Without question, I’m a big fan of the beach. The warm sun on my back, the heat of the sand radiating up into my belly as I lay watching the water, the sounds of the wind and the waves and the little kids running around chasing the seagulls - I love it all. I could very happily spend all day every day bobbing in the water or lazing on the sand, reading a couple of good books and maybe a little paddle boarding on the lake thrown in to keep the muscles strong. All that lazing around is hard work, after all.
Together with my mom, we’ve been going to the same little stretch of Canadian beach on the northeastern shore of Lake Erie for the past five years. It’s an oddball old resort town that’s really off the beaten path today, so much so that the nearest grocery store is half an hour away. The cottage we stay in is literally a 20 second walk across a gravel and stone path to reach the beach, which means we spend the vast majority of our waking time there.
Which might beg the question, what happens when it rains?
For the first three years we went there, we never had the chance to find out. The weather was stunningly clear and sunny and mild the whole time and I was under the (false) impression it never rained on this little magical shore of the lake.
Turns out it does.
Last year we found that out as dark, windy, stormy days alternated with bright sun throughout the whole week.
Thankfully though, I bring vacation insurance in the form of craft supplies for the kids and I. If we never touch the supplies because the weather is so beautiful, so much the better. If rain keeps us cooped up inside, we’re prepared.
Each year I face the dilemma of deciding which projects to bring with me. It’s a careful (and angst-ridden) decision based on the portability of the project, the amount of space it requires (the less the better, those cottages are teeny), the ease in which I can start and stop it, and above all, how interested I am in actually doing it at this point in time.
Last year’s beach storms yielded a crafting bonanza – the week’s finished pile included four winter scarves and 15 completed dresden plates (which have since been pieced into quilt but still cry out for a visit from the hand quilting fairy who seems to be on vacation herself…).
After packing the kids’ craft bag full of clay and balsa wood and a big paint-by-number kit, I set about packing my own bag.
I brought along some yarn since obviously that went well last year, but no luck this time. The stormy spirits did not move me to make scarves this year.
Instead I picked up some old ribbon embroidery projects that have been sitting around for far too long and managed to make some progress there.
How about that little hamster cutie in the rolling ball? There was a pattern for that in the Mollie Makes issue I brought along, but with the limitations of the cottage, I found no good way to trace the pattern onto my fabric so I ended up drawing it freehand. So I did draw and stitch it myself, but I can’t take credit for the idea itself. Cute though, huh?
Of course I made more blackout poetry – with the only required supplies being a pencil, a sharpie and an old paperback, it’s the ultimate in portable projects. And how fun are these poems?!?
And I continued with a recent mini-obsession of mine of using pigment pencils on fabric (my favorite is natural linen, followed by a nice crisp white muslin) to color in rubber stamped images. Then using fabric medium, water and a paint brush, I blend the colored pencils into the fabric and layer on more pencil pigments, which creates depth and highlights.
I managed to get quite a few of these done this year (yeah, the weather wasn’t so hot but we did get a few nice beach days in, so I’m not complaining). I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do with all the little colored pieces, but they’re good to have around for future projects.
And in my pursuit of staying in the unplugged frame of mind for as long as possible in this first-week-after-vacation-and-not-ready-to-face-reality-yet week, I took advantage of my little stash of painted images. I still had my extra books laying around from the blackout poetry, and fabric scraps are always littering my workspace, so there was an artistic collision just ready to happen.
And for the record, I’m still feeling awfully introspective. And the voice of all that introspection says I think I need more unplugged vacations in my life (with a bit of bad weather thrown in for good measure and productivity).
That voice sounds pretty good to me right now.