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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