I posted this photo earlier today on Instagram: it’s of yours truly in the midst of making crepes (one of our lazy dinner nights), wearing an apron made by my friend, Arabella. I wear this apron at least once a week, usually when baking. Today the apron grabbed my attention in a different way, and I felt I needed to write about it.
Arabella made this apron for me back when I lived in Baltimore, and we had a monthly gathering of friends called “Craft Night.” It could also have been called “Drinking, Eating, and Talking Smack Night,” but I digress. While these nights were for connecting with friends, a few of us saw handcrafting as a creative outlet, but even more than that, a way to show our affection for each other.
Pre-Widget, I made baby blankets or little sweaters for several friends when they had their first kids. I really got into it, planning the pattern, selecting the colorways, choosing the yarn. Each decision was meant to reflect the person I was making the object for, and hopefully became an item they used well.
My friends too have made me some wonderful things, including mittens, scarves, and even a beautiful book, built by my friend Vanessa, with photographs of all the Craft Night crew. The Widget was given a lovely blanket by our friends Maureen and Joe, and not one, but FOUR amazing quilts (Vanessa again, Michaela, Audrey, and Rachel are to thank for this bounty). In this frigid cold he has a least two of them on his bed keeping him warm.
And then there is this apron, one of the many things Arabella has made. She is an impeccable seamstress, as well as an all-around superhero (I seem to know a lot of awesome women). I wear the bright yellow lemon-print as I splatter batter on the stove, as I chop red beets that stain the hem as I wipe my hands on my legs. I wash it frequently, as I am a messy cook. It hangs on a hook with several other aprons — all with their uses. But this is the one I reach for most often.
In this world of overnight shipping and trendy fashions, I’m grateful to have a few special handmade things. These are the things I take with me — they are not to be minimized or donated when we move, or the Widget goes to college. Those handmade things all have stories and people’s faces that I see whenever I pick them up. They help me feel connected to the people I love, despite the distance, the cold, the busy-ness. My friends and family have spent hours to make something of substance for my family’s use. In doing so, they left a little part of themselves with me. Hopefully, my handknits have done the same for them.