Inspiration starts at home!

I’ve been meaning to write this for ages now but have had other things get in the way.

A few weeks ago (gosh it was probably months now) I stayed with my Mum & Dad in Cornwall.  The county is only sort of relevant (as they inspire the paintings), and you might remember it was during Me Made May and my Dad discovered his inner David Bailey.

Red skyWell, it’s not new to me, but this time when I went I was overcome with a huge urge to share with you what surrounds me whenever I stay.  Apart from the wafts of baking cakes, my Dad’s stormy curries, lapses into chocolate fudge sauce on everything and special veggie treats for me,  (which sadly I cannot share with you) everywhere I look I see my Mum’s creations.

Yellow bay

All through my childhood & beyond my Mum makes, crafts, bakes and fixes.  She made us a go-cart  and stilts even!  She has said that if she could she would even have tried plumbing, but she was flexing her practical muscles in a very different generation that did not offer equality or even accessibility for what really was considered a specialist male domain.  I’ve said that it was her that taught me to sew (& she can tailor too!)  Well she also taught me some knitting skills, cross stitch & even how to dabble with watercolour.  For years her approach for not falling asleep in front of the TV in the evenings was needlepoint & I remember being amazed at her counted thread creations, & loved how the subtle changes in colours could create such beautiful effects.  She used to have too many to frame and when I visited she’d bring them out from drawers to show me.

Creative space 1My Mum can basically turn her hand to anything & I wanted to celebrate this here & say a big “thank you” to my Mum for being such an inspiration as well as a patient teacher & all time sewing guru.

I often sleep in the room shown above & it’s full of Mum-made variety from the curtains & soft furnishings to the dolls house with its air-dry clay roof and floor tiles.  My Mum’s doll’s house making phase, let me mention, included recycling bits & pieces & making them into miniature furniture (I wish I could remember examples but it could be old hairslides, combs and lids that with some glue and paint were transformed into baby sized chairs/ tables/ mirrors- a step up from Blue Peter !).  This doll house was made with balsa wood & is just so neat, pretty and has wonderful attention to detail.

My Mum has recently taken up crochet & I wanted to show off what can be accomplished in a relatively short learning journey.  The Granny squares blanket above was I believe her first & she used to sit on the same sofa it now resides on, in the afternoon sunshine & crochet away.  This waistcoat was her first item of clothing.

First waistcoatI believe it is a Drops Design (but I can’t find it on the site nor the next one!!)  She has also made another Drops Design waistcoat which looks like this.

Drops waistcoatBut when arranged …

Drops waistcoat 2And when worn …

My MumHello Mum!  She had to vet the pics as she is camera shy!

And the other way (with a different picture in the background)

My Mum again

She is now making her way through this book of Granny Squares – Over 25 Ways to crochet the classic pattern by Barbara Wilder

IMG_5450

Using the same three colours and calculating what adjustments she needs to make in order for them to finish as the same size she stores them in named batches in, yes, a handmade box covered in needlepoint. (I must say she is more organised than I am & has consistent tenacity).

Creative 2

But do you want to know something else even more inspiring?  My Mum paints too (all the pictures you see are her work) & she started with an A level, progressing to Art Foundation then making it through a part time Fine Art Degree via a two hour bus journey to Plymouth.  She finished this in her 60s let me tell you!  It’s never too late!  I am so proud of her, she thoroughly enjoyed the learning & evolution of her creative processes, & it’s something I hope to be able to do one day too.

Purple sky

So you might now be able to understand why I have one of those high chest of drawers with numerous different sized drawers filled with paints (watercolour, oil, glass, silk, printing), lino cutting, jewellery tools & sooo many beads, an old liquidiser, mold & deckle for paper making & I could go on.  And you can probably understand now when I tell you which books my Mum passed on to me when I moved into my first home:  Marguerite Patten’s definitive cookery book (pre dates Delia’s classic Complete Cookery Course and was my bible for coming up with cheap tasty family meals, but oh so dated now!!), and also a couple of books on homecrafts which I used to spend hours immersed in.   Looking back on these books it feels significant as a way to understand what skills my Mum had cultivated and was continuing in a different way.

