My Natural Habitat

IMG_0984After taking about six months to finish my last weaving project, the two scarves that survived the new kitten and that also survived my indecision and general antipathy for the project, I’ve already finished my next weaving project.

From soup to nuts, from winding warp to sewing the hems, this bunch of kitchen towels took me about three weeks. Three weeks would not be a marvel for serious weavers but, for me, it is lightning fast!

What made the difference? Um . . . I think I just know my place. I have admitted what I knew.

I’m a dishtowel kind of gal. Cotton and linen and old-fashioned practicality are my natural habitat as a weaver.

It’s odd, how we play favorites with the things we make, which items resonate for us.

My husband is, without a doubt, a weaver of table runners. He occasionally makes something else but when I ask him what project he has planned next, I can say, sotto voce, “runner” in unison with him stating “runner” out loud. He would no sooner make a scarf . . .

Our weaving teacher, on the other hand, is a scarf gal. She makes other fine handwovens but she always comes back to her happy place, making lush, drapey scarves in striking textures and colors.

This choosing of favorites doesn’t just happen with weaving, I’ve noticed. I don’t always make quilts but, when I do, I choose to make bed-size quilts. I have friends, though, who would never dream of doing so. When they quilt, they are drawn to wall hangings and table runners.

When I worked in metals, I was a bracelet and necklace maker, almost never a brooch or ring girl. My time in the kitchen is spent making sweets—chocolates and baked goods—while my husband finds satisfaction with meals. As a gardener, I’m all about the flowers . . . no veggies for me.

Sometimes I ponder my preferences and try to figure out what makes me tick as a maker. And sometimes, I force myself to make other things, like scarves or table runners or, heaven help us all, dinner.

Other times, I just accept me as I am. After all, the world needs dishtowels and bed coverings and chocolate-covered caramels so I might as well be the one who makes them.

And since I look forward to working in my natural habitat and making things I like to make, I am productive and relaxed in the making.

It should come as no surprise that the new warp on the loom is for kitchen towels that I will make with enthusiasm. The yoyos I make diligently, and with enthusiasm, will eventually become a bedspread. When spring comes, I’ll be greeting my geraniums and hollyhocks with enthusiasm.

How goes it with you and your making? Are you an equal-opportunity creator, who finds your satisfaction in exploring the gamut of possibilities in your chosen medium? Or do you, too, have a natural habitat that you recognize as your crafting home?

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69 thoughts on “My Natural Habitat

  1. You certainly excel at making beautiful kitchen towels and there can never be too many kitchen towels. I think they give the kitchen it’s personality, its that little extra touch. I would agree, there is a comfort zone, but I like to think of it as my happy place where I get really excited, where I thrive.

  2. Your towels are beautiful! You make a very good point and I know exactly what you mean. I am a quilter whose natural habitat is found in the range of a 56″ square. If I were a weaver, I am sure that shoulder wraps would be my comfort zone. There has to be something behind this. Comfort in the making means comfort in the giving or something like that.

    • Thank you! I keep pondering this whole thing and what it says about me, and all of us, that we have such preferences. A 56″ square is pretty big–do your quilts mostly end up as wall hangings?

  3. There is value in dating a lot of different people when one is young and single. It helps one understand what characteristics one wants in a mate. There is value in trying things outside our comfort zone, if only to verify that the comfort zone is where we want to be. You have tried many different kinds of making. There is no shame in nodding to yourself, agreeing that dish towels make you happy.

    As for me, I also prefer making bigger quilts, at least big enough to nap under. I have made wall hangings and table mats and baby quilts. But they never feel natural to me and I could not spend all my quilty time on them.

    Thanks for articulating this thought.

    • I guess I’m still “dating around” with weaving and may find new approaches that really work for me. After all, I just discovered paper piecing after all these years of quilting and I think it’ll be a long-term commitment!

  4. Love your towels, Kerry! I’m more a vegetable and main meal type girl…not so much flowers and dessert. However, I do enjoy making that condensed milk and heavy cream ice cream…and eating your chocolate!

    • Have you blogged your recipe for the ice cream? I need to go back and look–I love homemade ice cream. It’s true that, just because we don’t want to make something ourselves, we still may love it–i actually really like a lot of veggies, even though I have no inclination to grow them myself. And I do know people can love chocolate without wanting to make it . . . .

  5. Your dishtowels are a joy to behold! They must be amazing to use.

    I definitely have my things I love to make the most, but I do keep trying other things as you never know when a new favorite will come along! There are things I know I won’t wear or use, so I don’t make them. There are also things I love to make but I don’t because I already have made so many (blankets, I’m looking at you).

