Most of my inspiration for making things has come from friends and family. When I was growing up, my mom would often make our clothes from patterns. She would garden, make relish and jam, and baked food for our lunches. My grandmother knitted us sweaters, slippers and mittens, and my great grandmother hand-quilted us blankets. To be honest, I have to admit that I never took the time to learn any of these skills, besides trying to alter t-shirts and hem jeans.
When I first met my husband, I learned that his mother co-owns a quilt store in Orleans and his brother (check out his tumblr) and sisters are all very creative and productive. It was just a coincidence, but a nice one – and I wasn’t going to miss my chance to learn something from them. I thought about the love and care that goes into a homemade item, especially one that is made for a specific person – and I knew I wanted to try it. Quilting takes a lot of time, patience and precision. I learned, as I took up sewing, that this is something that I need to work on. Sewing is not for everyone, and it’s not something (I should confess) that I do very often, but I do know how rewarding it can be.
While working part time at Quilty Pleasures (isn’t family great?), I was surrounded by people who were always starting or finishing projects. Latching on to their creative inspiration, I decided I wanted to make something that would help me with my sewing skills. But it had to be a project that was easy enough for a beginner who, at times, can lose her cool with a sewing machine.
Deciding to make a set of oven mitts for a friend, I found a pattern online, bought my supplies at Quilty Pleasures and began the task of putting together the pieces. It was a bit of a struggle. I had to rip out stitches and re-sew some areas, but I did make a working pair of oven mitts. It was such a relief to see the finished product, even with the misshapen thumbs. The only problem was that my friend was reluctant to use them, not because they would fall apart (at least that’s what she told me), but because she didn’t want to get them dirty.
Amanda Kavanagh was an educator and is an aspiring writer. During her career as a teacher she came to the realization that she needed an outlet for her strong opinions. She enrolled in Algonquin College’s Professional Writing program. Along with her career change, Amanda has also made some life changes. Her do-it-yourself projects, gardening and research into living a cleaner and more satisfying life have become some of her favourite past-times.