What Does Making Mean to You?

I listened to A Playful Day's relaunched podcast last week where Kate posed the question "What does making mean to you?"

I have been allowing a response to brew and find that I have a few seemingly disparate things to say in answer but find that there is a strong linking element between them.

Firstly, my mum made most of her own clothes and mine when I was growing up. She worked full time as a primary school teacher and had three children to look after but when she had a little pocket of time in which to do whatever she wanted (I imagine these pockets must have been few and far between) she would be found at her sewing machine, making. This means that as I grew up the act of making was the activity of choice, if you could do whatever you liked, you would make something, what could be nicer?
My son in an Aran knitted by my Mum

Secondly, my Granny was a prolific knitter and made jumpers and cardigans from arans to 1970s loopy, zip up cardigans to sloppy Joes to school jumpers. All of these wonderful garments were presented with a huge amount of love, so I also grew up with the idea of making something for someone being the highest expression of love and care for that special person (me!)

Twintastic ponchos also knitted by my Mum

I didn't do much making myself until I had my children. When they were about 18 months old I decided to travel to Bath once a month to  attend Joy de Berker's wonderful Steiner Early Years course 'Education for a Happy Childhood'. After which I enrolled on the London Kindergarten Teacher Training course, traveling up from Cornwall to London once a month to learn as much as possible whilst helping to begin 'Periwinkles' a Steiner Parent and Child group. At both of these courses I learned about the importance of making for our children, protecting them from the experience of toys as an introduction to collecting and mindless consumerism. Providing them with playthings that allowed them to engage their amazing imaginations fully.

A beach in the living room for rainy day picnics complete with hand dyed muslins, homemade felt fish and hand dyed silk

I realised the advantages of natural materials not only for the young children but also for the maker and even the environment - if you have made your children's toys from natural materials you are more likely to take the time to mend them when they break and you can compost them when they are no longer mendable.

So through this the act of making became an expression of my love and care for my children. It also became a wonderful learning journey as I worked with fibre to felt, spin, knit and crochet, with willow to weave and create living play spaces, with hazel to whittle gnomes and their homes etc.

Daughter in the willow dome

Through my work leading the Parent and Child group I was able to introduce the importance of making to new parents, not only during the sessions with the children but also through setting up a monthly craft evening (which now, 10 years later has moved to the morning). In this way the act of making has become an act of community, an opportunity for people to come together in this sparsely populated area of North Cornwall.

This month's craft morning complete with lots of biscuits and the last remaining piece of home made barfi courtesy of the Misty Cottage Son
This all leads me to the making paradox, apart from the one group morning a month, I am generally a solitary maker, I drop the children off to school hideously early in the morning and come home and make, alone, until it is time to pick them up again in the afternoon, yet my compulsion to make is rooted in love of and from other people throughout my childhood and that of my children.