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Myrna Condie’s very crafty life

Stevenson Ranch resident stitches the patterns together of home, family and giving

Posted: May 26, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 26, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Condie’s rag rug crocheted from scraps of cloth. Condie said the rug is easy to make and can be crafted while sitting and watching TV.

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With all the "creations" in her life, such as a wonderful family, beautiful home and generous giving of herself to friends, family and community (she has been recognized for this latter several times, including being selected as this year's Santa Clarita Valley Woman of the Year), Myrna Condie has also stitched together quite a "crafty" life.

Since she was a child, she has been sewing clothing and other arty creations for fun and profit and for the benefit of the aforementioned friends, family and community.


Patterns of life

"I've always enjoyed crafting," Condie said. But she explained that, growing up as a very petite person, in a large family, in a small Wyoming town, "I learned to sew out of necessity. They didn't have clothing in my size."

Despite the possession of this valuable clothes-making skill, Condie intended to be an elementary school teacher. But life and time flowed on and, eventually, her textile talents prevailed.

She changed her major to clothing and textile science, graduating from California State University, Northridge with a bachelor's degree in this field in 1987, at the age of 40.

"I figured I was going to be 40 anyway, so why not have something to show for it," she quipped. An interesting fact is that the year she graduated was the same year her daughter graduated from high school.

Condie then became a teacher at The American College in Westwood, where she taught her skills to students from around the world.

While she said this position would normally require a master's degree, her years of experience more than made up for any missing schooling.

She also taught community adult school for L.A. Unified School District, and worked in the California Institute of the Arts costume shop.

After five years of teaching, family obligations necessitated Condie stay at home, but she never stopped creating.


Locally made

Myrna Condie and family have lived in the SCV for 38 years, and in their current Stevenson Ranch home for 12 years.

In that time she has employed her talents for income and for gifts to others.

"I especially enjoy making clothes for women, teenagers and children," she said.

Among her creations are a number of prom dresses and wedding gowns (often modeled by her own "Monica the Mannequin").

Condie said that a bridal gown might take 10 to 20 hours to make if it comes straight from a pattern, but might take up to 100 hours if there are significant changes. And if beadwork is added, the time can go up significantly.

"All the brides want their gowns to fit perfectly, and I am a perfectionist," Condie said.


Getting crafty

Though Condie's creations usually involve sewing, they are certainly not limited to clothing. For example, one of her largest is a huge hanging tapestry featuring the artwork (by Barbara Morris), transferred from 20 years of Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley benefit auction programs.

Another of her favorite creations is a coat made from a zebra-striped fabric that was originally a tablecloth from a function at the Pasadena Playhouse.

"They were just going to throw it out," she said.

She pointed out how the zebra pattern on this coat matches across the center front.

"That's very hard to do," she said.

While she made the curtains in her living room and valances in her kitchen, her biggest current project is making a poodle skirt in purple and white that she will wear to her husband Gary Condie's 50th class reunion this year.


Smaller projects

Myrna Condie's smaller projects are varied and always under construction, including making gift bags from cloth placemats.

"It's very easy to make a gift bag," she said. "I've made a bunch of them."

She's also crocheting a heart-shaped rug, using thick fabric strips and a huge G-size crochet hook.

She said this is the kind of project you can do in your spare time, in front of the television or while doing nothing else, even when you are exhausted.

In the non-sewing arena, one of Condie's favorite projects is genealogy, and she has created a fan chart and binder for her family's history - even tracing back to an ancestor who was the pastor at the Old North Church in Boston, which figured prominently in Paul Revere's famous ride.

And while not exactly "crafting," Myrna Condie also plays the piano. "I play by ear. It's easier than reading music," she said. "I make mistakes but I love to play."


Creative benefits

Condie describes crafting as "addicting," especially crocheting and genealogy. And she recommends it to everyone. "It's therapy when you're tired of the routine of daily life," she said. "And you get great satisfaction giving gifts to people."

She added that crafting is something you can do when you can't do a lot physically, such as while recovering from surgery.

"It's also very satisfying to me to be able to make exactly what you want to wear," she added. "It's really hard to find evening wear (in her size)," she said. "I think they make it for Barbie dolls for something."


Future styles

While Myrna Condie is thoroughly enjoying her life as it is, she still has aspirations.

"I would love to have my own line of women's clothing, or baby or children's clothing," she said, "my own designer brand."

But, until that day, or even after, she will continue her "good works," - a benefit to the SCV.




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