Unorthodox Crafts
I grew up in Maryland where picking crabs is an art. Getting the meat out of a Chesapeake blue crab requires patience and determination.  There is only about 1 ounce of meat in each crab, and you have to meticulously separate the meat from thin shelves of cartilage.  It is slow going! Although other types of crabs are easier to pick, the meat of the Maryland crab is especially sweet and tasty - worth the effort to those of us who grew up there.

When hosting a crab feast, some of my Maryland friends often ask that each guest pick a crab for the house for every crab that they eat.  The extra crab meat is then frozen for later use.  That way the host gets help picking the crabs, and the guests get to enjoy half of the crabs they pick (usually along with a fair amount of beer).  And then you can enjoy a fantastic crab dip at Thanksgiving long after crab season is over (at least if you have a sister-in-law like mine)!

Four purses under construction simultaneously
How does this relate to purses??? Well, when I am making necktie purses or cases, I usually make 3 or 4 at a time - it is much more efficient to do it this way.  I also find that I am  more efficient when I am working on a custom order;  I am  anxious to get it done because I know it has a home.  Aware of this phenomenon, I have come up with a method of building up my stash of necktie products.   In the spirit of "picking a crab for the house,"  I sew several purses for my stash for each custom purse that I make.  And with 14 custom orders currently awaiting construction, I know I will have plenty of new purses for the upcoming holiday craft fairs.  And, if I am lucky, I will also get some of Sarah's crab dip...

  As I was taking apart and ironing ties to make a purse yesterday, I thought about where the ties had come from, who might have worn them, what path they (the ties) had traveled to end up in my hands.  These two particular ties were, I believe, from Goodwill.  I have gotten pickier about the ties that I buy.  I avoid ties which smell of cigarettes (almost impossible to wash out completely) and those with obvious stains which would be difficult to work around. 

So I was surprised to encounter a stain on one of these ties.  It was subtle and in an unusual location – far up from the flap and almost camouflaged by the tie’s intricate pattern.  Fortunately, the stain washed out fairly easily and I was able to use the tie.  But I wondered about the source of the stain.  Thanksgiving dinner?  Office party?  I realize as I handle ties that they each have stories and memories - and sometimes stains. 

My favorite batch of ties came from a gentleman who was cleaning out his father’s house after his father had passed away.  The ties were gorgeous and unusual, colors and designs from a different era.  As I made purses from these ties, I sent pictures to the man who sold me the ties.  I ended up making purses for his nieces for mother’s day – gifts made with their grandfather’s memories.

So as I deal with stains and imperfections, I know that I am also dealing with memories and events.  And isn’t it nice to create something useful with that history?  Something that will, itself, create memories.