    I do have my limits, though, and if I need 2 things and am short on time, I’ll make the thing I like to make and buy the thing I less like to make.

    • It’s funny–I have an undergrad degree in metal smithing and loved the act of working with silver and stones and flames but I wear almost no jewelry . . . so I just never bother to make it anymore. I guess I’m driven by usability, mostly, too. You know, someday you need to learn to weave–I think you would absolutely love it!

  6. The dish towels look wonderful! I understand what you mean, there are things I love to make and things I can do quite competently, but I am glad when they are complete and I can go back to cranking out a wool hat or a pretty necklace. And I love making cards, but not all cards. 🙂 I like making pretty spring-related cards with flowers and sunshine. So male birthday cards are a struggle. 🙂

  7. I enjoyed reading this post. I like to knit many things but I feel I am at my knitting home when I make socks. Your towels are beautiful and practical 🙂

  8. I know exactly what you mean. Even down to subcategories. I love to weave scarves and yet have no desire whatsoever to weave one in chenille. I have friends who love to weave rugs and I’m barely tempted to try even one. Beautiful towels!

    • Oh, I wish you loved chenille and could guide me! I bought a whole bunch of it, because I loved the colors/textures but now I keep reading how hard it is to weave successfully with it . . .

  9. Your towels are so pretty and comforting. I usually go in circles, spurts of exploring “what if” followed by calm and comfortable. Weaving is my passion, but my craft follows my emotional energy level. When things in my life outside of weaving are moving smoothly, my weaving is complicated, when outside life is in chaos, my weaving reverts to plain weave and colour play.

    • I definitely choose my difficulty level based on the energy I have, too. I know I will keep trying new things because I want to grow in all these crafts but it’s nice to have a home base to come back to, something that i *know* makes me happy.

  10. Those towels are delicious Kerry – and quite entice one to dry some dishes! Your question is one I have never pondered – amazingly, for I am much given to pondering – and now I am a tad disconcerted as I must admit to being quite the dilettante………… I so skip about and having a low boredom threshold find that once a skill is mastered and there is no more challenge, I move on to the next hobby……… Jack of all trades, master of none! This is probably the longest I’ve stayed with any one thing for quite a while, this playing around with beads craze. I’ve had to learn how to do everything from scratch and as I’m constantly up-cycling the danglers the challenge remains constant. Except I’ve taken to playing around with bracelets of late ……. And I love painting too, but haven’t done any for a year now. I’m beginning to wonder if I will know where to start when I pick up a brush again. As I’ve written this, a realisation has slowly emerged and I think crochet may be my default button – when it’s all said and done, I’ll crochet a blanket or a throw. There’s something comforting about sitting beneath a pile of yarn crocheted into pleasing shapes and colour combinations and watching it grow……… And you can give half your attention someplace else at the same time or just sit and be with the plying of the hook 🙂 And there’s always someone who needs a blanket! Another great post dear Kerry – thanks for the chance to over-share once again 🙂

  11. What wonderful towels. In particular I like the aqua and pink one! I bought some chocolate covered toffee recently, bit into it and thought ‘this needs chopped almonds, like Kerry’s.’ My making varies wildly from drawing to sewing to writing to all manner of things that happen in the kitchen. Had I but space enough and time…

  12. Your towels are lovely! And it is a beautiful thing that we are all different,for if the world depended on me to make chocolates… there wouldn’t be any!! Now if you were craving a cookie or needed a quilt to curl up with .. I would be happy to help you out!! Oh, I’ll raise veggie if someone else wants to pick them. 😉

  13. Huh, thanks for this post 🙂 I’ve been contemplating who I am these last few weeks, and while I’ve been thinking about lots of things, what I make hasn’t been included. I just accepted that I make things. But now I want to think about that in more detail 🙂

    • Sometimes I feel like I spend half my time trying to figure myself out. I suspect that you could learn quite a lot about yourself by considering your making, since it’s so important to you.

  14. Interesting…. I think I am, and my problem is, that I like to try everything! A new technique or a new recipe or a new quilt idea will send me off! Master of none as they say. I love to cook everything, but particulalry baked goods. I adore zinnias and a good tomato. I have woven a lot of scarves in the past but won’t for SC life! I have never considered making a dish towel….I’m not sure I could actually use it though I have no trouble using runners. Perhaps towels shold be next after I finish the runners. ;-D

    • I like to try different things but I also like to come back to my favorites and I get more certain of what those favorites are every day! I’d love to see what you come up with, if you try dishtowels!

