Next week is Father’s Day, and as I watch my own father get older and look at my husband parent our children, I think about what fathers teach us. My own father gave me a legacy of art. There was always artwork around the house, some of my earliest memories are of going to Sugarloaf Crafts Festival. While I saw my mother create art and support our family with it at times, my father insisted that it be in the everyday background of my life. My mother was hands-on, art museums and classes; my father was “you can make that yourself” and “what is your plan?” Thanks to both of my parents, I grew up surrounded and embraced by many different mediums of art.
My husband grew up very differently. He had no art education other than what he received in public school. He enjoys art, but in a useful and practical way. But what I appreciate is how he approaches art in terms of our children. He says “experimentation does not survive in a budget.” What he means is, in order to figure out how to do something, create something, one cannot be afraid to try, or stifle experimentation due to costs. Of course, be reasonable. If you are just starting to draw, you wouldn’t spend $100 on the best of the best Prismacolor pencils, but you would spend $12 on a good starter set until you figure out if you can even draw a straight line. Shorting yourself with a $1 box of generic colored pencils that break every time you use them, might discourage you from ever wanting to do more. But with a basic level of quality materials, you might find that drawing lifts your soul and when you outgrow the starter set, don’t be afraid to spend a little more to take your work to a higher place. Quality matters.
In reference to sewing and knitting, when I was a kid, I learned to knit on some terrible plastic needles that were hand-me-downs bought originally at a five and dime type store by my grandmother. They were bent and dirty from numerous grandchildren gripping them in sweaty little 8-9 year old hands. I was given some cheap 100% scratchy acrylic yarn in garish 70’s colors (another hand-me-down), and I was taught to knit. I think I made some fairly terrible 10 inch thing that I might have sewn into a pocket, but I was proud. I did it myself. When I returned home from Camp Grandma, my father bought me better quality yarn and wooden needles. He didn’t mention the dropped stitches, or how grimey the thing looked. He just saw I could do better with better supplies.
So when I was planning on teaching my son to knit, I was going to use hand-me-down plastic needles (might even have been the same ones I used back then) and some acrylic yarn. That night when I was discussing my plan with my husband he mentioned something significant to me. Would I want to knit with those awful needles? Or use that type of yarn? Of course the answer was “No!”
So under the logic of “experimentation does not survive on a budget,” I went out and got some wonderful wooden needles (Like these) and some easy-to-knit and pretty wool yarn. Then I set out to teach my son how to knit. When my husband came home and saw what our son had made, he did the same thing as my Dad. He didn’t mention the dropped stitches, or the interesting pattern; he told him how very proud he was learning this new skill. After he made a few more things, my husband asked for a scarf made just for him by his son.
So for all the fathers out there who support their children’s clumsy early attempts at a craft- Thank you.