As a crafter, I often find myself saying: “I could make something like that myself.”
I can remember saying it about pretty children’s clothes that I almost bought for my niece, various homewares that I almost bought to brighten up our place, and many an elegant top that I’ve spotted actresses wearing on TV shows but I’ve never recreated.
In fact, I’ve found myself saying this phrase hundreds more times than I’ve actually made things! (Life and work just seem to eat up time…)
I think it’s an in-built impulse in a crafter, to make things yourself rather than pay someone else for making it. But I do wonder, does that make us penny-pinching scrooges or clever, thrifty scrimpers? I guess it depends on your point of view (and whether you share that crafting impulse!).
For me, I think the crafting impulse comes from having always been taught to value money – because we didn’t have much of it when we were growing up. For my brother and I, the highlight of the week was spending 10p on sweets at the local newsagents. This was our only treat, aside from the occasional home-baked goodies my mum made.
We were also taught to value practical skills and the ability to do things for yourself, without having to rely on (or pay) other people. This sort of independence has flowed through my veins for as long as I can remember.
So whenever I see something I like, I know that I could make something like that myself. However, in the last few months, I’ve learned to instill upon myself a vital caviat to that ‘could’, which is ‘as long as I have time’!
You see, in November, Deb Bradley (the lovely editor on Simply Knitting) asked me if I could knit a stripey cushion using 7mm needles for the magazine.
My instant, go-to answer was, of course, yes I could. Unfortunately, I hadn’t considered whether or not I actually had time to do it before saying yes! I somehow did manage to finish, in time, the one side of the cushion Deb had asked me for, but in the process, I also gave myself hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder ache!
So when Deb said she liked what I’d done and could I do the other side, time seemed to stand still while I contemplated the answer… my instant, go-to answer was yes, of course I could; but my body and my arms were screaming no!
Fortunately, a friend and colleague (who I’d told about my arm ache earlier in the day and who was sat right next to me) was wise enough to see that I was struggling with this internal conflict and so piped up in my defence, revealing to Deb that I’d given myself RSI.
Every crafter seems to know the pain of RSI, including Deb, and so she very kindly told me not to worry about it, just to send her the pattern text. While my wrist took about a week to recover, the super-talented Technical Editor at Simply Knitting (Kirstie McLeod) knitted the other side of the cushion, which became the front, along with some gorgeous buttons.
So between us, myself and Kirstie created this lovely, modern cushion (below), which was in Simply Knitting issue 88 (December 2011).
And you may be pleased to know that since then, my new ‘time caviat’ has been working well to keep me sane and free of RSI – I guess time management is one practical skill that I’m still learning. (Although I’m saying that while writing this blog post, when I should be working on a feature for The Knitter and getting ready to go swimming with my niece!)