Monday, August 27, 2007

Every few weeks, I get an urge to be crafty - handcrafts, that is. Especially when I look at my budget, and then consider my closet. Clothing is just not affordable now! I do most of my shopping at GoodWill, but the options are slightly limited there. Unless...I've taken to looking at every piece of clothing as a potential blank canvas, to be remade in any way I can dream up. Last summer, I purchased Megan Nicolay's book Generation T: 108 ways to transform a T-shirt (9780761137856, $14.95) and started down the primrose path to T-shirt frenzy! My culminating triumph (so far) was my handsewn wedding dress, which took more time than I care to admit, and was worth every second of it when my husband realized that I had made it myself. Whenever I clean out my closet now, I make three piles instead of two: keep, give away, use for cloth. The only problem is that the potential projects pile up so quickly!

It struck me recently that what was a neccessity for our ancestors has become a hobby for us. I sew, knit, and crochet for my own pleasure, not because I will go naked otherwise. I find ways to re-use objects because I have the time and an urge to experiment, not because I can't afford to purchase something new. Hard on the heels of that thought came another: we have made it more expensive to create than to purchase. How sad is that? If I lived in poverty, I would not save any money by making my own clothes. Yarn, cloth, tools, and time make any project more expensive than simply buying an equivalent item from a department store. While our culture professes to celebrate individuality, we are pressed into purchasing monotony.

My new goal: to wear only socks that I knit myself (as soon as I learn how to knit socks). To make the majority of my own clothes, not just the occasional funky top. To live as though I couldn't run down to the store to purchase new things. To rediscover the pride of creating in all aspects of life. To sew a straight seam.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all of our customers who have celebrated with me this week. The announcement of my marriage to Fintan Dinneen appeared in last Saturday's Reporter Herald, and the response of our regulars has been very heartwarming. This experience has also brought home to me what a small town Loveland has remained, despite its ever-increasing population. My family has lived in this area for several generations, and people have come into the store to ask after my connections - usually because they went to high school with my great-aunt, or were taught by my grandfather. Photographs of me as an eight year old, and reminiscence of holding me as an infant make me feel as though I am living in an old-fashioned, storybook community.
This strength of human connection is one of Loveland's most valuable assets. Nowhere do I feel it as strongly as when I am at work, hearing about the events large and small in our customers' lives. Downtown Loveland has fought back against the slump that threatened it in recent years. Even with the eastward expansion drawing commerce away from the center of town, 4th Street has managed to revitalize itself. I am so encouraged by the number of new customers that we get each day, people who want to shop locally instead of giving business to a faceless big-box store. As these new converts find us, we are also establishing close ties with the other businesses nearby. People come to us on the recommendation of Monika from Woolen Treasures, or the folks at MommaStyle. In turn, we make it a point to know where we can send people when they ask for suggestions.
I am fortunate to be a fourth generation Colorado native, three generations in Loveland itself. I inherited my great-grandmother's diaries, which she kept from age 12 to age 90. Reading about her Loveland, and then coming to work and experiencing my Loveland, I am thrilled to still feel the sense of unity and fellowship that she did. Granted, we're a lot larger now, and we no longer depend just on our own community to meet our needs. However, we have not become a virtual ghost town, or 'dormitory' suburb. I believe that 4th Street, the Library, the Museum, and yes, Anthology Book Company have all done a tremendous amount to keep our town vital and friendly. When I look online and see better prices than I can find in the stores, or when I know that I can drop by Hobby Lobby for cheaper yarn, the strength and commitment of our downtown community reminds me that its value is greater than any money I could save elsewhere.
So, thank you all again for your best wishes. Also, a particular thank you to the mystery benefactor who paid for my husband and my dinner at Cipoletti's the other day. Your generosity is yet another example of Loveland's fine heart, and we will pass it on someday.