Being nominated for this really took me by surprise and in the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about why I make. Here’s the story of how I got into crafting. I wouldn’t always have called myself a crafter! :-)
I loved to draw, like any little kid. And somehow I managed to not stop drawing when I got to that age where most people start to become criritcal of their drawings (etc). I think that is because I came across some books at the library that showed how to draw and I found that if I did the exercises, I could still draw! And because I kept doing it, I was suddenly someone who people thought of as ‘creative’. And that felt good, so I kept doing it because what tween/teen doesn’t like positive feedback like that? ;-)
Although, to be honest, I didn’t draw consistently, so the ‘creative’ label maybe wasn’t that well deserved? For a few years, I took a weekly ceramics class. I loved that! And I’m still friends with the teacher – almost 30 years later!
But I’d never have called myself ‘crafty’. Occasionally, my mum would try to teach me how to sew something but that usually ended in frustration. I did not have the patience.
I studied art history for a bit and we had to take art classes, but I never felt like very confident. Which was kinda weird because I was supposed to be’creative’, right?
In my 20s there was never a sustained habit of drawing or painting or anything. I think I still thought of myself as ‘creative’ but I didn’t actually do much creative. As I recall anyway.
But when I moved to England, I had some spare time while looking for a job and I came across the work of Danny Gregory (highly recommend his books!) and that inspired me to draw again. And I found that I still knew how to draw! I was just very, very rusty. But I kept practicing. Carried a sketchbook with me everywhere.
Around the same time I also came across craft blogs and I suddenly had the urge to try some of that! I started with a bit of embroidery because I had done cross stitch with my grandmother when I was little so that seemed atleast a little bit familiar. I also did some knitting because I sort of remembered the basics of that.
I realised that I loved making things with my hands! So I kept at it. And although it took me a while, I also taught myself to crochet and then to sew. I got my first sewing machine! I never in a million years thought that would happen, considering the frustration I always felt trying to sew anything when I was younger.
It was like a whole new world opened to me. I was hooked. Both metaphorically and literally (hello, crochet!)
Not only that, I felt a new connection to previous generations of crafty ladies in my family. My mother, of course, but especially my paternal grandmother (farmor in Danish). She was a lady who apparently could do anything crafty. Clothes making, cross stitch, knitting, making lamp shades etc. In her 70s, she took up bobbin lace making and became very accomplished at this too.
She and my grandfather even owned a haberdashery shop in the early 80s. I have very vivid of visiting the shop and looking at all the materials. I especially remember the little drawers with DMC thread in all the colours. And now DMC thread is one of the things I work with pretty much daily. It’s funny how things work out like that.
Sadly, my farmor passed away before I started down this crafty path. I wish I could have shared it with her and shown her the books I have written.
Instead I get to share the joy of making with others. I love making things for people I love. And for myself. There’s nothing more cosy than snuggling under a quilt with my best dog by my side. As long as he hasn’t stolen the quilt already! :-D
I love sharing things because I hope that it will inspire others to find the joy of making that has entered my life in this unexpected way. I share finished projects, but I also share works in progress and things that are just experiments because as much as I enjoy the finished projects, I think the most important part of making is the actual making. Having a go, making mistakes, learning things.
Making also helps me find peace and calm when the world seems full of bleak news. The political state of this country in the past three years and bit have felt very hard to bear at times. Espcially because it quite directly affects my life. But I can pick up my embroidery and forget about it all for a little bit. It really does help restore some kind of mental health balance.
And making gives me agency. Because I can quite literally make something that wasn’t in the world before. So although I can’t do anything about the state of the country, I can make something positive, something joyful. And that helps me change how I feel. Atleast for a little bit.
At this point, the answer to the question “Why do you make?” is that I have to.
Crafting is such an important part of my life now. I never expected that. I get so much joy from making something with my hands. Making a quilt, crocheting a scarf or stitching something. Whenever the textures of thread and fabric are a part of my day, or even if I just pick out a new colour palette for an embroidery, it usually makes the day a little brighter.