5 Meaningful Lessons this Holiday Gifted

 
 

Each December I write about my annual Trim Alchemy Maker Party. In a way, it wraps the year up nicely in a bow.  Sarah Petchell, my gal Friday/studio manager, co-hosted the eve as an expert maker.  We sat in the studio this morning, which looked like an explosion of party dregs (scattered trimmings, yarns, beads, opened bottles of wine and crumbled sweets), recounting the evening like giddy sorority sisters.  Our conversation turned a little more serious as we dissected our post-party high.  Making stuff is meaningful.  I'd like to share some of the lessons that this holiday has gifted me. 

A trimmings wrapped, tasseled wreath at the Trim Queen Studio.

A trimmings wrapped, tasseled wreath at the Trim Queen Studio.

Friends gathering at the Trim Alchemy Maker Party creating holiday ornaments.

Friends gathering at the Trim Alchemy Maker Party creating holiday ornaments.

1. We need to recharge.

As women, and especially mothers, we get depleted this time of year taking care of all the gift giving, not only for family, but also for our kids' teachers, coaches, bus drivers, the news paper deliverer...the list goes on.  (No offense guys, but MOST men are not thinking about all this.) It's hectic and we exhaust ourselves.  Taking this party time-out to be with other women and craft was a break we all needed to recharge our batteries.  

We are making and unwinding, catching up with friends.

We are making and unwinding, catching up with friends.

Tara learns how to make a pompom.

Tara learns how to make a pompom.

Artist Lynda Karanikolas masterfully creates a multi-media decoration.

Artist Lynda Karanikolas masterfully creates a multi-media decoration.

Deborah Von Donop of DVD Interior Design used ribbon to wrap a ball to embellish.

Deborah Von Donop of DVD Interior Design used ribbon to wrap a ball to embellish.

2. We yearn to connect and share.  

As Sarah puts it, "We no longer are leaning over the back fence chatting with our neighbor." Facebook isn't the same as earnestly connecting with our friends.  We need to make space for these encounters and get them on the calendar.  The book club has replaced the bygone sewing circle.  I love books but I prefer to make things, and maybe these maker parties and the new "stitch and bitch"? LOL!  Although we don't do a lot of bemoaning at my parties, we do find camaraderie in the frustrations we share.  We also get to celebrate our latest accomplishments. With our hands engaged crafting, talking about our latest achievement is conversation, not bragging. It's different from having cocktails or a dinner party. Conversation isn't the main focus, it's secondary, and as such, it's less intimidating for personal sharing. 

Leslie Asch of Yarn to Label and Heather Lang meeting and making at the studio.

Leslie Asch of Yarn to Label and Heather Lang meeting and making at the studio.

Tara Rudnytsky Palmer, public education and mental health activist, (and sister mom extraordinaire), winds yarn with me on a frivolous pompom mission.

Tara Rudnytsky Palmer, public education and mental health activist, (and sister mom extraordinaire), winds yarn with me on a frivolous pompom mission.

Deborah and Sarah twirl their designs.

Deborah and Sarah twirl their designs.

Jessica Mauceri of Fairy Tale Inc, talented and creative, takes a break from parenting and teaching enrichment classes for kids.

Jessica Mauceri of Fairy Tale Inc, talented and creative, takes a break from parenting and teaching enrichment classes for kids.

3. Making is therapeutic.

I learned the power of making decades ago when I started sewing: how calming it is to get lost in a project, how rewarding it is to create something unique with my own design and hands.  Having done many Trim Alchemy workshops at the Country Living Fairs, the participants ALWAYS tell me how good they feel making something.  The creative act of making is very empowering and when we allow design a project, we feel positive, uplifted and our point of view is validated by something physical.

Printmaker Heather Lang of Wish Upon A Press embraces paper ogee making. 

Printmaker Heather Lang of Wish Upon A Press embraces paper ogee making. 

Cathleen Ouderkirk, a creative director and a friend I call my parenting partner, has the Midas touch. Our daughters are besties.

Cathleen Ouderkirk, a creative director and a friend I call my parenting partner, has the Midas touch. Our daughters are besties.

Cathleen makes gorgeous gift toppers collaging trimmings and yarns. She has a designer's eye. 

Cathleen makes gorgeous gift toppers collaging trimmings and yarns. She has a designer's eye. 

