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this whole creative thing

It’s possibly weird, and probably because the things others regard as creative I regard as just part of everyday life, but when I think about my own creativity, it extends to what I do musically and not at all to the sewing, knitting, crochet and the like.

The music? I take a song and make it my own. The words and the notes provide direction but the interpretation is mine. I think about it even when I’m not actively singing. I plan how I should best approach certain technical aspects and ponder what story the words are telling and, therefore, how they should be delivered to impart maximum impact.

The knitting? I’m just following a pattern to make something that looks like what the picture says it should. I don’t necessarily consider that clever. Maybe if I were a more adventurous knitter, I’d have a different view of things but, you know, what I knit is easy stuff and pretty yarn does a lot of the work. Mostly, there’s a need for something and I have the skills to make the something to meet that need. It’s usually the case that someone else has already done the hard work of nutting out the pattern. And that some other knitter could follow that pattern and come up with a very similar result.

The sewing, specifically making clothes? I arrive at having something functional and necessary that possibly – even probably – fits better than RTW and is better made (I don’t, however, make many clothes because, frankly, I don’t see the need for a new dress each day of the week; and I wear my clothes for a long, long time). I understand about the cleverness some people bring to their sewing, cleverness that is decidedly creative, but I simply don’t sew enough and certainly not enough clothes.

A very old, very well cared for and much worn guernsey that's almost as good as new. You don't need a new jumper every day!

A very old, very well cared for and much worn guernsey that’s almost as good as new. You don’t need a new jumper every day!

I make lots of lavender bags and simple things like shopping totes and bandannas and toobs for cyclists but they’re neither terribly clever nor at all spectacular and, in many cases, not truly my invention. Someone else came up with the idea for a toob, for example. I merely re-created something similar when necessity dictated because YoungB was fed up with having a cold face and something that got dragged down his face each time he put his helmet on. You might call that an improvement, I suppose, but the basic idea wasn’t mine.

I have a book that describes making pyramid-shaped juggling balls for kids (to stave off boredom during holidays) and I saw some dashing pyramid-shaped paperweights (filled with rice, I think the seller told me). I’d spent a lot of years making little, ravioli-shaped lavender bags, completely handsewn and extraordinarily time consuming, so I was looking for something simpler and faster. I merely adapted those two similar ideas to come up with my pyramid lavender bags (look on Etsy and you’ll see that plenty of folk make pyramid lavender bags). Original? Hardly; though perhaps the mix in mine is one nobody else uses. Creative? Not to my mind.

Is it all about the mystique that nowadays attaches to these once mundane tasks? Time was, and it really wasn’t that long ago, when every woman and quite a few men did these sorts of things as a matter of course and necessity. It is probably true that there have always been some who took it to better levels – tidier stitch definition, neater seams, precision finishing – but it wasn’t anything exceptional and/or special. My Dad used mattress stitch to mend everything; not always neat but always effective! My Mum, who’d been taught by her own mother who was a tailoress, had the right stitch for each mending job: always tidy, even when she apostrophised it as “cobbled together”. She would often add in such cases that, “A blind man would be glad to see it.” Quite so.

Time was, we were a more musically literate society, too. I grew up in a family where everyone sang, everyone had piano lessons and it wasn’t at all weird to gather for a sing-song. I’m of an age and system where the recorder was standard issue at school (or fife if you went public system, like Youngest Aunt; a much trickier instrument altogether) or perhaps there was even a school band where you could have a good time blowing your own trumpet (or possibly trombone, if your arms were long enough). I’m not necessarily suggesting we have to bring back that era or those values or that older system. But when I grew up and everyone knitted and sewed and a lot of people played piano and sang, to bring excellence to the music was special. You had to have something extra to do that.

Maybe that’s what I mean when I say music is where the creativity is, because there were many fine, skilled pianists and singers, too; but only some of them made you sit up and listen and really pay attention to their performance. By and large, the other things – the sewing, knitting and crochet – don’t grab your attention as anything out of the ordinary. They’re part of life and that’s about it. And if they do, then perhaps they’ve gone past that utilitarian stage to being something beyond. Perhaps then they truly are creations.

And perhaps you should now go and read Karen’s post!

 

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just another small FO: starry bandanna

As well as knitting steadily on my two current projects – the easy lace cowl is nearly finished, too – I sewed a bandanna for my cousin. Her hair has now started to fall out as a result of the chemotherapy and, although she’ll probably wear a wig quite often, sometimes she’ll want a bit of protection without all that bother. I popped this in the post to her the other day.

Patterned with stars for someone who is a star

Patterned with stars for someone who is a star

It’s made from some pretty, cotton quilting fabric that was lurking in the specials box the last time Dr B and I were out shopping (it’s one of my cousin’s favourite colours, of course). You’d be proud of how carefully I measured it and its hems. I was quite proud, I can tell you; no evidence of my usual slapdashery! Being a firmer sort of cotton than what I used for Dr B’s bandannas, it held a finger-creased hem nicely, so I didn’t have to iron it much at all. There are some matching lavender bags to make everything smell sweet and to help keep the moths away.

I’ve known for years that I let myself get sidetracked quite easily and that that’s why I rarely undertake large knitting tasks (I delegated the knitting of YoungB’s baby shawl, for example). It means I can drop whatever I’m doing to respond to cases of genuine need. It also, alas, often means I’m struggling to finish things I’ve been trying to do for a long time and should really have finished long ago. You remember Youngest Uncle’s fingerless gloves? Yeah, I’m still going on those nearly a year after I started them. But, you know, I have at least three weeks up my sleeve before his next birthday; at least. That should be bags of time. Shouldn’t it?

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2013 in Knitting, Sewing

 

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slightly off-square bandanna

Cycling bandanna number 2 is made and I can only say that, as with the grey sweatshirt and its green prototype, the original was better. Number 2 is slightly off square. Obviously somewhere I measured wrongly or pinned crookedly – the sewing is all right given one or both of those initial mistakes – but across the diagonal I don’t think there’s much loss of size and Dr B was happy with it. Therefore I now have the orange fabric on my cutting table.

Summer having returned with some enthusiasm, for a couple of days anyway, I think his third bandanna might just have to wait until I’ve magicked up a new top for me. My need is reaching the point of desperation that his for a bandanna had reached and now he has two and I – well, I just need one (top, let me be clear; I’m not into bandannas at all). Should I dig out the pattern now or let the fabric sit there for a bit longer?

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in Cycling, Sewing

 

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fifty things

I’m sure there are at least that many chores awaiting my immediate attention. I am, however, far too tired to attempt any of them (it’s not wise to sew when you’re tired). I bought some fabric for Dr B’s bandanna and brought it home to approval from both him and YoungB. This is what it looks like:

Fairly wild, isn’t it?

We were discussing size of finished article and I was attempting to explain that I’d have to make a different calculation depending on whether I used a flat hem or a rolled hem. Dr B wanted a flat hem because a rolled hem wouldn’t be flat, would it? I gave up at that point. Obviously I’m incoherent. In any case, I was able to convince him that the hem wouldn’t dig in either way because he’d be wearing the square of fabric with the diagonal across his forehead. Oh, yeah. That’s right! But not tonight he won’t.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Cycling, Sewing

 

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