Last month, as I was teetering around a sewing machine trying to modify some tea towels for my kitchen and patch my favorite beanie, I hopped in and out of my chair to let a more experienced sewer take the reigns.

‘Um, Hanni, the machine’s jammed again.’

‘Um, Hanni, how do you deal with this mess of an edge?’

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And this day was no anomaly. She’s come to the rescue many a time when my projects have been in need. Crocheting, knitting, sewing, painting, the list goes on. She even came up with the idea to color-coordinate the books on my bookshelf.

But all good things come to an end, they say, and my partner in craft moved back to Alaska at the end of October. I thought I’d take a minute to honor her here; and give a nod to the many friends in our community who come together to make arts and crafts happen.

I could track our friendship with her projects. When we first started hanging out, she had just finished sewing an epic Halloween costume: Vivian from Pretty Woman, complete with skimpy blue and white mini-dress. Then came the purple brimmed beanie, the buttercup yellow sweater vest, and the cable-knit, thigh-high leg warmers. We became neighbors, and then came — along with our daily visits — the reclaimed-wood planter box, our collaborative granny-square baby blanket, the fabulous knit bomber jacket with hood, the incredible zippered purse with tubing, and last but not least the fleece-lined mittens.

I didn’t think much about it until she left my daily life, but that girl sure inspired me to craft. Though I took different artistic directions than her at times, as our friendship blossomed, I found myself with a project tick list of my own: the stenciled planters, our collaborative crocheted blanket, the numerous hand-stamped cards and postcards, the stenciled baby shower décor, the hand-carved stamp, the recycled earrings.

It’s funny how one person can feed your inner artist, but it’s no surprise. Look around our community and you’ll see loads of dynamic duos: textile artist Heather River and jewelry maker Lorien Powers of Drake & Lulu’s Art Shed in Truckee; artist Shelley Hocknell Zentner and writer Kim Wyatt of South Shore’s new publishers, Bona Fide Books; Kelsen Thompson and Galen Gifford of Dump Truck (DT) Couture trucker hats, which they embellish in Tahoe City; ceramicist Alanna Hughes and leatherworker Kahlil Johnson of Truckee’s Riverside Studios; Aubrey Shea Lynn and Lisa Utzig Schafer of Squirrel’s Nest felted creations in South Lake; the list goes on.

A friend can certainly be your best asset in developing an art-filled life. So partner up and discover the joys of the handmade world. Whether you’re sewing, painting, throwing clay or just attending an art opening together, two minds can do great, aesthetic things.

~ Email the author at lkorb@moonshineink.com. Keep up with Lis and her coverage of the arts at blanksmith.com.

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