4. Limitations spark creativity.

I had an emergency early December that took me away from my usual holiday breakneck pace.  This was a gift to slow down and simplify, I changed my expectations and that was a huge shift for me.  I ran across the quote above, by the Arthur Ashe  "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can." and I adopted it as my  motto for the season.  

Torinese panettone embellished with gift wrap, raffia and organza ribbon.  The Czech style ornament is from World Market.

Torinese panettone embellished with gift wrap, raffia and organza ribbon.  The Czech style ornament is from World Market.

Decorated panettone using vintage zebra wallpaper and various yarns and ribbons on hand in the studio.

Decorated panettone using vintage zebra wallpaper and various yarns and ribbons on hand in the studio.

I send Italian panettone as gifts to clients, and instead of racing out to buy "perfect" embellishments of vintage ribbon and gold cording, I took a breath, re-read my quote, and used what I had in the studio.  It was actually an exhilarating challenge, playful, and I like the results. I hope my clients do too. Making is like cooking: if the ingredients are good, delicious things emerge.  Without a strict recipe, the pressure for perfection is off and you can relax and enjoy the process more.  In the book on competitive tennis Relaxed Intensityauthor Happy Bhalla asserts that we perform at optimum level when relaxed. I think this is true on the court and in life. (can you tell I'm a tennis fanatic?)

 
Panettone decorating, tassel making, velvet ribbon and hug snug.  The wrapping paper from World Market inspired the color story.

Panettone decorating, tassel making, velvet ribbon and hug snug.  The wrapping paper from World Market inspired the color story.

 

5. Creating is a form of self expression.  

It was fascinating that each ornament made was indicative of the maker's personality.  Refined, bold, meticulous, reserved, fearless, delicate, fun....whether it was in the colors chosen, or the layering of materials, each finished product held true to its maker. We put our voice into making things and when finished, we feel "heard."

Denise Wenacur of DW Design & Decor came straight from work wearing a pompom hat! She's adding a second Trim Alchemy ornament to her joyful tree.

Denise Wenacur of DW Design & Decor came straight from work wearing a pompom hat! She's adding a second Trim Alchemy ornament to her joyful tree.

Claire Hilbert just finished her first young adult novel about a French obsessed girl! AMAZING news gets celebrated at this fete du passementerie.

Claire Hilbert just finished her first young adult novel about a French obsessed girl! AMAZING news gets celebrated at this fete du passementerie.

Artist Joanie Hannigan Vogt is an amazing upcycling maker and inspires me with all she does.  She is my flea market guru.

Artist Joanie Hannigan Vogt is an amazing upcycling maker and inspires me with all she does.  She is my flea market guru.

Joanie created this brutalist design using my friend Brook's holiday artwork and waxed cotton cord to finish the edges. Cherish!

Joanie created this brutalist design using my friend Brook's holiday artwork and waxed cotton cord to finish the edges. Cherish!

Lynda adds texture and color to her beautiful scarf, she was like a walking art installation!

Lynda adds texture and color to her beautiful scarf, she was like a walking art installation!

Betsy Tomic created a GORGEOUS asymmetrical ribbon ornament of embellishments after adding a homemade pie to our nosh table. 

Betsy Tomic created a GORGEOUS asymmetrical ribbon ornament of embellishments after adding a homemade pie to our nosh table. 

Tara's ornaments are as elegant as she is. She mixed a vintage ornament with a modern bead trimming.

Tara's ornaments are as elegant as she is. She mixed a vintage ornament with a modern bead trimming.

Sarah's devine platinum tassel ornament and Tara's creatively wrapped Savignon Blanc adorn the mantle at the studio with playful pompoms.

Sarah's devine platinum tassel ornament and Tara's creatively wrapped Savignon Blanc adorn the mantle at the studio with playful pompoms.

I am so grateful to my friends who shared their time, themselves, their insights and skills over laughter, noshes, and our Fringe Fizz cocktail! This annual party defines the beauty of the season for me, slowing down to create and connect. 

Co-hosts, Sarah & Jana, now recharged, sneak a selfie.

Co-hosts, Sarah & Jana, now recharged, sneak a selfie.

Cheers to a joyful holiday, full of creativity and magic that this season uniquely brings.

Cheers to a FRINGETASTIC holiday from the Trim Queen studio!

Cheers to a FRINGETASTIC holiday from the Trim Queen studio!