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Guest Blog – Crafts are cool

Image courtesy of bbc.co.uk

Knitting is no longer purely a pastime for grannies.

Neither is crochet, embroidery, cross stitch or any of the other fabulous textile based crafts which I have rediscovered in the last few years. They have seen a huge rise in popularity and TV programmes like Kirstie’s Homemade Home have certainly helped to bring them back into the public’s awareness, showing us that there is far more out there than itchy jumpers and tea tray doilies (although I am rather partial to a pretty doily).

If you’re after something a little unusual, something unique and beautiful, then you really should take a look at the wonderful hand crafted items you can buy. Or have a go making it yourself of course! The “Make Do and Mend” ethic so necessary during and after the war has never really died out and I’m a big fan of recycling things wherever possible. Unpick old jumpers and knit something new, patch a hole in clothing with an embroidered applique, the possibilities are endless.

Craft. Noun. “An activity involving skill in making things by hand.” There are many craft skills I would love to possess. When I was a child my Grandmother taught me a few, including knitting, although unfortunately I can’t remember a thing about this and am still to this day a hopeless knitter. I’m exceptionally grateful to have inherited a vast collection of crafting paraphernalia from her and I hope that she’d be proud to see me now, surrounded by jam jars full of her collected buttons, beads and threads, plotting what to stitch next. You’d think one crafty granny would be enough for any young girl but I was lucky enough to have two and school holiday’s at my Gran and Granpa’s business, where they made lingerie, was endless fun. My sisters and I used to build dens in the huge shelving racks amongst the giant rolls of fabric and I was once let loose (under the very watchful eye of my Grandpa) to wear his metal chain-link glove and slice out knicker patterns with the cutting blade. I think it was inevitable really that I grow up with a love of fabric and haberdashery (not to mention frilly pants).

Wikipedia classifies craft as “lying somewhere between an art (which relies on talent) and a science (which relies on knowledge).” Nottingham has a wealth of crafty creative sorts holding their own in the world of often bland, mass produced, household name brands. People like Sarah DavenportDebbie Bryan, Kathleen and Lily’s and Eternal Spirits Corsetry are flying the Nottingham craft and creative arts flag with pride and are well worth looking at if you’re after something different.

Going back to the term “handmade”, it’s a selling point used by many crafters. There’s something ever so special about that word, don’t you think? It implies that time, love and attention has been invested. Personally I would rather spend a little more on a handmade item, knowing that I am supporting a small business, that it is well made, by a skilled person who probably loved creating it and that it’s unique. I definitely use it to describe the items that I make and when offering a personalised service, creating custom made pieces, I think it gives the buyer reassurance in the quality of their purchase.

A great source for all things handmade is the Folksy website. It’s not as vast as Etsy but it’s UK based and full of wonderful goodies to buy. Their blog is well worth a read too, with features of their favourite items and sellers and articles on crafts and makers across the UK.

For those interested in trying out a craft yourself here’s a few links to websites and blogs that I read, which you might find interesting. Try googling for craft courses in your area. Have a go!

UK Handmade

Folksy

Nottingham Craft Mafia

Craft Blog UK

Crafty Crafty

Spinster’s Emporium

More background about our guest blogger Ellie from Red Anchor Emporium