The ‘Slow Movement’, as it’s called, seemed to emerge (or at least, I started reading about it) last year but it’s essentially just mindfulness in everyday living rather than rushing about and never taking anything in. Basically, we hand crafters have been doing it for far longer than these trendy women’s magazine writers would like to think! 😉
Pretty much everything can be ‘slow’… food, writing, walking, thinking… And it’s not meant to be viewed as a negative like when we say ‘the service is so sloooow in here!’ with a grumpy huff as we queue to buy a Chai Tea Latte. ‘Slow’ is, in this sense, a positive aspect of the activity and intentionally used to deflect from the ‘fast’ culture we live in of constant technological communication, busy social lives, tight deadlines, high pressured jobs, crowded spaces, fast food, etc.
I don’t buy into ‘movements’ or giving a label to something that is just common sense in the regular way. However, there is a TV programme that fits this label of ‘slow’ so well that it’s the first thing I thought of!
It’s called ‘Make! Craft Britain’ and it’s basically a celebration and exposure of different types of crafts. The format follows two workshops per episode and the style and speed at which these are captured is the exact opposite of much modern, snappy, quick-quick, flashy shows. There’s also no ‘competition’ element such as that seen on ‘Bake Off’, ‘Sewing Bee’ or ‘Masterchef’ so there’s no condescending or dramatic voiceover. I’ve been watching it on BBC iPlayer and it’s still available there if you want to view it.
The mix of people trying out new crafts is also great to see. There’s a blacksmith who tries his hand at cross-stitch, a baker and his wife who try out silver jewellery making, a smallholder who uses her animals as inspiration to create a mosaic, a surfer-type guy who takes up knitting, an engaged couple who have a go at letter pressing to design their wedding invites; basically, as much variety as there is in everyday life! I think it’s really positive, especially for encouraging men to view traditional ‘women’s hobbies’ like knitting and cross-stitch as accessible and enjoyable regardless of gender.
I’m a bit restricted at present from doing any dressmaking or large craft projects because my sewing room has been taken over by supplies needed for our bathroom remodel. It’s also, subsequently, covered in a thick layer of dust! As such, accessing some of my supplies, such as crochet hooks and yarn, is also difficult without clambering over boxes of tiles or a glass shower door. Yet, the programme made me want to express some creativity! So, with this in mind, it seemed a good time to look at trying out a new craft or revisit an old one, bearing in mind the amount of outlay some crafts require.
I opted for cross-stitch in the end, which is something I used to do a lot of as a child and in my early teens. I tend not to be drawn to crafts that aren’t functionary in some way. I can appreciate the skill and talent in crafting a house from matchsticks but unless I built it with the purpose of giving it to a child to play with, I wouldn’t feel drawn to making it myself. Cross-stitch is decorative mainly, with the possibility of being applied to functionary objects like greetings cards, clothing or a cushion cover. So it’s why I’ve not really tried my hand at it in around 18 years or so. However, with the knowledge I could buy a simple kit online and needed minimal space to complete it, it seemed like a good fit for my current circumstances. The alternative was a mosaic kit as I found a nice one online but it takes a bit more space and adds to the mess that my house is already in!!
Me being me, I ordered using Amazon Prime as I am impatient to start something once I’ve settled upon it! I ordered the kit to complete the image of the deer above, which was only £16, despite the size of the resulting image and the number of threads involved. It arrived in time to de-frazzled me after a lone trip to a local wedding fayre (those things are stressful!) so I set to work!
The kit contents are pictured below:
I might get an embroidery hoop to make handling the large aida easier and also to keep strands of to one side if I know I’m going to need to use them again.
I forgot how slow cross-stitch really is! It’s taken me about two and a half hours just to get this much done:
Having said that, it’s not a problem. I certainly didn’t expect this to be a quick project and I want value for money, which I think I will definitely get!
Out of interest, what new craft would you like to try your hand at?
Off the top of my head, mine would be upholstery, pottery, mosaic, arm-knitting, lace making, calligraphy, needle felting (done a tiny bit), rag rugging, and woodworking. 🙂