And why and how did I get into crafting?
Many different reasons. Fate seems to have been leading me towards crafting and making for some time now, without me realising…
My crafty role model
My mum was always busy with different projects when we were growing up. Born in 1925, she was brought up in Yorkshire in World War II and was taught the traditional home-making skills of sewing, knitting, baking and gardening. She made a lot of my clothes when I was a child, summer dresses in lovely cotton fabric, knitted cardigans for school, even a trouser suit and a ball gown when I went away from home to uni.
When she died in the summer of 2013 I found the wedding dress she made for me in 1988, satin overlaid with lace, studded with hand sewn pearls and tiny crystals. Beautiful even now and it has outlasted the marriage by many years. One of my earliest memories is of her trying to teach me to knit and sew. I did learn but back then, it hadn’t grabbed me. I learned to knit basic stitches but I was always desperate to get to the end of the row. Enjoying the process just wasn’t happening.
Early crochet success
In my teens I learned a bit more sewing at school and was quite interested in making things to wear, but had no real flair for it. My efforts were lumpy, crooked or didn’t fit. My greatest love was crochet – not the lovely colourful things now in fashion. I was into lacy cloths, full of intricate and tiny loops and frills. I bought magazines with pattern charts that make my eyes water now, but I was quite happy following them and producing half a dozen of these.
Other projects and distractions
I went to uni to study science, ended up in research and then medical writing and put all of my efforts into building a career and then combining this with raising two children. Family history became a passion for several years and my brother and I followed our lines back over the centuries, taking clues from our mum’s phenomenal memories. She could remember conversations she had overheard from the age of about four in incredible detail and we homed in on several juicy bits of family tragedy based on these snippets.
As my children grew past being toddlers, I really became interested in gardening and would plant up my patio pots and plan veggie plots and borders with my mum, often working with her on my garden and then her own. Hers was always better kept and full of colour. In summer she grew annuals from scratch and every border and wall planter and pot was brimming with begonias, bizzy lizzy, salvia, geraniums, petunias and marigolds. We did this until she was well in her 80s and she could outwork me easily.
Mum, in the meantime had worked her way through soft toy making for charity (raising thousands of pounds for early CT scanners in Yorkshire), basket making, ceramics and then had got into card making in a big way. We loved getting her handmade cards, painstakingly decoupaged and decorated – real works of art.
I got into this as well in a smallish way. I didn’t really make anything but we had a great time going to some papercraft shows and then textile and yarn based shows. Cross stitch was an interest we also shared and I did complete two largish samplers, which I still have today.
But our greatest collaboration was in jewellery making. This was a fairly recent venture, started by buying some books to take away on a short break to Scarborough for her 85th birthday. We went on that same trip six times before she died and usually took a load of jewellery making stuff with us so that we could create and look at the sea.
When mum died in July 2013, I lost my greatest friend. She was 3 weeks short of 88 years old and very ill with cancer for the last few weeks but up until then, she was always interested, interesting and learning new things. Working with her hands on the things she could still do when her eyesight became a problem and loving talking about all things crafty. She loved to watch Create and Craft on TV and we went to our last jewellery fair about 5 months before she died.
She had been a widow for almost 30 years, and still lived in the house she had built with my dad when they married in 1962. My brother and I had to clear the house and prepare it for sale, which was heartrending as it was our childhood home. It was also full of 50 years of creative activity and the craft stash was quite something.
Trying to decide what to do with someone’s belongings after they have died is incredibly difficult, or it was for me anyway. She loved her ornaments, her pictures, all her cross stitch tapestries and her crafting goodies. I could not just either chuck them or send them to charity straight away and only a few weeks after losing her, so initially, I just brought car loads back home and put them in the garage for sorting. I was pretty depressed by all this but I squared up to the task and sorted some things for charity, freecycling and for sale on ebay to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. They had been fantastic in those last weeks but sometimes we could not get a nurse overnight because they had no funding.
Raising money for others in the same position seemed an OK thing to do with some of my mum’s stuff and all her clothes went to their store in Sheffield. Since then I have raised a couple of hundred pounds from my blogging, a hundred or so from running a Bagalong group on Facebook (the lovely members of the group have donated when they have made one of my bags) and then, in the spring of 2015, a massive £11,000 as a result of the charity draw for the Spring Flower Blanket. Mum would have been gobsmacked!
She leaves a trail of glitter…
But I’m leaping ahead… Back in 2013 as I sorted through the craft stash, something started to happen, which I had not really expected. Not only did I not want to let it go because it was important to my mum, I wanted to keep it because it was important to me too. I had joined Pinterest a while before but around this time I started pinning craft ideas and pictures. Lovely pictures made me feel better. So did trying out some of the craft equipment. So did having ideas about what I could play with.
Scissors that cut paper with loads of different edgings.
Embossing tools and powders and a heat gun, which I had no idea how to use.
Loads of glitter and glitter glue.
Richly coloured papers, wools, materials, fabrics, ribbons, lace, patterns. Cutting mats, rulers, craft knives, knitting kits, a beading loom, all of her jewellery supplies.
It all became clear that I was going to absorb this, combine it with my own collection of jewellery making paraphernalia and I was going to create a craft room. Not only that, I was going to spend a lot of time in it, crafting. I tried out making some handmade books, loving gluing and sticking, I booked on some courses to learn techniques, I decided to further my jewellery making skills.
Crafting becomes important
Its nine months later my interest in crafting had become a bit of an obsession. I had, by then rediscovered crocheting, had joined a knit and natter group, and had crafted with Leonie Pujol (my mum’s favourite, wouldn’t she have been thrilled!), I can use my heat gun, emboss and have a die cutting machine. I am still sad but I feel like my mum left me a great gift.
Partly her love of crafting has rubbed off but having all the equipment that I now have is like a huge present from her. Every time I do something creative, I think of her with a bit less sadness and a bit more peace.
And Crafternoon Treats?
After pinning over 3.5 thousand pictures on Pinterest and reading umpteen hundred craft blogs, watching You Tube video tutorials and the rest, I realised what a great thing a blog is. Yes, there may be people out there who will be interested in some of the same things, which is great and I hope someone else reads this apart from me. And maybe to raise some more money for Marie Curie.)
A blog will be a fantastic way to chart what I am doing, the projects I’ve worked on and a bit about my everyday life as my crafting develops. My two children are grown now and about to fly the nest – one is going to the USA to study for a year in September, the other starting uni and living away from home. What better time to get busy and get blogging?
Crafternoon Treats takes off
I wrote most of this page back in 2014 when I started my blog. This update is from July 2015 and I am so happy to report that my blog is still going and is getting more popular. I am having such a good time with it, writing posts, photo tutorials, video tutorials (a recent adventure) and devising new projects, patterns and just having a lot of fun. Crochet has become rather dominant – I just can’t put that hook down these days!
I am starting to think that maybe, just maybe that my crafting will start paying me a little bit of a salary and that over the next couple of years I can make the transition from mainly medical writing to mainly craft writing, blogging and teaching others new crochet techniques.
Whatever happens I really hope you enjoy my blog and that it inspires you to take your own journey into being more creative xxxxx