What books did you get given that provide an idea of what your family was passing on to you?    Have you an inspirational crafter in your life?  Is it really this easy to develop your crochet skills?  What do you think?!

45 thoughts on “Inspiration starts at home!

  1. Sam

    Wow, what an amazingly talented mum you have! I’m so impressed with her completing a Fine Art degree in her 60’s and her crochet is fantastic. I love that second waistcoat/bolero she’s made.

    Reply
    1. Karen

      I love that bolero, too. You are lucky to have such a talented & encouraging mom.

      My mom always wished she could have gone to the woodworking classes the boys got to take (she had to go to home ec), but again…it was the 1950s.

      Reply
  2. Debbie

    Wow – what a creative powerhouse your mum is and how inspirational for you. Love the sound of the dollshouse and I need you to remember details as we are planning a dolls house reno here! Fab crochet skills. Your post made me think of my mum who sounds similar…always making stuff when I was younger, dressmaking, upholstery and lacemaking…she finally settled on patchwork and quilting as her forte. 🙂 Ps;love your cardigan in last post. xx

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Next time I visit I’ll see if she’s got any useful books on dolls houses. And yes! My mum also gave lace making and silver smithing, flower arranging and probably so many more things I can’t remember a go too! What fab crafty roots to share!

      Reply
  3. Barb

    Wow, wow and wow! I can remember you making gorgeous crafts at school (used to love your paper quill cards and your fabulously decorated Top 40 cassette boxes!) and now I see where your talent comes from. Your mum’s paintings are amazing, just beautiful. Did she do the round ones behind her in the photo with the waistcoat? Major kudos for completing a degree in her 60s, truly inspirational x

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Oh those top 40 cassettes!! I remember now!! Car adverts from magazines in the 80s used to have such wonderful skies…

      Yes, my mum also created the circular series- part of her Art degree work, spinning with ink I think it was.

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  4. Roisin

    What a lovely post, your mum sounds tremendous! Firstly – yes, I think crochet is very easy to pick up. I have taught lots of people the basics and then watched them go on to become really talented, even people who said they were totally non-crafty!

    And in terms of inspiration – I think I come from a family of makers, too. When I was growing up my Daddy was an electrical engineer and was always fixing things and making things. He taught me how to wire a plug, how to make basic circuits, and how to fix things. I remember winning a prize in primary school for the best jack o lantern – as well as helping me carve my pumpkin, my safety-conscious Dad showed me how to make a circuit so that the pumpkin could be lit with lights rather than a candle! I think that’s what won me the prize, although thinking back it could also be because mine was the only actual pumpkin – the other entrants were mostly turnips.

    My mum was a seamstress when I was a child, she worked in shirt factories and in a clothing factory making sportswear when I was a bit older. We didn’t have a sewing machine in the house so she didn’t teach me my dressmaking skills, but she did teach me how to alter clothes and mend them. Your description of your mum doing needlepoint in front of the TV really resonated with me – my mum is the same, she has to be doing something with her hands when she’s watching TV and I’m the same. I remember her always having something on the go – most vividly I remember her customising bed-linen by hand-emboidering it! When I told my parents I was buying a sewing machine and proudly showed off my first few handmade garments, my Daddy said “well it’s no wonder, you got our hands. We’re handy people.”

    Sorry about the essay my lovely! But this really moved me, so thank you! xxx

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      It’s so lovely to hear about your handy family! I love the way that you trounced the pumpkin competition! Sounds such a cool take on it (& heaps better that it was not a turnip – hahaha!!)- what a cool Dad!
      And your Mum sounds super talented too, and I’d say skills for alterations and mending are essentials but the kind of skills that some of us (ahem, me included) do not perfect as they can be harder than actually sewing from scratch. How lovely that you go to bed with some hand embroidered love to soothe your dreams x

      Reply
  5. Philippa

    Your Mum is an amazing, creative and talented woman. Thank you for writing this post and sharing some of her creations with us. I really enjoyed admiring some of the things she has made. The paintings are beautiful but I was especially interested in the crochet as try as I might I just can not get the hang of knitting. Is crochet easier? If it is, I might try it. I love the Lacey effect it gives. Strangely my Mum is a knitter. My sewing gene must go further back! But when she did sew, she always used the Readers Digest sewing book as an answer to all dilemmas. It was too precious to leave home with me, but I have got my own copy (found in charity shop) now, and I still use it!

