I generally say yes to things before I let my rational brain step in and ruin everything, and that’s what’s happened here. I received a PM to my Author Page on Facebook asking if I was crafty. As I write paranormal mysteries featuring witches, I got the wrong end of the stick and replied in a fudge, thinking that she meant The Craft. But no. Here I am, now, about to talk to you all about EVERYTHING hand-craft related. Like, knitting, sewing, blackwork embroidery, quilting, drawing and spinning. I could do some self-promo too but I don’t think there will be space…
A lot of what I do is related to my other hobby of historical re-enactment. I’m a Brit and a member of The Sealed Knot, which recreates the life and times of the Civil Wars in Britain. Sometimes they get called the English Civil Wars but that ignores the involvement of Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Basically, 1642-1649, when we had an actual revolution and chopped off the King’s head and all that. When I started this hobby, I had no money but I did have time, so I learned to make my own clothes. Getting a made-to-measure corset is expensive, and a cheap off-the-peg one is just downright painful. This is my “stays” or “pair of bodies” which goes under all my other clothes and over my shift, to give me the right shape. In the seventeenth century, it was NOT about a tiny waist. The stays just make me into a conical shape and hold everything in place. I’ve used steel to bone it, and it is comfortable to wear all day. A working woman had to be able to do a full day’s work in it, after all.
Here I am with my husband (I made my clothing but not his) – photo credit for this one to Mitch Tuffill, please check out his Facebook page of dogs! https://www.facebook.com/A-to-Z-of-Dogs-631870873837553
I’m currently working on some blackwork embroidery for a living history display. People would work these designs for a variety of reasons – to look good, to add stiffness, to cover dirt on the edges of clothing, and to look like lace. Mine is not fine enough to look like lace – but this coif (headwear) I made comes close, right?
Sometimes I demonstrate spinning. I live in a rural area and I’ve been lucky to be gifted various fleeces, such as some glorious Shetland Black which one day I hope will become a hard-wearing outdoor hoodie for sitting around campfires. My wheel is a small upright one, commonly used in crofts and small cottages. Technically this is a flax wheel (for linen) but I’ve removed the tall distaff that would hold the flax – that’s where there would have been a spike for Sleeping Beauty to prick her finger. She can’t have been spinning fleece into yarn because there is nowhere for her to stab herself on that kind of wheel… note to fairy tale illustrators everywhere!
Those are all crafts for a purpose. But what I do when I have free time – that’s knitting, and specifically, I enjoy Fair Isle (stranded colour work) most of all. I don’t have the patience for large items. I want instant gratification, and that means socks. I favour doing the toe-up invisible cast-on method, and knitting either on a set of double-pointed needles, or a circular using the magic loop. I sometimes do lace, and cables, and hats, and gloves.
But it’s mostly socks. Here is my current project – The Emperor’s Bride Socks by Tiina Kuu, available as a free Ravelry download.
So let’s talk books. You’d think, being a writer, I read a lot but the truth is, I’ve been a little lax lately, in a way. I’ve been studying for a part-time master’s degree in 19th century literature and there is so much reading to do for that – luckily I love it! Bleak House, Woman in White, it’s all good. I’d read this stuff even if I didn’t have to for the course. But it’s hard to wind down with a book when I’ve literally been reading all day anyway. Hence, knitting endless endless socks instead. Although I am reading two books at the moment – Moby Dick (for my course) and The Silent Companions, a gothic tale by Laura Purcell.
I’ll finish with a huge THANK YOU to Naelany for allowing me to witter on here. I suppose I should do the obligatory plug for my books too. If you like my flippant style of writing, you might enjoy these: I write paranormal mysteries as Molly Milligan, and historical mysteries (Victorian, obvs!!!) as Issy Brooke. The Molly Milligan stuff is only on Amazon, while the Issy Brooke books are everywhere, like a rash, so just hunt me down on your preferred retailer or click here for Amazon.