Amy Artisan

Family | Travel | Craft | Life | Books

Category: Reflections (page 3 of 8)

Anywhere USA

So…a little over a year ago I began my current project assignment that has me trekking northward. The project has been pretty intense; however, on balance I have enjoyed my time in Marinette. This is a small town – I have come to appreciate the change of pace & have settled into a routine. In my year up here, there have been many joking conversations with my counterpart (a Marinette native) about “big city life in Chicago” vs. “small town life in Marinette.” When people would ask where my current assignment was, the name Marinette didn’t mean anything – so I would then elaborate with “it’s an hour north of Green Bay and on the border with the UP.”

Now, people know of Marinette because of Monday evening.

After a fairly typical start to the day and week, as I was wrapping up my day I heard a man in a nearby cube receive a call from his teenage daughter – as he quickly left the office he mentioned that the high school was on lockdown – there had been a shooting – not a lot was known. I did a quick search online & didn’t see any details. When I left the office & headed to the hotel to check in I followed my normal route – at the high school intersection, the dark sky was aglow with the blue and red lights of emergency vehicles. As I checked in at the hotel, a favorite front desk gal was on the phone with her daughter at the high school trying to gather more details.

Not a lot was known – a student had taken his classroom hostage.

Details and rumors began to trickle out – news media from Green Bay scrambled to get reporters up here. Regular programming was interrupted with breaking news updates. Social media lit up with the story – in addition to the rush of false statements and comments I saw some great journalism in less than 160 characters via Twitter – throughout the evening Marinette was a top 10 trending topic on Twitter. Sprinkled in were emails & text messages with colleagues.

Finally, the news that the students and teacher had been safely freed from the classroom. No comment on the student that had caused the situation – the look on the police chief’s face indicated the next update would not be good. With each subsequent news conference, the news about the student became more dire and now there is a family, a school, a community wondering why this boy felt this action was his only possible solution.

On Tuesday, the office conversations were filled with reactions to Monday evening. This is a small town – it seemed like almost everyone knew someone involved. More and more details about the events are being shared. The teacher is being hailed a hero – a high school social studies teacher that is well liked and makes an impact on her students. (Hearing how that teacher handled the situation, I am once again in awe of my little sister…a high school social studies teacher that is well liked and makes an impact on her students and has dealt with various student situations in her years in the classroom…)

Today, the school is reopened. The conversations in the office are mostly filled with other topics. My colleagues are ready for the glare of the national spotlight to leave their community. On Saturday, a new Navy ship is being launched from the plant next door – it sits in the river waiting to debut – that was to be the big story from the town this week.

And once again, I’m reminded that these types of tragedies can happen anywhere at any time. This week, I happened to be in Anywhere USA.

P.S. Amongst all the coverage this week, my favorite piece is an editorial blog from the daily paper at Iowa State University – the editor is a Marinette grad who truly wrote from her heart.

Stories & Stitches

For as long as there has been handicraft, the stitches have told a story…the needlework samplers that young girls created to perfect their skill…the colors and embellishments used in a Navajo blanket…the quilts made from scraps of worn out dresses and other fabrics of a household…a yarn that was discovered on a favorite trip…

A bit of the stash to send...

These days many crafters are swimming in supplies/stash – how many of us have said “I’m not going to buy anymore yarn/fabric/etc. until I use some up” at least once in the last year? As I look at my spare room and the supplies of yarn and other crafting supplies sometimes it is overwhelming. Imagine not having the the basics for your craft or very limited supplies? Late last week I came across a “quick” web initiative that I knew I had to join in – Iraqi Bundles of Love. The concept is simple – pack a flat rate box with sewing/fiber supplies and send it for distribution in Iraq. What began as a simple request to a few friends quickly exploded – currently 500 boxes have been received and an Army warehouse has been assigned to receive the boxes.

Quite the helper!

I was headed home to the ‘Ville for the long weekend so I sent the link to the Artisan family and suggested it be a family activity. Everyone agreed. Dad went to the Post Office and picked up boxes. When I got home on Saturday, one of the spare beds downstairs was covered with remnants from Mom’s stash. We then went to Hobby Lobby to pick up some basic sewing tools and also a bit of yarn and some knitting needles. (It didn’t work to bring home some of my yarn stash…no room in my carry-on). On Monday morning, we pulled all the supplies together & got busy creating 3 bundles of love. (And even the kitties had to help.)

Loading the boxes...

As we sorted the fabrics into 3 piles and Mom rolled them tightly, it was a bit of a walk down memory lane…the warm flannels that have been Mom’s cold weather robes, the whimsical lightweight prints that have been her warm weather robes, shiny satins from bridesmaids dresses that Mom was “commissioned” to make, leftover lace from a former neighbor’s high school reunion dress, tapestry from recovering the piano bench, the green print from when I sewed sculpted Christmas trees for gifts (20 years ago!) and so many more. The notions that we gathered told stories as well – ribbons from trimming dresses, vintage buttons, snaps and zippers and more that we had picked up when a friend bought a house & contents over 15 years ago and more.

Maggie Helping Mom

As Mom expertly packed the 3 boxes to full, we joked that the packing skills she acquired from all of Dad’s military moves were being put to use. On Monday afternoon, Dad & I trekked to the 24 hour post office which is always open & always had people working the counter…umm, yeah they now have the Automated Postal Center station available for use so Mom & Dad shipped the boxes on Tuesday.  Soon these boxes will join thousands of other bundles in a warehouse in Iraq.

