Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What is so special about hand-crafted items?

Who really cares if a baby hat is handmade or bought from a chain store? What does it matter if someone has spent hours crafting an item when it will be discarded after the child grows out of it or when the item is no longer in fashion?

The reality is that we should all care. The growing global financial crisis is making many people stop and think about what they are spending their money on, and where that money is going.

There has been endless debate about the merits of buying locally vs imported, and the difficulties many people face trying to justify the increased cost of locally produced goods when money is tight. I’m not touching that argument with a barge pole! Instead, I’d like to tell you why I think handmade items will always be better value, both in money and personal terms. And who knows? Directing our focus to handmade items could herald the start of a revolution in how we buy and value our possessions.

Family heirlooms – this doesn't have to be a christening gown or expensive jewellery. It can be a jumper, rug, hat, anything that gave you pleasure as you created it and can be passed down the line. I wrote in an earlier post about a jacket I made for my first daughter. It is now waiting to be worn by her youngest son, making him the 7th person in 20 years to wear it.

Dressing the kids – When my brood were at school I made most of their school uniforms and a fair stack of play clothes as well. I found this a great money saver, as I would buy material when it was on sale, then store it away for making into jumpers and pants. Leftovers made little outfits for my son who was then only a baby, and my twin girls even had outfits for their dollies! My eldest girl didn't usually benefit from the doll couture...it's hard to make an outfit to suit a doll whose head has been ripped off! This girl now has 3 children of her own. The 2 girls love dollies and adore pink – revenge is sweet!

Anyway, I digress. My kids and grandkids now line up to receive hats, bags, scarves, jumpers, whatever takes my fancy at the time. I do believe my sewing days are mostly over though, due to lack of space, lack of enthusiasm and lack of time due to the crocheting and knitting! I do use the machine for sewing linings for my bags, but to be honest, I only set the machine up for the first time in...well...nearly 10 years? Wow...

Following fashion on the cheap– I love the way you can re-create many fashion items with yarn. I was watching an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie was wearing a knitted (or crocheted, can't quite remember, but I'm pretty sure it was pink lol) newsboy cap. That was the start of my newsboy obsession. I have done extensive research courtesy of Google and found quite a few patterns that I love. Here are a couple of my favourites -

Mimi's Warm Cap with Brim

South Bay Crochet Beret with Brim

I also browse Etsy most days searching for inspiration.

(I haven't been blogging for long so forgive me if I should have used a different technique for linking to these pages....I'm an IT person during the day so I'm sure I'll figure it out!)

I am currently working on several hats and adapting the patterns for local yarns. I have talked about this a little in an earlier post, but will be going into some more detail and adding a few of my own designs as I develop them.

There are a million other reasons to support handcrafters, too many for me to go into here. I'm not for one minute suggesting that the handmade revolution will take over the corporate world or drive large stores out of business. The best thing for me is when someone admires something that I'm wearing and I can tell them “It's one of my own creations!”

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