One of the great things about a particular countryside park near me is their enthusiasm for promoting local crafts and highlighting experts in different skills. I took part in a local radio show last year, where the regular presenter of our local radio station came to my usual walking group location and make an entire programme about the leisure facilities available, literally on our doorstep.
Although the lady was born locally and knew the venue well, she was absolutely amazed at how many different craft workshops are available on craft days, and how many schools send coach loads of students to take part in the natural history days and local historic craft exhibitions. I know of several ladies who have taken part in the knitting and crochet workshops, and they in turn enjoy using the crop of craft and hobby shops that have begun to appear in the local high streets. Fantastic fun!
I recently hosted a ladies’ lunch that included a very enthusasitic knitter – and examples of her latest successess were shown around and admired. I was especially taken with a very pretty fine lacy shawl which I correctly assumed had taken her ages to complete but was possibly the most cherished out of the collection.
This brought conversations to hobbies and how we relax in our ‘down time’. I was heartily refreshed to note that every one of us had some form of crafting as their major relaxation. There are many fantastic craft outlets now and it is easy to get a bit carried away when you see the unbelievable choice in fabrics, patterns and yarns to pick from. To implement some budget control, sourcing from one outlet in one hit can often be the answer, having a fixed idea of what you’re seeking and trying not to deviate . . . . . almost impossible, but always a good idea!
Time to get out the sewing machine was always a cry going up the minute the clothes chest came down from the attic when I was a nipper. There was a definite changeover at Easter and October. In spring the chest came down and out came the summer clothes – pretty little frocks, the much loved lighter vests and pants. We even had favourite socks, although I suspect we were bought new ones as well. The winter garb was wash, aired and back into the chest that went. Funny how this ritual was carried out in most homes across the country and probably amongst the very old community still today.
When clothes had been outgrown, then we were measured and miraculously a couple of days later, there would be a new version of the dress, skirt, whatever. Our grandmother was an absolute whizz at all things dressmaking, knitting, sewing in general. Her talents were sadly not inherited!
Ah the joy of finding the right colour yarn to match a fantastic charity shop buy . . . . . it is of course a very good job that thre are knitters and crochet genies out tere – the choice of jumper and cardigan colours in the high street is always strictly limited to what the buyers thought we would want 2 or 3 seasons ago! Where are the grass green or apple greens to match my wonderful skirt, I demand. In the end, I decided to look out the array of craft shops that have sprung up in my area.
The help and advice from the store keepers has been wonderful, although I have to admit the choice of products is by the very nature somewhat limited too – but they are always willing to get stuff in. I do find myself browsing the many wonderful online sites dedicated to sourcing all wonderful crafting products – it’s blissfully relaxing and inspiring!
There is one particular skirt in a well known clothing range that has been at the top of someone’s ‘must try to find’ list for some time. It may not suit everybody, but it is a classic style of skirt, A-line, just on the knee, not too short and not dowdy. This particular little number has a standard background but is enhanced by circles of varioius colours. It is stunning and every time it’s worn, the compliments flow.
The only problem with buying through vintage or second hand outlets, is that the colours may not be on trend for the accessorising. As has been found, trying to match new tops with any of the circles has been a trial. This is where the fantastic choice in craft and habidashery outlets has come into it’s own ! The problem has been solved with 2 exactly matching shades of knitting and crochet yarn and the owner is blissfully content once again.
Ah Christmas and new year are well and truly out of the way now. We’ve had the rush of excitement with the presents. The family has all dispersed back to their various homes, universities etc. At last we can now settle in to the year and decide how best to make the most of our leisure time. It is tempting to think that we don’t have time for hobbies or crafts. Busy Mums and Aunties – always at work or travelling to and from there, find it easy to dismiss the joy and relaxation to be had from a craft hobby.
There is a great number of new tv channels dedicated to these skills and some new ones caught my eye recently – specifically on machine sewing and good old fashioned knitting. Ah, I can almost smell a faint whiff of sewing machine lubricant and newly bought patterns aplenty being carefull unfolded for inspection!
Ah where do the weeks go? It seems no time at all since the long hot summer holidays were just slipping away to allow the autumn term to begin, with the excitement of the Christmas period – all those presents and garments to be made. A very special time of year for all, but particularly for the home-makes enthusiasts. There is something truly magical about getting to the fabric departments, looking through all the favourite designs and selecting this year’s theme. The patterns are inevitably the same year in year out, but because they have that gorgeous festive feel about them, they never dull.
Well now that the new year has arrived, a similar thrill can be making its way down the collective crafter spines – Easter and summer holidays approach. Lots of new items can be made in the relative calm of the early months. Time also to get our sewing or knitting machines serviced for another busy making year.
There is a new baby due within the extended family of this particular household just after the new Year. The mother of the expectant mum is beside herself with joy at the prospect of the first grandchild arriving – at last, as far as she is concerned. We already know that the parents themselves did request to be told whether it is a boy or girl and, disappointed as I was that they did that, much satisfaction was felt that all things pink seems to be the reply.
I will be great aunt to this little being and in that massively important role, I have been browsing a selection of wonderful knitting, sewing and craft sites and was staggered at the vast array of products all waiting for me to press ‘buy now’. The colours of the yarns and choice of materials was incredible. I haven’t veen ventured to fabrics and cottons yet. That joy is to come.
Those heady hazy days of school holidays are over and the serious business of things to make during the winter on this year’s project come to the fore.
With many crafting and hobby programmes available online and on tv, there is a fantastic abundance of materials and talent out there. A quick glance through a ‘local crafting groups in this area’ leaflet the other day shows there is now a ressurgance of interest in sewing, dressmaking, quilting, knitting, crochet etc and details of lessons in groups appear throughout the listings. With group activity comes added bonus of company and a good chin-wag whilst knowledge is being absorbed and shared. With all this revitalised activity, good quality sewing machine, knitting machines, yarns, fabrics etc. are always sought. Some of the very best choices are found when browsing dedicated sites. A fantastic array of yarn and fabric colours alone fills one with such enthusiasm!
there’s something really fab about buying a new sewing or knitting machine. When you work full time and you’re out of the home all day, it’s great to come back home and once the chores of cooking and clearing up are out of the way, getting up to that work room to do your own thing. The modern machines today are so sophisticated but with the instruction books and instructions online, they are really reasy to use. There can be no better relaxation than getting a new pattern, reading all the notions and tips and getting that material laid out and pinned out.;
A new machine is perfect for getting this item sewn up – it is always a sense of achievement when the last seam is sewn up and the darts are so beautifully fitted. The final details are so important.