Eimear Hutchinson: My favourite crafty endeavours

EIMEAR HUTCHINSON has bounced from one creative endeavour to another at high speed in recent months. Here she shares some of her favourite crafty projects
Eimear Hutchinson: My favourite crafty endeavours

One of the crafty projects Eimear Hutchinson has been working on is a revamp of an old dolls’ house.

I HAVE come to accept that my mind rarely rests. When I was younger, my intellect was challenged educationally between school and college and thereafter with work.

When I gave all that up to stay at home and mind the girls, my brain was challenged in a different way, dealing with the ups and downs of babies and toddlers.

As my youngest hurtles headlong towards five years old, the mental load of raising babies is easing slightly, so while the days are still busy, I have a fraction more headspace than I have had in a long time. 

I am not built for rest so my brain feels like it has gone into overdrive the last few months, bouncing from one creative endeavour to another at a high speed.

My primary creative aim this year is to try and make some clothes for myself. I rarely get into shops these days and buying online is so hit and miss in terms of sizing and quality.

I have in mind I want to create the perfect t-shirt, I am tall and fussy about my shape so it’s been a mission to find the perfect t-shirt, and if I can’t buy it, I can surely make it. I would also love to make some simple summer dresses and there are so many reasonably priced fabric shops now that it makes sense to make your own clothes, especially if you can create something that fits you perfectly.

Over Christmas, I treated myself to a circular knitting machine (an item of much fascination when I shared it online!). It is a round knitting machine with 48 needles and you use a crank to turn it so that it knits for you.

I have always enjoyed crochet, a skill I picked up from my grandmother, and I remember her having a large knitting machine when we were younger that was a constant source of wonder, although I’m not sure she appreciated me playing with all the hooks and needles.

The circular knitting machine is a very simple machine that is so easy to use and you can churn out the most beautiful knitted hats, ear warmers, scarves, hot water bottle covers, socks, teddies, blankets, mittens... the list goes on. The best part is it is quick. A very useful device when you have six heads that need to be kept warm and a great one for kids to use.

My eight year old made a lovely little teddy for her friend’s newborn baby sister recently and was hugely proud of herself. Anything that encourages children to be independently creative is a big hit with me.

Naturally, I got stuck into some organising because it is January, but thus far I haven’t gotten further than the sitting room.

We have a beautiful old dolls’ house that had been sitting in a corner, so I hauled it up the stairs to my youngest daughters’ room and started ripping out flooring and wallpaper. It morphed into a huge project that is bringing a lot of joy to both myself, the girls and Squeeks, the Maileg mouse who now resides in the renovated home. I have wallpapered and refloored rooms, I have made rugs, log baskets, vases, bed linen, a tepee, a beanbag, and I even have a little craft area with miniature fat quarters, tiny sewing patterns and miniature balls of wool. Amazing what you can do with scraps of fabric, bits from the recycling bin, string, hot glue, and a wild imagination. I also figured out how to punch needle (I fully believe there is nothing YouTube can’t teach you these days!).

Can you tell that at this point in my tenure as a stay at home mother, I have exhausted so many mainstream creative hobbies, I’ve started moving into the slightly more unusual ones?! 

Punch needling is effectively a smaller version of rug making and I started it to make some mats for the dollhouse.

It’s rather therapeutic and you can create some lovely wall art using the technique. It is a lovely way to get texture onto a wall rather than always having just pictures and frames up so it’s on my (long) list of to do’s.

Another very niche creative skill I have started dabbling in this year is free motion embroidery. It can be done with a specific foot on a regular sewing machine and while it is tricky (think of it like drawing with your sewing machine), it opens you up to a whole new detail when it comes to sewing. Great for applique and making beautiful, textured cards.

It would seem that so far 2023 has been creatively productive. I probably won’t keep going at this rate because I want to perfect the skills I am accumulating rather than be a fairly average jack of all trades. That and the fact that if my husband sees another new raft of craft paraphernalia come into the house, he might ask me to move out so we can make space for all my hobbies instead!

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