Little House in the Big Woods Apron by Goldengreenbird
By Arwen O’Reilly
I love the classic materials, mischievous style, and gorgeous detail of Golden Green Bird’s aprons. Made from linen, quilting fabric, and handmade crocheted lace, the aprons are all named after books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. While some could almost be straight from Little House on the Prairie, others have eccentric diagonals and zippy pockets (be sure to look at the pocket details, because the loveliest touches don’t always show up in the overall photos). What more could you want to start your Thanksgiving feast out right? Make sure to check out her Etsy shop; she has some beautiful monthly watercolor embroidery patterns that should really be framed themselves. I asked her a few questions about what gets her crafting.
Arwen: How did you get involved with crafting?
GGB: Like most of the people on Etsy, I feel like I’ve just always been doing it. It got a little more serious when I was in school taking bookmaking classes, because that’s where I learned about process and keeping things neat. Before that I would make things like sculpey thumbtacks for people as gifts, or pet rocks. I only started to sew recently, but even sewing I find that what I learned making books carries over: the deliberate pace of doing things, patience, and perhaps more importantly, the ability to cut a straight line.
Arwen: How do you feel about Thanksgiving?
GGB: Funny thing is that my mom really doesn’t like Thanksgiving, probably because she doesn’t like turkey, so I used to kind of dread it. But when I went away to college, my best friend and I started cooking it together and it’s turned into one of my favorite holidays. It makes perfect sense because I love cooking and for me there’s really nothing better than dinner with friends and family.
Arwen: What inspires you?
GGB: Materials inspire me. There’s something about nice paper or a very pretty piece of fabric that calls out to be handled. I especially love materials that seem to me to have a rich history. Paper that is handmade cries out to be made into something worthy of it. Other crafters inspire me, too–seeing the things that other people have made. When I lived in New York, there was a shop in the lower east side that sold clothing that was handmade, and it was the first time I’d seen anything like that for sale. Clothing that had obviously been sewn by a human hand: dresses and skirts and shirts as one-of-a-kind objects with unfinished edges and glaring mistakes, but even more beautiful because of the imperfection. There was one dress I still wish I could have afforded to buy: red with a huge, beautiful black bird embroidered down the length of it.
Arwen: What’s one tip you’d give to other crafters?
GGB: Be patient and methodical, but don’t be afraid to play. I love crocheting made-up lace patterns based on stitches that I learn from a book. I found out that whatever you do, whatever combination of stitches you have done–if you just repeat it, it becomes a pattern. It’s often pretty and it’s always completely original.
Arwen: What are your favorite crafting books/magazines/websites?
GGB: I really like the magazine Wild Fibers. It’s hard to track down, but I really love the down-home feeling of the articles. The mission statement promises to investigate all aspects of the fiber industry, from the field to the knitting needle. I appreciate knowing the history of my materials. I think it’s important to know where your materials come from; are they sustainable, are they organic, is the purchase supporting a good cause? Wild Fibers is where I first heard of the Oomingmak women who run a cooperative of knitters in Alaska, knitting traditional Inuit patterns with musk ox fiber (the softest fiber in the world!). I went to Peru last year and wrote an article for Wild Fibers myself about alpaca farmers in the Andes.
Arwen: What are some of your most important influences?
GGB: Laura Ingalls Wilder is probably my number one influence when it comes to making things. I read those books so many times when I was little that I would walk around with her voice in my head. A lot of what I value in my life comes from that. There’s just something so special about those books for me. They have a reflective beauty that comes from careful observation of all things in life. I think I always felt that in her books no matter how difficult the life was, there was always something to be grateful for, something to make you happy, even if it’s just a pretty sunset or your first taste of an orange.