I’ve been making stuff since my Mum taught me how to knit when I was seven – I used to love Jean Greenhowe’s designs and at one point I’d knitted most of the scarecrow family. I also did cross stitch for quite a while; my Grandma bought me a set of intricate designs for each of the four seasons and I did them all over a period of several years.
There hasn’t really been a linear path to my crafting; I just picked up what I needed to know when I needed to know it. I’m a fairly accomplished knitter but these days I tend to make things I can work on while I’m doing other things – I hate to have idle hands. I once knitted most of a vest for a client in the dark as Alvin and I drove up to the Lost Coast on a Friday night for our first weekend away together. I know the basics of crochet, but the terminology is very slightly different in the U.S. from the U.K., and I find it very difficult to ‘translate’ the pattern language.
I made a lot of stuff for our wedding, including a small wedding cake (and 120 cupcakes for the guests); we held them on dry ice for four days during our Hiker Marries Biker extravaganza. I made the cupcake stand, the table runners (old coffee sacks), favors (granola – the same recipe Carys now makes!), sign-in book, and signage for the event. I also designed the cupcake wrappers – and my dress…
My ‘making stuff’ went to a whole new level when we bought our house. While Alvin was moving us in on our first day, I was in a class learning how to frame walls. My next project was to break the water heater while I was trying to repair it; we spent a week showering at our kind neighbors’ house until I could get a new one installed. The contractor I hired taught me some basic plumbing which I put to good use when I stripped the master bathroom to the studs. When we moved in if you turned on the water it came out of the tub spout, the shower head, and the hand-held nozzle all at once. The tub spout was held on to the copper pipe coming out of the wall by nothing more than a tiny nut; no modern tub spout will do that so to repair it I had to pull out the ugly cultured marble on the walls, and we figured if we’re doing that we might as well replace the tub as well… I was pretty pleased with how it came out.
I also relocated our laundry to a closet in the hallway so we could create our third bedroom; I did all that work myself except the electrical (gotta draw the line somewhere…), hired a contractor to teach me how to install skylights, and built out our bedroom closets.
These days I mostly make toys for Carys out of wood and fabric. I usually have one (or more) projects on the go which drives Alvin a bit crazy because they tend to take over the dining room table with clutter. I’m sure he wouldn’t have it any other way, though…
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