Wednesday, November 2, 2016

To Craft Or Not To Craft? by Leigh Riker

Halloween last week and the coming holiday season always remind me that I’m not a crafty-type person. I wish I were. I used to do a bit of knitting and still enjoy making a winter scarf now and then, and in years gone by I sewed many of my kids’ clothes, but, as always, I love writing more. And that’s how I’ve been spending my time lately. With revisions due soon on my next book, Last Chance Cowboy, the second in my new series, Kansas Cowboys, I’d better!

But, wait. A favorite craft story from real life did just come to mind. During one family visit not long ago, my grandson Jack asked if we could put together a wooden race car kit (this story’s inciting incident). “Sure,” I said, thinking this would be a quick, fun project to share when all the other adults were otherwise occupied. The simple directions were right there. How hard could it be?

But the tiny nails made hammering them in where they were supposed to go all but impossible (conflict). Jack tried first but couldn’t do it so he handed me the hammer. Easy, I still thought then proceeded to bend three out of every four nails. I was soon humiliated. Have you ever tried to straighten out a small nail on a not-very-big wooden form with a miniature claw hammer? Talk about futility. I’m here to tell you it can’t be done (black moment).

However. Together, we were undaunted, and we finally managed to finish the little car (crisis/climax/resolution)—and it actually worked! The cool decals to decorate went on much easier than those nails went in. We were, of course, missing a few. But in the end, I must say, we were very impressed with ourselves.

Better yet, that story is one we still talk about over every time I see him. Jack loves to tease me that “Nana wasn’t very good at building the car.” Which is certainly true. Then, all in the spirit of fun, I tease him right back. We laugh ourselves silly. But the real success was the special bond we forged that day—and having such a happy memory to cherish forever.

Here’s Jack with one of his very first craft projects, looking proud. Actually, he’s a much better builder than I could ever hope to be. We’re thinking he may become an engineer when he grows up.



There are all kinds of crafts and I don’t really excel at any of them. For instance, I’ve never been able to quite figure out crochet, although my father loved to make beautiful afghans! And come to think--how could I overlook this?--writing itself is a craft.

What’s your favorite craft? Are you good at it? Or, like me, not so good?

As far as my writing projects go, this fall has been particularly good. The Reluctant Rancher, Book #1 of the Kansas Cowboys, was my October release. A Heartwarming Holiday, a collection of fifteen novellas spanning the season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s by fifteen Heartwarming authors came out on October 11th. My novella is Thankfully Yours. And on November 1st, A Heartwarming Thanksgiving, thirteen short stories by Heartwarming authors, was published. Mine is called “Her Thanksgiving Soldier.” You can find more information and buy links on my website with newsletter signup, http://www.leighriker.com. Lots of happy reading!




31 comments:

  1. I love to sew and quilt, but I'm not all that good at it. It's my favorite thing to do when the words Just Aren't Coming. Good for you and Jack!

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    1. Thanks, Liz. What a good way you have to deal with that blank page!

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  2. What a sweet story, Leigh! As for Jack pursuing a degree in engineering, it provides a terrific foundation but it certainly doesn't limit you to building things! (My undergrad degree is in civil engineering.)

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  3. Jack is adorable, Leigh! I'm embarrassed to say, I can hardly sew a button, so quilting, knitting and crocheting aren't my expertise. My sister inherited the "crafty" gene. She can draw, paint, turn twigs into a beautiful wreath. I struggle in that arena. One thing I can do well, it's not really a craft, but I'm very good at working jigsaw puzzles...without looking at the photograph on the box.

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    1. Thanks, Jill. He's a sweetie. Oh, wow! Amazing that you don't need to look at the picture. I like jigsaw puzzles but am not much better at those than I am at crafts.

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  4. I can totally relate to your story, Leigh, as I am definitely all thumbs when it comes to anything 'arty-crafty'. Your grandson is adorable and has already proven to be a craftsman. Very impressive! Writing is a craft for sure. When I was in elementary school, I'd groan if my teacher said we were having an art lesson. But when she announced 'composition' (the term used way back then for writing), now that was a different story. Lol.

