Necklaces and bracelets out of dandelion stems adorned with bright yellow blooms. Baskets of all shapes and sizes from prickly, lavender Canadian thistle blossoms. I have loved creating things with my hands since I was a little girl.
A treat for me was to visit my aunt and uncle on their small farm. My aunt grew hollyhocks with pink and white colored blossoms. A blossom turned upside down became the skirt of a princess and an unopened bud became her head. I dreamed of my own gowns and future dances while pretending each princess in her hollyhock blossom gown was at the ball waiting to be chosen by the Prince.
A neighbor taught me to look for what we called Indian Beads, circular fossils of rock, often with holes in the center. I strung them to make necklaces and bracelets. I spent hours sitting on the top of a huge hill of gravel looking for beads to string. A few years ago that neighbor sent me a few beads she saved from our treasure hunts. They are priceless to me.
As I’ve grown up, my materials for my creations have changed. I love the sizes, shapes, and colors of all beads. Someone has lovingly said, “If it stands still long enough, Valerie will bead it!” I am fascinated with all the strands of threads and yarns and what can be created with them and a crochet hook. As I’m crocheting, my mind often wanders back to the stories of women that learned this art of putting threads together to take form.
I think of my great-great grandmother who might have sheared the sheep, washed the wool, chosen a natural dye— maybe a beautiful mauve using beet juice— then carded it, spun it and eventually made into a warm sweater for herself or one of her children. Back then creating with wool wasn’t as much a craft as a necessity. I’m grateful for the curious, industrious, creative women who formed the craft and passed it down generation to generation.
Likewise, it’s a joy to have my granddaughter bring me her latest creations. I taught her to crochet when she was fairly young, thinking her little hands would be unable to master the craft for a while. She surprised me a week later with her first creations. I taught her a basic stitch. She took that lesson and has now come up with her own patterns and her own creations.
Recently she brought me the shawl, hat and mitts she just completed. They are a lovely shade of yellow accented by a soft pink. The shawl is a work of art and a pattern that amazes me. She longs to be a designer when she grows up. Her God-given talent is clearly evident. It’s a joy to know the talent of our ancestors lives in both of us today. Last week she and I made fun purses out of strips of fabric we tied together and then crocheted. She made one for her and one for a gift for a special friend. I love her generous spirit of gifting her art.
Perhaps we are both happiest when creating something new — something one-of-a-kind. For me, that’s a passion that survived some severe taunting as a child. I took harsh ridicule about the time I was wasting creating stupid things that didn’t matter. I’ve come to embrace who I am and the unique beauty I offer. I’m grateful I persevered and my love of working with my hands wasn’t lost.
The things I create come from deep within me. I think they are a good reflection of who I am.
Valerie Avery treasures the journey of embracing all God has gifted her with including creating art and beauty using fibers, beads and nature. The bond of 46 years of marriage has created a legacy as mother to 5 and “Grammie” to 20. She is venturing into the world of writing and is grateful for a place to share stories of growth and hope. You can follow her other writings and doings on Facebook.