Monday, September 30, 2013

Meet Karen Baisley

I "met" Karen Blaisley through Share a Square, the group that formed the foundation of SASsy Stitchers.  I always love seeing her work, particularly the fabulous squares she makes.  Even though it's still not in person, it's lovely getting to know her better.  So, please,

MEET KAREN BAISLEY

I’m so glad to have been asked by L.J. to be a guest on her blog. I want to thank her for her patience, since I’m late with my article for her. L.J. is one of the truly lovely people I have met through the craft of crochet, and I’m thankful for her friendship across the miles.
 
Growing up in the Midwest there was always somebody making something. I had aunts who baked all their own bread, sewed clothes, and canned anything that could be canned.   I had a great uncle who would drive around on trash day looking for lawn chairs set out for pick up. He would clean them up and macram√© new backs and seats for them. One grandmother taught me how to darn socks. The other crocheted me hats and mittens, but her real gift was doilies. She made such beautiful pieces. My mother decorated cakes. She took a class in the early 70s, and from then on made cakes for every celebration for everyone in the family. She even made my wedding cake! 

Shortly after moving into our home in 1994 Mom and Grandma Bentley made the drive to Virginia to visit. I didn't have curtains for all the windows, and things were still in boxes. I felt quite frazzled and unprepared to have "guests". Little did I know Mom and Grandma had other plans.  Mom brought fabric, and Grandma set to work. She hand sewed these cafe curtains and a small valance that were promptly hung and fluffed in my dining room. When my grandmother was sewing them she gave me something of permanence from her heart that allow me to connect with her love every time I see or touch them.   

Now, over 20 years later, the curtains hang in my bathroom. Not only do I still get compliments on them, but the memories attached to them are priceless.

My sister, Laura, taught me early on how to crochet and cross stitch. Well, she tried to teach me. It didn’t stick. She also tried to teach me how to quilt. That didn’t stick, either. It seemed the crafty gene had skipped me.

Then, I hurt my back volunteering at a dog kennel for service dogs. Activities like grocery shopping caused me to walk like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. My children were in their teens, so they didn’t need constant care. My husband was stationed clear across the country. Gardening and walking my dogs used to be my favorite activities, but I couldn’t do either one of those, anymore. Frustrated and depressed, I spent a lot of time on the computer.
 

That’s when I learned about The Snuggle Project. It was founded by Rae French to provide handmade, pet mats for shelter pets. Here was something I could do right from the couch! I quickly learned that sewing was not going to be fun for me, though. Grandma crocheted. Mom crocheted. Sis crocheted. I knew I could do it, but who would teach me?

Sandra Petit taught me! Through her website, crochetcabana.com, I found her Youtube videos. She was so patient. She didn’t mind at all if I stopped her and hit the rewind to see something again. Finally, I got past a chain! Snuggles were the perfect project to practice with. Dogs and cats don’t care if their bed is square or lopsided or uneven. 


With physical therapy my back is much better, but crocheting continues to enrich my life. It doesn’t matter what is going on in my life, once I have that hook in hand I relax. I meet the most amazing people through my craft. I’ve met crafty folks from all over the country through Ravelry and Facebook. 

One of my great mental necessities is getting together with friends in my area for Sit and Stitch sessions. We’ll bring our hooks and yarn and meet at a local burger joint or coffee shop to stitch and share and chat. I love the emotion that is attached to everything I made. Hand crafting something gives that item so much more meaning than if you simply bought it at the store.

One of the first things I made after gaining confidence through Snuggle crafting was a comfort shawl for my mother. It’s big and made from soft Homespun yarn. She says when she wraps up in it she feels like I’m giving her a hug. I live four states away, but my mom can feel a loving hug from me anytime she needs one. That’s magic!
 

I have donated items to groups that help babies, the homeless, the aged, pets, veterans, bereaved parents, and abused women. It means so much to me that a hat or a scarf or a blanket square I made can provide hope and comfort to someone I have never even met. When it’s appropriate I attach a note saying, “We have never met, but I thought about you with every stitch. Know that you are not forgotten.” Isn’t that what we all want? Someone to remember us? Someone to care?

I cherish the things the women in my family have crafted for me. More so now that Grandma has passed, Mom has a hard time seeing, and my sister has Multiple Sclerosis. She isn’t able to do all the things she once did, so the love and effort she put into this small magnet last year make it one of my most treasured items. I hope that the items I crochet for my family will carry my love to them long after I’m gone.


7 comments:

  1. Love , love and love your post! We do really hug our family and people when we knit or crochet for them! I have the same feeling with my mom and her special vest!

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    1. Thank you, Kari! A special vest? Did your mom make it for you or did you make it for Mom?

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    2. I made it for her. She doesn't like to knit or crochet.

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  2. This is such a beautiful post, Karen. Handmade gifts are treasures. I love that your mother felt your hugs whenever she wrapped herself in your loving shawl. Love flowed both ways.
    I made a couple of cardigans for my mother. The first one she felt the love. The one much later in life wasn't quite suitable because she preferred long sleeves to short. I know how much love I poured into that cotton thread attempt, knitted for her with pineapple stitch, while my husband was in Intensive Care with a massive heart attack. Pouring my love into that knitting got me through that terrible time so I guess it doesn't really matter if the gift was appreciated or not. It helped me.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I have also found that sometimes my crafting goes both way, but sometimes it's more about me than thee. There have been more than a few things that I've crafted that have been met with less than enthusiastic responses!

      I'm so glad you had your knitting when your dear husband was so ill. Our crafting is just there for us when we need it, isn't it?

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    2. Yes, I have also found that sometimes my crafting goes both way, but sometimes it's more about me than thee. There have been more than a few things that I've crafted that have been met with less than enthusiastic responses!

      I'm so glad you had your knitting when your dear husband was so ill. Our crafting is just there for us when we need it, isn't it?

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