I've realised over the past couple of years just how much enjoyment I get from using my hands (no, not like that, get your mind out of the gutter!).
I bake. I write. I take photos. I knit. I fuse glass. I sew clothes. I cook. I needle felt. I crochet. I make jam and chutney and marmalade. I fiddle around with scissors and pipe cleaners and glue and glitter. While I wouldn't claim to do any of these especially well, I'm a big believer in giving things a try.
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As a child, I saw my mother carrying out tasks now rather fashionably referred to as home~crafts ~ she cooked meals from scratch, she repaired holes in socks, she knitted the occasional baby blanket for an expectant friend. She had grown up seeing her parents make jam from fruit growing in the garden, making their own wine from the elderberry tree at the end of the garden, and baking their own bread as a routine everyday chore. I should point out that while this may sound like a slightly stereotypical but idyllic white picket fence 'honey I'm home' existence, her father was a nuclear physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project, and her alcoholic mother died of lung cancer when the paternalistic family doctor (white, middle ~ class, highly educated) was still telling her that chain smoking cigarettes were a great way to relieve stress.
Sorry, I digress!
Having grown up seeing and internalising as normal a birthday cake starting off as butter / sugar / eggs / flour; and curtains starting as a pile of fabric next to a sewing machine, these never felt like alien processes to me, and this is the centre point of what I'm trying to pass on to my children. Not that these things are completely simple and we should all cook every main meal from scratch, just that it is possible to begin with onions, olives, tomatoes and some bits and pieces out of the cupboard and end up with delicious pasta sauce. I'm more realistic than aspirational I think, I'm happy to take the short~cuts ~ the tins of chopped tomatoes rather than chopping my own, using the bread maker instead of kneading the dough myself.
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Something I found out last week is that Petal is the only brownie in her pack who sews her own badges on ~ at first I sat with her, threaded the needle, knotted the thread, broke each stitch up into little steps, showed her each step, talked her through it, showed her again, explained why the thread needs to be pulled right through each time, sorted out some knots, talked her through it again ~ she now asks me to thread and knot the thread, but does the rest herself. No, it's not perfect. Yes, there are a couple of little loops. No, the stitches aren't even. Yes, I tell her it looks amazing ~ because it does. And every badge is sewn more neatly than the one before it.
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I get a real sense of satisfaction from the things I do with my hands (I know, I know...), and I hope that if my children experience that same reaction, they will have the attitude to match ~ I don't mean they will make fresh pasta because they remember seeing me make pasta, or remember doing it alongside me, but will approach recipes with the mindset of 'well, the picture looks good, I'll get the ingredients and give it a go'. And if it goes wrong, ah well ~ next time get it out of the oven sooner, or lower the temp, or use more onions, or less onions. I want them to have the grounding, the approach, the attitude and, most of all, the confidence to give it a go, whether that means employing their hands in an officially 'useful' way, such as cooking a meal, sewing up a hole in a sock, or knitting a scarf, or purely for pleasure ~ folding an origami frog, painting a picture, or planting up a garden.
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I have found so much inspiration in things that others have created, and sometimes it can be a tiny detail that catches my eye and rumbles around inside my head, gradually maturing into something that may bear little resemblance to the initial idea. That is why I'd like to share make it monday with you ~ maybe some aspect of something of mine might set off your creative genius! Maybe a recipe or tutorial or idea you find here might reinforce that grounding for you, might provide a little sliver of encouragement at just the right moment to make an impact.
Anything that I've made from a tutorial or pattern or recipe, whether from another blog or a book or somewhere else I will always credit my source, including a link if appropriate. I'll try and reference anything that sparks me off on a crafty bender too, even if the link seems a little tenuous to anyone who doesn't live inside my head! In the spirit of openness, honesty and paying it forward, if you find yourself sparked off by anything you see here, it would be great if you could let me know ~ I'd love to see!