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Chuck Brooks' column: Getting crafty

I think I have an amusing story to share with you this week regarding crafts.

Yes, I said crafts.

I have always wanted to be artsy/craftsy. My father desperately wanted me to understand the basic components of a car’s engine, but I wanted nothing to do with anything like that. I was all about wanting to be handy without getting my hands dirty.

Then came college. In my final year before student teaching, I was in a house with two other renters and the landlady herself. She did cross-stitch. I thought some of the final products she made were awesome. As I watched her, I thought I can do that! I asked her to teach me, and so began my adventure.

My first attempt at anything was a Christmas stocking for my nephew. I recently saw it because he kept it all these years. It turned out rather well, if I say so myself! Then I made a framed piece of St. Francis of Assisi and his prayer. It was one of my mother’s favorites. I now own it since neither of my parents are alive. My final masterpiece was for my sister. She still has it hanging in her home.

Then my career began and my passion for cross-stitching took a back seat. Since then, I haven’t been too interested in any crafts-type activity up until now.

Perhaps you’re aware of this newest craft with little kids. Rubber-band bracelets made with loom kits. I saw a national news story about them this fall. I didn’t think much of it aside from the fact it seemed to be a creative idea that was making the inventors a lot of money. And then December happened.

I had a young man in the fourth grade perform with me for OnStage in a bit I was doing with kids. He has a senior brother in our school now. Well, about a week after I had Matt on stage with me, he decided he needed to make me a present; so he did. He sent it via his older brother. It was Christmasy in color, and it was an awesome present; I wore it for the remainder of the season and beyond. I was sharing with a friend how I thought the bracelets were cool. I also shared the little tidbit of information that I thought it would be fun to make the bracelets. My friend then decided she’d buy me a kit for a Christmas present. I thought it was a fun gift.

My sister, brother and I do one Christmas Eve present. Normally in the ballpark of $10 and it’s a throwback to the one gift we always got to open on Christmas Eve when we were kids. I was in a mall in Madison when I saw a kiosk full of these loom kits. I thought it would be fun to get my sister one, so she and I could make some Green Bay Packer bracelets while I was home.

What a mess! The box says, “Ages 8 and up.” Who are they trying to kid? When did I lose the ability to do what an 8-year old is supposed to be able to do? She and I worked on this thing for 90 minutes. One lousy bracelet! I friends who have kids 8 or younger who were turning these items out in five minutes or less. Whatever! Seeking out YouTube videos and reading online about how to make these didn’t provide any relief.

I came back to school and shared with my classes I thought the bracelets were neat, but I was as dumb as a brick when it came to understanding how to make them. I explained I even had YouTube up and running as my sister and I tried to do this but to no avail. We did produce a band; however, it was rather pathetic. It was then one of my ninth grade boys offered to show me how to do it. I am not so proud as to admit stupidity about something so complex! I took him up on his offer this past week.

One night after school, he stayed and the student became the teacher as the teacher became the student. We drew a small audience of my colleagues. I think he was a tad overwhelmed. He showed me how to use the hook method as well as the major three post-three rows approach. His patience mirrored that of a saint’s.

Do I think I’ll be making any of these bracelets soon? Ha! I think not. As one of my colleagues/friends pointed out, “Your fingers? Those little rubber bands? Just pay cash to have them made for you!” She’s a funny woman but she shouldn’t give up her day job.

And that’s my amusing story for the week. Next up? Underwater basket weaving.