I just got back from visiting my sister in Chicago and as usual, I caused temperatures to drop, snow to fall, and sleet to … well, sleet. I have a perfect record at causing weather havoc this time of year when I visit Chicago, which is why I imagine the Chicago “Snow Command” operators (yes, this is a thing) have a GPS tracker on me from November through March.

But rather than tell you about the weather phenomenon I just “happen to be in town for” over the last 15 years (I’m talking about you, polar vortex), I’ll tell you about our crafting project.

My sister, Christy, is now an empty nester — for good, it appears, as everyone has their own house now — and is approaching retirement. With the upcoming prospect of more time on her hands, she’s decided to take up sewing.

Our mom was a serious sewer, and our kids have benefitted from her mad skills over the years. She has made fantastic horse, fruit bat, giant banana and spider costumes for Sierra and Mireya over the years, because of course they never wanted to be princesses or gypsies.

Anyway, in advance of my trip, and given that the weather was guaranteed to be under the Winter is Visiting Effect, we talked about what we could do indoors. There was a party happening, there were gifts to pick up, the annual improvements-to-the-house tour. Then excitedly she told me about her brand-new sewing machine which does everything from embroidery to reciting the Declaration of Independence, and how she was using it this weekend to sew — get ready for this — NAPKINS.

I KNOW. She has a sewing machine that could be used to build highly decorated shelters on Mars, and she was using it to make NAPKINS. (To be fair, she had made a pair of PJs for her grandbaby from an “easy sew pattern” but it apparently spooked her back to napkins.)

I knew what I had to do — I had to get her out of her little square comfort zone. This is what a baby sister does, after all.

Since I recently re-took up my own crafty hobby of embroidery in an effort to break free from my phone, I sent her a project idea. It was a felt embroidery Pinterest-y project kit with 4000 different parts (OK, maybe it just felt that way).

The gauntlet thrown, Christy picked it up without hesitation, as I knew she would, because she is that kind of “I can do anything for my little sister” big sister.

The project had four things we love to do together:

• Shopping, but not the pricey kind because we’re really thrifty.

• Following directions mostly, except that sometimes we just skim over them making “yada yada” noises.

• Creative re-imagining (which is what we call ripping out stitches and starting over).

• Overcoming thread disaster because when you neglect to cut off some of the felt (see “following directions” above) you now have five layers of felt to sew through and even the most erstwhile sewing machine will have an opinion on your project.

In the end, I have a wonderful project case made with love and laughter and not a whole lot of straight seams which I will be showing off every day. And she can graduate past napkins to maybe tablecloths and curtains. Proving once again that sisterhood only improves with age.

Winter Prosapio is a writer, working mom and Corporate Director of Communications and Government Relations for Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts.

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