Wintry Making

I’ve been in all sorts lately thinking about my craft practice, and how to prioritise what to make first (I can hear everyone laughing). I’ve been working through a few things in my mind and my problem has begun to emerge: I began making and creating things when Nell was born, nine years ago. I was inspired to begin by a combination of things, mainly a deep desire to be creative and carve myself out from within the daily confines of motherhood, and secondly a growing unease around the amount of “stuff” brought into our lives with the introduction of a baby. I knew I was having an impact on the environment, I knew the decisions I made and the purchases I invested in made a difference to our footprint. I knew that my daily decisions around clothing and food (however tiny) made an impact on real people, many of whom are being exploited and underpaid just so I can have my kid wearing a pink unicorn cardigan. Watch this documentary on fast fashion and I’ll step down from my soapbox. I wanted to make some of Nell’s clothes to avoid having to purchase things that were made unethically, and to try to utilise materials that were no longer being used (I first started sewing with secondhand sheets). I quickly learned that craft was not only improving our home lives and increasing the ethical choices we could make on a daily basis, it was also enormously beneficial to my mental health. It was (and still is) my meditation.

Fast forward a year or so and suddenly I could sew and crochet and I was selling my handmade items. That was nearly a decade ago now! Looking back I can’t believe I once lived a life where I outsourced everything – food, clothing, gifts – and I didn’t know how to make a single thing.

I have reached a crossroads though, where I am still making on the daily, but the balance has shifted and my family aren’t always benefiting from these skills I have acquired. For example, if I have plenty of custom orders, and I usually have enough to keep me busy in the small amount of time I have to pursue such projects, then these orders take priority over say, mending, or making new school leggings for the girls. I have been caught out a number of times and have had to purchase something that I have the skills to make, because I am lacking in time.

On one hand being able to make and sell things has created a lovely little channel of pocket money which helps to support my family and for which I am very grateful. I’m also promoting the environmental benefits of purchasing handmade and allowing other families an opportunity to purchase locally and ethically made items. On the other, I am not always able to make the choices that I promote, and that first drew me to learn these skills, if my time is being taken up making things to sell to other people.

Add to this jumble part time work, writing projects, and general life and craft seems like a real luxury.

So. I’m setting myself a few priorities and getting my craft organised. Number one on the list is fairly obvious… When I fold the washing I see holes in the knees of 90% of the leggings we own. So this pattern is a must for me this winter (and I just noticed it is currently on sale). They are so fast to whip up, and when you really examine it, I dare say it would be faster for me to stay home and cut and sew three pairs of these than it would be to get in my car, go to the shops, search and be distracted and blinded by the white lights, purchase and come home again. I should time it and see.

Secondly, in May I had every intention of making myself this dress to wear to my cousin’s wedding which has now been and gone. I bought the pattern and this material (swoon!) and it is still sitting in my mending basket of all places. So by Spring I’d like to see this dress hanging in my wardrobe, please. I also have this coat pattern ready and waiting, but realistically this might be one to make over January 2020 so it’s ready for Autumn next year.

Other than that, I have this pattern sitting in my studio, along with a few metres of this luxurious linen. I promised to make these pants for my Mum in January 2018. I reckon I should work on getting these ready for her birthday: December 2019… (sorry Mum).

Then there are gifts. I had a sweet period where all my gifts were handmade (amazing how many kids’ parties you need to buy gifts for when you have three kids!), and going back to work along with other stuff sent this little rhythm to the bottom of the basket (I know I don’t have to explain all this, you guys get it!). I spoke to my aunty on the phone yesterday who also loves making all her Christmas presents and said we should get together to plan our our Christmas makes (don’t kill me for mentioning Christmas) so that we can make it a reality to give handmade gifts this year. I’ve also got a few friends who have just had babies and have managed to make a couple of things for those new babes. Being ahead of the game is surely the way to go here.

This list is enough to keep me busy until the end of the year, along with custom orders and life. What are you making this Winter? Do you have lists that you write for each season or do you just make whatever it is that takes your fancy?

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A Natural Skincare Routine

If you’re anything like me, you get to the bathroom to clean your teeth at the later end of the evening, stare at yourself and your bedraggled hair in the mirror and think, I should wash my face and do all those things that other people do to look after the face that is going to be on the front of my head for my entire life. Then you spit your toothpaste out and go to bed. I don’t wear makeup often which helps to encourage this c’est la vie, shrug-of-the-shoulders kind of attitude.

Part of my skincare dilemma is finding products that fit with my ethos. I don’t use any products tested on animals, I like to avoid palm oil and I don’t like using products with nasty things in them. Sometimes I have bought things from local markets and so on, only to find that stall is not there the next time I need the product. So more often than not I’ve thrown up my hands and put skincare in the too-hard basket. And gone to bed.

When I was offered some products from biome* recently, and knew it was my chance. I have been an affiliate for biome for a number of years, and continue to be impressed. They have recently declared themselves to be palm oil free and have written a post* explaining the truths behind the use of palm oil (and its so-called ‘sustainable’ derivatives). Initially, I thought about choosing cleaning products (as you do) but then, after careful consideration I decided, to hell with it, I’m going all out for me and my face.

I chose*:

// cedar + stone hemp and rose foaming cleanser

// clay face block

// vegan skin food moisturiser

// tinderbox orange flower toner

I’ve spent the last couple of months using these products and getting a feel for them, and I am genuinely happy with all of them. I absolutely love the vegan skin food in particular, but it is quite heavy, which I like as I feel as though it is really nourishing my skin, however if a thick moisturiser isn’t for you, you could try another from their moisturiser range*. The foaming cleanser is beautiful and fresh feeling, and the clay face block (of which I wasn’t sure what to except) is surprisingly easy on the skin, leaving my face feeling revitalised. I often grab the orange flower toner throughout the day, when I need a bit of a pep up. It’s safe to say I’m now someone who has a solid morning and evening skin care routine! It has only taken me 35 years…

I want to mention that I am regularly offered products for trial, from linen to books to gift vouchers and so on. I think in all the years I have been blogging I have said yes to three things, these products from biome* being one. I strongly believe in biome products and this is the only reason I accepted their offer. I am not interested in spending time blogging about products I don’t personally find value in, and which don’t fit with my ethical beliefs.I will  absolutely be purchasing all of the items I trialled once mine have run out. Phew, political statement over!

If you’re looking for a new skin care range for yourself, or a little eco-friendly something for Christmas gifts (books, lunch boxes, drink bottles, the list goes on), I would highly recommend you have a look at biome* and see what you think.

*If you purchase something using my affiliate links I will earn a small commission. I will only ever use affiliate links for things I use and enjoy myself in my own home, for my own family. Thank you so much for your support. 

Open Space

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I’m sitting here in front of the heater. The kids are all in bed (if not asleep!) and KB is not expected home until late tonight. I am rarely alone, so I did get a bit giddy at the thought of an hour by myself at home in the evening. The evenings have a certain calm and quiet about them that is difficult to replicate during the day, don’t you think?

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