Saturday, June 9, 2007

Saturday's guest blogger - Kathryn Lilley

Greetings, and thank you for inviting me to be your Saturday guest blogger!

I'm Kathryn Lilley, and you can think of me as something of a failed hobbyist. "No hobby project too simple to be botched up," could be my motto.

But recently, I discovered that I've been redeemed.

First, a bit of personal background: I come from a long and distinguished line of crafty, hobby-oriented women. My mother (and her mother before her, and so on, and so on), could have written a chapter in the book about that most quintessential of American crafts, quilting.

Back in the day (aka Whistler, Alabama, circa 1930) quilting was much more than a hobby. The ladies of the quilting bee ruled that town. They were that era’s equivalent of today’s blogosphere. Did you want the the latest gossip? You had to ask the Quilting Bee ladies. Who was schtupping whom? Again, consult the QB’ers. The Ladies of the Bee were the go-to gals for matters matrimonial, mordant, or just plain malicious. While they hand-stitched their Double Wedding Ring quilts, pinwheel designs and Sunbonnet Sues (which they called “Dutch Dolls”), the quilting ladies quietly kept the social order of that time and place.

My mother inherited the craft/quilting gene. As a child, I was the happy recipient of her wonderful, hand-made Halloween costumes. Cooking, decoupage, making Christmas decorations—it was all good.

But soon after I was born, it became clear that the crafts gene had skipped a generation. The first major sign of my uncraftiness was a Four-H sewing project. My mother was a club leader, and she sewed, for heaven’s sake. Expectations for my creation ran high in my little group of eight-year-olds.

And my finished project was indeed stunning—and would have looked wonderful on an organ grinder’s monkey. If the monkey’s left arm was three inches shorter than his right, that is.

Fast forward to my college years, and I could be found trying to develop a sport/hobby that I thought might come in handy someday: golf. My dorm at Wellesley College was right next to the golf course, so it should have been easy for me to learn, right? But by the time I graduated, my nickname was “The Divot Queen.” When I went to Wellesley, the school still had a sports requirement. Luckily for me, the coaches there had a sense of humor—or maybe it was pity. I graduated.

A few years later, I was trying to impress a date with my newest hobby, this time cooking. The poor guy made it gamely through the paella, which looked like fallout from some kind of saffron dirty bomb. After choking the last of it down, he looked at me with a strangely hopeful expression and suggested that we go to the Cheesecake Factory for dessert.

But now my own daughter is in college. And I’m pleased to say that, like our family’s recessive gene for red hair, the crafts/cooking/hobby gene has reemerged. I visited her a week ago, and she made a dinner that was a tour de force. Spanakopita, honeyed chicken kabobs, a fruit trifle (topped with a pattern of kiwi and strawberries that was reminiscent of a six-point star quilt). With no training from me whatsoever, my daughter has taken crafting to the next level. She does glass blowing, which has always struck me as a craft on steroids. You get to work near a blast furnace, wear goggles, and turn out spectacular things. Take, for example, a vase she made for me. It swirls and blooms with the colors of a Caribbean sunset. The vase sits in our kitchen’s solarium window, casting rainbows.

To me, those rainbows are my quilting ancestors, smiling. Their rainbow smiles tell me that all is forgiven—through my daughter, our family’s crafting honor has been restored.


Anonymous said...

You get a nice quilted "hot pad" for those nice remarks about your crafty mother. Just in case you decide to try cooking again! Mom

Linda O. Johnston said...

Hi, Kathryn, and welcome!
How delightful that you can observe all those skilled crafters in your family and be proud of them, even if your skills are elsewhere--such as writing.

Deb Baker said...

What a fun post. I, too, am craft-challenged. That's why I collect things instead.

Camille Minichino said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Camille Minichino said...

I'll bet you're better than you let on, Kathryn! But it was fun to read your "confession."
Mine: I'm not that great at most crafts either, but I figure, it's a hobby, it doesn't have to be perfect!

Kathryn Lilley said...

Thank you! I'm very pleased to be here! It's a really great group.