Monday, March 22, 2010

Those who can, make. Those who can't, buy.

In my next life, I will be a crafty person. I will sew a fine seam, knit a fine purl, throw a fine pot. I have so much admiration for people who ‘make stuff’, mostly because I was at the back of the line when they were handing out whatever skills are required for doing it. I’m thinking patience, for one. Precision, for another. Basic hand-eye coordination, perhaps?

It’s not genetic. My sister B (we’re A, B and C – just like Monica McInerney’s Alphabet Sisters, only we were first) is very creative, sewing cushion covers, whipping up bunting and hemming trousers (my standards aren’t high). My cousin K even quilts, for Heaven’s sake! It’s not widespread within the family, but it is present. Which makes my efforts even more pathetic.

I took Mr6 to a Steiner playgroup when he was two. It was all very nice. We baked bread, played in the sandpit, sang songs, ate fruit, and played with plain wooden blocks and dolls with no faces. He was nonplussed about the dolls, but loved the story time and the fact that we got to sing Twinkle, Twinkle every week.

At my first visit, while the children enjoyed some ‘free play’ and I settled in for what I thought would be a cup of tea and a chat, I was handed some knitting needles. The Steiner way is that everyone should be busy, to set a good example. I was, I was informed by a friendly girl in a woolly hat, going to knit a wombat.

A wombat.

And so for ten weeks, I knitted, in brown wool, a faceless wombat. Not large. Not particularly complicated by wombat standards, but I struggled over it, swore over it, possibly even shed a tear or two. When I finished, I cheered. Then I handed it to Mr6 (then two), who took one look at it and told me he thought it would look better with some of those ‘googly’ eyes stuck on it. The Builder suggested that as a wombat it made a good pig. I still have that wombat. I even brought it with me in the move to the country. I simply can’t bear to throw it out.

But I’ve decided to stick to what I know. So I write about crafty people. In the new issue of Australia Today (Australia Post’s magazine, out today), I’ve written a story about people who are taking old-fashioned skills and making a living from them. Because, guess what, craft is cool and handmade is hot.

For the story, I interviewed Sally Morrigan from and discovered a kindred spirit. On her blog, she describes herself as obsessed by craft, and yet “blessed with her father’s sausage-like fingers”. She abandoned her own crafty ambitions after one too many accidents with children’s scissors and Clag, and instead created a fantastic online shop to take beautiful Aussie crafts to the world.

Or just to the craft-challenged, like me.

Fortunately for me, I have sources closer to home as well. My friend K makes the cute hand-printed gift-tags pictured here, saving me the hassle of making my own. See more of her work here.

At the end of the day, I think it’s important that there are people who can and people who can’t when it comes to craft. They like to create, we like to acquire. It’s a win/win situation.

{image: Kristy Lochrin}


  1. Yeah, I buy. Sadly, that didn't stop me from once purchasing a sewing machine with high hopes of all the money I would save since I would soon be able to "whip together" some gorgeous frock. I sold it on eBay shortly after I realised that I couldn't even work out how to thread the needle. ;)

  2. My daughter used to have a friend to play who'd never fail to utter the words that nearly brought me to tears "Can we do craft?" As much as I'd tried to avert the crisis by dutifully buying pretty paper, glitter and feathers from Spotlight she'd then add further bite to her wounds by asking "And what are we making?" Lordy child, no idea - let your imagination run free (at least that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it).

  3. I too have been almost seduced by the lure of a sleek sewing machine. Then I remembered year 8 sewing and my woeful attempts to create a skirt (sorry to sister B who received it for Christmas that year). I realised I'd end up hanging clothes off it, not making them.

  4. I can sew a button on, and I totally count that. For my birthday, I just got crochet lessons. Maybe I'll make a faceless wombat and yours and mine can be pen pals or something. Mine could mail yours some googly eyes. =>

  5. LOL! I reckon my wombat would be up for that, poor sightless thing that it is. I can't believe you got crochet lessons! Who knew there was even such a thing (she says, busily googling local options).

  6. I don't have an artistic bone in my body. My mom is the total opposite. Thank goodness for her.

  7. I'm halfway in between, sadly. I am a little bit crafy and I like to make things. I always see things online and think "Oh, I can make that myself!" and then of course I don't quite finish it, and I didn't buy it, and then I am left with a huge supply stash and nothing to show for it!
    I went to a Steiner school for two terms. All I remember is painting lots of watercolour rainbows. No wombats for us:(

  8. Who has a fine art degree and 2 thumbs and STILL can't be arsed to make anything crafty (even though I can)? (Pointing my thumbs to myself) MEEEE!

    I'm ashamed that I am too busy/lazy to make anything... people always ask me, but naaaa. I recently finished a painting for a mate as a wedding gift - they got married in 2008. :)

  9. I am the worst kind - I really want to be crafty but I am just not. In my minds eye I can create these beautiful paper craft things - but the reality is, they just look crap. Thank goodness for Etsy and Made It.....

  10. I missed out on this gene, too. I did manage to sew a dress once to earn a Girl Scout badge, but have never done so again (nor did I wear said dress more than once).

    Definitely a buyer and not a maker.

  11. I LOVE to acquire!! I do have bursts of desire to be crafty and have attempted the odd thing (and in general it does turn out odd!). I think crafty people are amazing.

  12. I am more of a buyer and admirer too, II can sew to get by.
    My hub bought a sewing machine for work and I have grand plans to learn to use it, when I can be motivated enough.
    Juts imagine all that craft languishing on the shelves if there wasn't people like us to buy.

  13. A whole post I didn't read (and I even got a mention! Usually I'm drawn to mentions of myself like a moth to a flame). I think you're crafty enough - you just don't want it enough. Ya gotta want it. x

  14. People who are crafty, generally can't do ALL craftiness. They usually have one or just a few areas of competence, therefore we still need people who fill in where we cannot go. For example I can basically sew and a little crochet or knitting but cannot make a pot to save myself or print or make wooden stuff etc, so I still buy things. Sometimes even those that do, don't want to for a time, either!

  15. I've got a creative bent - I drew a lot as a kid amd I like to think I'm a fair photographer, but I buy because I don't find the time to do things these days.

  16. Ah, crafts... *heartbreaking sigh*

    I LOVE crafts, and I have a pretty decent hand at it. I used to knit all of my Christmas present for years!

    Now I don't have time to sit down and I'm terrified of breaking out the knitting needles and having C run off with them and kill the neighbour's Schnauzer - he has a flair for fencing, C.

    No crafts for me. Boo hoo hoo.

  17. Thanks for that LOL (just out of hospital and feeling a little worse for wear).
    I often describe myself as 'craftily challenged' or 'sew average' but I do enjoy it - I just cover up well with paper crafts (cut outs, collage, stamping etc)
    thanks for hosting out weekend rewind again

  18. I remember this post, but no earlier comment from me?

    That Steiner group experience brought great stories and laughter to all of us didn't it! I totally remember the wombat. Of all the amazing crafting pursuits you could have dipped your toe into and you got a stuffed wombat! Says something about us really doesn't it? The gene skipped me too :(

  19. awww, I am one that 'can' and I don't really appreciate it as I should, especially when I get the honour of sewing the backside back into my Dads trousers because my Mum 'can't'. Jen


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