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    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      I think crochet (according to Roisin) might be a bit easier to start…I need to pick it up again, my crochet skills are of the super basic varierty – My mum has overtaken me by miles!
      I’ve heard that the Readers Digest Sewing Book is one of the classiscs – in fact a desert island choice of a few

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  6. Shelly

    Wow! What an inspiration your mum must be for you, she’s so creative and talented. Like you, my mother was my inspiration for all my creative endeavours. She mentored me in sewing, knitting and embroidery skills and I remember her hands were never idle. Like your mother, she sat in front of the TV at night with one of these crafts in her hands. I have definitely inherited her creative gene and she always encouraged me in every craft I’ve ever tried my hand at and believe me there are many.

    One thing I haven’t learned but have always wanted to is crochet, (mum’s crochet skills were very limited and she never taught me how) so reading that your mum has recently learned has given me encouragement to try yet another craft. 🙂 and the book you mentioned really appeals to me so I think I feel another craft about to begin. Bring it on! Just give me a reason I say 😉

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Love it! I can see that if there’s a craft gene, it’s not just me that gets tempted to try new things. I guess we have the “I can do that” voice at all times!!

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  7. Jane

    What a wonderful post and how lucky you are to have such a talented and creative mum! My mum always made things too, but it wasn’t until I read this and took the time to think back on how much she actually did that I fully appreciated it. She made all my clothes when I was little (I think that was quite common then) plus she can knit and crochet. I distinctly remember her crocheting tons of ABBA hats (like a skull cap with a flower on the side) when I was about 5 or 6 that she would take into the hospital where she worked and sell to her colleagues. She couldn’t make them fast enough! And she always made fabulous costumes for our school plays. In recent years she’s made some beautiful handmade cards too.
    Mums eh – aren’t they wonderful?! I feel a blog post of my own coming on after writing this! Thanks Winnie! x

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Aww, Jane, this is lovely to read . I’d love to hear more about your Mum, crocheting Abba hats (and yes of course I remember them!) was cornering the market! How enterprising!!I think that look would suit you now! Shall see what you write on your blog ..

      Reply
  8. Amy T

    Wow such a variety of talents, she seems a very accomplished lady. Which is obviously great for you too!
    I love the fact that my mum is so creative. She owns her own cake business and I’ve learnt a lot of baking and decorating tips from her. She also sews the most dramatic curtains that amaze me and that also means we get to chat about sewing too!

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Chatting about sewing with Mums is ace, isn’t it?
      And I love that you have amazing baking / decorating skills Amy! Making a business out of her talent is something you must be very proud of. But I bet it’s hard work…but super rewarding

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  9. LinB

    So that’s where you get it from! Mama and I taught ourselves to knit and crochet (and I taught myself to tat) from a Coats & Clark’s “Learn How to Knit/Crochet/Tat/Embroider” booklet, in the mid 1960s. I stole that booklet from her when I left for college. Book I was given that best explains my family’s philosophy of life? Probably a c. 1917 collection of WWI jokes, cartoons, comic essays, theater reviews, and articles advocating women’s suffrage, “Wit & Wisdom of the World.” It was in a box of assorted junque we bought at a neighborhood auction. My own daughter cannot bring herself to touch the book — she hates the feel of old paper. Don’t know where she got THAT from.

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  10. liza jane

    Oh I love this post. Your mom’s paintings are fantastic. My mother is an artist as well (and an art teacher!). I can remember having to sit very still for portrait sessions when I was young- not fun at the time. She just asked me the other day if I’d like her to draw a portrait of baby Jane.

