Moms are makers

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DW here. This is my mom, Pat White. She’s almost too modest to appear here, but after some cajoling she agreed I could feature her as the person who imprinted me early in life to be a maker. She made all our Halloween costumes when we were kids. She let us make a hell of a mess alongside her when she was baking pies or cookies. She equipped us for all our crafts. And she showed us how to contribute to our community through all her work with her church and how much she cares and is cared for in the village of Point Edward.

Pat loves to knit and crochet, and has applied to hang out and knit at Maker Expo. If you’re a yarn-based maker you should bring a lawn chair, your needles and yarn and join in.

There are a few more hours to apply as an exhibiting maker for Maker Expo, before you head out for Canada Day fireworks.

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Pat’s “Nana” tried to teach her to crochet when she was 5 years old. Pat’s mother Doris taught her to knit when she was young and her friend Cherie taught her to crochet later in life. Above is a summer poncho in progress. It is delightful, this passing down of makerly knowledge and skill. Pat described a group she called The Knitting Guild that used to meet in the community room at The SuperStore. Seems like community and knitting are a match.

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Pat said she knits for fun and for a sense of accomplishment. “If I just do a few more rows I’ll complete that stage. I try to motivate myself.” When I asked which she likes better: crocheting or knitting, she said each has good things to offer. “I like crocheting because it goes much faster than knitting. I like knitting because it’s not as heavy of a texture. It doesn’t take as much yarn. Crocheting uses twice as much yarn.”

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Pat knit this beautiful poncho from special wools that she collected over time. She always thinks of colour and loves a fall palette. Some of the wool came from the shop south of Sarnia on LaSalle Road. Some came from now-departed wool store from the St Jacobs Market. And some wool was purchased at Lens Mills. She was in search of very specific colours and textures. She made this poncho for herself.

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I asked “Mom, what do you think about when you knit?” She said if she’s making something for someone in particular, then she thinks of that person. Sometimes you need to concentrate on specific sections when knitting and “sometimes it takes me to another place.”

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“As makers, sometimes we can let the rest of the world go off around us because we’re focused on something we enjoy doing. In our lives, we need that. And we need that a lot more in certain harder times in our lives.”

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As she gets older, Pat said she’s less interested in tackling big heavy sweaters like the old days. “I want to complete something faster. Slippers, mittens, hats. That sort of thing.”

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“I’m more of a person who likes to do a graph pattern. I like to see how knitting makes a picture. I’m not so crazy about making cables and so on.”

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What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever knit? “No matter what you do there is a certain amount of challenge. In crocheting, you do it step by step. If it says Chain 3, then you just do Chain 3. Step by step. If you get it wrong, you just pull it out… but it’s upsetting if you don’t see where you missed a stitch way down in your work.”

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“I made this for fun. Having a lot of wool on hand is fun. Having different colours allows you to try stuff.” Pat noted that she has learned a lot from other knitters. “You can just ask an experienced knitter how to do something and they are always helpful.”

Happily, my mom taught both my kids, Arden and Calder, to knit when they were young.

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Evidence of my mom’s making is all around her house and close at hand even when she travels.

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I asked, “Mom, can we see one of your yarn closets?” “Oh, I don’t know, it’s a mess.”

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“Your dad made me this rack for my needles.”

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This is probably something every maker can identify with. Having material on hand to just play. To experiment.

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Pat can narrate all these yarn caches around the house. She knows where it all came from and just what its original purpose was.

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“Mom, what about in the basement? More yarn?” Yes.

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“I love to accomplish something with my hands. I feel productive.”

My mom has a saying, passed down from her mother: “A mother’s hands are very hard.” I think I know the original meaning of that, though I might modify it to be: “A mother’s hands are very hard working.”

We are all makers. Join us.


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