on being a handy girl (with handy kids)…

April 9, 2011

i’ve done my share of crafty/handy projects (designing and helping build a chicken coop with ample room for 30 chickens (in Mendocino, CA)? check!), but i have limited experience with most tools, and so do my children. this year i really want to change that. i’m searching for high quality hand tools at yard sales and thrift stores, biding my time finding the right tools that will do the job well and reliably. i’m also considering buying my first electric sewing machine (although of course i lust after the human-powered treadle sewing machines because i am a sustainability-obsessed, low-tech GEEK;).

in high school, i took home economics but was too embarrassed to finish my sewing project (an apron… oh the merciless teasing a seventh grade trans girl receives for such audacity!) and thus didn’t learn as much as i could have. i also took shop class in high school, but some of the boys were a little rough with me (to put it mildly) and i also didn’t get much out of it except for a folding table finished by the one nice boy in the class who offered to do it for me so i could skip class and be safe.

when my son was six we built the aforementioned chicken coop with help from my former partner’s father (a woodworker). working in the shop was amazing, although sometimes i was scared using the table saw or the skillsaw… the power tools in general were intimidating to me, and since my kids’ grampa was sick with cancer, he could only supervise so much.

despite the success of finishing that project, i still am relatively “hit or miss” (if you will) with driving nails. 😉

my kids both seem to have some natural aptitude with tools (especially pocket knives) and i try to give them opportunities to sew, whittle, and help chop our food whenever possible.

my woodworking goals for this year are that we will build a chicken coop and run for four to six chickens, a little “pond” so we can have a few ducks, another little pond in a different area of the yard with the intention of providing habitat and water to little creatures (other than mosquitoes, of course;), hopefully near a (still to be gathered) brush or stick pile that will provide them with cover since we have  outdoor cats (i would really like to transition them indoors soon), as well as several garden beds and, should that all be finished, some experiments in making (very simple) furniture from reclaimed and/or free wood.

fiber craft goals include finishing the kids’ quilts, making lots more little felt creatures (and other felt creations, like terra cotta pot cozies), and learning to use a sewing machine, all while facilitating both of the kids’ growth as crafters.

older kiddo and i are also learning basic electronics with an eye towards building a replica of the Apple I computer.

i want them to see that i am a capable, handy adult, but i really feel like (from a historical and global perspective) i am a bumbling fool in these matters. this is the year i will change that! long live the handy girl and her handy kids!

(please tell me about your own handy goals and experiences, dear readers!)

One Response to “on being a handy girl (with handy kids)…”

  1. I have been working on a knit blanket for one of my kiddos for about 2 months now. What do I have to show for it? A very large yarn ball that has been knotted up and untangled about 3 times now, lol. I actually had made some fairly decent progress on the blanket, then my 3 year old snuck into my room and had a blast taking it off the needles and pulling the yarn (watching it all slowly unravel.) Haha, can’t do anything but laugh, at least he enjoyed himself!

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