Thursday, 17 March 2011

Fitting things, just right

My name is CJ and it’s been almost two weeks since my last posting. 

I’ve been struggling slightly with inspiration.  Not on the craft front – I’m a dervish of activity on that side of things, but just in a more general sitting down and scrawling about it.  Part of it, I think, is because it’s difficult to know if anyone’s actually reading and much as my inner narcissist quite likes the idea of an online journal, there’s a much larger part of me that’s actually very shy and finds the idea of being so public and potentially also unread a bit embarrassing.

Anyway, I’m putting those notions to one side as the whole point of the endeavour is to have an outlet for my frustrated creative musings, and if someone reads and I manage to inveigle my way into the wider craft community then so much the better.

It’s been a difficult fortnight to write about such whimsy though, don’t you think (if you’re out there)?  There are very few ways to write anything at the moment without wondering if it’s all a bit self-indulgent given the way the world currently is.  I do wrestle with the notion that one shouldn’t worry about the things we go through on a daily basis when there are people struggling to survive through earthquakes, revolution, tsunami and the threat of a nuclear meltdown.  The world certainly feels as if it’s on the brink of something quite scary and most people I speak to seem to feel they’re in a state of almost perpetual flight or fight but without really knowing why. 

At the same time, in the UK we are very lucky that, with the exception of people who have friends and family in Japan, New Zealand or Africa and the Middle East, we are able to go about our daily lives and worry about the things we always worry about.  The simple fact is that it’s ok to still worry about whether our children (or in my case, nieces and nephews) are happy, well and enjoying nursery/school/their first taste of real food.  It’s alright to fret about our partners who are struggling with a lack of sleep and a job that demands upwards of 80 hours a week.  It would be strange not to worry about friends who are grieving, or trying for babies, or planning their weddings, or thinking of moving house.  Those are the things that make our lives, and to think we should be spending our time in a muddle of anxiety about a crisis we can do nothing about, and not give our own concerns credence is to insinuate ourselves into a situation for which empathy is appropriate and helplessness is unfortunately a fact.  This isn’t apathy, it’s reality.

There are people who are the sorts who can pack up their things and ship out to support in these situations.  I admire them heartily.  I am not that person.  I donate to charities regularly but I don’t actively participate.  It’s rankles slightly, as I do have a view on how caring we are as a society and from a selfish perspective miss having older people in my life following the death of a dear octogenarian friend.  Getting involved in a charity that visits and shops for the elderly has been on my list of things to do for a while and it’s still there, pointing out my poor time management on a regular basis.  Does not doing it make me a bad person?  I think it makes me human; and as such, I believe (but am happy to be disagreed with) that we are programmed to feel terrible (and terrified) by others tragedies because it draws to our attention to the ways in which we wish we could contribute, and the fact that our society appears to have atrophied to the point where it is no longer the norm to reach out and participate actively in the society around us. 

I suppose what I’m saying is that people like me saying things are terrible does nothing to mitigate the circumstance or effect.  Neglecting ones own life and the lives of those directly related to us over which we do have an impact, doesn’t change the situation.  Without the wherewithal and resources to get out there and actually do something, the reality is that the obligation sits with each of us to ensure we do what we can to make things better at home, in our local area and for each other.  That’s not to say we shouldn’t empathise – how can we not - or do things to contribute to alleviating suffering where we can; it’s just to say we shouldn’t forget, amidst the outpouring of international emotion, about the things and people around us.  It doesn’t lessen the situation to acknowledge that this is not my tragedy; these situations are terrible tragedies and the international community must do something to support the people affected.

So that’s all rather involved and actually self-indulgent which was the opposite of where I was trying to get to; and rather proves my point that it’s very difficult to write about anything non-serious at the moment.

Here goes nothing.  My friend seemed to really like her house-warming pinny (though the egg cosies were less of a success – I must practice my making up of knitted things) and I thought I would share what it looks like. 

The enormous pocket was fairly baggy when it was made up so after I'd put in the central wooden spoon pocket I added some pleats across the top to mirror the pleating around the waistband, and shape the pocket a little bit.  It’s tricky for a newbie to the society of crafting to feel ok about giving someone something they made without feeling a little bit as if I’m saying “check it out, I’m brilliant”.  I hope that the very pink cheeks when she opened the present demonstrated to her that I was more concerned that she not feel obliged to say she loved it if in reality she thought it was a rag.  The fabrics were lovely (from the marvellous Owl and Sewing Cat again) and that’s more than half the job done right there.  I also uploaded it to Burda Style which I’ve recently discovered and think is a brilliant resource. 

It has got me thinking about where I want to go with all this.  I used to work with someone who takes a stall at Portobello a few times a year and managed to pluck up the courage to ask whether she would consider pairing up with me at some point this year if I were to make up a sufficient number of things, to see if there’s any market for what I like.  Am planning on keeping it simple – a few variations on the 1950s pinny, which seem to be very popular at the moment, and some hand sewn toys (I can’t stand waste so it's a good way of making use of the remnants I can’t bring myself to throw away).  It’s a way off – I’ve realised that I don’t have a free Saturday to get myself to Shepherd’s Bush Market for a spot of fabric shopping, but despite being rubbish at drawing, I can’t stop doodling ideas for different shapes of pinny, pockets, etc.  Would making them in miniature for the mini-me in the kitchen be too much?  Hmmm, lots to think about.  Not sure what it all looks like, whether I’m totally behind the times or have missed the boat, but I found a very useful book (Kari Chapin’s The Handmade Marketplace) and am currently ploughing through it during my train journeys to work.  Fingers crossed it gives me a steer on promoting the blog and finding my own direction. 

Clearly I’m experiencing an existential crisis of sorts but am not sure that’s a bad thing …

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