Monday, 8 August 2011

Please allow me to introduce myself...

...I am a (wo)man of wealth and taste.

I thought that it would be nice to tell a little of the tale of the woman behind the mouse:

I grew up in the Essex countryside with fields as my playground and a range of pets for friends.  

I grew up with handmade – I just needed to pick something that I liked and my Mum would make it for me. Then there was the home baking, the smell of fresh bread and learning how to bake my own cakes (just so that I would actually have a decent amount of cake mix to eat – the best bit) and then from my Grandma (always Grandma – I was never allowed to say Nan, as she was a Grandmother not a Nanny goat) I developed my love of tea. I will always remember sitting by the Aga and my Grandma making me tuna fish sandwiches and tea (made properly in a pot) – Earl Grey and Lapsang Souchong.

Both my Grandma and Mum were creating goddesses – between them there was knitting, crochet, sewing, dressmaking, embroidery, baking, flower arranging ... and I am sure that there was more. Then there was my Great Aunt who was always knitting (she would get old jumpers from Oxfam that she would un-ravel and wool that had been donated to knit squares that would then be made up into blankets – I think they were for Oxfam to be sent to those that needed them), she was a tailoress in her early life and I was always fascinated by the tailors chalk and pins.

From an early age I was encouraged to be creative and loved to make things and draw and I my earliest love affair with sewing was tapestry – stamped long stitch. This is one that I discovered my Mum had kept:

Then there was my first camera given to me when I was little – I took pictures of pets and toys. I was more comfortable behind the lens (still am).

But then I started to grow up and handmade became un-cool, I no longer wanted my Mums handmade clothes (I’d love it if she was here now to teach me). And slowly I stopped doing tapestry and gave up on the lessons of knitting and only now do I wish I could have learnt crochet and the camera was all but forgotten.

Thankfully baking and cooking was a skill that I never gave up on (my husband is very grateful that my Mum taught me to bake).

I flirted with sewing again while I was at High School – I picked textiles and design for GSCE under the delusion that we would actually be taught to sew – well sewing machines were involved but no sewing skills taught (what I know I learnt here and there from my Mum – when I could be bothered to listen – and with lots of trial and error). 

But again sewing was dropped.

It wasn’t until I became ill in my late teens that I re-found sewing. I was diagnosed with ME (CFS) and after struggling through college and my A levels my body just crashed – I was tired and in pain. But I found cross stitching – I started with kits of Winnie the Pooh. It was something that I could do at my own pace, something that I could get lost in and most of all something that gave me a sense of achievement.

But again stitching took a back seat. A couple of years after college I knew that I needed to do something to give me a chance of a more normal life (it’s not fun being a teenager watching life and friends past you by). I was getting better and looked into University and was lucky that I found somewhere that was very supportive (Oxford Brookes) – I even changed half of my degree towards the end of first year to include a design element (ok it was environmental design – so looking at urban development and planning but when you get to the basics you still have to understand the principles of design and how things, spaces, elements interact and work together). It was during my time at Uni that I re-found my love of the camera and learnt to look at things from different angles and to look at textures (I can still be found on my hands and knees taking pictures of stones and things because they are interesting).

Slowly a picked up the needle again and discovered cross stitch magazines. I then started to make things and then more things. Then I started to make things to give as gifts and discovered new ways of finishing cross stitched pieces – framed, cushions and quilts. Then I started to explore new things, new ideas and new ways to create....

Sewing, photography, creating has gotten me through a lot – illness (I have my good and my bad days), wedding (married to a wonderful and supportive man) and loss...

To the women that have gone before me, who have helped to create me, to shape me into the woman that I have become – thank you for showing me the joys of handmade even though I was too young to appreciate it, thank you for teaching me even though I did not realise it and thank you for giving me the courage and the strength to face each day. Thank you for helping to make me, well Me – a crafting, baking goddess who listens to an eclectic range of music from classical to heavy metal to chap hop with a love of textiles, fabric, threads and wools. And how many cameras is too many anyway?

And so the future is before me, with a spark of an idea, a little sprinkle of magic and shop to set up...

... Watch this space :)

(wealth = the love in my life / taste = well I hope so)


  1. That brought back fond memories of your Grandmother, Clare. Thank You.


  2. What a lovely post! how wonderful to have grown up with such love. Its made me feel all warm inside.

    Im pleased also, to see another person who discovered cross stitch through illness, like myself. It is a comfort to me, and so I can appreciate that you do it too! (if that makes sense!) XX


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