In the late 1800’s, a new movement of craftsmen and women emerged, dissatisfied with the arrival of industry and mass production, leading to a decline in the quality of goods produced. These revolutionaries were known as the “Arts and Crafts Movement”.
Today, there is a renewed push for handmade and handcrafted goods, with reasons behind this being as varied as the crafts themselves. Some people used the COVID-19 lockdowns to learn a new skill, others might be seeking to be more sustainable and eco-conscious, looking to know the story behind each object and where it is sourced from, or just to move away from the materialistic culture of fast fashion. Whether your chosen craft be pottery, woodworking or painting, there are huge benefits to having a creative hobby. It can bring solace in the meditative rhythm of the craft, and can be used as a mindfulness tool to take time away from the daily grind. Personally, I find it beneficial as a way to stop snacking, as my hands are always kept occupied!
Before the age of easy internet access, the way to learn a new craft would be to learn from a friend or relative, head down to Spotlight and look through the myriad of patterns, kits and fabrics available. Nowadays, there are a wealth of online shops, tutorials and easier access to high quality materials, such that these previously dying crafts are seeing a massive revival with more people not wanting to see these skills lost. Below are listed a few of the crafts that have been pushed into modernity.
Knitting has come a long way in the last 10-15 years. The designs have become more modern and not so garish – think Scandi chic. The online platform Ravelry has linked worldwide designers and boutique yarn producers, with incredible results. Even though knitting is very easy to learn and is accessible for people of all ages, there are always new techniques to learn, such as lace and Fair Isle knitting. If you’re looking to learn to knit, I would suggest Skein Sisters in Sydney for classes, or if you would like to self learn, Purl Soho has amazing tutorials on YouTube. Additionally, there are some groups which get together on a social basis if you want to meet other knitters, such as the Orange Purlers, Orange Spinners and Handcrafters and the Knitters Guild in Bathurst. There are also many different fibres to use, such as sheep, alpaca, silk, cotton and linen. I’m passionate about using natural fibres in my knitting, sourcing my wool from indie dyers and boutique wool producers. Some great shops to try are:
Spinning yarn is a very cathartic and calming craft. It can be done using a drop spindle, or with a spinning wheel or e-spinner. It’s a craft that is easy to learn, but hard to master, with many supportive Facebook groups and a ton of Instagram pictures to drool over. If you’re looking to learn this craft, I would suggest classes run at the Handspinners Guild of NSW, based in Burwood, or The House Of Wool in Leura, and if you want to meet with a group socially, the Orange Spinners and Handcraft Group or the Bathurst Handweavers and Spinners are great groups to join. I enjoy spinning as it is eco-friendly, and I’m often able to trace the fibre back to where it was originally sourced. The yarn created by spinning can be used for knitting, or weaving fabrics on a loom. My hope for 2021 is to get a small flax crop planted in my garden, use the cut flax to spin linen and then weave some napkins. Some great places to find supplies are:
Sewing is a very practical hobby as it can be used to whip up garments and decor. Usually hand crafted garments last a lot longer than store bought clothes and the fit can be adjusted to suit each person. Each item is unique and often the dresses I’ve made have attracted the most compliments!
“Becoming part of the slow fashion movement is great for sustainability and can reduce landfill waste dramatically”.
Also, if you make the clothes out of linen or a linen/cotton blend, they tend to be a lot cooler and easier to wear in the summertime. Judi’s Studio in Orange, Bathurst Fabric and Trims as well as Sew Make Create and Tessuti Fabrics in Sydney run classes to learn to sew, and patchwork classes run at The Home Patch in Bathurst. I have found the best patterns tend to be sourced online, and then printed out onto A0 sheets at Officeworks (most patterns come with printing instructions). Some great places to source patterns (some are free!) are:
Some great places to get fabric and supplies are:
Embroidery is just starting to make a resurgence in modern crafts, as it was mostly seen as chintzy and a very “Granny” hobby. There are some great examples of modern work on Instagram (seriously, check out #embroidery), which could be used at decorative pieces around the home, or just to personalise clothing to make it unique. The great thing about embroidery is that there are no rules, and you can either buy a kit, or do something completely abstract, depending on your taste. One of the best local places to go to get some inspiration for embroidery, or just some general tips and advice is The Home Patch in Bathurst.
In my own home, I usually have a few projects on the go of different types of craft, depending on how I’m feeling at the time, and my craft room is my personal sanctuary and oasis, where I can allow my creativity to flow. I remember telling my husband when I was dating him that I was of a mathematical and procedural mind, I had no creativity whatsoever. He helped me to try out different activities until I found my preferred ones. Eleven year on, I have not looked back, and it has often been my refuge.
Once you find your creative outlet, it can suck you in, and each new project is exciting. Even if an item sits in the naughty corner for a few days, you will find yourself drawn to it time and time again, until a finished piece of work emerges. When that happens, the immense pride you’ll feel is immeasurable. You will run into challenges, but part of the fun is working out how to overcome them. Be kind to yourself when things get tough, be persistent, but the feeling of accomplishment will help you to forget those hurdles.