A Few of My Favorite Things – Jane Patrick

When my sisters and I were going through my mom’s things after she died, we each took turns choosing objects that we most wanted. All went well until it came to the simple kitchen tools she used every day. We cried over her rolling pin that had rolled out countless paper thin oatmeal wafers. We cried over her potato masher and pastry cutter and grapefruit knife. It was hard to decide which thing we wanted most when it came to our turn. Of really little monetary value, it was the memory or our mom in her kitchen baking and cooking, making good things to eat with heart and hand that was priceless.

Especially during the holiday season these images come to mind and I find myself spending a few moments reflecting on what truly is important to me. On the top of my list, not surprisingly, is making. How the things I have woven make my life richer; how the things people have made for me have enriched my life even more. Like my mom’s cooking tools, it is the everyday things that I use over and over that carry the most meaning, and with each use I am reminded of the maker.

So, I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite things as a reminder of the importance of making in our lives and why we love doing it. That is, when we create something by hand, a piece of ourselves is woven into that object. As we weave (or spin or knit or felt), we think about the recipient. It brings meaning to the making and a great deal of pleasure in the sharing of the gift and the use of it years later.

Likewise, receiving a handmade gift brings with it a little piece of the creator. Not only is the maker sharing her talent, but the time to make it as well. It means so much more than purchasing something from the store. If you haven’t had the time this year to create special handmade gifts for those you care about, planning now to do so in the New Year might be the inspiration you need to actively engage in your craft for next year’s gift giving.

Here are just a few of my favorite things: I wove this dishtowel (left) many years ago for my grandmother. After she died it was returned to me much used. I love this and use it despite the stains and holes. These beautiful pillow cases (right) were woven by Linda Ligon (my boss at the time at Interweave Press) for Barry and me on the occasion of our wedding. My daughter, Nora, made this simple saucer (bottom) when she was in high school which I use as a spoon rest. These napkins (top), woven by Eric Redding, show some fraying after some 35 years of frequent use, but I love them even so. In every case and with every use, without fail, over many, many years, I always think of the person each time I lay my head on the pillow, set the table, or rest my spoon when stirring the soup pot. My life is richer, fuller, and more connected.

Happy holidays and best wishes for the New Year!