28 March 2008

Craftiness (and musings)

I have run riot on eBay in the last couple of days. Firstly, Jean Greenhowe books! Remember my cute little Easter Bunny? He was made from a pattern designed by Jean Greenhowe. Do a search for her on Google or eBay, and discover many many knitting patterns for lovable scarecrows, dolls or animals, designed to entice you into knitting (usually works for me). That wasn't what I was looking for though. Rarer, but infinitely more valuable as far as I'm concerned, are her sewing patterns. Jean Greenhowe patterns are always easy, usually involve mostly squares or circles to cut, and are so neat, tidy and adorable that they are irresistible.

I can't wait till they arrive so I can get sewing. Or at least look at all of the pretty pictures and dream!

Now that DD is older and I actually get a chance to sew occasionally, I'm really looking forward to making many many of her toys. Along with the bunny, I made her a cloth doll, which she has been carrying around all over the place with her. We've bought her plastic dolls before, thinking she'd enjoy bathing them etc, but she has never really been interested. Yet for some reason, this cloth dolly, definitely not one of my better efforts even, has meant something to her.

Was it the cuddliness of it? The size? Or was it the fact that we made it together, and she got to make the important choices, like what colour hair to give it (dark maroon!), and what colour eyes. Either way, I'm very happy that she appreciates my efforts!

There really is something about making a toy with your own hands. There is a feeling of satisfaction of having taken something rather uninteresting (material, wool, stuffing), and turned it into something that offers hours of imaginative play. Sure, it might not look as neat and tidy as something you buy in the store, but it has a homeliness that money just can't buy.

The more I work towards this simple and self sufficient life, the more satisfaction I find in the things I do every day. Growing our own food, cooking our own snacks, making our own clothes, it all connects you again to what life really is about. In modern society, where we go out to work, and buy everything we need, it is easy to forget what's important. Even more so when your paycheck is banked automatically, with no connection to the work you do other than the electronic signals that transferred it. No recognition of a job well done, or money well earnt, no "Good job" or "Thanks" from the boss, pay day is just another date on the calendar. Chances are that you will pay for your rent/mortgage, bills, groceries, without ever actually seeing the money either.

And as for the food you buy, it is hard to connect it to it's origins either. It comes in a tin, or a bottle, or a plastic packet, no hint that it was every grown in the ground (and maybe it wasn't?). We can go home and chuck it in the microwave and it comes out ready to eat, we don't even need to stir it or watch it, just listen for the beep that tells you it is ready. This might all save time, but it doesn't save money, and it certainly gives you little satisfaction. It doesn't even taste that great.

Now picking tomatoes from your own plants, that you have watched grow from a tiny seed, watered and cared for, waited in anticipation for, taking these and cutting them, cooking them for several hours, checking regularly and stirring lovingly, until you have a delicious, thick spaghetti sauce, now that is real food. And it has the real taste to prove it.

Now, having deviated far from the original topic, a photo of my last eBay purchase.

Now I am definitely going to have some fun with this!

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