Home & Design

Feeling Crafty?


FAKE FERNS for the patio urns in winter. Fake blooms anytime. Twig wreath bases I’m “sure” I can fashion into something more sophisticated than the standard offerings.

The craft chain Michaels holds the same allure as hardware stores (and stocks just about as many SKUs, some 30,000) and fabric stores. It’s the promise, the illusion perhaps, of possibility. And purchases at those places make me feel as if I’m accomplishing something.

But screws and battery-powered screwdrivers make me feel guilty when they sit there month after month unused. Those lengths of fabric? They’re never going to be a useful garment, and they taunt me, even when they’re hidden away in a closet.

But Michaels’ bits and pieces aren’t like that. The fake peony just looks springlike, forever. The tiny bunches of grapes die-cut from paper—little doodads to affix to the invites for the wine-tasting you’re going to host . . . someday—they sit politely in a drawer and get a fresh smile out of you (okay, me) every time you see them.

Michaels’ things simply aren’t demanding: They accept you as someone of unlimited potential, to be realized when you (yeah, me again) get around to it. The chain also has a very generous return policy, so when I don’t utilize all the things I bought for a project (like fluffing up the backyard for a mid-winter open house), I can take the unused stuff back.

Of course, I don’t recommend approaching the needlework aisles filled with yarn and embroidery floss. Those puppies are demanding. Don’t wander too close unless you’re of tougher mettle than I.

I’m thinking of the three Christmas-stocking needlepoint kits I bought, one after the next, each one easier than the one before but none of them easy enough. I bought the first when my niece, Carolyn, was pregnant with her first child. Amelia was born in March, surely enough time to make a Christmas stocking. She’s now 4, and no stocking (at least none from me). I’m not even pretending with her younger sister, Evie, now 2.

I’m also thinking of the small MyLittleBird pillows I designed based on our logo and had planned to present to my fellow LittleBirds as a surprise. Well, the surprise is that I haven’t finished a single one of them.

I can’t blame Michaels. I know enough now to stay away from the aisles that require real commitment. But the rest of the place? Disney World for the ever-hopeful. And that “place”? Make that 1,371 stores owned and operated by the Michaels Companies in 49 US states and Canada. That’s a lot of fake ferns. And die-cut paper bits. A world of endless possibility.

But remember to stay away from the knitting and needlepoint aisles. Just sayin’.

—Nancy McKeon


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2 thoughts on “Feeling Crafty?

  1. Molly Schnabel says:

    Don’t forget to think about their art supplies! I was able to pick-up an easel at a quarter of what it cost elsewhere. Last week I purchased great boxes in which I can sort the thousand old pictures I have been collecting. The week before that I framed 6 portraits for a memorial at very little cost. Endless possibilities at this store!

    1. Nancy McKeon says:

      Agreed, absolutely. But I hesitate over art supplies–they seem to require commitment, of which I’m in short supply!

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