Craft in my perfect world

Five months ago, when I first discovered the world of crafty blogs, I knew immediately that it was a world I wanted to be part of. Or at least I thought I knew. As I started blogging and reading more and more blogs, crafty and otherwise, doubt set in. Could I really consider myself a crafty type at all? Were the things I made good enough? Do I spend enough time sewing or being otherwise crafty? If I was going to have a craft blog, did it have to meet certain criteria? Is this how I see myself anyway?

A month or so in, I decided that muppinstuff wasn't going to be a craft blog because there were so many more things that I wanted to write about, and that I am at heart an autobiograpical sort of writer. Back in the nineties, I studied professional writing and editing and wrote a lot of short fiction (which I liked) and part of a novel (which I loathed and will probably burn one day). Most of which was openly autobiograpical. On the surface I stopped writing because I became involved in a family business that took all my time and energy but I think the reasons are more complicated than that. Something to do with art consuming life, maybe. Or perhaps a lack of bottle. So, more than a decade later, when Grace turned one, as I looked around for a creative pursuit, blogging presented itself as an ideal way to get back into the habit of writing regularly again. The craft blog scene was kind of like the lure, the bait. The writing was the line that reeled me in and got me hooked.
Doll face string holder from "Handcrafts" by Kit Harris, Books for Pleasure, Paul Hamlyn 1972

Craft of various sorts, but mainly sewing and crochet, is something I've done all my life. Until now I haven't really given much thought to whether or not I was any good at it . It's just something that I share mostly with my mother and sister. We talk about fabric and ways of doing things, help each other out on projects. My sister makes a living designing and making clothes. I've had the odd thought in that direction too, but in reality my office job is a much easier choice in terms of life work balance and the need to earn an income. Also, I don't want my hands to ache and my brain to reel from something that I do more or less as a hobby. And that really, I don't have to be that good at. Which is why, when I don't rush or try too hard, sewing and other craft are relaxing.

It's not quite just a hobby, because making clothes and other craftiness (and the garden, but that's a whole other story) is actually an important part of our domestic economy. Over time G and I have evolved a lifestyle where we make and mend, create and do. We both like op shops, trash and treasure, hard rubbish hunting and gifts (incoming and outgoing) of not quite cutting edge technology. This way we can live on a modest income and still have cash to pay for luxuries like broadband, concert tickets, holidays and shoes. And save a bit. And feel good that we are not buying lots of stuff that will end up in landfill. Neither of us is all that keen on working outside the home full time, and we do battle for shed and sewing machine time. My favourite piece of furniture is the TV table that G made out of wood from the shed and the year before lasts hard rubbish.

So why do I begin to doubt myself when I see the craft of others on the internet? Looking around there are obviously many people more skilled and/or talented than I am. Some work I see, and I just gasp.  I'm so inspired.  But I also see work that is less skilled than what I might do. Again sometimes I am inspired, or pleased to see someone having a go or at maybe at an earlier part of their crafting journey than I am.  To be clich├ęd, it's all good. Yet still the doubts niggle. Doubts that weren't there before I started blogging.

So what to do in the face of doubt? I seem to be collecting old craft books that feed my inner craft life, losing myself in pictures of pyjama dolls and toilet roll covers. Seeking comfort from pictures of the things I remember that were made for fun (as opposed to need) when I was growing up. Thinking about what I would and wouldn't make, how I might translate a design or idea. Keep on making things when I can (taking into account life with a small child who thinks reaching for sewing machines and pins is fun but the  playpen is not) and trying to learn not be too hard on myself for doing less, or even less well than I would like.  I don't know, maybe I should just get a grip and remind myself that it just doesn't matter. That I have chosen this life of being a kind of slacker sewer/gardener/baker/trashy novel reader in between doing the everyday work of living. And that is an OK choice for now.


joyflea said...

My thoughts on blogging is very similar to yours. I read all of these wonderful blogs, and find myself being subconsciously influenced in my crafting endeavors. 6 months ago, I'd make something for myself and be really pleased with my efforts. Now, I see the work that others have done and think "Well, my (insert made object here) isn't that good/special/innovative after all!" It was starting to get to me. So now, I treat my blog reading like reading the weekly glossy mags. It's a voyueristic peek into the lives of those with similar interests and ideals. I skim, I enjoy the beautiful pictures and occasionally, only very occasionally, I leave a comment.
Cheers, Joy
P.S. Are you a child of the 70's?

Leisl said...

Geez, I'm with Joy! Otherwise I'd do my head in over how much better everybody else's stuff seems to be.

Janet said...

Thanks. I did go on a bit, methinks, but now I'm going to breathe and let it all go. And maybe make something again, one day when the stars of the sewing machine and small child align.
As for your question Joy, I'm actually a child of the sixties, although one could say that many of my formative years, tastewise, were in the seventies..