Tag Archives: crafts

No skein, no gain

All this week, the Today show has been running a series in which the hosts revisit their first jobs. Whether delivering newspapers, babysitting, cleaning pet store cages, stocking grocery shelves or teaching dance, hosts shared what drew them into their first jobs and what challenges and rewards they had experienced. Some even talked about how much they were paid.

What was your first job? What obstacles did you overcome and what reward did you reap?

I too was a babysitter for years, from age 12 up until the day I got engaged. Even in college, I used to line up my New Years Eve gigs well in advance. Even though my wage at retirement was $3 an hour, I did what most highly paid nannies did and more.

Aside from that, though, my very first job was working as a bus girl at a hotel restaurant in Virginia Beach. I cleared dirty dishes and cleaned tables for a dollar an hour plus tips. Only there were no tips.

My second job was at a place called—you’ll love the name—VIP Yarns. Why did I choose to work there? Because I didn’t have a car and I could walk to the store. In an early Word Nymph post, I talked about what happened when I lied and told them I knew how to do all kinds of needlework. That was probably the last lie I ever told. Actually the story is that, once I realized I needed actual skills, I asked my friend’s nine-year-old sister, who had just gotten a Girl Scout merit badge for needlecraft, to teach me. Thank you, Little Susie Lewis, wherever you are.

Thinking back, I wonder if breathing in all those yarn fibers contributed to my battle with chronic bronchitis. Or my 30-year battle with crafts.

I was the youngest employee at that VIP Yarns store, by about 40 years. And just for the record, I wasn’t fired. I was part of a 20 percent reduction in force, when the store went from five employees down to four. There went $2.35 an hour.

We’ll just say I never attained VIP status.

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Stop her before she crafts again

Our beloved Erma Bombeck left us 14 years ago today and oh, how we miss her.  In honor of this talented, yet humble icon–who entertained readers with stories of everyday situations–I’d like to pause today to share a personal story of my own:

When will I learn?  I have no aptitude for crafts.  Granted, my first paying job was at a yarn store.  I was hired after, desperate for the job, I overstated my knowledge of knitting, crocheting, embroidery, cross-stitch, crewel, latch-hook and macramé.  Despite my best efforts to learn, my yarn career didn’t last long, especially with seasoned needle-workers coming in to the store seeking tutelage on elaborate projects. 

I don’t decoupage.  I can’t even frame a lousy picture.  The problem is, I have great ideas—grand visions for craft projects.  I can visualize an extraordinary outcome but lack the ability to execute ordinary steps. 

Case in point:  I had the brilliant idea to take a 25-year-old clipping from my college newspaper and create a plaque for a former classmate.  I bought the wood, the glue, the shellac and a good brush.  I picked up a fancy hanger to affix to the back so she could display this memento in her home.  I was so heavy handed with both the glue and shellac that they bled through the faded newsprint, rendering the article and its photo indiscernible.  This also rendered the shellac unable to dry.  Problem was, it was to be a birthday gift at a party taking place at Morton’s Steakhouse that night.  I set the plaque outdoors so it would dry and the toxic odor would fade.  No dice.  With no other choice, I slipped it gingerly into a gift bag and took it to Morton’s.  I set it by my feet during dinner, pretending to ignore the strong odor.  When the time came for gifts, I handed my friend the bag.  As she pulled out the wet, sticky plaque, the dining room filled with noxious fumes.  She looked at the plaque, politely trying to figure out what the heck was glued to it.  She flipped it over.  She and I both noticed that the hanger had been nailed in upside down.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Recently I went to the craft store with another vision, a personalized tote bag for my mother to carry her medical files around to her various doctors.  I purchased a pretty pink canvas bag and some iron-on lettering for adorning the bag with cute and inspiring phrases.   I was a little heavy handed with the iron.  Ironed the whole bag shut.

As if my failed projects aren’t reminder enough of my deficit, I think I saw the security guard at Michael’s tacking my picture up on their Do Not Craft list.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas