Why crochet?

I don’t mean why crochet as opposed to knitting or any other craft. Although there’s probably a post in there somewhere too. I started crocheting because I had a hook and some yarn and a spare evening and an internet connection. I never started knitting because… well probably out of some sort of pigheadedness I think. Until it’s as easy to find attractive contemporary crochet patterns as knitting patterns I will not knit. Huzzah for the underdogs!

Someone really ought to remind me of that saying about noses and faces and spite and knives.

Anyway. That wasn’t the point.

The point was why do any of these things? What’s the appeal of sitting implement and material in hand for hours manufacturing a garment which may or may not live up to the beautiful dream in which it was conceived. Why put oneself at the mercy of inept pattern writers*, unreliable colourways and fibres that don’t drape the way you thought?

Why not, as non-crafters occasionally say with a patronising smile, simply buy the blasted things?

I’ve come to realise that actually the reason why not is, and I do know how unlikely it seems as I say it, the reason why not is because we’re hooked on the risk.

The very reason why I crochet is because it might go wrong. 

It seems frankly bizarre but there you have it. The very possibility that I may be wasting my time and money, that I may reach the end of my project and with it the end of my tether and find that I have in my hands an object destined for Ravelry’s celebrated Ugliest FOs thread, is what keep me going.

Because that risk means that every time I make a stitch that is in the right place, every correct yarn choice, every tricky bit of shaping or cabling that I can pull off feels like a massive achievement. The whole thing borders on the mystical. I’m never entirely convinced that I am genuinely responsible for what emerges from my hands.

Every time I look down and think “I didn’t just utterly piddle £40 and 150 hours of my life up the wall. I have in fact used them to make a very passable sweater.” I could do a little dance. (And sometimes I actually do.)

Yes, yes, there’s all that stuff about being able to make what you want to your exact specifications and yes, if you’re any good you can. But for those of us who are still very much learning (and I hope never to stop learning) the truth is that the real appeal of crochet isn’t about the control you have over what you’re making. It’s the lack of control that’s exciting. Crochet is all about risk.

*Ahem… looks bashful.

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And in the meantime…

Hello lovely readers!

I apologise for the long absence. I’ve had all sorts going on in my personal and professional life which has taken me away from both posting on this blog and actually from  crocheting altogether.

I have written the odd guest post for The Vintage Cookbook Trials if you really missed me.

I also have begun a new pattern and I’m trying to get excited about it because it’s an idea that’s been in my head for ages but really… I just can’t. I’m sorry.

No crochet love right now. It’s all gone. I hope it will be back.

So, what am I doing that’s taking my attention from designing and making?

Well, firstly, I stopped being self-employed and got a full-time job, which is ace but involves lots of travel and learning. This is taking alot of my energy and headspace but I am enjoying it and the financial security has lifted a huge weight from my mind.

Secondly, I have been very focussed on my own well-being lately. Just over a year ago I ejected someone very toxic from my life for good. Someone I had been close to who’d been hanging around making me increasingly miserable for nearly 5 years! It takes a remarkable length of time to exorcise people like this from one’s mind.

During the last months of being in that person’s company and the year that followed, I escaped into crochet as a flow activity. It allowed my brain to process what had happened while my consciousness was focussed on something else. Something controllable, creative and satisfying.

When the anniversary of the final ejection came around it was as if I woke up and decided to move into the future. That has involved becoming more physically active, getting some counselling to help me learn how to avoid toxic idiots in future, treating myself to some pampering and having some good old-fashioned fun.

I have been to a spa, gone out dancing, started running again now that my injured ankle has more or less healed, bought some new clothes, had a good haircut  and started just plain walking taller.

I have for the time being more or less stopped crocheting, checking Ravelry and updating this blog. I’m sorry.

On the upside, when I get around to getting the ingredients together I have a lovely summer salad recipe for you.

I haven’t generally talked about my personal life on this blog. It’s been what it says on the tin, a recipe and crochet blog. I hope you’ll forgive me this little splurge and stick by me. I also have some personal musings on weight and diet that if you want to read them, I would like to post. Let me know in the comments.

Anyway, I’ll be back.

My best wishes to you all.


Coffee with Supermum

Erel speaking at the South London Press- Shell 'Our Heroes' Awards

Erel speaking at the South London Press- Shell 'Our Heroes' Awards

Erel Onojobi is one of those people who’s both fantastically inspiring and so completely down to earth you immediately feel at home in her presence. She’s an ex-colleague and a good friend. A serial social entrepreneur whose goal in life is to get positive portraits of young black Londoners into the public mind. This in the face of a government and press that seem intent on scapegoating  urban youth for every possible societal ill. Erel is also charming, honest, generous and possessed of the most infectious giggle I know.

We meet in outside a station in West London and head to a cafe for a catch up and to talk dream and projects. It’s been over a year since I’ve seen her and she has her little boy, just turned one, in a buggy. He is, of course, an adorable bundle of round eyes and chubby little cheeks. Even though he’s got a spring snuffle, the sight of him standing on the cafe seat holding onto his mum’s shoulder makes me as broody as anything.

“His dad taught him to climb the stairs.” says Erel shaking her head, “Bad idea. He’s gonna fall down them.” I remember my mum telling me stories about how I learnt to climb up stairs before I learnt to get down. How she used to spend all day racing to the top to bring me back, only to have me determinedly set off again. It suddenly comes home to me how much energy that would take up. I dunk a biscuit in my cappuccino and consider that maybe broodiness is one thing but having a baby is quite another.

I ask her about her work projects, Ministry of Thrift and Set Fashion Free. Ministry of Thrift is a consultancy specialising in creating tools to help people, particularly young people, manage their money better. It has funky retro branding and a focus on social media. This is of course awesome, but today we’re here to talk about her other project. The one that connects with my deep, deep love and fabrics and design.

Set Fashion Free is a charity that bring young Londoners together to learn to design and make clothes using African textiles and then showcase them in a judged catwalk competition. The young people visit museums and learn about African imagery and crafts as well as meeting designers and fashion industry insiders to learn about real world of the ragtrade.

“Well, everything has to fit around him,” she gestures at her son, “And I’m supposed to be winding down Set Fashion Free and handing it over but somehow we’ve ended up doing an e-commerce site.”

This is news! Surprising but somehow not so surprising. Erel wind down? Seems unlikely. And Set Fashion Free has been a successful and growing organisation since 2008, working with high profile partners like the V&A and Goldsmiths University as well as garnering awards for Erel and exciting opportunities for the young people. Not to mention that African inspired looks are smoking hot this season.

“Afrikouture is a shop selling designers who make clothes in African textiles. We want the young people to have somewhere to go with this. Not just to make the clothes in a bubble but actually to be able to sell things. We want to sell them to white people too. I’ve had people ask if they can wear the clothes and I say ‘Yeah, of course, this isn’t just an African thing!’ ”

I tell her I’m relieved because I’ve seen some beautiful pieces made in African fabrics, but I always feel like I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes by wearing them.

She laughs at the idea. “Nah man, it’s good. Wear what you like! We want our clothes to be for everyone.”

Afrikouture is still in development but the signs  are very promising. Erel has a gift for bringing people on board and in her words “Doing a lot with nothing.” A skill we all need nowadays. Somehow I find myself asking if there’s anything I can do.

“The crafting community are very supportive of independent design.” I muse. “Maybe I can put the word out and see what comes back.”

“That would be great!” She says.

Her little boy sneezes and as she wipes his nose I think of all the women in the craft world who are doing the same thing: taking care of their baby with one hand, their business with the other.

It would be great, wouldn’t it? I think.


Oo! Look! I Won an Award!

The lovely Julie at Bits of Bruce gave me a Liebster Award!

Ain’t it pretty:

Liebster Award

Liebster Award

So what does it mean? Well, apparently…

The Liebster Blog Award is given to bring new blogs into the light. It’s a great way to share blogs that might not otherwise be noticed and should be. As a recipient of this award I am to pick 3 – 5 blogs, pass it on and do the following:

1. Let them know you chose them.

2. Copy and paste the award to your blog

3. Have faith that your followers will rally and show their crafty love back out to those awarded.

4. And have fun!

Also

The Liebster Blog Award is designed to bring well deserved additional recognition to those bloggers with less than 300 followers. If you receive the award, link back to the blogger that nominated you, and nominate three more blogs.

Now I feel like it’s a bit of a cheek me getting this award when I have had a ton a hits already for my little blog but as they are all for the free patterns and not so many for the ‘blog’ part so I am going to try to unfluster myself and accept with grace. It’s an honour and I’m very grateful.

My nominations are as follows:

Mandie at Gateaux et Bisous

Gossycrafts at Gossycrafts

Anna and Meredith of A Knitting Blog

You’re all fabulous!