Yesterday, on my way to meet a girlfriend for coffee at a shopping center I passed a shop that had a granny square poncho in the window. I smiled remembering when I was a teenager in the seventies and proudly wore the one my grandmother made me. She filled her hours with craft projects. For my poncho, she had unpicked old jumpers and dyed some of the wool before beginning to crochet. She had a practical approach to life which came from being raised on a farm. She made everything, the dresses she wore, even her soap.
When I was little, Granny looked after me a lot. She taught me to crochet granny squares and to paper piece patchwork. I remember the cut and paste activity that kept me entertained for ages. I think Granny had a considerable role to play in my love of craft later on, but also she’d instilled her can-do attitude in her daughter, my mother.
Mum took my craft skills to a grown-up level. We went shopping for sewing patterns, and she taught me to sew my own dresses. She also taught me to knit. At school, I learned to paint with acrylic on canvas. When I went to work, I didn’t paint much, but I could afford to buy wool for myself, and I made jumpers and cardigans in my spare time.
After I was married and had small children of my own, I knitted for them and took up painting again. I found a local shop devoted to folk art and decorative art painting. I joined classes and practiced until I could reproduce the beautiful folk art roses adorning plates and jugs on display in the shop. I painted them on trays, flower pots and a box that I use for remote controls just to name a few. Anything I could find in the house that could be painted got roses painted on it.
Perhaps being a Pisces has something to do with my eclectic taste and desire to do many kinds of craft. The discovery of annual craft fairs opened my world. Talented designers/crafters displayed what was possible, and that led me into collecting a stash of gorgeous fabric and patchwork quilting kits. I also discovered scrapbooking. I’d found the luxury version of what I did as a little girl at my Granny’s kitchen table with a pot of homemade glue.
I found a company that creates paper templates for paper piecing and bought a kit. I’m still working on finishing this. I’ll be sad when it’s done because the fabric is so beautiful I love looking at it while hand stitching in front of the TV.
I also joined scrapbook classes for a little while. I created an album of my first overseas trip to England but have found I prefer to make collage pictures with the patterned papers. I also like to make cards for special occasions and have shared some of those on Facebook.
Busy fingers make me happy, and calm. I love my hot glue gun. What a brilliant idea this is. It’s so quick and instant and last Christmas I made a constellation of wooden clothes peg stars.
As a writer, I know that crafting helps to keep my creativity flowing so if I’m feeling a bit flat, doing craft is one of the methods I employ to light my creative spark again.
I’m not the only author who likes to do a craft. Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra crafted a patchwork quilt made of diamonds cut from scraps. It was the thing I most wanted to see when I visited her home in Chawton, England.
In to be released novel, the Australian Billionaire’s Secret Proposal, Ruby the heroine is a fashion designer, who has a hands-on, can-do attitude inspired by the women in my family.
The hero, Jarrod, is inspired by the part of me that knows about running a business and the many powerful men I’ve read in romance novels. He’s unique because he’s got an art critics eye and knows what great design is. He’s a supporter of creative people and makes their dreams come true. Who doesn’t love a supportive man?
Jarrod admires Ruby’s independent nature but is also challenged when she creates a plan of her own and acts on it without telling him. A secret in her family connects them and pushes them apart at the same time but working together in the fashion industry keeps reminding them of why they’re so good together.
Ruby can create beautiful clothes, this is the world where she feels strong and retreats to when her personal life isn’t happy. Jarrod and Ruby first met in high school where she was bullied because she was different and individual. She was hiding out in the library drawing dress designs at lunchtime when Jarrod, the son of a respected fashion manufacturer, spotted her talented drawings.
I think crafting has also been a solace for me at times. I blogged last year about how making wooden stars helped me cope with the first Christmas without Mum being there.
But I also do craft just for the joy of it. I don’t have to feel like I need a lift to pick up a needle and thread or spread out a drop sheet in preparation for painting. If I had to choose a favorite, I’d say it’s paper crafting. I love mixing and matching the pretty papers and adding embellishments.
Are you a crafter like me? Does craft help with your peace of mind? If you’d like to share with me which crafts you love, I’d enjoy reading your comments. I always love hearing about other peoples craft projects.
Romance author and lifestyle blogger
My whole life is inspired by romance. I write romance novels of course but also love creating DIY's and decorating in a romantic style. I'm rejuvenating an old garden, including rescuing a couple of old rose bushes and planting new ones.