Some years ago, when my oldest two were in school but my third had not yet been born, a friend mentioned a group she got together with to work on craft projects and invited me to join them. I’m not sure how all the ladies knew each other or how the group started, but at the time I attended, it was maybe 5-8 or so ladies at a time. They took turns meeting at each other’s homes and bringing snacks, everyone would bring whatever craft project they were currently working on, and we had quite an enjoyable time talking while making progress on our projects. It always reminded me a bit of the old quilting bees or the sisters from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women who, in later books when they were grown and had their own families, would meet together periodically to visit while doing their mending. The only other experience similar to this I’ve had since was when ladies’ groups at church would gather to work on something to send our missionaries, our college students, or for an upcoming event. I always enjoyed the fellowship with hearts and mouths while our hands were working and the inspiration gleaned from each other’s ideas.
I recently rediscovered a book on my shelf called Between Friends: Craft Projects to Share by Charlotte Lyons. She begins with a story of her family having moved to Chicago and, during a walk, her children spotted a group of other children playing and ran up to them. Her daughter noticed one of the moms nearby, sewing, and said, “My mom does that too. Will you talk to her so we can play with your little kids?” And that, says Charlotte, is how she met “one of [her] best and dearest friends” (p. 10). That led to a group of women meeting like those I described in my first paragraph, and Charlotte goes on to tell how sometimes something handmade would spark a conversation with new friends or lead to new endeavors together.
Between Friends explores the bond that exists between women as friends–a bond that is richly intensified by creative endeavors. Whether a project is made for a friend or with a friend, the joy in doing so gives resonance and inspiration to an ordinary hour, day, or weekend (p. 11).
Charlotte has grouped the craft projects and instructions in the book into categories based on how long they take – an hour, half a day or so, all day, a weekend, or “as long as it takes.” Every chapter also contains a vignette about a particular real-life friendship as well as activities and suggestions for forming a club around a particular type of craft. Sprinkled at the bottom of several pages are a variety of quotes, like “Happiness is a by-product of an effort to make someone else happy. – Gretta Brooker Palmer” and “Happiness walks on busy feet. – Kittie Turmell” and “Little house, you are so small, Just big enough for love, that’s all. – Anonymous.” There are even a few recipes here and there.
This is a delightful book, both for the craft ideas and the exploration of friendship.