alicia-stardust gave me my four words… although I expect most people would agree with her!
I grew up in a literary family. Dad was a writer, my brother Blake is a writer and Emily aspires to be a writer. My first husband was a writer as well, abet as yet unpublished. My parents started reading to me almost as soon as I was born- Mom read me things like Little Women (and, briefly, The Little Engine that Could and The Owl and the Pussycat)My Dad, who had more time to read to me, read Arabian Nights, Grimm’s (unexpurgated), Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, Penrod, Wodehouse and Tolkien. I think he read me The Hobbit for the first time before I was six months old. When I was two, he taught me to read simple things for myself- in German. I love stories so I picked up reading very quickly… and then had a little trouble learning to read English four years later. Once I did though, my teachers had a hard time keeping my nose out of a book! Summers were wonderful- I could read all day. I frequently did too. The public library was an easy bike ride away and I had my own library card which would stingily only allow me to check out 11 books at a time. One summer I read so much that I biked to the library to exchange my books daily. It’s been commented that our family has too many books (usually by people helping one or another of us move) The family philosophy is that there is no such thing as too many books!
This is another thing I don’t remember not doing. I started sewing on the machine some time before I was 2. I know this because somewhere there is a picture of me sitting at the sewing machine with the pedal up on a box (and me on a book) in a diaper. I started sewing by hand before that.
Looking back as a parent, I do wonder at my parents for letting me handle tiny, very sharp objects at an age when anything small enough goes in the mouth. But I didn’t hurt myself- the worst I ever did was cut off all my eyelashes. (I was three)
I made doll clothes and at six I started embroidery which I liked and needle point which I don’t.
When I was 8, my Mom signed me up for a sewing class at the YMCA to learn to make things from patterns and basic clothing construction. I made a pair of pants that I even wore to school that year. What I remember most about the class is feeling very very shy- I was the only kid. But I did learn to use patterns- and later to draft patterns- and make my own clothes when I couldn;t find what I wanted.
I started my first quilt- a crazy quilt- when I was 10. I didn’t know the first thing about how to quilt and that horror is still lurking around somewhere with a rusted needle in it- I didn’t know enough to make it lay flat. I had better success with my second quilt a few years later. It was appliqued and embroidered butterflies and I made it up in 12″ pillows that I then whip-stitched together. Still didn’t know anything about quilting. By the time I started my third quilt, I had read some about quilting and it’s a little better- it took me years and years to finish but I did actually finish it and give it to my Mom. It’s the first finished quilt on my quilting page called Memories– partly because it has a lot of fabrics from clothing scraps- including that horrible pair of pants.
So yes, I sew very well. I’ve been doing it for a very very long time!
3. Home Improvement
I always wanted a house of my own. When I was little I would make up floor plans and paper houses. After I left home, I was limited by time and money and other people’s tastes for a long time. Then the wasband left- and left me with a house that was sound- but nothing like anything I had ever wanted. (I say he left me with the house, the house was mine to begin with. It’s on my family’s land.) One morning at three when I just couldn’t sleep and the girls were both still living with him, I got mad. So I rearranged every thing in the living room to make it a little more what I wanted. And then there was the paint. When the house was built, it was painted with watered down, non-washable paint. Ok, I still have no money… but I have more time so I started doing small things and saving for larger ones. The carpet had to go- I always wanted hardwood and the carpet was destroyed- and the paint had to be fixed… so I picked the colours I wanted and the themes I wanted for the rooms I was fixing.
I’ve done this one room at a time- usually in the spring when I get my income tax refund- and I picked an idea to give direction to my design. The kitchen is coffee, the living room is October, the bathroom is mermaids and mermen, the library is Bag End with cats and my bedroom is Lothlorien. I’m not an interior decorator so I don’t have a particular “way” that I am either going against or with and I don’t feel the need to be conventional in my use of materials.
I don’t know what to say to this. I am definitely inspired by many things- I have so many ideas that most of them will never pan out. Either I don’t have time to work them out or I don’t have the skills or materials to do so. I have a “pop-corn brain”- every time I turn around, I have a new great idea… which will take me a year or more to see though and ‘don’t you have enough projects already?’ Well, yes… but it’s not like I can stop getting new ideas- or being excited about them. Besides being the genesis for a lot of ideas, and methods to make those ideas happen, people here inspire me to finish projects… just so I can post that I’m done and show a picture of what I have been babbling about… and frequently been helped with.
Do I inspire others? I wouldn’t have thought so except that more than one person has told me that I have. I’m both startled and gratified by this- I don’t see it coming. I know a lot of talented, fabulous people on here and I see myself as rather dull and a bit dowdy by comparison. The one thing I have going for me is an inability to take “You can’t do that”. I’m too stubborn. So if I want a book in leather that no one is binding in leather commercially, well, I’ll do it myself.
I create a lot of things because of that. I want something specific and I can’t find it- or can’t afford it if I do- and I can’t afford to pay someone else to make it for me so I make it. It’s nothing in the world but pure stubborn pig-headedness.