I can think through issues and problems. I often lose myself in what I am making, not realizing how quickly or slowly time is moving. But it's not always quiet time! I am often found sitting in the carpool line or at a sport practice with knitting or embroidery. If there's a free moment, chances are that I will work on whatever project I have going at the time.
How have you passed on your love of crafting to your girls?
I was just thinking about this recently. Both of my daughters are both very creative, but in very different ways. One of them is extremely artistic whereas the other tends to like crafts more than actual drawing or painting. I love to sew, but neither one of them is very interested in that. I think they are finding their own way and if I can help them along by providing materials and supplies with a bit of direction, then I am all for that! I'm also not beyond enlisting help. Jane wanted to knit a couple of years ago and I had my friend who owns the local yarn shop teach her. It was the best thing for all concerned! Kate knows that when she turns eight this fall, she can take a lesson at the yarn store, too. I think the best gift I have given them for a creative life is to allow them to make what they want. They have all the supplies at their fingertips and they can make whatever they desire, mess and all. I also think that seeing me create has given them a greater desire to make things themselves. They are always suggesting good gift ideas for their friends' birthdays and often we make what they suggest. It makes me happy that they like to make things and I hope that crafting is something that they will both always enjoy.
Where do you get your ideas?
Where/how does inspiration strike? Do you ever get in a creative rut? How do you get out?
This is a good question. I really haven't thought much about where my ideas come from. I guess most of them are born out of some sort of a necessity. As I said earlier, I do tend to make things for a purpose. But inspiration is an entirely different thing - it comes from all over. Of course, blogs are often the starting point of my projects. Craft books fit this niche too. I'll see something someone else has made and it'll spark an idea in me. I'll want to make something similar, or maybe even completely different, but that project I just saw will be compelling. It's like an impulse I can't ignore. More often than not, when that happens, I jump right into making. Sometimes all it takes is a photo or a few words strung together that get me thinking and then off I go. A great example would be the string x quilt I made last year. I saw a photo on flickr and I couldn't start cutting fabric fast enough! Moments like that are so wonderful. To a certain extent, my brain turns off and I just make - fun!
But - and that is a big but - the times when the inspiration presents itself and I am able to jump on something don't happen that often. I have my ruts, too. In fact, I'd say that I am in one of them now. Sure, I am making things because it's really hard for me not to create. But it's been awhile since I have felt the urge to just drop everything and start down the road of whatever project my heart desires. It happens. Realizing that I am a bit under-inspired at the moment has made me turn to the projects that I have started and haven't finished. There was a reason I started working on each of these items and, as I pick them back up, I can't remember why I stopped working on them in the first place. It sounds somewhat counter-intuitive, but by focusing on finishing projects instead of starting them, my mind is loosening up a bit. I felt one of those sparks today. Instead of immediately jumping on it, I'm letting it percolate and grow. And after I finish a few more of the works in progress sitting in the studio, I bet I'll be ready to tackle something new and exciting. Crafting really is an adventure - I never know just where it's taking me.
What advice would you give to someone new to quilting or sewing, but eager to start?
Start slowly and practice. If you chose something that is simple to make, your chances of success are high! Great beginning projects are those with straight lines - a pillow or a tote bag. You don't have to have a fancy machine - just something that sews a straight stitch and a zig zag to start. Ask around and see if you have a friend or relative that will let you borrow a machine before you invest in one of your own. That way you will know for sure if you want to invest your spare change in a sewing machine. You might want to take a class - it's always nice to have someone on hand to help you out when you get stuck or to answer your questions. I find that the ladies who work in the quilt stores know a lot about sewing. Ask them if you get stuck. You can also find all kinds of tutorials with pictures (and video!) online. Google is great for finding free downloadable patterns.
And use an iron. You can't make nice looking projects without one. Trust me - I've tried.
Traditions are so important; I loved your first-day-of school pictures of your girls, what other traditions or routines do you have that give a sense of continuity to your family life?
I couldn't agree more! Family traditions are so important. In addition to the first day of school photos, we try to eat as a family every night. Sometimes it's hard to do with the kids' commitments, but we are making the extra effort to see that it happens. On birthdays, we wake the birthday person up by singing to them and then they get to open their presents in bed. Also, if you talk during your first piece of birthday cake, you have to go under the table to finish it. It sounds strange, I know! But we did that growing up because that was the tradition in my father's family. We go to church on Christmas Eve and open one present that night. We eat certain meals on certain holidays and vacation in the same spots year after year. I could go on and on. I know that these traditions are what will form my children's memories as they get older. My parents believe in tradition also and I could give you a list as long as my arm of the ones I grew up with. I think my favorite, though, is that in our family, when we have hurt or wronged someone we say, "Sorry. Will you forgive me?" It's amazing how fast you can forget about whatever hurt you in the first place when you are already moving beyond it.
Erin, thanks for taking the time to share! It was so enjoyable to hear you thoughts, ideas and advice. Keep in touch!