November is one of the most benevolent months of the year here in Sitka. As the termination dust creeps gently down the mountains, the days become shorter, the tides grow a bit bigger, and the bittersweet remnants of the past year slowly mulch themselves into the land. Tourist season is come and gone, the Holy Month of Permanent Fund Dividend Payout/Alaska Day/Now-Where-Did-I-Leave-My-Dignity (What you folks in the lower 48 call “October”) is finally behind us, and if you are lucky you have something nice to show for it besides a restraining order and/or an odd little sore that just won’t go away…
Raingear, boots, and a wee bit of gumption will get you outdoors long enough to remember what makes this time of year so uniquely anticipated. What coastal Alaska lacks in the luminescent deciduous foliage that is generally associated with Autumn, is more than compensated for in the way of half-frozen muskegs, wind-storms and horizontal precipitation. Which is all fine and good for about an hour, and then you have to find other ways to amuse yourself. Therefore, while I used to utilize the November chill for deer hunting, or at the very least hiking with a big gun, as the years rolled on my creative urges took over and I found myself lusting after fabric, beads, paints, and other oddities that did not take up so much freezer space.
I am not entirely certain when, or how, that passage transpired, but it was a pleasant revelation to discover that crafting was as enjoyable a pastime with a gaggle of gals as it was flying solo. I liked to work alone and to hunt alone, but being able to play well with others was something that I had been meaning to address since kindergarten. One infinitely blustery November the opportunity presented itself in the form of destitution, and I had to sell my rifle. Stuck in the house, I could dally in the galley baking treats to get a jump on the holidays, but that is such a limited vocation when funds are tight… one surely can’t afford for your britches to get tighter…
Poverty is my Mother of Invention.
What happened next began as a less than ambitious tidy-up and ultimately culminated in an expedition of Sacajawean proportions. Scouting around in the storage shelves, I discovered dusty coffee cans overflowing with bottle caps, wine corks, and pastel-hued beach glass interspersed with clear bins of crayons, pencils and dried-out school paste. A derelict tackle box beheld strings of buttons and trade beads scattered willy-nilly amongst old pine cones, sea shells, wine corks, bits of broken pottery, fish bones, elk teeth, trout hooks, nail polish, and broken jewelry. A shoebox crammed with old polaroids butted up against another filled with gluesticks. A pile of clothes to be mended perched lazily across an old lathe and beneath that was yet another shelf containing only magazines and newspapers.
I pulled everything off the shelves and began to categorize items by color, by shape, by size, by chance. For hours I arranged and contemplated, rearranged, reorganized, and finally returned everything to the closet, shutting the door quickly. Then I phoned my best friend.
“I have a problem” I calmly hinted (after putting down the now-deflated brown paper bag).
“I have an idea,” she suggested upon hearing my plight. “We need a good old fashioned stitch-n-bitch.”
“Great. Which part do I get to do?”
“Both. We’re gonna call some friends to come over and we’re gonna have us a craft night,” she purred.
“And pray tell, exactly how does that work?” I wondered aloud.
“Everyone brings something to eat, to drink, and to work on…”
“What about people that don’t stitch?” I interjected.
“No problem,” she assured me. “It will be a free-for-all craft party. With booze. And cookies.”
“Plus,” she continued enthusiastically, “we can all swap stuff if we want to. You get to clean out your closet, make something nice, and enjoy socializing with the chickees!” she proposed.
“Sounds dangerous,” I retorted. “Can we go hunting instead?”
“You got a gun?”
And so began a long-held tradition of getting together in order to avoid housework in the Fall.
I’ll see ya there.
WSW Bonus: Here are some fun things to try:
- get crafty
- just stuff it
- be inspired
- creative girlz
- stamp it up
- funky bits
- recycle these
- craft gossip therapy