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.
Well, 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.
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.
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.
I 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.
And the other way (with a different picture in the background)
She is now making her way through this book of Granny Squares – Over 25 Ways to crochet the classic pattern by Barbara Wilder
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).
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.
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?!