Guest series :: I did my best with what I had

by contributor on 02/05/2012

in Community + Creativity, Guest series 2012

Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Amy Palanjian works as a food editor at Better Homes and Gardens and contributes to Recipe.com; in her spare time, she quilts, sews, crafts, and spends time in her kitchen and garden. She has just written the soon to be released So Pretty! Crochet: Inspiration and Instructions for 24 Stylish Projects by Chronicle books. She lives in Des Moines, Iowa with her husband Josh.

My husband Josh and I are expecting a baby the first week of June (ish—she of course may decide to come sooner or later than that!), and with that, my outlook on crafting and creating has changed a bit. I’ve always enjoyed making things out of scraps, found objects, and vintage fabrics, but my desire to teach our daughter to be resourceful, without having to rely on always going out and purchasing things, seems to be coming through front and center with how I’ve approached preparing for her arrival.

When I found out I was pregnant, I looked for inspiration for this new period in our lives. I found it through many bloggers including Meg of Sew Liberated, Sara of Feeding the Soil and Kylie of How We Montessori. Getting to know these women and their approach to parenting through the stories that they share each week has been enormously helpful—their lives look and feel similar to ours and they have given me a lot of hope that adding a child to the mix doesn’t necessarily have to change that. In fact, it can make it all a lot more fun, meaningful, and interesting.

I’ve made a few mini quilts for the baby to play on using fabric that had been lingering in my stash for months (or, in some cases, years). I also made a quilt using a collection of vintage blocks that I’d picked up at a local antique mall for a few dollars last year—the fabric was already so soft and broken in that I can’t help but think that it will be a lovely place for a baby to play. We purposefully kept our registery list short in the hopes that we could teach her about the world through real objects, rather than relying on toys (though we do of course have some toys!), and each time I think I want something for the baby, I consider whether I could make it myself.


When I found wall decals that I loved, I realized that I could probably make something similar using supplies that I already had in my house. I gave it a go and crafted some fabric wall decals in the shapes of butterflies to decorate behind the crib. I used fabric that played a role in our wedding and that I had used in a quilt that I made last year for a good friend’s new baby. Sure, I still need to figure out a more secure way to adhere them to the walls, but for now, I’m content with knowing that I did my best with what I already had.

I am sure that this way of thinking will change, bend, and react to the girl once she is here with us, but I am finding that it’s been a good place to start. Waiting for our daughter to join us has been a joyful experience, but one that has been filled with wonder and questions.

Making time to sit and make things with her in mind has helped me stay calm and sane throughout the past 8+ months.

Will I have time to sew things once I have a baby to take care of? Will I ever be able to keep the straight pins that are surely hiding in my couch (where I sit and quilt) away from the baby? Will my beloved fabric shears be safe from little hands (and will she be safe from them)? Will she like to spend time in the garden with her dad as I am hoping that she will? Will she love quiet and books and good food like her parents do? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but I hope that as a start, we are able to teach her how to use her own creativity as a way to explore the world.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Liz May 2, 2012 at 8:26 am

Liquid starch will attach them to the walls – I’ve done this a few times in the past, and removing them has never caused any damage, but I guess it’s best to check. It works on cupboard doors too – fabulous for yucky kitchens in rented houses!

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2 Deepa May 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm

In response to your last paragraph, Amy, the answer is “Yes” to everything. When my daughter was a baby, I nursed her on a Boppy and knit. I used big needles because I was scared of poking her with tiny sock dpns, but I knit nevertheless! Now she is 5 and learning to crochet, and begging to learn to knit. My 3 year old son sits on my lap sometimes and plays with dad’s iPod or his trains or watches Nick Jr. and I knit. He asks me sometimes what I’m making and whether it’s for him. I recently hand-sewed cut out fabric letters on a white pillowcase to make a name pillow for my daughter, the whole time with one or other child on my lap.

The point is that our children are immensely malleable creatures, and they think mom and dad are awesome. Your bigger challenge will be dealing with the peer pressure eventually- the “so and so has this and I want it too.” Congratulations and enjoy your new adventures!

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3 Judy May 5, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Dear Amy,

Once your baby has arrived PLEASE make time to continue with some kind of craft. When the baby is asleep take an hour to sit down and knit a few rows or work on a quilt. The time spent will leave you a happier, calm and more content Mum. Leave the dishes or floors – they will be there tomorrow. Your state of mind is much more important and acknowledging that YOU are worth the time is a vital precedent to set.
Good luck on your journey – it will fly, so enjoy every minute.

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