Boxed & ready to go!

Before long these bundles will be distributed to Iraqi women for use – some are small businesses and sewing co-ops, some will just be for family use. And someday soon these bits of fabric and notions will be part of new stories in a land that is rebuilding.

(The deadline for sending packages has passed…now we all watch to see what happens as IBOL Guy receives all the boxes & begins to distribute them…)

Everyday Green

It’s Earth Day – and everywhere you turn you are reading or hearing more news about the environment and what needs to be done…sometimes it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it all & wonder can you really do anything. While I won’t ponder the great “green issues” in this post, I thought I would share a few of the green happenings in the Artisan home.

Artisan Family Sigg Socks

Water…Water…Everywhere – I always seem to have a bottle of water with me – I’ve had an assortment of plastic water bottles but for the most part they never seemed to “take” as far as always being used – many times the disposable plastic water bottles were in rotation. Last summer I made the switch to aluminum bottles and find that they are now constantly in use. When I bought a Sigg bottle for me, I also picked up bottles for the Artisan family. When I was in the ‘Ville in July, my knitting project was a “sigg sock” for each of us. I grabbed the dishcloth cotton, size 5 needles & knit (k2, p2) a 36 stitch tube.

Bag Lady – I’ve always joked about being a ‘bag lady’ – I have always had quite the assortment of totes & continue to add to them. Within the last year, I have put the bags to use and transitioned away from plastic bags when out shopping. My reusable shopping bag ‘collection’ began with the big blue Ikea bags several years ago and then the Trader Joe’s assortment – but has expanded with great bags from Meijer’s (that have a clever bottle pocket in them) and more. Some of my tote bags are also in the mix – I always have a collection in the trunk for when I’m out and about. A couple of unexpected perks of using these bags – when I get home, stuff gets put away more quickly because I want to empty the bags out & have them ready to go again; also, taking 2 bags into the grocery store is a great way to shop for just the right amount of groceries.

A Green House – Other green things are part of the household routine as well: since the city added recycling bins to our trash pick-up most of my trash each week goes in the blue bin – in fact, my large trashcan in the kitchen is now for recycleables and the “other” trash is the much smaller can; as light bulbs burned out in the last year they have been switched over to CFLs & I’ve seen the power bill drop; dead batteries are gathered in a bag & dropped off at the library when I make my frequent visits to rotate through books; baking soda & vinegar are the basis for most cleaning in the kitchen & bathroom these days; and more…

What about you? What Everyday Green items/actions are around your home?

In the still of the Light…


…extremely busy days at work as a big deadline nears…

…a 2 hour commute home this evening in the sleet & snow (it’s not even winter yet!)…

…the hustle & bustle of getting ready for the holidays…

…all seem to fade away in the stillness & glow of the Christmas lights!

A Sweet Sister & Souvenirs

In recent years, when I travel I look for souvenir yarn. (Never mind the fact that I was in a bit of a knitting lull during the Italy/Greece trip in 2005 so I didn’t pick up yarn on that trip.) I have mentioned before that my sister always seems to end up with souvenir yarn from our “sisters weekend at the beach” annual trips.

At the end of July, Rebecca had an opportunity to go to Peru for 8 days. When she first told me she was going, my initial comment was “stuff your suitcase with as much yarn as you can find” – she rolled her eyes at me. As we talked about the fiberwork that Peru is known for, she commented that she wouldn’t bring me back a traditional hat – I argued that the handiwork in them was something to be admired & I would indeed like one. When I was home earlier this month, Rebecca presented me with my Peru souvenirs. I could say, “My sister went to Peru & all I got was this handknit alpaca.” But I would be wrong – oh, so wrong!

Indeed, I have an adorable handknit alpaca ornament. (And a cute little nativity to add to my growing collection.)

And…I have a traditional hat that is just beautiful! I’m just amazed at all of the colors in this hat & the detailed patterns. Rebecca came to appreciate the beauty of these & bought one for herself as well. Next time I’m home we’ll have to get a sisters pic in the hats! I’m sure there will be winter days in the future where this hat will keep me very warm.

And…I have 2 skeins of super soft alpaca in pale gray & lavender. I’m thinking some sort of stranded colorwork with these. But for now, they are wonderful to just hold – about the softest yarn I have in the stash!

Given the limited luggage space that Rebecca had, these would indeed be great souvenirs from her trip. But no, she went way above & beyond in the souvenir yarn category. In Cusco, she (& her travel buddies) ventured to the only yarn shop in town.

After appreciating all of the colors & all of the yarns from Michell & Co., she selected 2 cones of yarn to bring home for me. These are each 1 kg cones of pure baby alpaca – I think they might be DK weight (or maybe fingering, I haven’t done the math on yardage & haven’t found quite an exact match on Ravelry). One cone is a beautiful turquoise with just a hint of green; the other is a natural, undyed chocolate brown.

I don’t yet know what these yarns will become – I am thinking sweaters may be in their future. It may be a while before I cast on with these yarns – I want to find ‘the perfect’ projects for them. In the meantime, they will have a prominent place in my crafting supply bookcase.

And whenever I look at them I will be reminded of what a great little sister I have been blessed with!

Thanks Rebecca!

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2023 Amy Artisan

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