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    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      OOh, how lovely to have your Mum (“Granny”!) paint a pic of your beautiful baby girl! It’s interesting that you have an arty background – that also explains what you have shared on your blog – your painting/ dyeing/ colour to fabrics as well as what you get up to in the classroom – then sewing too!

      Reply
  11. Ginger

    How cool! Your parents sound like amazing people! My mom is very much the same way– she was always creating something when I was a kid, whether that was crafting, quilting, sewing, designing landscapes, or drawing. She developed an interest in painting a few years ago and started taking classes at a local community college, and I’m so proud of her for that as she was intimidated by the thought of all the other students being younger than her kids. I can only imagine how proud you must be of your mom working so hard to earn her degree! That’s so awesome!

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      There’s defintitely a theme isn’t there – we have crafty roots! And we like trying new things – your Mum being like mine taking something up later in life- it’s great, isn’t it?

      Reply
  12. Lauren

    Yay for super crafty moms! My mom is like that too – she can sew, quilt, paint, cross stitch, cook, bake, can, and do handyman stuff like lay tile and hang wallpaper. I LOVE that your mom has a Fine Arts degree; that’s something I think I would like to leisurely pursue in the far future 🙂

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  13. Katy

    I just have to say I love reading your blog…your mom-description reminds me a lot of my own mom. I’m busy sewing feed sacks into beach bags right at this moment because I saw my sister with a beach bag my mom had made her from a corn sack…Thank goodness mom had more for me, but said I had to make my own. If she wasn’t sewing while I was growing up, she was spinning, shearing sheep, gardening, making Ukranian eggs, or basket weaving. We’ve also gone through some beading phases, and just now she’s gone and become a quilter. I hope to pass what I’ve learned from my mom along to my daughter & hopefully son. Did your kids take up after any of your hobbies? My kids are just 3 and 1, so I may be waiting awhile. I actually veered away from crafting until I was away from home and on my own.

    Hmmm…my mom passed me 2 books when I moved away. The first is the Better Homes and Garden’s Cookbook and the second was a compendium of needle arts techniques for hand stitching, knitting, & crochet. I don’t crochet beyond a chain stitch yet!

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Wowee! Your Mum sounds awesome! Sheep shearing has to be up there in the crafty world for getting materials at source! It’s so lovely that me writing this has brought out so many talented family stories!
      Yes, I always made things with my boys when they were growing up – from baking to painting and one spectacular phase of salt dough models too. And the sewing machine was always banging on after they’d gone to bed! The eldest has a creative side to him – he’s a natural programmer, so is lucky to have that kind of brain, but he’s also dabbled in the arts as it were & made his own stencils for spray painting as a teen, he also created animations for a while too, and I’d say is a creative (non-recipe) cook now! Not sure about the youngest son…he has the cooking interest too though. Very good at following a recipe!

      Reply
  14. annanic

    Lovely! I always appreciate blog posts about those who laid the ground for our creativity. My grandmother taught me needlepoint when I was very young, then knitting a short while later, then helped me sew my first dress when I was in college. The two Reader’s Digest books she gave me, Complete Guide to Needlework and Complete Guide to Sewing have remained my go to references through knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, applique, quilting, sewing, etc. Those books have help fill the gap left when we moved away. My mom has also tried her hand at many things: cooking, sewing, painting, a little crochet and knitting. My dad even has his crafty adventures now and then, mostly beading lately. I guess I come from a family of creative people and I am thankful for it. I can’t imagine what I would do if I wasn’t crafty! Thanks for the beautiful post! It reminds me to be thankful for the people who have shaped my life =D

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      That’s lovely! Yes, it is great to think about craft, families and why we like doing what we do. Your family sound like they have had a big crafty impact on you too, and “the gift of crafting” is a special one!

