What does making mean to you?

I’ve been taking part in A Playful Day’s The Maker’s Year after one of my friends highlighted it on Twitter. I was looking for something to help me think a bit more about my making, and to do some more of it, and this fit the bill! I’m even writing my first blog post for the first time in ages. This month, we’ve been asked what does making mean to you?

Knitting in progress

My making has definitely changed since becoming a parent. One of the key points of The Maker’s Year is that ‘your making might not look like my making and that’s ok’. I really like that. For me, I’ve always been around making. My early childhood memories include my mum and others around me knitting, sewing and weaving, then Hugh came along and wood turning was added into the household mix. When we moved to Yorkshire I went to craft fairs he was at (and wasn’t at), visited his workshop and was generally around making. Sometimes I find talk of the current makers movement a bit odd, as for me, it’s always been there, but then for others it hasn’t and it must be lovely to discover the joy in making and finding others who do too.

Winding yarn

In my mid twenties I started blogging and reading other blogs and got interested in making again. I had knit when I was a child, I used to make clothes for my dolls. I found it easy to pick up again, even though in 2004/5, yarn wasn’t easy to come by in Leeds (where I was then living), all changed now though I believe! In 2005 I moved to Edinburgh and got to know local knitters, eventually regularly going along to a knitting group, Ravelry took off and I got much more into knitting. I bought a cheap sewing machine from Tesco and battled with it, managing to make a fair few things but never really enjoying it as much as knitting. I think it’s the all the preparation that goes with it, so much easier to sit in front of the TV with your knitting.

Sleeping baby

I always imagined I’d be the sort of the parent who churned out beautiful handmade things for my child. But I had the sort of pregnancy where you are sick a lot (in my cupboard I still have the pieces of a bag for toys I managed to cut out but never sew together) so it’s not easy to make when you often have your head in a bucket and when you don’t you can only really cope with watching daytime TV. I’m still amazed I didn’t throw up on the first thing I made for Bagl, a gorgeous blanket. I knit him several things, and thought that when he arrived I could get more done when he had these long daytime naps I believed all babies had, or maybe he’d just enjoy watching me make while he sat in his bouncer. Bagl had other ideas and within a few months took two short naps and also much preferred to be carried around the house rather than sitting watching me. So I didn’t get as much making done as I thought I would.

Ice wreath

I’m more at peace with the amount of making I do than I did a few years ago when I wanted to Make All The Stuff for Bagl but couldn’t unless I wanted to give up the little sleep I was having (although I am still a bit sad that I didn’t get to make Where the Wild Sheep Roam before he was too big for it). I’m even reaching the stage where I want to knit less for him and more for me as he looks on suspiciously at jumpers I produce for him. Although I haven’t sewn since early pregnancy (as in, so early I didn’t know I was pregnant), I’ve still kept my sewing machine. I don’t feel any strong need to sew, but I’d like to think I will do some one day soon.

Daffodils in the kitchen

Since buying our first home last summer much of my making is home making. I don’t mean that in a sew-all-your-own-curtains-and-distress-the-furniture kind of way, more that I’m working out ways of using the space, money and resources we have to make our home as we’d like it. Buying a £1 bunch of daffodils may well not be many people’s idea of making, but for me it is a little bit of making, bringing some nature and joy into the home and making it a pleasant place to be. Arranging our possessions so we can actually see them and enjoy them (and feeling ok with getting rid of the ones we don’t enjoy) rather than cramming them all in, even if it means there are some bits and pieces sitting packed in a box upstairs until I can figure out the best place for them. Or maybe it’s doing a bit of seasonal craft with Bagl (I recommend The Artful Year by Jean Van’t Hul for this) to make a small change.

Sarah Raven catalogues

My making is also more about gardening. We don’t have the greatest soil, and much of the edges of our garden are in partial shade (the lawn is most definitely for Bagl to run around!), plus we’re in Scotland, not far from the east coast so life can be a bit colder here. I’ve been learning about what we can and can’t grow (I’m hoping my peonies aren’t a step too far in the ambition stakes), and what should go where. I’m remembering that a garden is a work in progress and that I need to do it to learn. Garden design principles feel like too much at the moment and maybe there are going to be things that look a bit odd. I’m ok with that because maybe in another ten years I’ll have learned enough to have got it, and to be honest, I want a cottagey, imperfect garden. I’m hoping we’ll manage to grow enough of something edible that I can make something with it, rather than just pick at ten strawberries or nibble a mange tout each!

Bread on a bread board

And of course there’s food, as Bagl gets older and is happier to either play independently for longer, or help me, I can get more baking done in the daytime, or cooking ahead. He particularly liked the round bread on the round board above.

So that’s where my making is these days. My making seems to have evolved over my life, I suppose it would be a bit strange if it didn’t. I’ve been recording my Makers Year over on Instagram, so do have a nose if you want. Every so often I look at other photos tagged with #themakersyear and it’s fascinating but a bit overwhelming, and easy to lose an evening to!

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4 thoughts on “What does making mean to you?

  1. This post makes me really miss making! Like you I did lots of making before I became a mum but since then I’ve rarely felt like I have the time or energy. And now I have a new baby it looks like it’ll be even longer before I can get making again! All your making sounds great, that bread in particular looks yummy!

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  2. Greetings from another Katherine! I’ve really enjoyed reading what you’ve written – it reminds me of my time with young children (my two are in their 30s now) and making all sorts of things just to make a home and garden nice. We were hard-up, but that stretched my creativity and made it all the more rewarding. I can’t imagine being without making – it’s part of my identity, just as it sounds fundamental to yours. I did feel isolated being like that, as a maker, bringing up children in the 80s, and I think social media is wonderful in helping one reach out to like-minded souls now.

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