  15. Your dish towels are a work of art. I also loved your scarves – such beautiful rich colours and an interesting design. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy making them but, I agree, there are some things we feel comfortable doing and other things jar and irritate. So unaccountable! I used to make things – I knitted and crocheted and sewed and embroidered but I have never woven anything. I come from a family who have always made things. Unfortunately I got out of the habit through lack of time a while ago and it will be a miracle if i ever get the habit back again. I don’t enjoy cooking but have to do it most days and am fairly proficient. I must try to find the time to do a little pleasurable crafting as it is so satisfying and calming. A pipe dream perhaps.

  16. Another thought-provoking post, Kerry. Congratulations on the three-week make. The towels are beautiful and uniquely yours. I’ve never thought about a go-to preference. Like Pauline, I find myself getting bored easily. In high school I did a lot of needle work: sewing, embroidery, hooked rugs and the like. I worked for a few years as a stitcher (seamstress) for a variety of theatre companies where I spent my days sewing costumes. In later years I fell in love with paper crafts. I made scrapbooks when my boys were young, then my sister got me hooked on making cards. I’ve dabbled in knitting and find it incredibly relaxing though I’ve not picked it up again for many years. Hmmmm…I’m going to have to give this more thought. I’m glad you posed the question.

    • I hope you use your old towels! My dishtowel love started with vintage ones and has morphed now that I’ve learned how to weave. It really is like magic, watching them grow . . .

  17. You have an Etsy site, yes? (you’ve probably answered that before for me … my apologies). I adore runners! I’d love to see your husbands work.
    As I read your post, I thought of photographers. We definitely tend to have our favorite subjects whether natural scenes, portraits, street photography.
    We all know what we love and what makes our hearts sing.

    • If you went to the Etsy shop, I bet you were confused! So far, I only sell vintage stuff and the handmade chocolates (which you didn’t see because I hid the listings while I was away). We will probably start selling weaving eventually–haven’t gotten around to the picture-taking and getting organized for it yet!

  18. The dish towels are wonderful. I can see why you are drawn towards making them. When doing any craft or hobby, I think it is important to figure out what things we are drawn to.

    • I like that I can make towels that look like vintage towels or I can make more colorful, modern-looking ones. In some ways, it’s like the way you are updating the old recipes you find!

  19. Wow, that was quick! You are right, the world needs dishtowels, so it’s almost your duty to keep making them as long as you love it 🙂 I like to dabble in a little bit of everything but I definitely have my comfort zones – I like to crochet granny squares and bake cakes! It’s nice to be able to turn to those crafts that you don’t have to think about too much.

    • That’s exactly right–it’s comforting, for sure. I found, with this last set of towels, that I felt almost no stress at all in the making . . . and that has to be a good thing! So, I will keep fulfilling my duty!

  20. The dishtowels are beautiful! I’ve been thinking about doing the opposite of what I’ve been doing in my making – too many wee, fast projects and I want to go bigger and more involved. When I knitted, I made everything, but I didn’t enjoy knitting cables. I found it tedious and annoying. I like to seek a balance between what I most want to do and what is practical and useful.

    • For me, it seems that what I want to do is also that which is practical and useful. But I agree about big and involved. I’m not much for the “one-hour” project or for making merely decorative items.

  21. my Mom always said “it would be a strange world if we all liked the same thing” – so very true. I’ve never settled down to one comfortable technique or item, I like to push my imagination to try new things. Most of my techniques build on each other and can be combined in many ways. The driving force behind my work is the need to design and then produce a creative product – reasonably small and detailed.

    • I think, maybe, if I’d stuck to one main craft, like you have with weaving, it seems, I’d have pushed more in different directions. But I’m such a dilettante, I find I glom on to one or two aspects of each craft and get comfortable wth them. But your mom was right about this!

  22. I don’t think I really have a ‘crafting zone’, though I do like to make my own greetings cards and so on. But if I come to your house, I’ll have to end up helping your husband. Like him, I prefer making meals to cakes, growing veggies to flowers. Just as well we’re all different, eh?

    • I’m glad to hear you’re actually *using* your handwoven towel! It makes me crazy when people want to keep them “for good” and don’t ever enjoy how functional they really are!

      • My mother in law taught me that. Use and enjoy beautiful things. Her mother spun yarn and wove a whole set of dish towels in Germany, I think after the Second World War. They are still in use today. I adore them.

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