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  15. MrsC (Maryanne)

    Seeing that gorgeous doll’s house I confess to thinking it is a pity you had sons not daughters! Although the doll’s house in our shop entertains boys and girls equally, we rarely associate such toys with boys 🙂
    I want to meet your Mum, she is amazing. Like mine, whose house is full of amazing arts and crafts made over the years, as are all of ours too. I have her national award winning quilt on my wall as she doesn’t really care for it! Her pottery is in my dresser- and so much more. So much pleasure, so many reminders of how much I love and admire her.

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      And your Mum’s needlepoint pin cushion ring? I remember seeing that too! A potter too? That must have taken some commitment to learn and now you are enjoying the benefits. But to be a national award winner for her quilt – your pride comes through how you write! What a wonderful lady.

      Reply
  16. Joy

    Wow, very fun to see some of your mom’s creations! We don’t get to choose what genes we inherit, but clearly you had some good ones passed down to you!

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  17. zora read

    Your mum sounds amazing. She sounds like such an interesting women. I come from a family of makers as well. My mum has always made her own clothes and taught me at a very early age. My dad, is a talented carpenter, although he never pursued it as a career. He and my mum have helped me do so much in my house. Their hobby is DIY and in all the properties they have owned over the years, they have always extensively refurbished and decorated themselves. I think that the old skills are becoming more well known again I am very glad about this.

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Being able to do up your home is such a special talent too, I bet their homes are just full of character – which is what’s so good about being able to do it yourself – as with all crafts. And how lovely that it’s something they can do together.

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  18. wkatydid

    Am loving this post on many fronts…the warmth and personal sharing, the depth of talent of mother and daughter, loving each craft and art, and love that I’m loving it from so far away…Brisbane, Australia.

    Reply
  19. Anna Dorthea Aasbjerg

    Wow! Your mum’s amazing and so talented!! Lovely post and I especially love the plumbing-bit, being a practical soul myself! As I read this post, my grandmother kept coming to mind. She’s a multi-talented lady too and can do just about anything she set her mind to (in the age of 82!). She’s my greatest source of inspiration and has taught me to sew when I was a little girl. She worked as a seamstress in the 1950’s in Copenhagen and has kept all her old drawings and fabric-scraps, so as a little girl we used to look through her old notebooks and imagine how the women would look in their fancy grandma-made outfits. Now as an adult, I still love it when we do so, but the imagining has been substituted with grandma giving me sewing-tips. I think the best thing I was given by my mum, when I moved into my first flat, was 3 little books (What to do if you’re ill, How to do your laundry and How to cook your favorite meals from your childhood) and a set of proper pots and pans. I believe in my heart, that I come from a line of the best, most kind women in the world!
    Thank you for sharing your story, your sewing projects and bits of your life with us!
    Your blog makes for a fantastic read!

    All the best – Anna, Denmark 🙂

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Anna, your story is also lovely! I can feel such warmth and I love the idea that you could look through your Grandma’s notebooks and be transported back to “the old days”. I can remember loving looking through my Mum’s books in which she always kept a pinked piece of fabric from everything she made (always very neat, every scrap seemed to be the same size!) I guess we have our blogs to record our makes these days, but it’s not quite the same as being able to touch the fabric.
      Great essential books too – I was given an illness book when my first baby came along (from my Mum – great minds think alike!!)

      Reply
  20. Kelly

    This is such a great post! Your mother sounds amazing and is clearly so creative. I really love her paintings, and that she went back to school later in life. She’s such an inspiration! I grew up with parents who were always making things as well, whether crafts, sheds and fences, or machined telescope parts, and I’m so thankful for the diy spirit they instilled in me.

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Hi Kelly, yes, it’s wonderful isn’t it to realise that this love of making has been passed down through generations …machined telescope parts sounds interesting!

      Reply
  21. missjoiedevivre

    What an AMAZING story, thanks so much for sharing with us. Your mum is incredible, I am so impressed! My mum has made things all my life and I definitely get my love of it from her, and am always grateful for everything she shares with me (right down to making my burlesque debut costume with me!). No wonder you are so creative!

    Reply

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