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    1. We all have our talents, don't we? In school I dreaded what was called home economics class. Sewing is not my forte. But I loved English and journalism and writing for the school paper. My mom was a good artist but I still can't draw at all.

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  5. Love how you did the black moment, conflict, resolution. LOL.
    I want to see the car!
    I crochet but haven't had time in years.

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  6. Jack is lucky to have a grandma willing to help. I've done all types of crafts but the only ones I still do are knitting and crocheting in front of the TV. Can't seem to sit around doing nothing.

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    1. Good point, Marion! I like to do something too while watching TV.

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  7. Leigh, so funny! Jack is a doll. I am not crafty either. I do like to sew a little, which is different to me because you have a pattern to follow. I have two crafty sisters and I often wonder what happened to me? Where is my art gene? But the nice thing is they are both willing to help me out when I need something "crafted." I love to look at those "Pinterest fails" and laughe because I can so relate!

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    1. Thanks, Carol. Guess you and I both missed the art gene. Wish I had a sister to help out.

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  8. I come from a family that does a lot of craft-type things, but I didn't learn to knit or crochet. I used to embroider and worked with leather and loved that. Don't have time any more. You're so good to help Jack. Keep it up.

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    1. Roz, thanks. I love doing things with Jack. Ah, embroidery...I did some of that once. And you should see my pink apron with the huck embroidery in black on the hem! LOL.

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  9. My name is Patricia and I am a crafty person. :-) (think AA)
    After I learned to knit, I designed my own sweaters and vests and then I became a potter. Not the best in the world but I can make my own dishes and mugs and vases. And then along came writing and contracts and now I don't have time to do anything but write. Which is my dream life.

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    1. That AA statement is too funny! I''m so impressed that you can design your own patterns. Knitted my husband a sweater long ago and the arms hung down to his knees! Happy writing.

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  10. Besides being a writer, I am also an artist--mostly watercolor. I make stuff from my pictures--cards, magnets, decorative tiles--so I guess you could call me a crafter, too. I enjoy doing both and often wish I could clone myself so that I could devote more time to each.

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    1. Love watercolors. What a great idea to use your pictures that way.

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  11. I'm not a big crafter, either, but I love crafty things! I like the idea of putting together my own doll house, but it would have to be ready-built and I could just decorate. But one day I'll do it--when I can afford all the ready made stuff that just makes me look good! LOL

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    1. Doing a dollhouse has been a longtime dream of mine too. I would decorate a city townhouse since I can't afford a real one.

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  12. Love the story of Jack and his car. I like crafting, but get mixed results. Sometimes things look great, other times they're like those "fail" photos on pinterest that show the original inspiration and the sad imitation. I used to be a good sewer (even won some ribbons at the fair) but haven't done it much in years. I still have half a baby quilt to piece for a baby who may be starting kindergarten before I finish. I guess it can be a lap quilt.

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    1. A lap quilt works! 🙂 Glad you liked Jack's story. I need to look at those fail pics you and Carol mentioned.

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  13. Love your craft story, Leigh! I love bonding over crafts with my kids :).

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  14. I love doing that too. The best memories are made then.

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  15. Oh, I'm a craft girl for sure (I used to do miniature roomboxes and dollhouses). If Patricia you need guidance or advice, let me know! Alas, not much time these days, but I plan to do some fun ones this holiday season!! Great post, blog buddy

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  16. I used to be a scrapbooker but I have fallen terribly behind and all my pictures are trapped on my computer! (Who prints photos anymore?) I've started making hand-painted signs and such and spend way too much time on Pinterest finding DIY crafts for the house.

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    1. Pinterest is great for research too. I have all my pics trapped, as you said so well, in Dropbox. Sigh.

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  17. I like cross-stitch because you don't have to be particularly good at embroidery, you just have to be able to count. Haven't had time in ages, though. Not particularly good at other crafty things, though I always love to try what looks so wonderful in pictures. My success rate isn't terrific. Getting ready to make those cinnamon and applesauce ornaments for Christmas - pretty foolproof. (Hope I don't end up eating my words.) How fun to have bonded with Jack in such a way - he'll remember that forever, even though he teases you about it. Congratulations on all the books!

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  18. Thank you, Muriel! Those ornaments sound great.

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